This is my most valuable tip to avoid adding the wrong people to your tree as parents:
Almost every day on ancestry.com, I come across people being listed in trees as the parents of someone that they can not logically be parents of. I constantly find instances where the child and parents are all born within five to eight years of each other....or the child is born
years BEFORE their parents are born (not possible)....or the parents are born 300 years after the child (child born in 1150, parents listed as born in 1470). Or maybe a listed parent died in infancy...birth and death year are the same, then someone goes on to make that dead infant a parent in their tree.
What amazes me is that these inaccurate, impossible relationships are then copied by hundreds and hundreds into their trees as factual. When you see the same parents listed in hundreds of trees, most people just assume that they are accurate. When you find such an error, it is a
really monumental task to try to notify each and every tree owner of that error, so it can be corrected.
I've developed a way that could help avoid all of this from happening. If users could be educated to apply this one reasonableness test before adding anyone to their tree: Examine the inter-locking relationships between the birth dates of the child/parents/grandparents bond and ask yourself....is this reasonable? is this even possible? If the parents are not of child bearing age (as with a "died at birth" or age five father), or the parents are born after the child, it is probably not accurate and shouldn't be copied into your tree. I even put an "AGE FIVE" between their first and last name on my tree to warn others not to try to make them a parent.
Inter-locking birth date relationship between child/parents/grandparents bond does can not prove that someone is a parent of one of your ancestors, but through applying the reasonableness test, it sure can eliminate some of them you'll find online in a flash as not being the true parents you are searching for!
That only now leaves us with what to do with all those errors that have been copied into hundred and hundreds of online trees. I have proposed to ancestry.com that there be an online "repeated error correction form" that one could fill out when a often repeated error like those above are found, The error form info could then be examined and confirmed and all those who's tree contained the error
could be simultaneously contacted with a request to review their listing...so that they could correct it if they were so inclined. The only thing is whether or not ancestry.com is interested in correcting such errors or not and whether they will find a way to do this. I've also proposed that ancestry.com include a reasonableness check into their online and offline tree software that checks for such errors
before new people are added to the tree and that at least a "warning" be flashed before adding the suspected error is added. They could even add a warning to others if that person is added to the tree over the advice of the warning.
Of course, if newbys would be advised to keep their trees "private", making it viewable by "invitation" to family and friends, until they learned what they were doing.....then take it "public" if they wished,it would keep the quality and reliability of the information listed a lot more accurate for everyone.
These are the things that drive me absolutely nuts when I run across them on a daily basis. A few suggestions on how to go about remedying them.
Thanks, and feel free to reply with your thoughts on this!