Monday, July 22, 2013

PMGDOE - Different Views About Posting Genealogy Research Online

After I wrote Have You Posted Your Genealogy Research on the Internet? I Practice PMGDOE! (18 July 2013), I received several comments from readers stating why they don't post their genealogy data online, and I think that their views need to be heard and understood:

1)  Anonymous (D) wrote:  "I have not posted my family history to the web in any location or method. My reasons being; I have been 'BURNED' a couple times now by people that I call Gleaners. (They go on the web hunting, finding, and then posting to their database without verifying or acknowledging their source.) Plus their database I find so many times to have major errors in it and they will not acknowledge, correct, or give verification as to 'why' they feel their posting is truer than mine would be. When I started my family researching I shared with a man some data I had just obtained and I advised him it had not been checked and verified yet. I asked that he do so and work with me to do this before ever posting it, he did not, immediately posting it to his website. Needless to say as I progressed thru my verification process I did find errors. Now that wrong information is out there on his and other sites that have gleaned it from his website.

"Your theory of  'cousin bait' is fine, but in my particular case I have found that many of those cousins do not do complete and verified research,,, only to post and grow the size of their family tree to the most entries they can seem to acquire, right or wrong, proven or not…. As if there is some contest out there for the largest amount of people posted within a family lineage tree.

"I have found one (1) cousin that we work together researching the family name because we have the same feelings as how to research and prove and this cousin does not post to the web either for the same reasons.

"I do my research to pass to my children and have decided finding cousins is not worth the stomach acid I get from the people that refuse to 'prove' their postings, only to grow a tall tree giving the impression they do and use good solid researching methods when in fact I feel they 'glean' data from others hard work.

"I know I am part of the minor group doing researching this way and my attitude frustrates many people, but CORRECT and VERIFIED data is much more important to me.

"A good way to insure your research and hard work is preserved is to share it with a genealogy society in the area of your research, i.e. where you grew up, where your ancestry comes from, etc.

"D.  (verified data is solid research all other is garbage and not trustworthy.)"

2)  Anonymous (DJN) wrote:  "I am the cousin that 'Anonymous' mentions in blog. We live in two different countries and four time zones away from each other. We have shared combined info for several years and do our research for 'our children.' They need to know where they came from. 

"In my early stages of research, I too used 'other peoples' info thinking it was verified facts. It took me several years of searching until I met my cousin on line. We share the original surname spelling which has been changed on my side several generations ago. Once we got to trust each other, our data base has grown very nicely. 

"I found a relative that shared my surname spelling by accident through a newspaper clipping. Since that discovery, we have amassed a very large data base on this man and his family. All this info is in plain sight and easy to find through newspapers, town clerks and the Family History Center. Nobody has found this family even though the information is in plain sight and our surname is fairly common and widely researched. 

"Many people may not agree with our thinking, but that is your right. We do not collect hundreds and in some cases thousands of names just for the sake of collecting and not verifying facts.

"I respect other peoples' thoughts about posting on line. Please respect our feeling on 'not' posting our 'facts and family' on line.

My comments:

*  D and DJN make valid points about "gleaners" and being "burned" and have found a way to build a "verified" family tree by collaborating with each other.  I understand that and have been burned myself in my younger days.  However, facts (names, dates, places, records) are not under copyright protection and "gleaning" is not prohibited.  

*  We all want "Correct" data.  However, I don't know what "verified data" means - verified by whom?  Have they followed the Genealogical Proof Standard?  Have they done a reasonable exhaustive search, including drilling down to original and/or official records, adequately cited their sources for the available evidence, analyzed all of their evidence, resolved evidence conflicts, and written a soundly reasoned conclusion to satisfy the GPS?  I hope so!  Original records and "certified" data can be wrong, but are usually very reliable.  Following the Genealogical Proof Standard process helps a researcher determine the validity of their conclusions. 

*  How are they ensuring that their research "lives on?"  D says they have done it for their children, which is great...but paper or computer files are just one bad family decision away from the trash can or recycle bin.  Putting the research in a local library, genealogical society or historical society is another option as D mentions, but again it is one bad society decision away from the recycle bin.  You don't know what will happen to it after you are no longer here to ensure its' safety.  Creating a bound book with the researched information, and donating copies to local and regional libraries, is probably the best way to ensure that the work will "live on forever."

*  I would be interested in knowing if D and DJN regularly search the online family trees to search for more information that may lead them to additional records.  

*  I would be interested in knowing if D and DJN have had autosomal DNA testing done that indicates that they are cousins, and if so, have they identified other close cousins since it is a fairly common surname.

*  It may be that "Nobody has found this family even though the information is in plain sight and our surname is fairly common and widely researched" because D and DJN are the only leaves on this particular branch of the surname family tree.  I have this problem - my mother was an only child of only children and consequently I have no close cousins in that line.  

*  I know that D and DJN are not the only ones with these views, and those of us fishing for "cousin bait" need to be respectful of their views.  The frustration for many researchers is when someone will not share their information, for whatever reason (including "they might put it on the Internet"), with other researchers who are close cousins or relatives.

*  My thanks to D and DJN for sharing their experiences and opinions with Genea-Musings readers. 

Copyright (c) 2013, Randall J. Seaver


TheGeneticGenealogist said...

My two cents:

1. Even the BEST genealogical research almost certainly contains errors - not in research or analysis, but in the inherent errors associated with human memory, transcription, etc.

2. There has NEVER been a genealogist who did his or her research alone; all research has relied on the hard work of others (indexers, transcribers, family members, etc.)

Linda Schreiber said...

I do understand the problems early and now, but I strongly agree with PMGDOE.

Better to have many versions out there, some with smaller errors, and some with a mish-mash of copy-paste, than to have only the mish-mash. If the careful researchers hold back, then there is nothing but the mish-mash. No sources, no references or repositories, and lots of lost photos, notes, and memories.

Future researchers will have a lot more experience, and probably *tools* to help them parse out one from the other, and head them forward.

Gotta trust them....

Barbara McGeachy said...

I share some of my work, but not all, on the internet. Here's why:

1. I am saving some of my research to share after (if!) I get certified. BCG certification requires that no one has reviewed the work being submitted. I don't want to compromise my application.

2. I share my research that is straight-forward, and I share the photos I inherited. I have public trees on Ancestry, and a blog where I share my photos and some stories. I attach records I find in Ancestry to my ancestors. Sometimes it takes a while to find a record, and I'm glad if I can help other people. Also, I love photos and I think it's only fair to share the photos I have too.

3. I struggle with unsavory history. I am not going to hide it, but I also don't want to hurt living people. Publishing it on the internet would be too public.

4. I do not put any of my writing on-line. I publish books and give them to family members and libraries. This is because the World Wide Web is really the Wild Wild West! Some people are unscrupulous and steal other people's work. Writing and research are hard work, and I don't want to give thieves an easy opportunity to steal my work. Of course, they could find my books and type them up, but my theory is that thieves are generally too lazy to do that!

I think if I get to the point where I'm retired from genealogy, I might publish on-line, but I'm not at that point yet.

Mister Tolley said...

I too have had experiences of someone taking my incomplete data and putting it on-line (before I ever did) with a mish mash of other things. BUT that doesn't affect the quality of MY research. And as that particular gleaner didn't cite me as a source (they seldom do) I don't actually care very much. Putting my own data on-line has actually been a god-send. I have linked up with people who I'm related to, who had really important and novel information, and who put right some of the incorrect assumptions that I'd made. Empowerment only ever comes from sharing data and communicating with others.