Sunday, July 29, 2012

To Upload or not Upload, That is the Question

First a little housekeeping. I finally finished the Essential Books page. Please take a look! I will be updating the My Favs page with more information about Legacy Family Tree and more of my fav web sites.


I want to go off on a bit of a bunny trail from yesterday's blog about privacy issues. I have to warn you, this is one of my pet peeves and I get a little huffy about it sometimes.

I do not have my private file on the internet. I currently have almost 9000 linked individuals which means a lot of research. I had my file on Rootsweb many years ago but I found that people would copy and paste things from my file to their file without bothering to document where they got the information. In my notes I have all of my working theories (and they are labeled as theories). People would transfer this information as fact (again, not bothering to say where the information came from). I finally took my file down.

I am more than happy to share my information one-on-one with people so that I can explain my sources and encourage them to check behind me. I will send people copies of the documents I have so that they can analyze them themselves. I contact fellow researchers via message boards and mailing lists all the time. I have found that when I have the opportunity to explain my research it is much more likely the person will understand the importance of noting the sources.

Please take whatever you see on these GEDCOM websites with a grain of salt and contact the contributor to ask them WHERE they got the information. Here is a great example of this. I have my grandfather's Bible. In it he put, "Silas Simmons married Indian girl Squerloque Miss" If you were to do a search on Ancestry.com you will see that many people have that Silas Simmons married a woman named Squerloque. That came directly from my file years ago when it was on Rootsweb. Squerloque is a PLACE not a person's name (a misspelled place but a place all the same). The woman's name was Janet. It says Squerloque Miss[issippi] in the Bible. It ended up in someone's file as her name being Squerloque and then someone else copied,and then it got copied again and again. I stopped trying to get this corrected because I can't even contact people fast enough to explain the error before someone else copies it again.

I might put my file back up on the internet one day but if I do, it will be on my own website where I have a little more control. I will have disclaimers and information on the site that I can't put on the GEDCOM sites.

Bunny trail of a bunny trail...
Please remember this one very important rule of citing your sources. Let's say you find a marriage date for one of your ancestors on one of these GEDCOM sites like Ancestry.com or Rootsweb. Let's also say that the contributor does cite his source and that source is a county marriage license. If you add this marriage information to your file your source is the GEDCOM file NOT the marriage license! Unless you see the marriage license yourself, you can't (or at least shouldn't) use that as your source. The right course of action is to add the information with the GEDCOM as your source temporarily while you contact the contributor asking to see a copy of the license or write off for a copy of the license yourself. Once you have the license in your hand, you change your source to the marriage license itself.

I will get off of my soapbox now...


Copyright © 2012 Michele Simmons Lewis

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