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Ancestry(dot)co(dot)uk - slight rant!

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Re: Ancestry(dot)co(dot)uk - slight rant!

Postby Sylcec » Fri Mar 07, 2014 12:53 am

No, I certainly do not think that the Ancestry site is coming to the end of its usefulness. As they add more and more data sets to their site the scope for additional research becomes even greater.

If you use this, and other commercial or free sites, only as a means to check other people's family trees, then you are missing out on the real value of the resource. I do agree that there are often problems with accuracy of transcriptions, but although seemingly the most complained about, Ancestry is not alone in this. Human error creeps in wherever humans are involved. :)

In addition to using indexes and transcriptions, we should always look at the original scanned image whenever it is available. Ancestry also has the capability to BROWSE individual record sets and I often use this when looking for people in the 1841 or 1851 English census - rural areas only! Use the "search card index" function to find individual record sets which may be of use to you and then search or browse within those record sets; related sets will usually be suggested. Some sets, such as Poor Law Records may not even have been indexed, so browse, while tedious, is the only way to go.
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Re: Ancestry(dot)co(dot)uk - slight rant!

Postby ritaspencer » Mon Mar 17, 2014 9:41 pm

Like others on this site I have made my family tree public, on Ancestry, to assist and hopefully make contact with others researching the same branch of my family. I have published family photos, personal research and copies of BMD certificates that I have bought because I wanted to share what I had.

I recently had an email from Ancestry about hints in my family tree and found that there were around 50 media hints for my tree. I was disappointed and also a bit put out to see that around 20 of these were items that I had supplied but which were now shown as 'originally submitted' by another person. I am happy for others to add this information to their trees but I don't like having my research/contribution hijacked in this way. So I have to agree with Colin B and sadly my tree is now private. Probably a case of locking the stable door after the horse has bolted but it makes me feel better!
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Re: Ancestry(dot)co(dot)uk - slight rant!

Postby AdrianB38 » Tue Mar 18, 2014 12:49 am

The mis-attributions are probably simply the limitation of the Ancestry software. If someone downloads your images to their PC then adds them to their tree, the software cannot know where the images are from, so marks them as originally submitted by them. There may be several copies of what we recognise as the same image, all marked as original submissions.

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Re: Ancestry(dot)co(dot)uk - slight rant!

Postby Guy » Tue Mar 18, 2014 7:05 am

Sorry but it seems to me most of the replies and indeed the original question seem to show poor research habits.

The trees on Ancestry are only a tiny part of the site and not by any stretch of the imagination the most useful part.
Almost since the start of genealogy people have been saying never accept a compiled tree as fact. That was as true in the 16th century as today in the 21st century.

In a similar manner indexes and transcriptions are prone to mistakes.
One index in particular comes to mind with regards errors and omissions the GRO index and that was supposed to be checked for accuracy throughout its 176 years of existence.

Always check the original records and use indexes only as a clue to a possible record.
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Re: Ancestry(dot)co(dot)uk - slight rant!

Postby meekhcs » Tue Mar 18, 2014 3:37 pm

Sadly, for every dedicated Family History researcher there are a host of others who "play at it". They are the ones who willy nilly copy each others, and our work, without checking for accuracy in relation to "their" Family Lines and Trees, resulting in the mess we have today on sites such as Ancestry. With more sites beginning to host Family Trees this will only get worse. It requires painstaking research to create an accurate Family Tree and most people, as generally in life today, will always look for the "Quick Fix".
Either you have a public tree and grin and bare it, or you make your tree private.
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Re: Ancestry(dot)co(dot)uk - slight rant!

Postby Guy » Wed Mar 19, 2014 7:14 am

In the years before the internet there were people who took short-cuts or who added branches to tree where the individuals did not fit and indeed falsified pedigrees. It is not a new thing.

The 16th & 17th century heralds were not above accommodating landed gentry by falsifying their tree where required.
The Rev Thomas Whitaker's History of Craven included errors and indeed fraudulent pedigrees, as did Sir Bernard Burke's Peerage. He accepted absurd ancestries and cut out anything unpleasant. In a debate in the House of Commons (1886) it was stated he would provide anyone, if they were distinguished enough, with a pedigree back to the Norman Conquest.

Always check the original source never rely on indexes or transcripts, they are good pointers which help find results but the cannot replace the original records.
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Re: Ancestry(dot)co(dot)uk - slight rant!

Postby carlineric » Wed Mar 19, 2014 1:20 pm

Even the large institutions can get caught out. There was the famous (infamous?) case of Annie Moore the first immigrant into Ellis Island in 1892. The accepted history of Annie was the typical go west young lady who ended up in Texas and died in a street car accident. This was used by Ellis Island and the "American National Tree" amongst others. Megan Smolenyak was able to prove this was the wrong Annie. Apparently the story had come about from an elderly lady who had purchased a Beleek plate commemerating Annie and decided that as her mother was called Annie Moore that the Ellis Island Annie was her mother.

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Re: Ancestry(dot)co(dot)uk - slight rant!

Postby Smallan » Mon Mar 24, 2014 11:16 am

Ancestry is certainly not reaching the limit of its usefulness, but perhaps the question simply underlines the different approaches that people take to family tree research. As others have said here, most of us want to do proper research which authenticates findings and not to simply grow the biggest tree they can and hopefully trace lineage back to European royalty! (Or in one case I found - to Adam and Eve? I mean who are they kidding?)
Ancestry is a commercial enterprise and so it (rightly or wrongly) markets itself to gather as many subscribers as possible. The ability to pick up ready made trees is very useful to people who cannot be bothered to actually do the research themselves.
I have also been astonished by the number of family trees which are full of really incorrect bits of information - unsourced - but which have been copied by many others willy nilly. I started off with a Public Tree but like so many others, got fed up of my information being used inaccurately and/or without proper attribution and I have changed it to a private tree. Thankfully, I have already established contacts with many other members who share my ancestry and they continue to flourish. Whilst the Private tree slows down the making contacts process, it still happens and I have still been able to widen the network despite keeping my tree Private. I do not know what the answer is in terms of ensuring folk do proper research - perhaps those of us who try their best to do so, should just continue commenting on errors and contacting the tree owner. I do this - with mixed success.


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