Just Keep Keying

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I love the movie Finding Nemo. My favorite character in that movie is Dory. Maybe I love her because – just like her – I’m a little scatter-brained sometimes. Or, maybe, it’s her optimistic attitude that I identify with the most. One of my favorite scenes from that movie is this one.

“When life gets you down you know what you gotta do?…Just keep swimming! Just keep swimming! Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming!”

I find myself singing that silly, little tune at the oddest times. The latest was this last week while I was keying on a particularly difficult project.

Before I began keying I did what I always do when I start a new project – I read the project page on the wiki. Then I checked the discussion tab in the wiki to familiarize myself with the common errors discovered by arbitrators. I am very familiar with the keying standards and I had the field helps to guide me along the way. I felt pretty good about how to classify the forms types. I felt like I knew what information I should be keying and where to find it on the form.

Great. First record. Ready. Set. Key!

Between the handwriting and the diacritics on that very first record my enthusiasm waned very quickly. I started fantasizing about how easy it would be to just cancel the image set and return it for someone with far greater patience than I to key it. In the middle of that little daydream I caught myself singing, “Just keep keying! Just keep keying! Just keep keying, keying, keying!”

So, on I trudged. And what trudging it was. It wasn’t easy. There were times I wasn’t sure that what I was keying was accurate. I used Google several times to check that the places or the names I was keying even existed. Sometimes they did. Sometimes they didn’t. I put in my most reasonable interpretation of the data. I reviewed the Polish handwriting helps so I could recognize the diacritics a little easier. And on I trudged.

That first image set took me a couple of hours. But, I finished it and I downloaded another. And I finished that one.

And, lo and behold, after a keying a few dozen records, I realized that my enthusiasm was back. I was recognizing characters and words with more ease. Rather than daydreaming about cancelling image sets I was really thinking about the lives of the people whose names and family data I was capturing.

My accuracy may plummet when those first couple of image sets finally get arbitrated. That’s ok. I did my best. I kept keying. These records will be made available to the public that much faster because of my contribution. These people will be remembered.


Editor’s Note: I am a jogger and when I take on the feat of completing a half marathon I often repeat to myself, “just keep running, running, running.” I know I can complete the race by continuing to put one foot in front of the other and the more I practice the easier it is to finish the race. I am not fast so I don’t focus as much on my times but rather on simply keeping moving and finishing the race. (It helps that I have to get back to my car – good motivation always helps!) How does this relate to keying? Just like Crista says after keying a few image sets it became a lot easier, looking at your accuracy every once in a while is beneficial but it hopefully doesn’t influence whether you continue to contribute. Keep moving forward and trying your best. Many times we don’t make a realization about the instructions until we have keyed a few records; sometimes we can go back and fix them and sometimes not; other times we just can’t seem to figure out those letters but we do our best and keep going. It also helps to keep the end in sight, referring both to the end of the image set and the indexes we are creating. No matter how long it takes you to finish the image set, or how many records you key compared to other contributors, or whether your accuracy is Excellent or Needs Improvement – your contributions make a difference!

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