GENMSC-L ArchivesArchiver > GENMSC > 2011-08 > 1313179939
From: Charles Ellson <>
Subject: Re: How online family trees can mess up your data
Date: Fri, 12 Aug 2011 21:12:19 +0100
On Fri, 12 Aug 2011 13:27:49 +0100, Ruth Wilson
>> MARRIED 17 Nov 1839, to ANDERSON, Bridget, Born 19 Nov 1819 in
>> Whitehaven, CUL, ENG, Died 19 Aug 1876 in Whitehaven, CUL, ENG
>> at age 56; FATHER: ANDERSON, John
>> ANCESTRY: Gives only the years, but says they were married in
>> Cumberland, Illinois United States instead of Whitehaven,
>> Cumberland, England -- otherwise correct.
>> The person who compiled the tree probably made the mistake of linking the
>> wrong husband and father.
>> But would he have mangled the place names like that?
>> I suspect that that is something that the Ancestry.com software has done all
>> on its own, and that if you entrust Ancestry.com with your genealogy data,
>> something similar is likely to happen to it.
>I've seen a few similar cases - I don't know, but I've always suspected
>that the person adding the information has just clicked the first
>default place name without considering common sense.
As seen where the same person appears across several trees, it seems
to be greatly encouraged by a failure to terminate the place
description with the country name. It also looks as if the
"auto-complete" works differently in .com and .co.uk resulting in
favouring the home country for the particular version of Ancestry if
only a town name is entered.
In the cases where I seem to have been the first to add a person's
record to Ancestry, the placenames generally get through the system
unmolested until someone either allows what is shown in a census
record to replace the original description (generally killing off the
country) or makes their own "correction".
>Someone has added my Carlisle born and bred gt gt grandmother to a
>London based family; I've seen others where I assume the user has added
>eg census returns that "might" be the ancestor, so having them in 2
>places at once. I suppose that's okay if you are using it as a filing
>system and putting things there for later evaluation.
>Online family trees are fine - just don't add other people's rubbish to
>your own carefully researched, sourced and recorded data! (and add the
>occasionally scathing note to the rubbish?)