GENMSC-L ArchivesArchiver > GENMSC > 2011-08 > 1313204056
From: Steve Hayes <>
Subject: Re: How online family trees can mess up your data
Date: Sat, 13 Aug 2011 04:54:16 +0200
On Fri, 12 Aug 2011 21:12:19 +0100, Charles Ellson
>On Fri, 12 Aug 2011 13:27:49 +0100, Ruth Wilson
>>> 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.
It seems that this autocomplete is a highly dangerous feature that ought to be
removed, since it seems to be so frequently misused, as in the example I gave.
>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".
I sent a GEDCOM of my wife's branch of a family to a researcher who descended
from a brother of the man in the example I gave. The person to whom we sent it
had sent us a GEDCOM of her branch, which I incorporated into our rough
research file and began checking. She seems to be a careful researcher, and to
have documented her work thoroughly, so I doubt that she would go randomly
changing data for no reason. Yet when she incorporated the GEDCOM I sent her
into her tree on Ancestry.com, several people seemd to get mixed up and
inaccuracies were introduced, not just in the place names, but in the
relationships and dates of events.
Steve Hayes from Tshwane, South Africa
E-mail - see web page, or parse: shayes at dunelm full stop org full stop uk