Here is my input into the whole “best practices” discussion:
1. In my opinion, there is no need for a FTM best practices document for the following reasons:
a. Genealogists gather, research, and document with different approaches based on their genealogical interests, direction, particulars of their family lines, and personal organization strategies. I agree with Russ that users develop their own “best practices”.
b. There are professional standards provided by genealogy organizations. These are generally guidelines for research and documentation. An individual who desires compliance with those standards can easily comply through different approaches to the use of FTM or most other genealogy software without being dictated in detail as to HOW to input and retrieve data.
2. By no means is Ancestry obligated to create a “best practices” document because:
a. I know of no software company that has ever been expected to detail HOW a user should use their software in the detail of a “best practices” approach. The current expectation is that users are computer savy enough to adopt software with the type of help documentation similar to what Ancestry provides the user.
b. Do we really want to pay the extra cost for what is essentially a field by field, feature by feature detailed user’s manual? If someone or some group wants to get permission from Ancestry to produce an independently produced “best practices” manual, that is certainly an option. However, I’m not sure it would sell very well or gain the credibility for a lot of followers. I know I would ignore those types of “best practices” and follow my personal “best practices”.
3. Users have the responsibility to:
a. Become familiar with the FTM software features through help documentation, their own exploration of features, and gathering and sharing ideas with other users.
b. Develop their own “best practices” based on a combination of factors. Make adjustments to personal “best practices” as needed.
c. Report requests for bug fixes and enhancements to Ancestry recognizing that Ancestry is in the best position to evaluate and prioritize the resolution of issues based on user impact, programming resources, and other factors.
4. Workarounds are a Common, valid practice because:
a. There will generally be some limitations of any complex software product. FTM is no exception.
b. While not ideal, users can usually develop or find another user’s work around that is very acceptable. It is up to the user to determine the pros and cons of the workaround. I recognize there are workarounds that don’t make sense for me but are not necessarily “incorrect” for the user who has adopted it.
As a note, I really don’t routinely generate an Ahnentafel report. However, out of curiosity, I reviewed a few of the postings with a work around for nontraditional families and found they made sense. I know of no professional standard that is violated by the workarounds I saw. I’d be curious as to what “long established standards” you say are being violated. A citation for any standard related to a limitation might help in gaining support for prioritization by Ancestry.
c. It is normal product management practice by any software development company to prioritize based on user impact, the presence of viable work around, and other factors. However, the implication of your statement is that Ancestry completely dismisses an issue if users suggest a work around. I don’t agree with your conclusion.