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Friday, June 3, 2011

Borrowing, Taking, and Sharing: Trees - Part 2

As I consider all of the sharing that does take place online for family trees in general, I can't help but question the accuracy of the information.  That brings me to my next and sixth point - Buyer Beware!  Yes, people spend a good chunk of money to subscribe to but how sourced and accurate is the information that is on someone's tree?  Before you borrow, you might want to really look over the information and make sure it is your family that you plan to copy over.

I have found people on Member Connect borrowing from my Flanagan Family Tree just because the first and last names matched and they are in Ireland.  Really?!  That's probably not the best way to construct a family tree.  How about sourcing a tree with real source documents?  I can't say my trees are perfect so those borrowing from me should be looking the information over very carefully.  Maybe they should shoot me a message and ask where I found my information.

My seventh point is that it pays to contact people.   You never know what you might find.  After a year of researching my Hickey Family Tree off and on, I popped on one day recently to find someone on Member Connect with my fairly exact Patrick Hickey on her tree.  I sent her a message.  She turned out to be a cousin and not a very distant cousin.  While I have never met this lady, she knew who my Dad way.  She turned out to be one of my father's first cousin's on our Hickey side of the family.  Wonders never cease.  I have never met her in person but she remembered my dad, his brothers and sister.  I do find connecting like this rather astounding.  I wonder what she looks like.

When it comes to my Hickey side of the family, the information is sketchy.  To my amazement, my father's cousin has researched the family tree and is about two generations back in County Clare, Ireland.  She mailed me copies of what she has in the way of research.  Patrick's death certificate is included.  How awesome is this?  I never would have gotten this information if I hadn't contacted her.  I love the connections with people and the discoveries that result.

So why in the world are some people so private with their research and fail to respond to messages sent their way?  My eighth point involves employment.  When someone is hired to complete research on another's family tree, privacy of their client is very important.  If the researcher receives a message from another family member, they may not know how to respond or even be in a position to respond on behalf of the client.  This is definitely something to keep in mind when contacting those with trees online.  It could be a professional, client based situation that prevents a response.  However, the professional may still borrow the publicly posted information off another's tree, especially if it is sourced!

Researching one's direct line is an option that many people prefer when it comes to their family trees.  By tracing the "straight" line to the past without deviating to other branches, cousins, aunts, uncles, can simplify the process for many.  My ninth point is that there are those people out there completing publicly posted family trees who don't really want to deviate off that "straight line" as it is distracting and presents a much more complex family tree than what they are prepared to deal with.  If you email these individuals, you may never hear a response.  They are on the straight and narrow......and might be missing out on an opportunity to find a cousin with photos, documents, or other information about a family line.

My tenth and final point (for the time being) is that with the increased popularity of creating a family tree and the ease of's software, many people have jumped on the bandwagon (or rocket) of working up their family trees.   Do they all know what they are doing?  Probably not.  These are the people who accept every hint, connect to every tree, beg/borrow/steal information (maybe not even realizing it), and have mistakes all over the place.  These are individuals who want a tree created quickly and want to find a king or queen back in the 15th Century overnight.  Good luck to them, however, success does not really work that way.  These people don't really have time to stop and say "Hello, who are you?" and "Thanks for the info that you posted and I borrowed!"

I must admit that I have borrowed but I am the messenger in your box asking "Hello, who are you? and Thank You!"


  1. Again, good points. I would think, though, that even in the situations you mentioned (like professional researcher, or someone dedicated to main line only) that they could at the very least respond to your query. Even if it is to say, "hey, I can't help you but thanks for writing!" Perhaps I've spent too long in the corporate world, or read too much Emily Post.

  2. LOL! I'd like to think that those who don't say "Thank You" probably never did work in corporate America in the computer age. Also, they may not be real great at computer technology......