Re: Vetting family tree submissions to genealogy sites for data soundness #general

Joseph Walder

Most users of Ancestry and MyHeritage, say, to the extent they create family trees at all. simply connect names with no supporting data other than perhaps birthdates and country of birth. That description does not apply to people writing in this discussion thread. I rarely grab "data" from other people's trees and and incorporate those data into my tree, but if I do, I add a comment indicating that the data are not supported by documentation.

I recently acquired a 40 year old set of cassette tapes in which a great uncle talked about family back in Galicia, including the names of siblings I previously knew nothing about. There's no documentation, and none is possible, because all records from the region were destroyed in war. So fact checking my great uncle is not possible. Does that mean I classify those tapes as unreliable, as hearsay? I have no doubt some readers here would say, "of course it's hearsay".

The criticisms here of Geni are all apropos, but I have twice been able to fill in gaps in my tree owing to others who were posting data there. In one case the other party had screen captures of Russian language vital records; in the other case, the other party had a relative's recorded oral history. I suggest we all strive for rigorous documentation but recognize that such is commonly not available.

Joseph Walder
Portland, Oregon, USA

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