Tuesday, July 3, 2012

A Short Rant (aka Get Your Facts Straight)

I've just re-subscribed to Ancestry.com - a full year of access to everything. In the past I subscribed to US only documents but I decided to go for the biggie subscription this year thanks to dropping a couple of other monthly subscriptions.

While I know I'm sure to find some useful information there, I've also been reminded of a Very Annoying issue I've run into at their site. It's actually a two-fold problem.

First, there is a ridiculous THING (I don't know what else to call it), known as "One World Tree" that is fraught with the most annoying errors. One World Tree is a compilation of numerous trees, including many from Rootsweb's "World Connect" (Rootsweb was acquired by Ancestry some years back). And while the World Connect trees are still living documents that can be edited by the author as new or more accurate information is found (outsiders can also attach "post-its" to append info), unfortunately the One World Tree cannot. (On a side note, some of the World Connect trees are no longer being curated and have become stagnant.)

In fact, I wouldn't know how or where to begin to try to fix some of the amazing inaccuracies found there. One example that sticks in my mind is my maternal great-grandfather who is listed as married to a woman other than my gr-grandmother at the SAME TIME he was married to my gr-grandmother. I know for a fact he was not a bigamist.

The second part of the problem is that people are actually using and listing the One World Tree as a valid source for facts in their family trees. As you can imagine, all this does is perpetuate mistakes... they multiply like little evil bunnies and create confusion across the internet.

I'm not a professional genealogist, but I'm still interested in including only factual info in my family trees. I mean, isn't the point of searching out our history to see where we came from and who preceded us? Or is it just to grow the tree out as far as we can? (Never mind if the people in it are actually related to us.) Even if a person isn't into digging enough to find accurate source documentation, shouldn't that person at least use some common sense in using what they find? I've seen some people added to trees where simple basic facts like say a birth date, make it clear they couldn't be the person they are believed to be. (For example, one tree lists one of my gr-gr-grandmothers being born in 1866 and then bearing her first child in 1867.)

End of rant. Stepping off my soapbox now.