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Sloppy Research

Sloppy Research

Posted: 3 Dec 2012 7:21PM GMT
Classification: Query
Edited: 3 Dec 2012 7:28PM GMT
The main problem with Ancestry trees is that some people are taking a source and mixing it in a family where it doesn't go. They lack knowledge or maybe experience to go one step further and check to see if they have the right person snagged.

For instance, my Hamilton grandmother has parents that are not hers. Her father lived a few doors from where she lived and signed her marriage certificate in Campbell County, KY. The only thing in common with the Pennsylvania person they connected her to is the first name.

Common sense should tell a person to check and see if you have the correct person, but for some reason it doesn't always work that way.

I have recently seen this situation in a dozen or more cases. What I have seen were not even in my family and just something that I saw that I knew wasn't correct. This problem is getting so bad with Ancestry trees that I don't think that I can trust them for any information at all.

In several cases, I have even seen photos tagged incorrectly with names of people that died before photos were available.

In one case several people took the first Governor of Kentucky's wife and mixed her in their trees. I am sure that this happened, because her first name was the same as their ancestor's name.

The problem nowadays is that sloppy research has documentation - it just doesn't verify as factual.

It is a disrespect for our ancestors and to family research to see families spliced together that don't go together. Pasting people together with the same surname is an insult to those of us who try to keep facts straight.

So how should Ancestry combat issues like these? Color coding trees that don't match certainly wouldn't help, because copy and paste researchers copy each other's work. I have heard them say - "It has to be correct, a dozen people have it."

Am I the only person who finds this a serious problem? Who do we complain to? After all, remember Ancestry is making money off this trash!

Donna Cooper

Re: Sloppy Research

Posted: 3 Dec 2012 7:46PM GMT
Classification: Query
Edited: 3 Dec 2012 7:46PM GMT
I too am frustrated with the high level of inaccurate genealogical information on line. What is even more frustrating is that when you notify the people about the errors you are ignored. Recently I found a tree where the daughter was born 30 years before the parents. I could see the mistake happening but it should have been quickly be corrected.

Another example of this situation is shown with my 3rd great grandmother. She was married and lived in Binghampton New York in the first couple of decades of the 1800's. There are those who have her associated with a lady in England who lived at the same time. The error is apparent when you trace the English lady and find she is in England during the time my 3rg grandmother was having children in New York. To make the two ladies match you must assume that she had a baby in the US, and made a round trip of 8 to ten weeks each way to England in the two years between her children births. Of course I heard one newscaster refer to these sailing vessels as Cruise Ship, so maybe I am being to hard on their ignorance.

I think, like you, that people see similar names and don't stop and realize there are at least several thousand people with that name at any one time.

Whether it helps or not, when I find errors in peoples trees I have started adding comments that state "This tree is in Error and then give the correct information. I also volunteer to provide the sources for my information. Interestingly no one has asked me for copies of the correct information.

Re: Sloppy Research

Posted: 3 Dec 2012 7:59PM GMT
Classification: Query
I understand your frustration. Anyone who takes care with their research feels the same way.

Unfortunately, there is no one to "complain to." Ancestry certainly can't police family trees. I agree that they could present some basic warnings when someone is entering data. That might catch some real obvious errors - like "this child was born before her mother was born." But these kinds of error warning won't catch most mistakes.

Sloppy genealogy is not new. It has existed for many, many years. Back when our family trees were kept on paper. Remember that? However, the internet has made it much easier to find good genealogy records; it has also made it easier to find bad family trees.

And one more thing, those people that have such bizarre errors in their family trees will not respond to corrections or offers of help. So don't bother with that.

My suggestion? Either ignore family trees entirely and do your own research, or use them (very cautiously) for hints. Even in a bad family tree, a person might have correct information about close relatives. But even then you should verify the information from other independent sources -- coupled with a large dose of common sense.

Re: Sloppy Research

Posted: 3 Dec 2012 8:29PM GMT
Classification: Query
The interesting thing about the impossible chronologies is that when entering people individually, the system will flag if the date of birth is after the mother's date of death etc. (useful for catching typos - e.g., 1965 entered for 1865). But there is no comparable safety net when people copy from other trees, plus the tree-hint system makes composites of all trees for the same apparent individual, so there can be wide variations just because of that.

Re: Sloppy Research

Posted: 3 Dec 2012 10:00PM GMT
Classification: Query
Edited: 3 Dec 2012 10:01PM GMT
Impossible dates and the such is minor compared to placing people in trees without accurate documentation. Sometimes the names are the same and maybe even the dates are close, but still not accurate.

It takes some thought and work to check and see if you have added someone to your file that doesn't belong there. Copying and pasting in some name or date just doesn't get it. That sort of sloppy work is what we are seeing today.

Re: Sloppy Research

Posted: 4 Dec 2012 12:15AM GMT
Classification: Query
Donna- Bottom Line... IGNORE ALL ONLINE TREES-ALWAYS!

Search only for documents, use mailing lists, message boards, websites (other than online trees) etc. but Never, NEVER, pay attention to ANY online trees ANYWHERE.

You will hear people that proclaim that online trees provide 'hints' - and perhaps they do but most of those hints are as useless as those provided by that blasted shakey leaf and the time you spend verifying those hints could better be used doing actual research rather that following someone else's junkology.

Re: Sloppy Research

Posted: 4 Dec 2012 10:08AM GMT
Classification: Query
I would not say ignore them completely. Just recently, I got some photo hints that provided me with several photos of my second and third great grandparents. It would have been a shame it ignore that! Yes, most tree hints may be a waste of time but when you hit a gem, isn't it worth it? I think so.

I agree with "ignoring" them in that there is no sense in getting worked up over something you can't change - something which is not yours anyway. Some people seem to think they have some kind of ownership of their ancestors and take it personally when there are errors about them. But these are public documents were working with here - it's really not your concern if someone attaches them incorrectly to a tree which you do not manage. I try to only concern myself with MY tree, not other people's. If they have something that turns out to be an accurate documents, great! But otherwise, I stopped worrying about other trees a long time ago. Waste of time.

Re: Sloppy Research

Posted: 5 Dec 2012 3:08AM GMT
Classification: Query
Heck, I recently had someone complaining to me that I had HER ancestor born in 1795 listed with the wrong children, and could I please fix it. First of all, I don't have my tree on Ancestry, but it is on Rootsweb which comes up in Searches, so this person obviously saw that. But what's worse is that I took a look at this persons' tree and it turns out the only thing we had in common was the ancestor had the same name as mine, on opposite sides of the Country. Mine was born and raised his family in NC, and this persons' family lived in Washington State or something, and sure, they happened to have had some children with the same names, but mine had absolutely nothing to do with the person in her tree. This person had found a name which was the same as the one she was looking for (didn't matter where they lived, they had the same names, so hey, that didn't matter, right?) in her search and accepted it, and took it over as her ancestor, while absolutely nothing else matched. It's whackos like that which give genealogy a bad name, and I have long ago learned to ignore them, otherwise you can end up going crazy trying to deal with them.

Re: Sloppy Research

Posted: 7 Dec 2012 5:12PM GMT
Classification: Query
Maybe just maybe you meant to say "ancestry on line trees"?

I'm probably in the minority, but my genealogy research along with many other researchers have their trees uploaded to our own domains and have taken care to provide citations and references.

I am NOT saying they are perfect, as all manual entry methods result in errors, but there are some of us out there that do not necessarily condone all online data.

I do agree with the principle of this thread as there seems to be an explosion of trees on this site that contain impossible data... children born after the mother's death, mother's giving birth to children when they're in their 60s... and on and on. I leave comments when possible, but it seems like no one corrects anything and just keeps moving along to collect more ancestors.
Julie
www.jrwhiskey.com

Re: Sloppy Research

Posted: 8 Dec 2012 4:00AM GMT
Classification: Query
Why is this an issue? How does this affect your tree? Honestly, some of you take this way too seriously as a personal tree will never take the place of your own research. At least I hope not.

Recognize the source (personal family tree) for what it is and follow-up on what info is included. As long as you have it correct for your purposes, I do not see what the hoopla is all about.

Disrespect........give me a break. If this upsets you that much, don't look.

I mean no disrespect but there is a clear difference between actual records and family trees. The trees are invaluable with regard to hints for further research. Let them be and worry about your own.

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