Monday, 26 August 2013

The In-Depth Genealogist -Online Tree's Survey

The In-Depth Genealogist team will be hosting a discussion at Rootstech 2014 looking at the fascinating subject of Online Trees: The Root of All Evil.

To get everyone in the mood they have devised a short survey by which you can give some feedback.

You can complete the survey HERE  (

Now this is a fascinating debate and something well worth considering. I have mixed views about sharing data online. For me this is devised into two issues
  1. Plagiarism
  2. Inaccuracies
Sadly these two points seem to go hand in hand. Uploading a tree to a website, either your own site or at a research site such as Ancestry is of course a great idea, however, ancestors can be claimed by people who may have flawed research, or perhaps they claim photographs and articles and then use the material as their own, or attach it to the wrong individual. Actually the possibilities are pretty much endless.

Genealogy is about building your ancestral pedigree and family history is about fleshing out those names and dates and bring those people alive. 

As a researcher I of course have family trees. When I am working on a particular family I often draw a tree, as it helps me to put data into context. I put fact in one colour and hypothesis in another. I date the tree and indicate which colour is which. My own family history programme contains fact only and it is written in a way that enables me to track back the data using the paper trail. I have a tree on line which is private and it is there purely for my benefit. On the odd occasions I share a Gedcom file there are no sources - which is a deliberate act. If I am sent a Gedcom of someones research I never merge it with mine, until I have checked and followed a paper trail.

Do I miss out on genealogical connections?

Quite possibly, but I do share information by
  1. Blogging about ancestors, either in full or by sharing snippets of information and then by using the labels to track posts
  2. Adding material to my web page in a variety of ways
    1. Time line structure - Example
    2. Story structure - Example
Collaborating and sharing information with fellow researchers is great. If someone want to use a picture or information I am happy to share, but it is only good manners to ask. When you are asking you are developing a conversation and the opportunity to perhaps gain other information and to meet, even virtually a family member, regardless of if there is a distant or close genealogical connection.

Sadly, I won't be at Rootstech 2014 to hear the discussion by the In-Depth Genealogist team, and I hope this is one of those that will be streamed so that I can hear it virtually. It is a fascinating debate and you can contribute by taking part in the survey and even write a blog post.


  1. Hi Julie
    I agree with everything you say above re Online Trees - I've used Gedmill ( to put my tree online - living people removed and all sources properly referenced - I don't mind if people 'borrow' my work but as they are then by definition some kind of relative it would be nice if they got in touch rather than just taking my images ...

    However the survey only allows you to pick from a limited number of online systems and there is no free comment. A shame - and when I picked "My tree is not online" just to see what happened I couldn't submit that as the survey required answers to the rest of the questions which were not relevant given that answer.

    Is there some way I can feed this back to the team behind the survey?


    1. Linda, Thanks for commenting. Leave the comments here and I will forward the on for you as I am a regular writer for the digi magazine. I think it is a really useful survey and I can see it developing further.


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