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Nick
03 March 2007, 02:03 PM
I have been contemplating using ISO (International Standards Organization) country codes in my place names, and wondered if anyone had any experience of them. As far as I can see, there are pro's and con's.

The pro's: The use of the codes would make place names much shorter and facilitate achieving consistency.

The con's: There are hundreds of countries, and whereas I have English county codes in my head, I don't know if I fancy looking up a country code every time I enter a place. Some of them are not at all obvious, such as 'AE' for United Arab Emirates, or 'HR' for Croatia; and some are confusing - 'CA' is the code both for the state of California, and the country code for Canada. Also, countries' names change through history.

If anyone has any thoughts on this, or even better, experience, I'd be grateful to hear from them.

Tom Robinson
03 March 2007, 02:33 PM
I have been contemplating using ISO (International Standards Organization) country codes in my place names, and wondered if anyone had any experience of them. As far as I can see, there are pro's and con's.
Your own list of cons is much longer than the pros ;-)

If I were entering countries in a database my first option would be codes (though boundaries changing over time is an issue). For something human-readable I'd pick the full names.

True, codes would make the places shorter, but at least for me consistency isn't an issue. Doing a reverse place name sort shows up inconsistencies reasonably quickly (and exporting and processing the list in a spreadsheet/database even quicker). If you misspell a full name it's easy enough to correct. If you miss-type a 2 character code it's going to be a lot more fun finding out what it should be!

And much as I love consistency and finding the best/proper way to do things in my family history, at the end of the day it makes little or no difference to the people actually reading it! If one brother appears under America and another under United States I'm the only person to notice...

theKiwi
03 March 2007, 03:58 PM
If anyone has any thoughts on this, or even better, experience, I'd be grateful to hear from them.

I write everything out in full - the only abbreviations I use are Co. for County and Twp. for Township.

It's too much to expect visitors to my web site to know what things like BEW mean, or is WA Washington or Western Australia, is CA Canada or California?

With things written out in full there can be no doubt what Berwickshire, Scotland means.

plink plink plink

Roger

Nick
03 March 2007, 06:31 PM
It's true that it makes no difference to the people actually reading it (Tom). And that writing things out in full leaves no room for doubt (The Kiwi).

But when I go for a field trip, it's nice to be able to find all the people born in the Netherlands, for instance, in one fell swoop.

In your case Tom, I'd have to enter every instance of the name: Netherlands, Holland, The Netherlands; or Eire, Ireland etc.

If I followed the Kiwi's strategy (which I do), then I have to ensure consistency: not always easy - e.g: Belfast: is it in the UK, 'Ireland' or 'Northern Ireland'? I spend a lot of time about two or three times a year going through my place list to ensure consistency. It's time-consuming.

I know that country codes would solve the problem, but I do take Tom's point that a single error could create irreparable damage. And no, it's true, I have no idea where BEW is, or whether WA is Washington or Western Australia! (which brings up the old lollipop of having a country field...)

Many thanks for each of your replies, and I'd still like to hear from anyone who actually does use country codes.

theKiwi
03 March 2007, 07:38 PM
If I followed the Kiwi's strategy (which I do), then I have to ensure consistency: not always easy - e.g: Belfast: is it in the UK, 'Ireland' or 'Northern Ireland'? I spend a lot of time about two or three times a year going through my place list to ensure consistency. It's time-consuming.

I'm hoping/knowing that Reunion 9 will help with this with the new limit of 2000 names in speed names - that means that for up to 2000 place names in your file (my smaller file has just over 1300 currently) you only have to verify it all once, and from then on Reunion will help you enter it exactly the same way every subsequent time by recalling the place from Speed Names.

Up until now with Reunion 8 I'd been working in Reunion 8, and then looking up a place on my web site if the place I wanted wasn't stored in the much smaller Speed Names list of Reunion 8.

(Sadly this won't help with my larger Clan Moffat Society file which has over 10,000 different places in it after I spent several years trying to standardise them all - I'd need Speed Names to hold the last 11,000 places used.)

cheers

Roger

PS - in my files Belfast is in Ireland - since most instances of its use in the file predate "Northern Ireland". I never use UK - the countries used are England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales.

PPS - BEW is apparently the recognised abbreviation for Berwickshire SCT (Scotland)

Tom Robinson
05 March 2007, 07:26 PM
But when I go for a field trip, it's nice to be able to find all the people born in the Netherlands, for instance, in one fell swoop.

In your case Tom, I'd have to enter every instance of the name: Netherlands, Holland, The Netherlands; or Eire, Ireland etc.
If searching is the only issue, how about combining the two ideas:

Netherlands (NI)
Holland (NI)
The Netherlands (NI)

Then you can search on '(NI)' and pull up all occurrences...

WilliamTaber
05 March 2007, 08:06 PM
I have been contemplating using ISO (International Standards Organization) country codes in my place names, and wondered if anyone had any experience of them. ...

If anyone has any thoughts on this, or even better, experience, I'd be grateful to hear from them.

Are there ISO country codes for defunct countries like Prussia? I would be concerned about that.

Shirley Westaway
07 March 2007, 07:24 PM
With twigs on the family tree spread around the world, it is important that the country be identified clearly. It's obvious that wherever the Brits settled they used the names familiar in their home country so that now there are Londons, Wellingtons, Melbournes, Devons and countless other places all with the same names and if they don't have a clear appendage, it can be difficult to tell if they are in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand or anywhere else.

Down under, we need these. We have to think twice about CA (California or Canada), WA (Washington or Western Australia) as already indicated or SA (South Africa or South Australia).

I am guessing that this could apply to other nationalities too, not only those of us of British descent.

jmsample
17 March 2007, 11:45 PM
Hi Reunion Users -

Here are some thoughts re ISO country codes:

There has been a lot of discussion lately regarding the use of ISO country codes. ISO country codes were developed for use by airlines, postal administrations, shipping companies, courier companies and the like to ensure that when packages, luggage, etc. were handed off to partner administrations/companies they ended up in the right country. This list of codes is universally recognised by all who use it regardless of what the current general term happens to be. Country codes do generally follow a logical pattern - usually the first two letters of the country