Thursday, September 19, 2013

Not isolationism: There are other ways to share my genealogy

Earlier this week I posted on G+ and my FB page in response to James Tanner's Any New on FamilySearch Certification of Third-Party Products. "Extremely sad that +FamilySearch permits this continued dysfunction. THIS is why I waste no time with FamilySearch Family Tree and WHY Ol' Myrt here insists on maintaining my own genealogy database. There is NO WAY the concept "one big family tree" can work. It was a beautiful ideal, but owing to human frailties in research and in use of technology, FS Family Tree just w.i.l.l.n.o.t.w.o.r.k!!!"

Yesterday James wrote Genealogical Ownership and Isolationism where he states "In a recent pate of online discussion about's Family Tree, I was mildly amused to see so many comments from genealogists who were not going to use Family Tree because they didn't want some one to mess with "their data." It might be a revelation to some of these folks, but the fact is that you don't own your genealogical data." He then goes on to discuss copyright as some genealogists erroneously see it.

My beef isn't that I believe my genealogy is mine alone. (It isn't.)

It's that the concept of one great big, pie in the sky, family tree database just doesn't work.

+James Tanner, I am not sure you were speaking directly to Ol' Myrt here, but...

Remember you are talking to the queen of genealogy social networking here. I cut my genea-teeth on a 300 baud modem, using dial-up in the FIDOnet days. That's how important I think it is for genealogists to collaborate. I believe it is essential to share my research with others who may spot my mistakes. That's why I maintain my genealogy blog and have several Ancestry Member Trees, etc.  

Peer review is an essential component for Ol' Myrt here to keep climbing the right branches in the family tree of man.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt     :)
Your friend in genealogy.

G+ DearMYRTLE Community
Twitter: @DearMYRTLE
Second Life: Clarise Beaumont


  1. I agree with Ol' Myrt and keep my trees in other locations and have found wonderful connections that have led to new cousins and great new family information which has helped to break through some brick walls!

  2. I believe in sharing genealogy. I've had a tree on Rootsweb (with sources) for possibly 15 years and I've since added a tree to FamilySearch. I limit my tree to free sites because I want them readily available.
    Having said that, I believe "shared" trees, at least as they now work, don't.
    Too often I have heard my wife rant about how someone has changed the data she so laboriously checked and verified, perpetuating errors that she debunked years ago. (She did, finally, get her grandfather acknowledged as male despite having a female name.)
    I use FamilySearch's tree for LDS purposes but never consider it MY data. My data is on one computer, backed up to another, and copied to my phone. (My Rootsweb file is my emergency emergency backup so I try to keep it fairly current.)
    I'll add missing information to the shared tree as I find it but don't look for the missing and regard the tree itself as the last place to look for anything other than LDS information.
    Too many people toss in very bad information and, since I'm going to have to check it anyway, I begin somewhere else.

  3. Totally agree on the one big Tree. I've been doing genealogy for about 28 years and I've seen so much junk that people put in trees and so many different naming conventions, etc...while in theory, if you assume everything was accurate and consistent, it would be great, but those assumptions are just not valid, thus any single tree will be just a garbage tree making a bad situation worse. Doesn't mean we can't and don't share our information, just not in that fashion.

  4. 1) Most collaborative genealogy sites are setup so that another person can't mess with your data. People may be able to extend lines, offer corrections, etc., but not directly change other people's data. So this argument is moot.

    2) Presenting accurate and comprehensive data should be a reason that you DO post to a collaborative database. By combining our efforts and sources we can get further than we would by not collaborating. If a link has been debunked, that's great. Post details about why it's debunked, and then others will be more informed, rather than roaming free with their own ideas.

    I develop and manage a free collaborative site for just this reason at, trying to get our efforts out of the 20th century, and into the 21st.

  5. I think a lot of people (in FamilySearch and elsewhere) are missing the double whammy possible at for your family tree research. I have some hopes both portions will continue to be available far into the future since the IGI (at least portions of it) and the Ancestral File and the Pedigree Resource File are still around and searchable.
    Here is the double whammy. The FS Family Tree is editable in a wiki-like fashion. I have found that people rarely respond to correct data but more often respond to what they perceive to be "wrong" data. In PRF your submission with notes and sources (should you choose to include them) are preserved exactly as your submitted them. As I understand it, PRF is still open for submissions? And if FamilySearch continues to do so, genealogists have a medium to preserve their research (hopefully for a very long time past their own lifetimes)? So FamilySearch is giving up the opportunity to draw out collaborators (or at least "correctors") and to preserve intact if we use both parts. Does FamilySearch realize this? Does the general genealogical community?

  6. Great discussion. I have two cousins I've met through the years who WILL NOT allow anyone to access their research. One said, "I've worked long and hard in many a courthouse and graveyard" to let that happen. The other is basically paranoid that her photos and records will be "stollen" for a published book so someone else can take the credit. While I understand on some level, I can't disagree more. This same cousin can't bear to be questioned and so stands aloft, shaking her head when she finds "errors." By not collaborating, we deny ourselves a world of helpful information and critique. I echo Myrt in that it's all about sharing and that we should put it out there to be the most accurate we can be, given that the truth can allude even the hardest working researcher.

  7. Although I have only been doing genealogy about 4 years, The first lesson I learned was don't believe everything you see. The two trees I found were both garbage trees. Possibly they were on familysearch a long time ago and were never updated. Combining those two trees made a terrible mess. It sure did teach me how to do it right, though! My tree is public on ancestry. I want people to find it because it appears I am the only person making a tree with these relatives but I don't want people to change it. If they would like to contact me I will gladly read their alternative information but it's my choice whether to use it or not. And on those occasions when I or they have a breakthrough we have someone to do the Happy Dance with.