12 November 2016

Online Genealogists & Online Family Trees

This post has been a long time coming. It culminates from observations that I made over the last few years. I am also curious how many other fellow genealogists feel the same and have the same frustrations. The effect of the Internet on the world of genealogy cannot be denied. In the late 1990s, when I put my genealogy away for a period to work on other projects; the Internet was present but it was not all encompassing as it is today. When I came back to genealogy five years ago I could not believe how things changed for the better. Messages and notes could now be sent and responded to immediately via email instead of postal mail. Queries could now be posted worldwide on web sites instead of listing in select genealogical publications. Simple searches for out of the area resources such as archive addresses, phone numbers, and contacts required going to a library to find this information. Today most of us use Google for tracking down this data. Online genealogical research subscription sites are numerous. Three of these sites that I subscribe to are Ancestry, MyHeritage, and Geneanet.

Many genealogists do not use these subscription sites because they do not want to pay for something that they can use elsewhere for free; such as searching census records. I subscribe to these sites for the convenience of conducting research at any time of the day or night that suites me. On all of the previously mentioned sites, subscribers have the ability to upload their data to create online family trees along with photos. Many take advantage of this option. This is great in my opinion. However, this is where for me the aggravation begins.

My data has been uploaded to all of the mentioned sites and online family trees created. On one site, numerous family photos were also uploaded. This was done for a specific reason. So that others who are researching the same family line as me can find this information. The photos are used as "cousin bait." But a lesson learned for me is I am not baiting anyone. Other researchers simply take and attach my family photos to their trees. There is no problem with this but I am seriously perplexed as to why this is done without contacting me for possible further information. And even more questions arise when I contact them and ask them "where do they fit into the family tree?" Responses are never received by me.

Another "beef" for me about online trees is when a researcher erroneously attaches my family to their online tree and when I contact them to notify them of their error I either receive no response or they insist that they are correct.

The purchase of DNA kits and uploading this data to an online tree is also a question to me at times. On average a DNA kit costs around $100. The kit results are then posted sometimes to an online tree that has six individuals in it or sometimes no tree uploaded. Really? That seems like money not well spent. How would anyone be able to compare trees when their data is extremely scarce or does not exist? To give some people the benefit of the doubt, perhaps a DNA kit was purchased and uploaded simply to find their ethnicity. I do get that. They may not be interested in the research aspect; just where they came from.

For me the message I am trying to get across is if a fellow genealogist contacts you with a question or a remark, please get back to them. The response does not have to be done yesterday but definitely in a somewhat timely manner. It is plain rude to not respond. Ah, I feel better.