Treesearch does not update living flag when adding a death event from Ancestry

I have just run a search for people in RM9 with criteria living flag true and death event present true and found a lot. I have not quite got to the bottom of all the reasons for this, but one of them is clearly a bug in treeshare.

I picked a random living person in my main tree

When I added a death date in Ancestry (which I did by adding a death event, rather than from the quick edit screen), Ancestry automatically set the living? flag to deceased

Of course, this person appeared as changed in Treeshare

Note that the death events appears, but that there is no option to update the person details, which include the living? flag.
After adding the death event via treeshare, it naturally appears in RM, but the living flag is still set to yes

If I then delete the death event from both sides and this time set the living? flag to deceased on Ancestry’s quick edit screen, then the person still appears as changed, but there is still no option to update the person details or otherwise transfer the changed living flag to RM. The same thing happens if I update the flag in RM.
If I start with the same person, living in both databases, and add a death event in RM, it logically sets the living? flag to no.
The same person appears as changed in Treeshare, with the new death event to transfer, but still no option to update the person details

However, working this way round, Ancestry properly infers that the person must have died and updates the flag accordingly

Plainly, this is a bug in Treeshare.
However, there is at least one aspect of this that I don’t yet understand. Working through the results of my search, some of the people concerned are set as living in Ancestry despite having a death event there; Ancestry then suppresses the death date, for example on its main profile and gives you a warning message on the main edit person screen. It should be impossible to arrive at this situation and I don’t yet know how it arose. Perhaps it was the result of a merger, but I have no record to confirm this.

Please could RM log the bug for development to put on the list.

Any ideas on how the corrupt data in Ancestry arose would be most welcome.

As a minor update, if I force a change to the person general information, in this case by adding a note, I still can’t see the living? flag. I therefore don’t know whether Ancestry supports changing this through its API (it would be interesting to know). If not, this is a problem as one can often change the living/deceased status of people without necessarily knowing their death details. Even if the API does not support this flag, RM should plainly default it to deceased on adding a death record.

With any fact sent from RM to Ancestry we send the Living status with it. It is always being updated from RM to Ancestry. The issue with receiving a living flag update from Ancestry to RM has been reported to development.

There was a short time in RM8 that trees that were being uploaded didn’t have the living flag correct. If your tree was created on Ancestry during that time frame that may explain some odd scenarios.

I think that this explains my odd data in Ancestry. Going back to the same person that I played around with earlier, I deleted the death events and set the living? flag to yes on both sides. I then added a death event in Ancestry (automatically setting the living flag to deceased there) and copied the death event from Ancestry to RM via Treeshare (not setting the living? flag to No there.) Finally, I added a new residence event in RM and copied it from RM to Ancestry via Treeshare. As @rzamor1 explained, RM sends the living flag to Ancestry whenever it sends an event, and sure enough Treeshare set the living? flag to yes in Ancestry. This is what I see when I open the ‘edit person’ screen there.

And the main profile screen shows her as living at the top although the death event is clearly visible at the bottom.

I never used RM8, and until recently, I rarely updated Ancestry from RM for fear of corrupting marriage records there, but I have recently been using lots of RM tools to correct place names, delete blank residence records, standardise the names of certain custom event types and so on; I suspect that in doing this, I have transferred some erroneous living? flags back to Ancestry.

So I think there is more than one issue for RM development staff to tackle:

  • They should automatically set RM’s living? flag to no whenever it receives a death event from Ancestry.
  • They should include the living? flag as one of the fields to update along with other person data, so that a user can update it when it is the only field that has been changed (which happens fairly often)
  • They should consider how to avoid sending false living? flags back to Ancestry and
  • They sould consider whether it would be worthwhile adding a small utility to clean up erroneous living? flags in existing RM databases, perhaps when users run the re-indexing tools.

In the mean time, I suggest that other Treeshare users run the same search that I did (advanced search, criteria living flag true and death event present true) to clean up their data, checking the people in Ancestry as they work through.

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You wouldn’t want the re-indexing tool to correct erroneous living flags. Because some users actually mark deceased people as living in order to have them show as private online. The Set Living tool is for those types of changes.

Thanks @rzamor1. I hadn’t thought of users setting the living? flag in that way, although now you mention it, it is rather obvious that people would; that shows the advantage of your experience.

To be honest, I didn’t even know that the ‘set living’ tool existed. But even now that I do, I think it may be hard for an inexperienced user a) to find the set living tool, b) to find the various options hidden away under the ‘Mark’ button and c) to understand the data fields and criteria to use.

Given that the whole purpose of the tool is ‘set living’ wouldn’t it be a good idea to have a straightforward option to set living to false for all people with a death event? There could also be an option to include living but with death event or perhaps more usefully still living but age > x in the problem search options.

I don’t think one should conflate the Living flag with the need for an effective Private flag on selected people regardless of the Living flag. Privacy controls should provide for privatising either or both those with either flag as there are reasons to not publish info about some deceased.

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The RM9 Help includes “Set Living” and it has a link to show how to work the select people dialog.

Confirming the request to privatize people has been reported to development.