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"Private Trees"

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Re: "Private Trees"

Postby judithsnow » Fri Oct 19, 2012 1:17 pm

Maybe I am in a minority here but I get very annoyed when someone with a private tree takes information from my public tree and then ignores my request to share their information with me despite my proving my relationship with the person whose details they have copied. I do not mind anyone taking advantage of my research to add to their tree but surely there must be give and take here.
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Re: "Private Trees"

Postby Loish711 » Sat Oct 20, 2012 5:16 am

I have never understood people's obsession with private trees, surely the reason we all do our research is to be able to find connections with other people's trees so private trees just impedes this. Don't get me wrong I wasn't happy when one of my contacts on Genes Reunited copied my tree wholesale without asking but not because of privacy issues but I just thought it would have been polite to ask. Another reason why they shouldn't do it is they can't guarantee your research is correct.The number of times I have found conflicting information on public trees on Ancestry is amazing. Unless people are putting up their bank details, addresses, national insurance numbers etc on their trees I can't see why there are an security issues unless they have something to hide :!: I doubt very much thieves go through family trees to find victims to commit fraud on- only us weird lot are obsessed with such things :)
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Re: "Private Trees"

Postby meekhcs » Mon Oct 22, 2012 1:07 pm

Ancestry have now removed the photos, so I would urge anyone else who has had a similar experience to contact them.

It has been interesting to read all the comments in relation to my post. Thank you all for taking the time to reply.

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Re: "Private Trees"

Postby Frances Lake » Tue Dec 18, 2012 9:02 pm

I make all my trees public because I want to reach as many people as I can in my quest to find the truth about my father's birth. However, I am finding myself getting more and more frustrated when my own research comes back at me as if it were new information. Are people just too lazy to do their own research and so build their trees on the backs of what others have done without acknowledging the source, checking the source or even thanking the original poster of say a photograph. What has happened to polite etiquette of occasionally saying thank you to someone who has done the work. Has this developed because there is so much available on the internet and there is an expectation that it is there for the taking?
Frances Lake
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Re: "Private Trees"

Postby junkers » Tue Dec 18, 2012 9:11 pm


I think you are right, there is too little actual research done and is a rewriting of what others have written without any verification let alone asking. A lot of family trees are nothing more than copies of other people's family trees!.
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Re: "Private Trees"

Postby nzgenz » Wed Dec 19, 2012 12:05 am

Never, never let anyone have access to your tree and never, never send anyone a complete gedcom of your tree - once you send it, you are (in many countries) presumed to have given over the right to use the material to the person receiving it. You have no control over what they do with it, and you do not retain copyright in the majority of countries. Because Ancestry (in particular )is a multinational organisation, you may find that its procedures are governed by the laws of its parent country - and some of the US states quite deliberately have very lax privacy/corporate responsibility laws.
I learned this lesson early, and now only send a family group sheet or specific family narrative to contacts, and usually only after they have sent me something - too many cases of "my programme isn't working at the moment, I'll send it later" and you never hear another word.
Having sounded like a real cynical Scrooge, there are some great people in the genealogy community, but there are some who are only interested in growing the biggest tree in the world - and using you as fertiliser!
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Re: "Private Trees"

Postby Wharfrat » Sat Dec 22, 2012 9:18 pm

I have a public tree on Ancestry, and I find it has brought me a lot of useful information from people getting in touch; some of the contacts are more useful than others, but I know a lot more and have met relatives I never knew I had. Also, from people "pinching" my photos - mainly graves and victorian family pics - I have discovered people researching the same lines as me; I drop them a line and see what comes of it.

To be honest I can't see the point of posting a "private" tree to the internet at all. If you don't want to share research (and that is quite understandable given the way some people behave) then why post it?

I generally find that the sharing people outweigh those who just want to take. And lets face it, anyone who posts unchecked (and likely incorrect) information into their tree is cheating no-one but themselves.

Happy Christmas :D
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Re: "Private Trees"

Postby janreb » Tue Dec 25, 2012 5:09 pm

I have now removed one of my trees from Ancestry - I don't mind sharing any information with anyone who is genuine BUT I've recently discovered that someone who I have helped and shared a great deal of info with, including certificates etc which all cost money, has taken it all and published it on another site as their own work. If they had only said someone else had given them all the details, or at least said they'd had help, it wouldn't be so bad but now I am wary of anyone who approaches me saying they are researching the same family.
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Re: "Private Trees"

Postby ksouthall » Thu Jan 03, 2013 12:30 am

Wharfrat wrote:To be honest I can't see the point of posting a "private" tree to the internet at all. If you don't want to share research (and that is quite understandable given the way some people behave) then why post it?

I have a family tree on as I find it a useful way of ensuring the information is stored and backed up safely. Having an additional regular has been invaluable, especially now family trees can be synched with Family Tree Maker. Our pc had to be restored in the summer and, if I hadn't synched my family tree with, I would have lost two months of work.

I keep my tree private as I often store information in there whilst undergoing further research as it is easier than storing it on paper. I do not want someone to take information from my tree that I may revise at a later date, as other people could replicate and publish information which I later modify and correct; e.g. where I have allocated a cousin to the wrong branch of a family. I have seen lots of examples where an error has been copied across several family trees, leading to incorrect information being published without anyone else checking the sources.

If relatives contact me, I share and compare information with them to see if we have found out similar information. I do not tend to give free access to my private family tree and sources because, as someone else pointed out, I have spent quite a lot of money on obtaining copies of original documents. I am happy to share these with people I have met but not complete strangers contacting me from all corners of the world. If they're that desperate for the information, they can obtain of the records themselves. I have done when other people have shared information but not sources with me.

There is an interesting link below which shows how errors can be replicated on a large scale across websites:- ... -frame.htm

It's on the Herts Genealogy website, which is worth checking out as it has lots of interesting information on there.
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Re: "Private Trees"

Postby Marisan56 » Thu Jan 10, 2013 11:46 am

hello All,

I have a public Tree on Ancestry because I want to be able to connect with other researchers and maybe even find a long lost relative.However,I would never take someone else's research for granted without doing my own checks - I have uncovered many errors due to people not researching properly.But I have been dismayed recently when someone I was helping was in regular contact until the moment they had the last piece of the puzzle they needed (with me pointing them to the correct census) and lo and behold -no further contact. :(
However,I do agree that they are only cheating themselves - they are not Family Historians,they are Name Collectors.
This can be a solitary hobby and it is nice to share with others,but some people abuse other people's kindness.A small acknowledgement to someone who helps you makes a world of difference.
Susan :)
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