Thursday, January 6, 2011

(UN) Thankful Thursday - Am I the only one?

Am I the only one that has so much trouble with bad information on line? Being related to a famous ancestor causes me so much frustration! Does anyone else have this problem????

Do a search of public trees for "John Brown 1800-1859" on Ancestry.com and you will get 546,177 results. FIVE HUNDRED FORTY SIX THOUSAND!!!!!!  The amount of information present is overwhelming to say the least.

It would not be so bad if all of the information agreed...but it is a great big mixture of correct and incorrect information. I am getting really good at telling where the tree owners cherry picked the information from. Don't get me wrong, many of the trees are correct, but there are others that are wrong, and I mean really wrong! There are mistakes in the basic information about John Brown, his wives, his children and on and on. Dates are wrong, locations are wrong, who married who is wrong. It is enough to make me pull my hair out!

I have given up asking tree owners if they would possibly make changes to their information, so that others will not copy incorrect information and spread the lies even further across the Internet. Of those I have asked, nicely mind you, with the information that I am a direct descendant working on a complete genealogy of JB and would they please make the following corrections to their information I get one of three responses
  1. Of course, I will change the information. Thank you for letting me know that data I copied from x-place is wrong. I want my tree to be accurate, and I really appreciate you letting me know. (25%)
  2. No response at all (25%)
  3. What do you mean my data is wrong?? Who are you to tell me that? I found the information online so it must be correct. Hell no I am not changing it. (50%)
While the historian in me is obsessed with the historical accuracy of the information floating around on the Internet, the genealogist in me is also concerned with the accuracy of the data for future generations.

I spent months trying to track down a connection to a family because I found a clue in a tree. I could never make it work, but the tree owner was adamant that the information was accurate. I finally in desperation asked for the backup, i.e. sources, only to be told, "Sources? What do you mean by sources? I just copied the information from such and such tree."

Sigh. I filed the information in my Not Related To JB file and moved on, frustrated by the lost time, but more worldly in my knowledge that the Internet is full, and I do mean FULL of incorrect information.

Does this happen to others? How do you handle the frustration and misinformation?

6 comments:

Carol said...

Yep, happens all the time. I used to send corrections, out of 20 some sent one evening, only 1 response.

I don't bother any more. I try to not worry about it, cause there is not one dad blasted thing I can do to fix it. You found that out.

I do my work the best I can, source like crazy, make notes like crazy, don't publish on line anything I don't want stolen, borrowed or used.

I do the research for me first. Remembering that helps keep it in perspective.

YOU CANNOT change others, only how you react to them.

My suggestion: Ignore em, do not react.

Alice Keesey Mecoy said...

Carol - Thanks for the words of wisdom. You are right, nothing I can do. I feel sorry for the future genealogist, there is so much "bad" info being thrown around on the internet. My work is all sourced, documented and recorded for future scholars and genealogists

Carolyn Murphy said...

Great post!

IrishEyesJG said...

Great post Alice, I agree with Carol's advice. Those of us, like you, who work hard to ensure that we have correct information by using legitimate reliable sources and actual real documentation can sometimes feel like we're banging our heads against a wall. I was once accosted at a history conference by a man who was very angry because my documented research didn't fit with his family 'story'. Sigh and keeping smiling. Cheers! Jennifer

TCasteel said...

I just was discussing this regarding our patriarch ancestor Edmund duChastel. I looked on Ancestry's world tree (or whatever they call it) and I couldn't believe what has happened. Someone posted some parentage (no sources of course) and an erroneous place of birth and, voila, there it is - copied to hundreds of other trees and propagated beyond belief. A what does everyone cite: Ancestry World Tree
Very frustrating.
Okay - now I have to calm down again... :-)
Regards,
Theresa (Tangled Trees)

Claudia's Genealogy Blog said...

A thing that I find irksome is when I find information to what I am sure is a related family line and they do not reply at all.

This has happened with descendants of my grandfathers siblings. What possible thing could I want from them except to share family information?