Re: Wrong people on family trees on genealogy sites #general

Adam Turner

It also retains history of changes, which is invaluable for sorting out errors, and ensuring a high level of accuracy.
This is all great as an aspirational goal for Geni curators, but as applied to 98% of actually existing Geni trees, it's risible. The vast majority of Geni users are unaware of/uninterested in how to do cleanup on others' Geni trees, and errors that are theoretically correctable end up persisting on the site forever, getting copied over and over into other people's trees on other sites, etc. While there are certainly a few large, well-manicured Geni trees out there, there is also a gigantic "long tail" of Geni trees (which includes most of the ones I routinely come across via search engines) that receive none of this curatorial attention, and it shows. Saying the equivalent of "stop telling people not to use Geni then, if lots more people use it it will get much more accurate!" comes off as...very wishful thinking at best.

Since kvetching about Geni has been done to death in this forum, I'll instead diss FindAGrave, which has even higher practical barriers to corrections than Geni. As far as I can tell, only the person who has claimed a FindAGrave memorial page can edit it - and there are some users who have claimed hundreds of thousands of them for the purpose of uploading all the photos of the stones they photograph. The part that drives me up the wall is that frequently, these FindAGrave power users contribute their own error-filled "research" to the memorial pages; by "research," I mean they appear to have spent about 5 seconds pasting the results of a search on Ancestry or FamilySearch into the memorial, without doing any double-checking whatsoever to be sure they've correctly matched these records with the grave they photographed. Then when you point out their obvious errors to them, half the time they snippily demand that you provide rigorous citations for your correction before they will apply it!

My point here is that it's very easy for sites reliant on user-generated content to slip into an eye-rolling equilibrium: one where the power users do virtually zero due diligence of their own to propagate very long-lasting errors, and then set the norms that everyone else, not they, 1) are the ones who should be responsible for performing the labor of cleaning up the mess they made; 2) also need to be held to a far higher data quality standard than they themselves used to originally make that mess.

Adam Turner

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