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Lives of the First World War after the freeze

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Keith_history_buff

With regard to the Battalion URL, this is broken down to the following elements

The "base" element
https://livesofthefirstworldwar.iwm.org.uk/searchlives/south wales borderers

The rest of it

Prefix1 Field Prefix2 ValueInstance_1 Prefix3 ValueInstance_2 Suffix
/filter/%257B%2522            
  lifecycle.service.unit.section          
    .keyword%2522%253A%257B%2522        
      1st%2BBattalion      
        %2522%253A%2522    
          1st%2BBattalion  
            %2522%257D%257D




Any gaps in the text need to be replaced with %2B.

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Keith_history_buff

Unfortunately, in the past few weeks, the permissions that had allowed this sort of advanced search, with nested query URLs, has been disabled within the past few weeks, so it's only the standard query via their pre-determined filters - Place of birth, Rank, Unit [Regiment], [Branch of] Service, Country [associated with address/location] - in addition to what gets typed in the free-form search box.

I guess that disabling this reduces potential workload spikes, and is in keeping with a standalone low maintenance permanent digital memorial.

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Keith_history_buff

Announcement from IWM on Friday 06 September 2019:

' Lives of the First World War. 

 Amendments and bug-fixing will continue until the end of this month, after which time the database/site will be final. We will be closing down the Lives social media channels at this point, which we have already started to publicise. However, in the future it will still be possible for the public to request amendments/takedowns for the following reasons:

  1. Breach of the General Data Protection Regulation, i.e. display of personal data relating to a living individual, without the consent of that individual
  2. Breach of copyright e.g. an image has been added to Lives without the copyright owner’s permission
  3. Content has been added that causes offence e.g. image added to a profile that is not of that person, use of offensive language in text.

Please advise [members of the public] to get in touch via this this form. Unfortunately we cannot accept submissions of new information or images into the database. 

This information can also be found in the Lives FAQs here.

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Madmeg

umm. 

Not great I found- tried a search for SIMMONDS - the filters are very slow to use and having selected them there is no "search" function that I could find- you just have to wait and see if it actually applies the filters- anyhoo, it only lists two Simmonds born in Shrewsbury- seems odd given how common the name is there - even odder as only one of those names belongs to one of my grandmother's brothers. It shows her brother Richard Gordon- except that he had jumped ship in 1910 so never served in WW1! But I suppose that is because they are working off a dataset which runs to 1919. But where is her oldest brother? Well I searched using his name (Henry Burton) and found that apparently IWM thinks he was born in Isleworth! (no he wasn't he really wasn't) plus there are two of him showing up- both have the same birth date- he became a warrant officer so a different set of records but he is duplicated. A search under Henry B fails to show him at all. As I already know that my GF's records show up under both full name AND initials on TNA I was hoping this site might have pulled everything together better but obviously not. Grandmother's youngest brother got signed up under SIMMONS - haven't seen what sort of a mess it has made of his time line yet. Other brother was in AIF so presumably isn't there at all.

Not convinced that it works very well on my experience, pity , it would have been great to have an easy to use one stop shop for the confusion of records out there, still not to be I guess.

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charlie962
19 hours ago, Madmeg said:

Not great I found- tried a search for SIMMONDS

If you have access to Findmypast they do search this database in their military category. So it might be an easier way of searching ?

 

Keith will hopefully respond with his view ?

 

Charlie

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Keith_history_buff

With regard to Meg's comments, the Permanent Digital Memorial is as good or as bad as whoever took the time to crowdsource the info. I have come across people who used "Lives of the First World War" who were expecting the entries to have been magically populated ad-nauseum.

If you worked on a given profile, and you added a source, you will see your username, which for me is Keith1947. I can do a search using this to bring back all the profiles for which I added sources and the like. If I add a surname, this will limit the search results.

If Meg has populated a profile with lots of data, and is aware of her new GDPR-friendly obfuscated id, then she should be able to perform the above.

There was no data quality performed when the shell entries were "seeded", so you are at the mercy of whatever the crowdsourcers added. It would be interesting to know just how many profiles were not updated whatsover by any contributor - I did find it depressing to see so many "untouched" when I navigated through search results when the LOTFWW data was dynamic up to March 2019.

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Keith_history_buff

I will try and respond to what has been written, based upon my comprehension. There are other threads on this forum that have mentioned the methodology used in the "seeding" of the LOTFWW database.
 

20 hours ago, Madmeg said:

It shows her brother Richard Gordon- except that he had jumped ship in 1910 so never served in WW1! But I suppose that is because they are working off a dataset which runs to 1919. But where is her oldest brother?

 

If I understand correctly, Richard Gordon Simmonds was a rating in the Royal Navy, and he had a shell of an entry that was "seeded" based upon the ratings' service record description in the ADM 188 series of TNA's catalogue. There was no way of determining which of the ratings had left the service prior to 2 August 1914. The "seeding" was done blind, and was done on the assumption that each of the ratings who enlisted from 1901 onwards were to participate in WW1. (As an example, Henry Chable was a sailor who deserted prior to WW1, and fled overseas. When war broke out, he was a British national living in France, joined the Foreign Legion and was killed in action on 25 September 1915.)

If you were to look for a sailor who enlisted prior to 1901, and who participated in WW1, the chances are that he did not get added, owing to the metholodology, which has been discussed elsewhere.
 

20 hours ago, Madmeg said:

But where is her oldest brother? Well I searched using his name (Henry Burton) and found that apparently IWM thinks he was born in Isleworth! (no he wasn't he really wasn't) plus there are two of him showing up- both have the same birth date- he became a warrant officer so a different set of records but he is duplicated. A search under Henry B fails to show him at all.

 

As I understand it, he was an NCO in the Royal Marine Artillery, and then he was commissioned. He has two "seeded" profiles, one from the Royal Marine service records and one from the officer set in ADM 159 and ADM 196 respectively. As has been mentioned elsewhere, there was no organised attempt to avoid duplication - as a member of the public, you could make the request to have profiles merged by the volunteers.

No birth place was captured, and it would appear that it was I who added Isleworth as birth place. (I see that it does state Shrewsbury on his RMA service record, based upon the TNA preview.)

One glitch with LOTFWW was that if you opened a new window with your browser, a given profile became "live", whether you wanted it to occur or not, and sometimes this led to data being added to an incorrect profile. This underlines the importance of the source-based approach. If you are looking at J12345 Jack Tar, yet a piece of info was added via a service record for 3/4567 Tommy Atkins, it can be determined that a crossed wire scenario has occurred.

The data has been added, on a "best endeavour" basis by various crowdsourcers, and it ought to be able to work back to the various sources that were attributed to the individual, rightly or wrongly. Hopefully, these can be checked out if you are a FMP subscriber, I am not.
It has a link to his 1911 Census entry, I see
https://www.findmypast.co.uk/transcript?id=GBM%2FLIVES%2F6937034

As for the BMD entry, the code of
BMD/B/1882/4/AZ/000505/024
as copied from the Profile ought to be viewable on FMP thus
https://www.findmypast.co.uk/transcript?id=BMD%2FB%2F1882%2F4%2FAZ%2F000505%2F024

20 hours ago, Madmeg said:

Other brother was in AIF so presumably isn't there at all.

 

The AIF service records were used to seed the AIF entries in the database. Have you searched the AIF B2455 series of records?

https://recordsearch.naa.gov.au/SearchNRetrieve/Interface/SearchScreens/NameSearch.aspx
 

20 hours ago, Madmeg said:

Other brother was in AIF so presumably isn't there at all.

Not convinced that it works very well on my experience, pity , it would have been great to have an easy to use one stop shop for the confusion of records out there, still not to be I guess.

 

If you did not bother to contribute to the database, then there is the inherent risk of incorrect info being added, or of nothing being captured. Both scenarios seem to have happened here.

 

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Madmeg

Cheers Keith, Thank you for all your efforts working on the database. I just came across the various references to it through this thread and thought I would take a look- I already have info on all the brothers but just that quick look as a cross reference against what I already have gave me the impression it wasn't as helpful or useful as it could be- lots of wasted opportunities I think. 

 

I did note above that I assumed Richard Gordon went in because the data set ran from 19something to 1919 so the assumption would be he served all of that. And the NAA site is a great resource - pity the British records for so many were lost. Note that NZ enlistments are also available online through Archives NZ and can be downloaded for free.

 

And no I didn't "bother" to add to the database- because despite doing huge amounts of family research over the years I have no recollection of it being promoted on any of the sites I regularly go onto so wasn't even aware it was happening- until it had already happened. Pity they didn't involve familysearch in this as at least all their records aren't hidden behind a paywall and for those of us who can't afford subscriptions and use it as our initial go to search site it would have been nice to have it there. :-)

 

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Keith_history_buff

With regard to LOTFWW, I have commented at length on other threads, and won't waste time by repeating what is elsewhere, with regard to the execution of the concept.

Meg does make a very good point, in terms of public awareness of LOTFWW. What is of note, in relation to LOTFWW, is that when I was handling user enquiries towards the end of the project, there was some appreciative feedback. The one comment that did keep coming up was that they had only just become aware of the existence of the project, and had they known of it earlier, they would have contributed sooner. 

The good thing about a contributor getting involved in the last 12 months of the project is that the volunteer infrastructure did mean that requests were being dealt with, and as such the project seemed "loved" and operational. This is in stark contrast to the first 12-18 months of the project, where a lot of goodwill was lost with potential users who could have perceived the LOTFWW project as being "unloved" and unsupported at that point in time.

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George Lee Temple
On 16/09/2019 at 20:49, Keith_history_buff said:

With regard to Meg's comments, the Permanent Digital Memorial is as good or as bad as whoever took the time to crowdsource the info. I have come across people who used "Lives of the First World War" who were expecting the entries to have been magically populated ad-nauseum.

If you worked on a given profile, and you added a source, you will see your username, which for me is Keith1947. I can do a search using this to bring back all the profiles for which I added sources and the like. If I add a surname, this will limit the search results.

If Meg has populated a profile with lots of data, and is aware of her new GDPR-friendly obfuscated id, then she should be able to perform the above.

There was no data quality performed when the shell entries were "seeded", so you are at the mercy of whatever the crowdsourcers added. It would be interesting to know just how many profiles were not updated whatsover by any contributor - I did find it depressing to see so many "untouched" when I navigated through search results when the LOTFWW data was dynamic up to March 2019.

A lot of information 'went west' when Lives of the First World War 'froze', including biographical information not linked to external source documents (clearly the site was set up to run like Ancestry, focusing on individuals and 'family tree' building, rather than considering service in common units/ ships etc), attachments of MICs, service & census documents, and the option to contact past contributors seemed to disappear also. The result is that, what was becoming a really useful source, is now a shadow of its former self. A pity that funding could not have been secured to continue the site in its original form, or turn it over to an organization which was prepared to continue it. Information from the current site can be found now on Find My Past - which might be an easier way to access it ? 

 

Also, the IWM didn't put all the eligible names on LotFWW. Notable omissions are at least some of those who didn't serve overseas, RN pensioners recalled to service and merchant seamen. Contact with the IWM to add names resulted in: 1. instructions on how to use the search function; 2. the assertion that only the IWM could add names; 3. offer to provide evidence of eligibility (e.g. service documents, existing medals) ignored. Given this, I guess that I shouldn't be so surprised that I find the frozen site disappointing ?

Edited by George Lee Temple
additional info

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Keith_history_buff
7 hours ago, George Lee Temple said:

A lot of information 'went west' when Lives of the First World War 'froze'..... The result is that, what was becoming a really useful source, is now a shadow of its former self. Information from the current site can be found now on Find My Past - which might be an easier way to access it ?

 

When LOTFWW was live, it was indeed possible to message a person who had worked on a profile, to ask further questions.

If you were a subscriber, you could also access any records that had been attached, so as to see for yourself. If you look at the PDM, you are now faced with an obscure FMP reference. These can be converted into URLs (see 4 posts previous), but you need to be a FMP subscriber in order to see that record. For some of the LOTFWW "shell" profiles imported into FMP, there are some links to the FMP records directly, and no URL conversion is needed.
 

7 hours ago, George Lee Temple said:

A pity that funding could not have been secured to continue the site in its original form, or turn it over to an organisation which was prepared to continue it.

 

There are a lot of people that would agree with this comment. Whilst the PDM site is an archive of some of the LOTFWW data, with little maintenance from IWM for this static data, the one positive is that a *.csv download for an individual profile, or for a grouped Community, can be downloaded. They are massive, and the sheer amount of columns can make it a challenge to navigate, but I am very grateful for the fact that the download facility is there.

It is a pity that not all of the data was migrated across, but I have asked for it to be provided, so it can be used with PDM downloads and other data sources for mashups. I would like to emulate the old style of timeline, rather than the new style, which I personally think is inferior. Fingers crossed the IWM will provide the requested data this month, and I will find myself in a position where I am saying "be careful what you wish for." 

With regard to the latter part of your statement, it could be argued by the IWM that they are "passing on" the data to whoever is prepared to continue their research, only this time the end-user will have to create their own website or similar.

 

7 hours ago, George Lee Temple said:

external source documents..

 

With regard to "external sources", such as books, periodicals etc which were not web-based, they are not "enabled" to appear on the website, but you will find them in the export. They are not visible, rather than having gone west & disappeared.

This man, Paul Maze, has two books associated with him. If you take a download of the CSV export, you will find the details. He authored one of them, and Winston Churchill wrote the preface

https://livesofthefirstworldwar.iwm.org.uk/searchlives/paul lucien maze/filter


 

7 hours ago, George Lee Temple said:

the IWM didn't put all the eligible names on LotFWW.... Given this, I guess that I shouldn't be so surprised that I find the frozen site disappointing ?

 

Yes, this has certainly been raised before. One commentator has referred to the IWM biting off more than they could chew. Whilst the project had some lofty ideals, and a lot of good activity has been done by the crowdsourcers that gave up their time to research those that participated in the Great War, it was hindered from the start by a lack of resources in the UK. 

If a compelling business case was put forward by a requestor for an individual to be added to the LOTFWW database, and an historical source was forthcoming (i.e. surviving service record for a Home Service soldier with no MIC, sailor who enlisted prior to 1901 so info was not with FMP), then it could be manually added by an unpaid volunteer, as long as the correct forum had been used. Even then, the volunteers could be facing a request based upon a record in Ancestry. They would have to beg, borrow or steal the time of a friend who was an Ancestry subscriber to double-check that record prior to creating a new profile. The IWM did not provide access to Ancestry.

The fact that nothing was actioned until August 2015 would not have inspired confidence in a potential user of LOTFWW prior to that point in time, I daresay.   

On the flip side, whilst there was the medium by which extra profiles could be added, there are a lot of profiles in the database that were not added to by any crowdsourcer, and that's not the fault of IWM as I would see it.

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