Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Frustration Abounds!

I promised myself that I wouldn't rant.... don't rant, don't rant!

Do you ever use the message boards at Ancestry? It's a wonderful way to connect with others who might be researching your same family lines. It's also a great place to get help if you're stuck. They have boards for surnames and boards for localities. I've had much luck making connections with others there.... I've also had the misfortune of being contacted by someone who thinks they've got all the facts on a family.

How about the trees on Ancestry? Ever consult those to see what others have done on your family? Ever check their sources - when they're listed? Ever simply download a huge gedcom file and call it your own? Hmmmm?

Just a word of caution to all who are venturing into research for the first time - the Ancestry user-submitted trees and information are great, even the One World Tree is great, but you cannot take that information for the "gospel truth" on your family. Yes, there's a wealth of info there and many people who have worked very hard to share their research with the world. But, do you know their research habits? Did they make any assumptions? How much of the information was just passed along from someone who "knew the family"? Lots of people assume that because this information is on the internet, it must be correct - NOT SO!

When you reach out to others and get info, check the sources (which often are not provided), and VERIFY VERIFY VERIFY every fact that you can. This is no small task when you may receive a file containing 10s of thousands of people. But your file is nothing without sources and verification of facts. Don't simply make it your file - pull information from it, enter what you can prove and use what you can. We would all love a huge wealth of family info to land in our laps - although for many of us, it's the thrill of the find that really keeps us going, searching, digging for more info and trying to break down those "brick walls".

My frustration comes from these "researchers" - I recently rec'd a VERY LARGE file from someone who said they had "a lot" of info on a family. Over a thousand sources are listed - over 80% of them reference the One World Tree.

Maybe I'm a stickler, but that's not "research" is it? Am I being too nit-picky?

breathe.... breathe..... breathe.....


  1. I was about to post about the same thing when I saw an update on Google Reader and read your post. Isn't that weird?

  2. I know exactly what you mean - you have to take everything with a grain of salt until it can be verified. My cousin did research on part of our family for my Aunt's 90th birthday. Although he had a lot of information I never knew about, I needed to verify everything first "just in case"! There were a lot of contradictions in his research. When my Aunt Rachel passed away last week, her daughter and granddaughter were using that research to write the obituary. My Auntie Vina (Rachel's sister) said to be careful because a lot of it was incorrect. I have found a least 3 people on Ancestry who are researching my paternal grandmother's family. It gives me a starting point but I'm not taking it for fact until I get all the facts myself.

  3. No, I totally understand. You are not being too nit-picky. I hate when I find a tree on WorldConnect which claims to have sources, but then I see that the source is One World Tree or someone else's GEDCOM. It's a HUGE disappointment.

  4. I totally agree with you. The only time I consult or copy from an tree of a file someone sent to me is to jot down the lineage of a cousin or fellow researcher that I am working with. I like to know off the batt how they are related to the family I am researching.

    I NEVER use OneWorldTree - it is not accurate!!!

  5. I always figure that One World Tree, WorldConnect, and Family Search are like the police "tip lines," while the research we do is more like crime scene investigation (not the TV stuff). Sometimes there are some really nice trees on WorldConnect - transcriptions of articles, obituaries, etc., and often some useful information on the Post-Its, but there are so many that just repeat the same stuff...