Friday, April 27, 2012

Why I Became an Arbitrator

Yesterday I contacted my Group Administrator for FamilySearch Indexing and asked to become an arbitrator for the 1940 census indexing project.  There are a few reasons I decided to take the plunge and I thought I’d share them.  Perhaps you will be inspired to become an arbitrator as well.

Reason #1 – Message from the Group Administrator

I believe it was last week, I received an email from the Group Administrator giving us an update on the 1940 indexing project.  At the end of the email was a gentle plea for arbitrators.  I made a mental note and moved on with my day.

Reason #2 – Arbitrator Series of Blog Posts

Over the last week, I had seen several blog posts on the FamilySearch Blog on the topic of arbitration.  In one of those posts they explained that they had a backlog of keyed material awaiting arbitration.  Basically, there was plenty of indexing going on, but not enough arbitration.  The way I took the message was, keep indexing (sincerely appreciated and keep up the good work!!), but also think about arbitrating.  So, I thought about it.

Reason #3 – Curiosity

I’ve never arbitrated any of the indexing projects, in part because, truth be told, I wasn’t doing much in the way of indexing (just a few batches here and there).  So I really didn’t know what it was like for the person on the other side of the coin, being presented with two sets of keyed entries and trying to determine which, if either, was right.  The only way I was going to know this, and understand the job of an arbitrator, was to become one. 

Last night, after taking all three reasons into account, I decided to take a break from indexing and review the information on arbitration and becoming an arbitrator.  I viewed the tutorial and made the decision to become an arbitrator.

For those who are considering becoming an arbitrator, I found the following blog posts helpful, mainly because they were more conversational as opposed to instructional, and therefore, a little less intimidating.

This morning, I received an email back from the Group Administrator saying that I am now an arbitrator.  I immediately logged in and checked it out.  I arbitrated six batches in about thirty minutes.  Fortunately there weren’t any record match issues (that is, the records were lined up and in the correct order), so it was really just a matter of “fixing” the differences between the keyed entries.  Most were easy, but there were a few zingers in there where I had to stop and really look at and study the handwriting (which is no different when I index) and then make a decision.  I believe there were two instances were I felt neither was correct and therefore added my own value.

I of course will continue to index, but when I need a change of pace, or need to give my wrists a break, I can arbitrate as well.

To learn more about indexing and arbitration, plan to attend an upcoming webinar from FamilySearch.



Unknown said...

Thanks for this. I've been thinking about arbitrating for a little while now. Mainly for your reason #3 - curiousity. But also for #1 partially as well. Your post may have swayed me into doing it.

Julie said...

You're welcome, Eowyn. I hope you decide to give it a try!

Unknown said...

I had received the "100 batches, become an arbitrator" a while back but hadn't acted on it. With the 1940 Census backlog, I figured I might as well give it a shot... but was told I didn't have the experience with 4500 names and to try again when I got to about 7000.

Becky Higgins said...

Nicely put, Julie. Arbitrating is essential to getting the indexing online. Thanks for taking the plunge.

Jennifer Sepulvado said...

I just became an arbitrator too! I find that it's easier than indexing. I was hesitant too because although I've indexed a lot, I still worried that I wouldn't be able to make a judgment call. However, I've found that when I already have two indexers giving an answer, it's not too bad making a judgment call. Usually, one of them already has it right.

Julie said...

@Valerie, I'm surprised at that. I had done just under 5,000 or so on the 1940 census, with a 98% arbitration rate overall. I've only indexed (as of now) 6,300 total since the conversion (I never merged my account and when I started indexing again, it was too late to merge, so my statistic basically started over). Plus, it sounds like they really need people to arbitrate, so I would think that 4,500 with a good arbitration rate would make you qualified. Do try again when you get closer to 7,000!!

Stuart Gourd said...

I tried also to become an arbitrator with about 3000 records indexed and was turned down...tried again with 5000 records indexed (including some intermediate projects in different countries), was turned down again. I wasn't told what the requirements are for success but am not inclined to try again, even though I have now indexed over 8000 records with about 99% accuracy. Don't really have much interest in arbitrating but wanted to help with the states that are 100% indexed but can't be put online because they are backlogged on arbitration. One would think that they would take more people or advertise the correct qualifications. It is fairly obvious that some people with lesser qualifications than those who are being rejected are allowed to become arbitrators, so unless there are uniform standards, there is clearly some discrimination going on.

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