I have read many posts and replies in this Forum concerning Place Names, standardization, interchange with various other data sources, GEDCOM standards, the low degree of commonality between all of these, the inability of anyone to legislate the RIGHT answer, the religious fervour that some writers have for this subject and finally the realization that everyone pretty much has to decide for themselves what they want to use to meet their specific objectives. Whew! I say a lot in the coming paragraphs but trust me, there's a question at the end.....
I have been trying to keep my places "organized" since Family Origins (V4 maybe?) and I have ~60k names and 5,465 Places in my database so 1 - internal consistency has great value and 2 - significant changes to that list have a high cost. One of the reasons I have always told people that FO and RM are great is because they help me achieve internal consistency with the matching as I type a place name and now (more recently) provide a way for me to merge duplicate names.
- My data covers at least the following countries: Canada, USA, England, Scotland, Ireland, Germany, Denmark.
- I am a recent convert to using place details, most especially to deal with churches and graveyards and universities in otherwise well-defined place names, and I recognize that this is not supported in almost any other programming, but it makes the prediction of place names as I type them FAR more effective and that's important for consistency and data entry speed.
- A driving force for me beyond internal consistency is easy readability for a wide variety of family member readers.
If we describe the full hierarchy, using N America as the example, as "Place details, city/town, township, county, state/province, country" then we immediately have some problems because not everywhere has townships and not everywhere has counties either.
- We can deal with that by putting in the empty comma-separated fields, but that gets pretty tiresome and messes up the readability when you write Jonestown,,,BC,Canada because there are few townships and no counties in BC (I suspect it is not entirely alone in that) - what a mess!
- I like to put a space after the commas whenever I do use them just for readability.
- I abbreviate Township as Twp and County as Co (no period after each abbreviation) because that takes up less space and it is unambiguous.
- I like to use the state/province abbreviations (exactly what the postal service requires) saying BC instead of British Columbia for example.
- I always include the country if for no other reason than I have more than one country to deal with and people move from one to another in their lifetime.
So for me, that place would be Jonestown, BC, Canada. If it were Jonestown in Nova Scotia instead, I might later discover that Jonestown is actually in Kings County, so I can edit the Place Names to give Jonestown, Kings Co, NS, Canada. And if Jonestown is in Cornwallis Township of Kings Co then Jonestown, Cornwallis Twp, Kings Co, NS, Canada. But the use of Townships is fairly uncommon in my experience - not that they didn't exist or weren't known, just that they weren't used all that much, so I only include them when it seems necessary. And I think my family readers can handle Jonestown, Kings Co, NS, Canada and get full value understanding.
So here's the query: what is the best way that I can take advantage of the Standardized place names and the Geo-coding and the County Checker to help bring consistency and better information to my Place names if I still want to continue using my preferred structure of standardization as I just described it above?