FamilySearch Announces Worldwide Arbitration Event

  • May 1-8, 2015
1-8 May 2015
Online Event

FamilySearch has nearly six million indexed images awaiting arbitration, prompting its first ever worldwide arbitration event scheduled for May 1–8.

Article Highlights

  • Each record on FamilySearch is indexed by two volunteers and arbitrated by an experienced indexer to ensure the two indexes match.
  • FamilySearch has many more indexers than arbitrators, leading to a backlog of records awaiting arbitration.
  • The worldwide event is scheduled for May 1–8, 2015.

More than six million indexed images containing valuable genealogical information are waiting to be arbitrated (reviewed and corrected) before they can be published and made available to family history researchers on Eliminating this backlog of needed records is the object of the first online worldwide arbitration event sponsored by FamilySearch indexing and scheduled for May 1–8, 2015. 

Volunteer arbitrators worldwide and FamilySearch indexers who are qualified and willing to become arbitrators are being called upon to help arbitrate the images that were previously indexed (transcribed) by indexing volunteers. In the FamilySearch indexing system, historical records are indexed by two different volunteers; then an experienced indexer known as an arbitrator reviews and corrects any discrepancies between the two indexers’ work. Only then can records be published for researchers on

“Indexers far outnumber arbitrators, which creates an imbalance in the work and a backlog of records waiting to be arbitrated,” said Mike Judson, FamilySearch indexing workforce development manager. “This event will not only help to reduce the backlog but will make it possible to publish millions more searchable records so others can find their ancestors.”

FamilySearch indexers and arbitrators make it possible for to publish an average of 1.3 million freely searchable records containing more than three million names each day. An estimated 19.5 million names are contained in the current backlog of records awaiting arbitration. 

Qualified Indexers Invited to Become Arbitrators

All indexers who have indexed at least 4,000 records are eligible to become arbitrators. Qualifying indexers who would like to participate as arbitrators should visit to learn how to get started.  

Following four essential tips will ensure volunteers are ready to submit high-quality arbitrated records during the worldwide arbitration event:  

1.       Read the instructions. Read or reread the field helps and project instructions for each arbitration project before beginning.

2.       Record match. Record matching ensures that arbitrators use a correct and fair comparison between the information recorded by indexer A and indexer B.  For instructions, watch the video “Arbitration Training - Record Matching,” which teaches how to complete this essential step in the indexing process.   

3.       Index. If possible, volunteers should index one or more batches from each project they plan to arbitrate during the event, then continue to index one batch for every ten they arbitrate. Indexing (and reviewing the instructions) will help arbitrators stay sharp.

4.       Arbitrate in native language. Accuracy is highest when volunteers work only in their native language. Unless they have received extensive training in a second language and are highly proficient in that language or have been specifically trained to index certain types of records in a second language, volunteers should stick with projects in their native language.  

For additional information, volunteers can visit