Posted by Ancestry Team on May 27, 2010 in Research started the Expert Connect service nearly a year ago.  For those of you that aren’t aware, Expert Connect is an online tool available on that will link you to hundreds of experienced genealogists who can assist you with your research goals. We recently talked with Willard Edison, an customer and a security supervisor in Puget Sound, WA who hired an expert to help uncover a mystery in his father’s family history.  This is what he had to say.

EC [Expert Connect]:  What first got you interested in researching your genealogy?
WE [Willard Edison]: I started this out of memory and respect for my mother, who conducted genealogy research on our family from the 1970s until her passing in the late 90s. All her work was done snail mail to county recorder offices, historical societies, and by accessing Mormon records in Salt Lake City. I was only going to digitize her work for posterity.  In the process, my wife and I became hooked on genealogy as well. I’m sure my Mother is smiling from Heaven.

EC: What caused you to use Expert Connect on
When my dad reached retirement age, he could not get his SS benefits until he made a legal name change. That’s when we all found out that our true last name was NOT the last name we’d all lived by throughout our lives, as he had not been formally adopted as a child as he thought he was.  Huge surprise.

This began a search for my true paternal grandfather. I could not get beyond 1916 in the deserts of Nevada and the area around San Francisco. In that research, I did find out my grandmother had several children who died within months of birth, which was original research no one in the family knew about, but I was out of leads and out of ideas. I thought “what the heck. I’ll spend a few dollars, hire a pro, and see what they can do. It will either confirm a dead end or lead us somewhere”.

As a professional security guy with a background in criminal investigations, I knew that the results not only depended on the quality of my expert, but how lucky she was as well.  There is just SO much information that sits quietly waiting for original discovery, in places I’m not even aware of. I was prepared for disappointing results, only because I had cases in my own investigative career that I could not solve.

EC: How was your experience with the expert that you had hired, Sharolyn McCoy?
WE:  Superb. The information I already developed had led me to Missouri, so figured I should hire an expert familiar with Missouri genealogy. Ultimately she actually did very little in Missouri, because she uncovered a treasure trove of information about my grandfather in California and Oregon. This is testimony to the quality of my expert. How she reached out and discovered/collected so much good information literally astounded me.  I can’t say enough about the hard work and effort my expert put into this project.
For almost 5 years, I tried everything I could think of to determine where my grandfather came from, what his life was like, how his life affected mine, and what happened to him. In less than a month, she answered all these questions and completely documented her research. My gratitude goes beyond money.

EC: What will you do with the research that your expert delivered?
WE:  I’ll share it with my one remaining sister, my children and their kids. Kids born in the 1990s and more recently do not even have a sense of their own history and life, because the world is changing so fast. If I can make my grandparents’ world real to my grandkids, it will all be worth it.

If you want an experience like Willard and want the help of a professional genealogist, check out the “Hire an Expert” section on the homepage, or visit


  1. Ohhhh!!!! My head aches after reviewing hints from trees of others!!!! There are people who were born in the 13th cebtury who were born or died in the UNITED States, of all places at that time!! And then, the 10 year-old parents of children!! And children born years post-humously to the mother. I wonder if the people truly REVIEW the hints or just go click, click, click with their mouse. It does make it seriously more difficult for anyone who is doing a serious search and wishes to be as cautious as possible about who, and with what information is added to a tree.
    Thanks for listening!!!

  2. worshacf

    To Carole Heath (Blog comment #1)
    I know exactly how you feel. It’s astounding what they will allow to be in their trees. I don’t know if they are newbies or if they have something in their auto fill in the cut and paste feature of their computer.

    Anyway, just a suggestion: You could turn off, or at least limit the amount of hints you receive. I turned about 80% of mine off and I’m much less stressed by being bombarded all the time with all those shaking leaves.

    Stay serious and cautious but a have happy hunting at the same time.


  3. Lynn

    I found “Ask An Expert” to be helpful as well as allowing me to still have the “ahh ha” moment (i.e., I have not gotten to the point where I will have someone else research my ancestors, since that is part of the fun, but at the same time I valued some assistance.)

    The experts were very helpful in suggesting some avenues/next steps that had me pursue some records that were not available through, to help me break my “road block” on a specific family line that I was having challenges.

    Although many “Ask An Expert” suggestions were helpful, in my particular situation I found those of Margaret F Dube (Common Folk Ancestry) to be particularly helpful.

  4. annie

    #2 Jane

    If you know how to turn off or minimize those awful shaky green leaves, please advise. I would be ever so grateful if I could dispatch all of them.

  5. Howard Cooper

    If you are referring to the leaves in Fammily Tree Maker you can go the TOOLS menu and click on OPTIONS… On the right side of the box that appears uncheck SEARCH ONLINE AUTOMATICALLY WHEN CONNECTED TO THE INTERNET. This should make those leaves disappear.

  6. worshacf

    Annie #4

    It’s simple, from your family tree start by clicking on “Home” then look for where it says “Customize Activity Filters”. That will bring up a checklist of what you want to be notified about. Remove checkmarks that you don’t want. It won’t help make other member trees more accurate as Carol #1 complained about, but you’ll see less leaves shaking.

    If later you find that you want to be notified about more details, repeat the process and check more items again.


  7. Elaine Adams

    I do a lot of historical research,and I like those shakey green leaves.In my black research it is the norm to have mothers 12-14 and no marriages.It was illegal for blacks to marry before Sept of 1865. In my son in laws tree his cousin in Texas provided an obituary and picture of his ggggrand parents. I don’t know if he ever met her and if he did it was only once.He is going to be trilled when he gets those pages for his birthday to add to his book. Like anything in life you are in charge of the choices!!!

  8. worshacf

    Elaine #7

    True, marriages early, or births of children without marriages, lots of those not only just blacks but also in other countries like Scotland or England. Many of our ancestors did not file a marriage or birth because it wasn’t mandated to do so. For instance, in the state of Illinois nobody filed births until the state made a law in the year 1916 that they must be filed.

    However, Carole #1 was referring to children being born when mothers were 10 years of age, or children being born after the mother died. No, that couldn’t be possible. I know what she’s referring to, I have one ancestor that the other public members did the same thing. I’m still trying to resolve that particular issue.

    And Annie #4 wanted to minimize her shaking leaves. Some members like them, others find them annoying. Good point, everybody is in charge of their choices.


  9. Cedricetta

    Expert Connect has been invaluable to me — in days I’ve received records it would have taken me weeks/months to get via snail mail (if I could get them at all).

    And even though I have a local FHL and know how to use it, I’ve found having an expert (Frederic Saunders) with local access to the Utah facility to not only be speedier, but cost effective (since I don’t end up ordered five films because it’s unclear which one has the record I need).

    I’ve used EC many times and foresee using it many more. Kudos to for providing this service!

  10. John Donaldson

    When is “Expert Connect” being rolled out to countries outside America?

    Surely there are experienced experts in other countries that could/should be included in the EC panel?

    John D

    • #11 John Dondaldson

      Hello John,
      Thank you for your question on this article.
      As Lynn mentions in comment #12, there are hundreds of providers (experts) offering services through Expert Connect that reside in countries other than the United States. This includes the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Canada, and Ireland.
      For clients investigating family lines that have crossed international boundaries, they are a wonderful resource. We love ‘em and their clients do too.



      #11 John D

      When is “Expert Connect” being rolled out to countries outside America?

      Surely there are experienced experts in other countries that could/should be included in the EC panel?

      John D

  11. Lynn

    #11 John D

    Expert Connections is in countries outside the Americas. Although there are fewer experts — I believe it is a matter of those outside the Americas registering to be an “Expert.” When I “invited” experts to answer my “Ask An Expert” question, I invited individuals from the Americas as well as in other parts of the world, since that was relevant to my question.

  12. FHC Librarian

    For Carole, #1, and all others:

    “Information on the Mormon (LDS) site, is NOT and NEVER has been checked individually for accuracy in the Ancestral File, Pedigree Resource File and the IGI. Also, trees on Ancestry are NOT checked for accuracy. Each and every detail must be researched for every possible document.”

    Ancestry’s computers will find possible information on connections, (the shaking leaves), but you have to be the person who evaluates them.

    I agree, it is a problem, but we all have to deal with it if we want to produce good genealogy. Good hints are on these blogs on how to deal with various problems, so you have to read them all.

  13. FHC Librarian

    For Andy, #14:

    You always have good idea and posts. What would your suggestions be? I’m really interested since this is a very weak point in quality research.

  14. Annette

    I have had mixed results using expert connect. Recently I put out a project asking for someone to find the date and location of my grandfather’s death. I have searched for years and can’t trace him past 1930 even though I have a lot of other information. After almost 3 weeks of it just sitting there, I pulled the project: 1 expert declined and there was no response from the other 5. On the positive side, one lady sent me the marriage certificate of my gf’s first marriage and the marriage certificate of a half-aunt, both picked up at the Louisiana archives for a minimal fee.

  15. I am glad to know that I am not alone in my frustration of “dead ends” in researching some of my family, my list is growing. I have been with for about two months, and just today, I learned that the US census doesn’t go beyond 1930, something to do with “71 years-a privacy issue”. If I didn’t read this correctly, I would welcome some advice. Anyway, I shall keep plugging away…this is such an adventure, I can’t stay away from the possibility of discovery! (EC may be a possibility in the near future!)

  16. my question for the original poster is how much $ did the EC charge for the research? or was it a free service. this issue wasn’t made clear in the original post.

    as for the green leaves they are sometimes helpful & sometimes not helpful. when there are references to other trees, i often browse those to glean any helpful clues that could open additional avenues of research. when other researchers access my trees i take their interest as a compliment, am happy that they found s’thing to enhance their own trees, all because i know with certainty that my data is sourced accurately.

    the most difficult records to locate are those which were transcribed incorrectly with misspelling and so they do require much creative searching to successfully locate those records. an experienced genealogiest aka determined data wrangler can surely locate those obscure records.

    on a few occasions i’ve accessed available LDS ordinance data, and yes i too found unsourced data & errors tsk tsk. before relying on data as accurate, i make a point to authenticate it with at least two other corroborating bits of data or sources.

    g’day y’all & best wishes with all your research efforts. Peace.

  17. Lynn

    #19 Baker

    There is a financial cost associated with using Expert Connect — based upon the difficulty of the request there obviously would be different costs — if you are asking a question about potential next steps, asking someone to pick-up and mail a record, or perform research on your behalf.

    The following was posted by in a prior blog entry about Expert Connect, “One of the greatest things about Hire an Expert (Expert Connect) is that you can post your project and review bids before you commit to one. … You also have an Ask an Expert option, in which you ask a question and get expert advice on where to turn (very affordable — for less than $20,..”

  18. Mary

    I love the shaking leaves but always tell folk starting out to remember that they ARE just “Hints” and should not to be accepted as proven facts.

    I don’t use the “Merge” facility in FTM till I have checked these for myself.

  19. “For Andy, #14:

    You always have good idea and posts. What would your suggestions be? I’m really interested since this is a very weak point in quality research.”

    One suggestion for Ancestry would be to provide a flag for connections and evidence that the researched hasn’t confirmed yet.

    Putting question marks in the fields often causes problems when running searches using the tools because question mark are a search field wild card symbol.

    It would be nice to be able to flag research that isn’t validated yet as such, so that you /don’t/ have to hide it in a public tree, but you can also publicly acknowledge that it’s still ‘in progress’ or ‘unconfirmed’.

    I’ve connected with several cousins on both my father’s and mother’s sides of my family and would not have made those connections without and without having a /public tree/ even if flawed available for searching.

    There’s enough of us who’ve connected now, that we have a small ‘team’ researching our family and every breakthrough from one of us is shared across trees increasing the accuracy and validity of our trees.

    I understand that a lot of researchers don’t want to make trees public because of ‘lazy’ searching, but often the lack of a public tree can lead to a missed opportunity to connect and expand.

    I consider my tree to be a ‘working draft’ rather than an authoritative resource, for instance. I will make connection in it even if they’re not validated, because I intend to follow up on those ‘leads’ later. However, this can give the wrong impression that I consider those connections to be wholly valid.

    I think that voluntary flagging of the /status/ of a particular connection, piece of evidence or branch of a tree could be a good compromise to for this problem, that way our ‘works in progress’ can be labeled as such so that they aren’t considered authoritative as connections spread through trees across the service.

  20. Sharon

    Sometimes the age of a person is wrong and no fault of the family but of the census taker at the time or because many people did not know how old they were. I found one grandmother and she had two children by the time she was 16 according to the census taker. No one should merge with another tree until you believe their right. Actually I never merge with anyone else’s tree. I use other trees as hints and try to find things on my own.
    Family Trees belong to the person that’s doing it they don’t owe anyone else on ancestry anything and they may put the wrong ages on and will sort it all out later.
    I also love the shaking leaves where I have missed something the leaves have found it.

  21. My opinion is that Public Trees should be used for the display of verified and documented research only. The “I’ll verify it later” stuff should, imho, never appear in a Public tree. No matter how it is marked or annotated too many people will see it and add it to their tree without reading attached notes or whatever.

    That said…

    My recommendations are these:

    1). Disable the *ALL* functions which allow copying a person/information from or combining with another tree.

    2). If adding to an online tree manually (i.e. while online- not by uploading a file) require that if an event it added to the timeline that a source must be added to it or the event is not allowed to be posted to the timeline.

    3). Urge members to not add a person/event to a timeline until they are sure of the connection and have a source for it. Keep all “needs research” persons in a private tree not for public consumption.

    If just these three things were done you’d see an immediate improvement in the quality of Public Trees becuase the name gatherers will not take the time to key data in manually- if they can’t get in in a click or two they’ll move on to where they can get it easily – which hopefully in the future will not be Ancestry.

  22. @20 Lynn thank you for the information
    just as i thought, the original poster used this Blog as a crummy commercial, Ovaltine anyone?

    @24 Andy
    LOL, and i’d like everyone to keep their garage organized and clean, but that’s not going to happen either. when i have unsourced names i always tag it with a TBD, other can see or use at their own risk. it’s there in my tree for me.

  23. Carol

    I would like to know how it is that the “name gatherers” and public trees with unverified information affect you directly. It is obvious from your previous posts that you consider yourself far too superior to be relying on this type of information. So if I want to post a public tree showing Alexander the Great as my grandfather, what earthly difference does it make to you? You have the option to ignore my tree, plain and simple.

    Quite frankly, after reading your posts, I’m tempted to post just such a tree, simply so you and the rest of the boorish snobs who post these comments will get your panties in a bunch.

    Finally, your previous post comparing “name gatherers” to child molesters tells me all I need to know about your character. I’m sure the victims of child molestation who use this service will be gratified to hear that what was done to them is the moral equivalent of collecting names of relatives that don’t belong to you.

  24. Phyllis

    I wish there was a way – and maybe there is that I missed – to have the leaves NOT show any other family trees, just the historical information. I only want the actual sources not what someone else has done.

  25. Annette

    Because I hope that people would be as accurate as possible doesn’t IMO turn me into a boorish snob. My mother, may she rest in peace, told everyone she met that she was a direct descendant of the General Logan who founded Memorial Day, which was totally untrue. She knew it wasn’t true, but insisted in public that General Logan was her ggg-grandfather. Did it hurt anyone? Well, that depends on your POV. My mother was wonderful at saving important records and gathering family stories, but not so hot at researching and verifying, so her information was always suspect. She liked a good story more than she liked an accurate story, and I have found many errors in her data. On the other hand, I am one who, as someone else posted, thinks of her tree as a work in progress and uses ? and the comments section to indicate where there are issues, and I don’t see anything wrong with that.

  26. Pat Secord

    Carol #26 – I look forward to Andy H’s posts – he’s much more knowledgeable about this stuff than I am and I’ve used his info on several occasions. You seem to be pretty defensive about this topic. Genealogy research needs to be as correct as possible, or it defeats the purpose. Personally, when I run across a tree that looks useful, I simply write the info down and reasearch it, one person at a time, until I feel it’s something that can be added to my tree.

  27. Carol,

    The answer to your question is this. I care not only about my trees but about the field of genealogy as a whole. Junkology degrades genealogy as a whole.

    Just as real doctors loath and despise the medical “quacks” that lay claim to the medical field so to I loath and despise the namegathering quacks that lay claim to the field of genealogy.

    I’m not, as you put it, “far too superior to be relying on this type of information”; just far too experienced.

    Quite frankly your remark about posting an incorrect tree tells me all I need to know about you and your attitude to genealogy in general.

    One more thing Carol… would it help you to understand my comparison and my utter hatred for namegatherers if I told you that having been a victim of molestation when I was 13 I knew exactly what I was saying?

  28. Carol

    No, that would only make me think you need far more therapy than you’ve obviously received.

  29. Karis

    On a more positive note; I agree with the idea of some sort of flagging system.

    Also, continued work on how to control privacy issues. When I had a private tree, I felt comfortable putting tentative material in it because I was the only one who was suppose to see it and I planned to come back to some items later. Unfortunately, when ancestry used items from my private tree for hints, they were putting things out there that I never intended to be public yet. Flip side, if you don’t make a public tree someone else may make one including your family and spread errors that you could easily clear up by having your information available.

    One thing I really like about the green leaves is they store items for me. There are some items that I feel I have to conclude or I will lose my train of thought, such as listing all of the family members or correcting a spelling. Then when I come back to that family I have forgotten some of the connections for them. If I get a green leaf than it tells me that I can come back to this at a later time to follow up on that item.

  30. Sharon

    Happy Memorial Day to everyone. A special remembrance to my two nephews serving in Afghanistan and sll military and their families.

  31. Carol

    Andy obviously needs more help than anyone on this forum can give him. He has a deep seated “hatred” for anyone who deviates from his ideal. He claims to have been molested as a child, but cavalierly compares “name gatherers” to child molestors. As someone who has worked with victims of child molestation, I can tell you that it is offensive to blythely compare people who allegedly abuse your hobby to people who abuse children. Name gathering, if it is a crime at all, is a victimless one. To compare it to something as devastating as child molestation demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of the devastation that a molestation victim suffers. It is both sick and sad.

  32. Carol

    Pat #29 – I’m not sure what it is you think I’m defensive about. You all seem to hold “Andy” up as if he is some sort of Moses handing down the rules of family tree posting. He, of course, is happy to rise to the occasion and pontificate about what is, and is not, the appropriate content for a public tree. I find his self-rightousness offensive, especially when he expresses a “hatred” for those who deviate from his standards.

    I absolutely agree that genealogy research needs to be as accurate as possible, but I also know that it is a process. When I update my tree to reflect that Aunt Ethel was married to Fred Mertz, I do so because I have information that strongly suggests this to be the case. When I learn later that she was, in fact, married to Fred’s brother Ricky, then I update my tree, plain and simple. I keep my tree public because it’s the only way for others to follow along with this journey. If you don’t like what’s in my tree, ignore it.

    But those of you who come on these forums and constantly pontificate about the “newbies” who mistakenly incorporate inaccurate information into their own trees are, IMHO, boorish snobs. Everyone using this site is trying to find out who they are. It’s a process, it takes time and it takes work. Sometimes you need to “try out” information, and see where it leads. The belittling of newbies, of so-called “name-gatherers” only serves to scare off those who are new to this research, and I find that offensive.

  33. Carol Re:#35 & 36

    I must say I’m shocked!

    If you really worked with victims of child molestation as you claim I find it hard to believe you would question the claim of one who was subjected to it. If you want all the details simply get the trial transcripts. Just google “Father Edward McKeown”

    Now- to the rest of what you wrote…

    Where did I ever say I have a deep-seated hatred for “anyone who deviates from his ideal” or “diviates from his standards”?

    I specifically said namegatherers- and have previously defined exactly what I mean when I use that term – and it is not limited to newbies.

    I’ve never seen newbies belittled, namegatherers-yes but not newbies. If anything we try to go out of our way to guide them into good genealogical practices before they get into the habit of bad genealogical practices.

    In closing, I really do have to ask this…
    Why does it upset you so that some seem to find my advice somewhat helpful? It almost seems you are offended by the fact.

  34. Helen

    #23 I agree, I didn’t ask or make anyone look at my family tree. It is a choice you make, so why complain about it. I don’t like the errors, but that is up to each person. I can’t begin to say how often I have had to point out errors from the the census materials or published historical works. I still think there needs to be an easy “opt out” for people who are offended by the family trees. I’m not referring to Andy, who has indicated more of a desire to improve the family trees than to eradicate them.

    Let’s face it, for some people here the real issue is they don’t want to cite the family trees. They want to look at your tree, find your sources, and list this as if they never looked at your tree. They are publishing off of ancestry which is great, but frankly ancestry is the place to be.

  35. Pat Secord

    Carol #36 You are very testy regarding all this. I read this blog to learn from others’ experience.
    “Moses??” Jeeezzz………..take a chill pill.

  36. Annette

    I thought that this site, of all sites, would be free of the nasty name-calling so often seen on the Internet. There is more than one way of approaching this issue: some may decide to keep their tree private until it is as accurate as they can possibly make it, and others, such as I, may decide to have a public tree with symbols/notes indicating problem area. I have some real pet peeves regarding people who take information I have sent them through the message system on ancestry and never respond with even a two word message: “thank you.” Yet, I know they received the message because the next time I look at their tree the data has been changed. How rude is that??!!

    Or another pet peeve is the person who has no documentation on an individual, while you have documentation coming out the ears, and they “doubt” that the records are true because they don’t match some piece of family lore. The last time this happened to me I finally realized, after two weeks of correspondence, that the woman in question had never even looked at the census records, the marriage records, the land records, etc., because of her preconceived ideas based on a story. The only thing I could do at that point was to “pull the plug” and wish her good luck.

  37. Karis

    “Verified and documented” is part of the challenge. To be honest, not very much is “verified and documented”. I am looking at one family that the Mayflower Society has with one birth and set of parents and DAR has with another. Both of these are documented and yet they still do not agree. Family trees are never really finished and correcting items is part of the process.

  38. Karis,

    In a case like that I’d contact both organizations and ask them to both review their own research and to disprove the other organizations research.

    In fact- that would make a VERY good TV-show for the next season’s WDYTYA ! *grin*

    Even better might be Ancestry itself putting such a progect up for bid on its Expert Connection with a special blog covering all communication between Ancestry and the researcher who makes the winning bid- that would be fun!


  39. Norma J

    Interesting comments but I wonder if anyone can help me? I somehow have ended up with several lineages under one home person. I will be much more careful in future (please dont yell at me) but am unsure how to delete three and keep the one main lineage. I think i was so excited when i joined a few years back that I was “click happy”. Many thanks.

  40. Norma,

    You can’t, unfortunately, delete whole lines from an online tree in a single operation.

    What you can do, however, is unlink them from the home person.

    First, do these line contain duplicate people – it makes a difference in how to procede?

    Second, are the heads of the lineages you want to delete children of the home person (if they are this will be much easier)?

    I’d be glad to help but it will be an involved process and probably nor really suited for this blog.

    If you like you can write me and we’ll go into it.

    My e-mail is:

  41. I do agree with Carol (26). It is up to the person researching their own tree to make the call. It is a personal decision. What exactly is the harm………serious genealogists will verify the information anyway… harm done.

    I have said before, these trees provide invaluable hints that can be researched.

    Andy (24) wrote….

    “2). If adding to an online tree manually (i.e. while online- not by uploading a file) require that if an event it added to the timeline that a source must be added to it or the event is not allowed to be posted to the timeline.”

    In a perfect world, but many events were not recorded. not yet online and some info is passed down. We are not like the folks on “who do you think you are” and can not travel any and everywhere to follow up.

    Can you imagine if you had to list sources for everyone you add (Aunt Bea and Uncle Ed as a source)?

    The trees are great, whether “junk” or not as they sometimes unlock a door.

    Please allow folks to exercise their own common sense and do not fault them for the methods that they choose; quite frankly, none of your business and does not harm genealogy or yourself.

  42. It is quite evident that people who have trees that contain biologically impossible events are *not* practicing common sense.

    Just because it is not a perfect world is no reason not to try and make it so- otherwise, all religions should be advised to give up now.

  43. Donna

    about the trees and merging bad info I have a suggestion (I only use the online version and not FTM). When anyone adds a child after the mother died it should be flaged (maybe a little red fire icon) and if they choose to keep it- the flag should still remain on that person so when you see the tree it is obvious (I am fairly new and have merged a tree and when someone has 10 children its easy to get confused and miss a mistake until later)

    I also don’t really understand the One World Tree stuff because it seems to me that I could enter some information that is completely wrong and if enough others accept it, their acceptance seems to validate it.

    Much of the information I have comes from written family sources and if there is a place to note that when entering it, I haven’t seen it other than a note. I’ve often wished that when I see trees with info with no sourcing, that I could see why they added it – maybe they have something written or a copy of some document. Maybe just another field below when you go to add an event/relationship etc so that you could choose from a drop down list: family document, family story, etc

  44. FHC Librarian

    I’ve been away for a couple of days and things got lively, didn’t they? Since we are all rather anonymous in these posts, some may feel they can write anything. Remember, Ancestry asks us to:

    “…please be respectful to other commenters and authors. Any abusive comments may be moderated.”

    Pat Secord has a very good post, #29, from which we could all benefit:

    “Carol #26 – I look forward to Andy H’s posts – he’s much more knowledgeable about this stuff than I am and I’ve used his info on several occasions. You seem to be pretty defensive about this topic. Genealogy research needs to be as correct as possible, or it defeats the purpose. Personally, when I run across a tree that looks useful, I simply write the info down and research it, one person at a time, until I feel it’s something that can be added to my tree.”

    Copy trees if you like, but do you really want to just blindly copy names, or would you really like to know the truth of who your ancestors were? I thought that was the point. You may have some really interesting folks in your family history if you take the time to be accurate and cite your sources. You may miss them if you follow an incorrect line.

    I usually add to each event for a person, a citation of a record so others can check that same record. I welcome any communication about any person in any of my trees. Maybe they have more correct information.

  45. Laura S. Smith

    In defense of all “newbies”…..yep when I research and the system pulls up information. I assumed it was to my “specs” Now, I realize it doesn’t work that way. For the people that see this when they visit, my tree anyway, just point this out.

    I would appreciate that-


  46. Karis

    If people don’t like the family trees, why are they looking at them. It is because some are being disingenuous.

    Here is what burns me. I keep seeing trees that have full information, full name, full birth date, etc. and look documented, but lo and behold the census materials they have don’t list half of that, so where did they get it. They have no family trees listed and yet it is amazing how they have the same exact material as someone’s family tree right down to the same errors. Freshman English people, what do we call it when someone takes work without crediting the person they got it from. Yes, we really can tell, whose tree you got that from.

    I find it really hard to believe that people find the census only trees sufficient. I will tell you, the Heritage groups don’t. They want to see the probate records, etc. So the tree with half the information is just that half the information

  47. Andy 49……..

    Who are we to dictate who does what with their tree? The choice is personal.

    I have sourced every single person that I have added to my tree (when info is available).

    With regard to my family tree, an excellent compiliation was done in the early 1980’s (before the internet) but no sources were listed. I asked the question………..where did they get this? This is the single most important reason for sourcing. You save those that follow tons of time who ask that question. If you are researching and find information, why not record where you found it?

    All being said, this is a personal choice that I made. It is not up to you or anyone else to dictate how someone records / gleans their info.

    As I said, no harm is done. Serious genealogists will verify the information on their own.

    I will say that out of curiousity, I did have a look at your tree and did not see any sources but I only looked at a few. Many of your folks do not even have dates. All due respect, people in glass houses should not throw stones.

  48. Sherry,

    As I have said previously, those trees that I have online that are public were not put there for other researchers. Each serves as a specific teaching aid of one sort or another for certain individuals and two groups that I am involved with. The reason most have no dates is because A lot of them are living. I track not only ancestors but also descendants as far as possible.

    I am also not talking about what people do with their private personal trees. I am talking about what Ancestry should or shouldn’t allow to be posted in Public trees in what I believe should be their effort to improve and enhance the field of genealogy in general.

    I care about personal trees only to the point where they either enhance real genealogical research or add to the aggregate Junkology already present on the net.

  49. Annette

    One reason that I like public trees is that it is easier to connect with people who are researching the same lines. If the information doesn’t match what I have, I contact them and try to determine why we have differences. Looking at information through new eyes can help.

    I recently started a family tree on someone who is not related to me at all, and I indicate that clearly. Why did I start this tree? Because the subject was a Civil War hero who died near where I live, and had no decendants. But he did have brothers and sisters, and perhaps sometime one of their grandchildren or great grandchildren will start researching. That tree will remain public.

  50. Andy No. 56,

    Your tree could very well be considered what you refer to as “junkology” and this is the point I am trying to make. I have nothing against you and I want to make this clear.

    Your tree includes some 24K plus folks. I do not see sources nor do I see dates. I am certainly not faulting you, that is your choice but it seems to me that you condemn folks for following the same practice.

    I will say one more time, the trees are an invaluable source. It is up to the person researching their own tree to follow up on the leads.

    Family trees posted on ancestry do NOT pose a threat to genealogy as a whole.

    Lets put the topic to bed and get on with the fun stuff.

    Kind regards

  51. Karis

    You are sending a mixed message. You say that no tree that isn’t verified and documented should be public, that they should be private. Your tree has portions that are not documented, so by your logic, it should be private.

    You say your tree is a teaching tool. Surely when you teach, you use a tree that is sourced as much as possible. Confusing.

    I do believe you have a lot of good suggestions, but it seems like you might want to stay a little more positive and encouraging with people like Carol. The best teachers have a lot of patience.

  52. Karis,

    When I speak of public vs. private trees I usually mean the online trees here at Ancestry.

    Trees on Rootsweb are another matter – mainly because there is the option to not offer a GEDCOM and there is no click and copy option. There is, therefore, no quick and easy way for the namegatherers to use what they see on the screen unless they do manual entry of the information on the screen.

    As to using a tree that is sourced as much as possible when teaching… that is true, unless you are actually using the tree as a test of research and sourcing skills (i.e. your lesson this month is to find a William married to a Rachael who has a great grandson named Andrew and construct a fully sourced tree showing the four descending generations of William and Rachael).

    The one thing I failed to do with those Rootsweb trees was to actually state their purpose.

    I didn’t make that error on my Elizabeth Taylor Marriage Tree that I’ve placed online here at Ancestry.

  53. karen

    I was very interested to read comments about Expert Connect. Unfortunately, Carol’s tirade has me wondering if FTM monitors these blogs at all. Those of us who are simply trying to learn should not have to wade through her ridiculous & abusive posts …

  54. I’m new at researching and I’m sure I’ve made mistakes along the way.

    I JUST discovered this part of and checked it out. The information and GUIDELINES have been very helpful until I came to Andy and the response he recieved! I question if it is worth coming back!

    What should be checked out is what is being entered that is usful to learn how to find and recording information!!!!!!

    Most of us are beginners and welcome advice of what and how to search and record information. Please be so kind to do that. If you choose to bat at each other get their personal email and go at it to show who is the best and smartiest. Others are not interesting in the showing off that is going on.

    Please use this site as a guidance tool for us “who are searching how to find info and how to record the correct way.

  55. ghost

    Afer reading the comments I’m glad I didnt participate in this website. It’s another hate fest instead of helping people truly find their family members. No THANKS!

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