04 March 2013

On Errors in the Ancestry.com Trees and Those Who Will Not "Correct"

I posted this to the Association of Professional Genealogists email list today, but thought it would be good to post here as well. My opinion on dealing with the frustration of "errors" in the online "trees" created by others has matured over time. I do believe that there is a difference between errors in trees created by users and errors in databases and other finding aids created by Ancestry.com.

[message follows]

I gave up some time ago on trying to correct the masses. It takes time away from actual research and from making progress on challenging research puzzles. There are a few of us who really want to know (as best we can) the correct wife of John Rucker who died in Virginia in the 1740s and of Edward Tinsley who died there in the 1780s, but there are others who really just want "a name" for a wife, regardless of how that information was obtained or how long  it has clearly been proven wrong. It is faster to simply copy something from an old book than try and ferret out correct information from records that require slow work and painstaking analysis. I also find that (usually) those with a desire to be as accurate as possible tend to gravitate toward others of the same mindset. A handful of correspondents who are concerned about accuracy, precise in their work, and adept at catching (nicely and politely) flaws in the work of others are worth hundreds of correspondents who refuse to learn the difference between testate and intestate.

Ignorance is a good thing when one is aware of it and willing to learn in order to work one's way beyond it. Not everyone is willing to learn.

I publish slowly what I've found to be "right" along with my justification for it.  Those with an interest in being as accurate as possible usually seek out like minded people. 

One should always courteous to those who have not yet been converted to evidence and analysis-based researched. All of us fit into that category at some point. There is always the chance that the "collector" today matures into a seasoned researcher tomorrow.

[end of message]

Back to work. As mentioned in my message, lamenting errors in online trees doesn't help me to get any actual work of my own done.