Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Huge Genealogy Mistake We All Need to Stop Making Now

The Huge Genealogy Mistake We All Need to Stop Making Now | Family History Daily:
As genealogy grows as a hobby, and information becomes easier and easier to find and share, one particular mistake has become a huge problem online – copying and sharing other people’s research. The reasons NOT to do this are numerous, and yet so many people continue the practice that longtime researchers can’t help wondering why? Perhaps it is because the reasons why not to are not as obvious as they seem — especially to those who are just starting out. So here is a breakdown of some of the top reasons you should avoid this practice at all costs, even though it can seem like the easiest route to a full family tree.
This article is definitely worth reading, and the problem is especially serious on sites like, where such copying is easy and actively encouraged. I've seen ten trees on that reproduce the same error, because they all copied it from each other. Three trees had the correct version, but because they are outnumbered by the false version, the error is more likely to spread than the correct version. How do I know? I found these trees on Mundia ('s discontinued free version) and because they were inconsistent, I wanted to find which was the correct version. That meant going back to the sources, and checking census returns for both households to see which children belonged to which family. The problem was that in two censuses the wife was away from home visiting other members of her family, so some researchers assumed that a woman of the same name in a different family was her. And those researchers' work got copied more than the work of those who found the correct family. In the past, one of the pieces of advice given to genealogist was to check first whether someone else had not already done it. Many people found that they had done a lot of painstaking research only to be told "Oh Uncle Jack worked all that out years ago". So by all means find out if someone has already done it. But in such cases, at least someone knows where Uncle Jack fits into the family (and even then, you should still check his work). The problem nowadays is that many peiople simply copy the work of complete strangers, and don't even attempt to make contact with them to find out how they know.

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