family trees - who copied my information #general


Arline and Sidney Sachs
 

---------------------------- Original Message ----------------------------
Subject: 'stolen' family trees
From: "Arline and Sidney Sachs" <sachs@...>
Date: Sat, August 14, 2021 11:37 am
To: "main@..." <main@...>
--------------------------------------------------------------------------

I just checked the family tree section and saw that several people had
information from my family tree. There is a code number there, but I don't
know how to contact these people. No one but my sister and I called my
grandmother Oma (which means grandmother) yet all these people had her
name and Oma, so I know the material came from me  I have no idea how
these people are linked to me or why they have my data on their tree.
Since I know all my 8 second cousins - no first cousins, they must be
related further back - before 1800.

Arline Sachs
Springfield, VA 22150
research in Germany


dan.efrat@...
 

It is not clear which family tree program/data base you are referring to, but unfortunately, this is a common issue with online genealogy databases, as most programs allow easy copy of information from one tree to another. This is the downside of online databases - anyone can copy them, edit them, add them to their own family tree and claim ownership. There is no control and no research or documented sources needed and most of these databases/websites don't even have the option of showing the source of the information.  Besides the personal frustration of the original researcher, it also causes errors to be copied again and again, until there is no way to tell correct information from wrong information. I find it all the time with my family tree which I uploaded to FTJP more than 20 years ago.  From there is was copied to Geni.com and has been copied by others into their family trees in other genealogy databases countless times. When my database (MyHeritage) informs me of data match, I can tell , in most cases, that those trees are based on my original tree because like in Arline's case, there are pieces of information that only I would know. I even recognize errors that I previously made in my research I have since corrected in my own database. 
This is the main reason I decided not to upload my complete tree anymore. I have a basic tree in MyHeritage that goes back a few generations, for the purpose of connecting to relatives, but I did not upload the full tree, which goes back to the 11th century and took me more than 30 years to research, including countless hours at the library, prior to the internet . I gladly share and compare information with family members and other people on a personal contact basis, but for all the reason I listed above, I would not upload my entire tree for everyone to copy and claim as their own work.
Don't get me wrong - I do use information I find in online trees in my family research, but I only do that after carefully considering the information, comparing it to other information I have, reviewing the source (if available) and with detailed notes about the source and it's reliability. In most cases, I try to contact the person who posted the information to clarify the source(s) of that information before I use it.

Dan Efrat
Cherry Hill, NJ, USA (originally from Israel)
Researching: Israelite (from Novogrugok in Belarus and Latvia), Rabinowitz (Dyatlovo/Zhetl, in Belarus), Pruss (from Ukraine), Koifman from Ukraine and Goldblat (Ukmerge/Wilkomir., in Lithuania)


Robert Hanna
 

They may not even be related.  I've had that happen to me as well many times.  The worst was when a woman stole my pictures and attached them to people in her tree that were not related to me.  It's like she was in a contest to see who could have the biggest tree with the most pictures.  I was able to reach her and GENTLY PERSUADE her to remove the pictures.

Robert Hanna
NYC

Researching:
CHANAN/HANAN/HANNE/HEINE/HINEY (Warsaw, Poland); BLUMENBLAT (Sarnaki, Poland); KARASIK, THOMASHOW/TOMOSHOFF, COHEN (Babruysk, Belarus); RUBINSTEIN, BUNDEROFF, PASTILNIK, NEMOYTEN, DISKIN (Minsk, Belarus)


Marjorie Geiser
 

Arline,

I've found the same, where I can tell people copied what I found to their tree. I've also found incorrect info on various trees for my family. I only bother to let my closest cousins know when I find, and can prove, incorrect info.

As for those who copy my tree, I don't even bother. If it bothered me that much, I wouldn't have a tree online. To me, it's worth the risk of WRONG info (or 'stolen' info if you want to call it that), because by keeping my trees, AND my DNA, online, I've been able to connect with relatives I never knew existed!

And, to that end, as a quick little aside (to finding relatives); thanks to DNA, I just talked to a second cousin I never knew existed until last week! He was able to fill in ALL the blanks I still had on one of my grandfather's sisters, who was his grandmother!

So, yeah, there are risks, but there are also rewards. I guess it all depends on our perspective, and what we hope to find/achieve in this journey of genealogy.

Margie Geiser
Arizona, USA

 

LEVINE/LEWIN/LEVIN, SILBERNAGEL/ZYLBERNAGEL/SILVER, EPSTEJN/EPSTEIN, MOCZYDLOWER/MOCHEDLOVER, ERLICH, GRUNPELTZ, JOSKOWICZ, ZYLBERSZTEJN, SZTABINSKA, WILK


Friedman, H George
 

I don't understand this worry over "stolen" family trees. Let me put that statement into context.

I will die, sooner or later. Did I do all this genealogical research only to have it die with me? NO! I want it to be available to other researchers, just as I have had other people's research results available to me. Otherwise, what is the point of my doing the research in the first place?

Of course, someone using my material ought to give me credit for it, just as I give credit to others whose materials I use (with their permission, out of courtesy if nothing else). But I would not want my research results locked away from being shared with others!

There certainly must be safeguards. I do not post my information to any site that allows others to modify it! And I am careful about privacy for the living. But if someone copies my work into their tree, and then incorrectly modifies it there...well, I don't see that that takes any skin off of me.

If you have 20 generations of ancestors, and do not publish it in some way, what good it it? Sure, you know it, but after you die, it is lost.

I was trained as a scientist, a chemist, and had a career as a university professor. So I speak from a tradition of publishing one's research. Genealogy is certainly not the same as chemistry, but I think the point is the same: Knowledge not shared is not knowledge at all.

Regards to all,

H. George Friedman, Jr.
Emeritus Professor of Computer Science
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


Max Heffler
 

 

 

George Friedman wrote”

 

I will die, sooner or later. Did I do all this genealogical research only to have it die with me? NO! I want it to be available to other researchers, just as I have had other people's research results available to me. Otherwise, what is the point of my doing the research in the first place?



There certainly must be safeguards. I do not post my information to any site that allows others to modify it! And I am careful about privacy for the living. But if someone copies my work into their tree, and then incorrectly modifies it there...well, I don't see that that takes any skin off of me.



I was trained as a scientist, a chemist, and had a career as a university professor. So I speak from a tradition of publishing one's research. Genealogy is certainly not the same as chemistry, but I think the point is the same: Knowledge not shared is not knowledge at all.

 

--

 

All trees have errors. That is why I prefer a single collaborative tree like geni where sources can be posted to a profile and curators evaluate the facts to improve the single One World Tree over time. I have had others inform me of mistakes in my tree, which has allowed me to improve it for future generations. This tends to be a “religious” issue and many people have made up their minds on their direction. Siloed trees will perish with their “owners.”


Max Heffler

Houston, TX


--

Max Heffler
Houston, TX
max@...
HEFFLER(Ukraine)/TIRAS(Poland)/WASSEMAN(Lithuania)/MOORE(Poland)/ZLOT(Lithuania)
GORENSTEIN(Ukraine)/FLEISCHMAN(Latvia)/GOLDEN(Lithuania)


Odeda Zlotnick
 

On Sun, Aug 15, 2021 at 10:18 PM, Max Heffler wrote:
All trees have errors. That is why I prefer a single collaborative tree like geni where sources can be posted to a profile and curators evaluate the facts to improve the single One World Tree over time. I have had others inform me of mistakes in my tree, which has allowed me to improve it for future generations. This tends to be a “religious” issue and many people have made up their minds on their direction. Siloed trees will perish with their “owners.”
True, and yet, "my" Geni proflies are pockmarked with dozens of "matches" inserted there by people who "matched" those profles with profiles on MyHeritage (an owner of Geni) who matched with other trees who copied from an original tree - 4 and 5 time over: One person, copied to 5 other trees, 5 "matches", 5 errors...
And do you know why Geni kindly adds "matches" to profiles in MyHeritage?  Because Geni members will not see any details of those disfiguring matches, unless they pay MyHeritage as well. 

I ignore all matches - neither confirming nor denying, but they do annoy and distract me - and are added by other tree members who love collecting....
Sigh.

 
--
Odeda Zlotnick
Jerusalem, Israel.


Dahn Cukier
 


Hello,

This is a reply to George's post.
There is no good to come from claiming the earth
is flat (or roundish).  That is what happens when
people constantly copy and publish wrong information.

I am in touch with at least one person from most
branches of my family and have found more,
but through Yad VeShem, DNA,  obituaries, but
not via family trees.

I share printed trees with the people I have addresses
(snail or e-mail) but also post a note that if the information
is used, it must be verified by themselves and not mention me.

I also share information with those doing their own research.
But at the same time I now document (last 10 years)
who or where I found the information. That way when I
find  two people  in 1940 census as a neighbors, but a
marriage license from 1936, I decide which to use and
document both.


I did, in the 1990s share a GED file with a cousin, she uploaded
the entire file including the 3 (of 9)  families she is not
a relative of, by blood or marriage. 

When I recorded my 1st cousin as my aunt's son, it is what I
had been told. Even my cousin did not know, but it turns
out to be wrong.

Where does the information go when I go? My nephew is
now interested in genealogy, my will even mentions the work
I  started in 1982, and that every inheritor will
be offered a copy.

Published trees are helpful, but the information you
draw from them must be verified with the publisher.
The 2 times I found a suspected relative, the publishers
admitted he had no further information.

Happy Hunting
Dahn Zukrowicz

When you start to read readin,
how do you know the fellow that
wrote the readin,
wrote the readin right?

Festus Hagen
Long Branch Saloon
Dodge City, Kansas
(Gunsmoke)


On Sunday, August 15, 2021, 09:57:19 PM GMT+3, Friedman, H George <friedman@...> wrote:


I don't understand this worry over "stolen" family trees. Let me put that statement into context.

I will die, sooner or later. Did I do all this genealogical research only to have it die with me? NO! I want it to be available to other researchers, just as I have had other people's research results available to me. Otherwise, what is the point of my doing the research in the first place?

Of course, someone using my material ought to give me credit for it, just as I give credit to others whose materials I use (with their permission, out of courtesy if nothing else). But I would not want my research results locked away from being shared with others!

There certainly must be safeguards. I do not post my information to any site that allows others to modify it! And I am careful about privacy for the living. But if someone copies my work into their tree, and then incorrectly modifies it there...well, I don't see that that takes any skin off of me.

If you have 20 generations of ancestors, and do not publish it in some way, what good it it? Sure, you know it, but after you die, it is lost.

I was trained as a scientist, a chemist, and had a career as a university professor. So I speak from a tradition of publishing one's research. Genealogy is certainly not the same as chemistry, but I think the point is the same: Knowledge not shared is not knowledge at all.

Regards to all,

H. George Friedman, Jr.
Emeritus Professor of Computer Science
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


Jeffrey Herrmann
 

There is so much garbage that has been deposited into family trees on the digital dump yards on the Internet that are called genealogical sites that I have almost entirely stopped responding to their “discoveries,” “matches,”  “hints” etc.  This includes, in my opinion, Geni, Ancestry, MyHeritage, Family Search and others.  Before diving into their many rabbit holes and wasting hours of my leisure time, I ask myself:  How many hundreds of dollars per hour would I demand if another person asked me to explore these dump sites to aid their genealogical research.  Usually, contemplating that question dissuades me from diving in.  

it is infuriating that people thoughtlessly contribute to the exponential growth of misinformation in the world.  Even worse is that when you contact them to point out their errors, they almost never take corrective actions.

Jeffrey Herrmann
New Rochelle, NY


Eva Lawrence
 

I've been thinking about tree copying from another angle.. If someone copies items from your tree to their own, it's not like stealing your stamp collection. On a collaborative - and free - website like Geni,  you are a member of a research team, and the aim is to produce a valid end product without erroneous information.  It's what you accept as a condition of posting..  If errors annoy you, you have to take time and trouble to put them right.
I'm posting on there as a way of passing on what I've found out, but I  place more importance  on the tree I keep on my own computer,  which I keep up to date, and on which every leaf has a personal meaning for me, and represents someone related to me. For this   I make a point of using software which can stand independently on my laptop. on a subscription website.
I have ideas about these lives and characters in many cases, and there is a person index where I can find them if I come across a name on the  web   that looks familiar. If  another web user takes a tranche of my online tree and adds it to their own,  it does mean that in some way we are related.  So it would simply be good manners to introduce themselves, and perhaps pass a little about their own family.   
The function of the names  and  dates on my tree is simply to provide a framework which keeps the stories and traditions in place.   
 .  
--
Eva Lawrence
St Albans, UK.


Deborah Wiener
 

Yes that really annoys me. I have found many errors and pointed them out but never have I had a response.

I don’t understand why they post if they don’t care about accuracy.

 

Debbie Wiener

dwiener@...

Melbourne Australia


colin@...
 

I also had this problem. 

Many years ago I did publish my tree on a well-known online database. A cousin who was in the legal profession found that it was very easy for people to find family details that could have been used against her.  Other members of my family just don’t want their details published and, to earn their trust, I must ensure that remains the case. 

 

I was shocked when I was able to Google a name and drill down to discover siblings, and even my Mother’s maiden name (not that I would ever use that as a security question/answer).  I logged into the online database and changed most of the information as I didn’t trust the company to properly delete it.  Then I requested the database be deleted and when that was confirmed, I deleted my account.

What’s the problem with this?  Some of my family give me information and documentation on the understanding that it remains private. 

Privacy is important and once information is on the Internet, it can’t be recalled.  Sadly, the answer is that, if you care about your and your family’s privacy, don’t put your tree online.  I don't anymore.

--
Colin Harris
London
United Kingdom


Teewinot
 

Why were you shocked? That information is all public record. Besides,
privacy is an illusion. It has been for decades. I live in the USA, so
things may be a little different between here and the UK, but basically,
if you don't live in a hole in the ground on a deserted island in the
middle of the Pacific Ocean and have no contact with anyone or anything,
you have no privacy. It's as simple as that.

Jeri Friedman
Port Saint Lucie, Florida


On 8/17/2021 10:00 AM, colin@... wrote:

I was shocked when I was able to Google a name and drill down to
discover siblings, and even my Mother’s maiden name (not that I would
ever use that as a security question/answer).  I logged into the online
database and changed most of the information as I didn’t trust the
company to properly delete it.  Then I requested the database be deleted
and when that was confirmed, I deleted my account.
--
Colin Harris
London
United Kingdom
--
This email has been checked for viruses by Avast antivirus software.
https://www.avast.com/antivirus


etonyb70@...
 

i very much agree with professor friedman. i'm constantly thinking all the work i do will help a future relative in their tree making endeavors as others' trees have helped me.  the whole purpose of making a tree is for all to see, use and add to it.  i am also in urbana and do some post doc work at u of i.

ton e becker


Rob Halpern
 

ton e becker writes, "  the whole purpose of making a tree is for all to see, use and add to it."
Not for me it isn't. The point of building my tree is to keep alive the memories of my ancestors for their descendants.I do not post my work publicly. I share it privately with all the family I have found. Some of them have posted it and it shows u, mangled within other incorrect trees people copy it into. So my ancestors' memory is mangled with it. I object to this sloppy, greedy trend. The race to see how many names one can add to their tree is hollow.

Rob Halpern
Ossining, New York
USA


etonyb70@...
 

i agree that not all know how to build a tree, some are really bad at it but a private tree means ONLY people in your family that you know will be aware of it.  dna matches who you dont know will not, most will not ask to see the tree and their match will always be a mystery.  the dna match plus my own research also verifies the tree that you and i have. they should be able to see, as they are your family, how they fit into your tree. they should be able to copy and add but NOT modify your work. that is what i mean by see, use and add to it.  i have found 2nd to 5th cousins solely from others trees, some of them are famous and have been big in history.  another factor is in-law relatives, their kids may be related to you but the kids want to know about both sides not just the side of the family that youre on. it is difficult where to decide where to stop your tree, i only expand if someone on that side of the family is interested.  many need to site sources including others' trees and verify by research that a tree is correct. again, i agree some mangle trees and no one should be able to modify yours but they should be able to take what you learned, know to add to their own tree they are also related to you in some way and it is also greedy to keep it from them.  there is a huge overlap between family members trees as its also likely your parts of the tree will not remain private forever. it is not like a patent as theres no monetary gain from keeping it away from your unknown relatives, it is only reminicsent feel-good knowledge.  you also block those who have done all their research with a solid tree who may have gone back so many generations who want to verify that their ancestor they have in their tree is the same as yours. as stated earlier by the professor, it is like science, if you only share it with the people you know, it will be lost to everyone else who would benefit from your research.  when you can no longer log in to that account for on reason or another(barring a large effort to gain full access) the relatives you shared with digitally cannot pass it onto their relatives without you allowing them to copy or transfer your work making it lost.

ton e becker


Marcel Apsel
 

Completely agree with you, Rob Halpern.  I share my trees  only with family members,  telling them they should pass those trees only to other family members.  I send the trees only in PDF format, so they cannot change it, or they have to write everything over in any genealogical program.  If my family wants  to have changes made, no problem – they should send it to me and I will make the changes and send them back updated trees.  No problem with that.

I once send, after a request from a far distant cousin my tree in gedcom format to him, so he could use it to edit the way he would prefer.  I asked him specifically not to publish it on any public ‘commercial’ genealogical website, because of privacy reasons.  This ‘idiot’ (sorry for the expression) published it on geni and since then this published tree became a tcholent, kigel and kishke all together by mixing relationships and facts.  I tried several times to contact different file managers and managers of trees with common names and supposed relationships on other trees.  Result : two real responses out of 50; other managers even didn’t know they were managers and were asking what I wanted from them ????

Conclusion : theoretically family trees should in certain way be available to family and in a certain way some generations above us to the general public taking into consideration privacy matters .  If you want to get information about specific names, the JGFF in Jewishgen can be helpful, as well as searching through other genealogical websites.  It should not become a competition where you want to put as much people on your tree without caring about the veracity of the information, because this can sometimes lead to embarrassing situations.  I know people who are very proud to have more than 100.000 people on their different trees, including kings and queens, the most famous rabbis etc …, without any formal proof.  For example, mentioning you are a descendant of king David ????  Another matter I found in the 18th century is a birth of a son, about 50 years after the mother passed away.  When I asked the file manager what it was about it, I was told to get a proof of it.  I then left the matter.

Anyhow, after 50 years I am still enjoying doing genealogical research and regularly I find some nice new information.

 

Marcel Apsel

Antwerpen, Belgium


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Linda Higgins
 

I found my entire family in the family tree of someone I had never heard of.  Someone way back in her family had the same name as my mother's cousin and she just presumed they were the same person even though they were born about 40 years apart.  I contacted her and she just kept insisting the information was correct.  I finally asked her  if anyone in her family was Jewish and she said no.  That convinced her.


Michele Lock
 

I keep my tree on Ancestry public, though I put no living persons on it, and even keep off the recently deceased (say, from the last ten years). I have had a few people contact me about persons in my tree, and haven't minded communicating with them. I do see some of the gravestones that I requested photos of, popping up on other trees, but then again these photos are public, and I don't own them. I've paid for birth/marriage/death certificates, which I have posted on my tree, and I see others have 'borrowed' them as it were, but those are also public records, so it is not like I own them, either. 
The fact is that I have immeasurably benefited from others having their trees public, even those that are ridden with errors. There is usually enough in these trees that is correct or points in the correct direction, that I can gain something useful from these trees, though still realizing that I need to verify all records. 
The biggest benefit I've gotten from public trees on Ancestry is from those linked to my DNA matches on AncestryDNA. Through those trees and my own, I've been able to uncover unknown sisters of great grandparents, and even a sister of a great great grandmother. None of this would have been possible without public trees. 

Michele Lock

Lak/Lok/Liak/Lock and Kalon/Kolon in Zagare/Joniskis/Gruzdziai, Lithuania
Lak/Lok/Liak/Lock in Plunge/Telsiai in Lithuania
Trisinsky/Trushinsky/Sturisky and Leybman in Dotnuva, Lithuania
Olitsky in Alytus, Suwalki, Poland/Lithuania
Gutman/Goodman in Czestochowa, Poland
Lavine/Lev/Lew in Trenton, New Jersey and Lida/Vilna gub., Belarus


Elise Cundiff
 

Once you post any data on a public tree, on any platform - you have made it available to anyone and everyone.  You have given it - and so, you no longer "own" it, and it isn't being stolen from you, even if the person using it is getting it wrong.  Especially if your data comes from public records/documents in the first place.
That is what the user agreements of sites like Ancestry are telling you.  You are posting data that will now be open to all to use. You agree to this when you choose to use the site.
You can keep some individuals private, by never listing a date of death.  Or, you can have your tree be private entirely - but people will be able to see that you have one, just not be able to see what you have on it.
Some tree platforms, like Geni, FTJP, FamilySearch, and several others, are explicitly designed to be not just visible to all, but "collaborative" so that anyone can build on and add to your tree - in other words, it is no longer just "your" tree, and changes that perhaps you won't like could be made to it.  You need to be aware of this before choosing to use those sites!
IMO, my ancestors don't belong to just me - they have many many relatives, many that I am not aware of.  If one finds my information useful, they are welcome to it.
PS I have twice been contacted by people who strongly insisted that I had wrong information - but in fact, they were the ones who had made the "same name" error, and never provided me with any proof of their assertions nor corrected their trees.   I also would have never discovered, or made contact with, my grandfather's family if I hadn't had my public tree.

Elise Cundiff  (Ohio)
Searching Zieve (Lithuania), Markus (Lithuania or Poland)