Posted by Anne Gillespie Mitchell on May 27, 2015 in Ask Ancestry Anne

Hello Anne,

I have a question related to using other people’s family trees on Ancestry.  This is an honest question born out of some struggles!

How do you know when and if their information is accurate?  Particularly when you are researching an ancestor that is new for you and the “hints” that are provided are from someone’s family tree.

—Vicki

This question comes up a lot.  You want to approach other people’s trees just like you would approach any record.

Think about a death certificate.  It can contain all sorts of information, such as a death date and location, birth date and location, and parents’ names.  How do you know if that information is correct?  The death date and location are likely to be correct, though not always, as that information was generally recorded close to the event and very likely by someone who was there.  But birth information and parents’ names? They could be right, they could be wrong.  You have to look at who the informant was and how the information compares to other information that you have.

You should evaluate someone else’s tree the same way.  First, what question are you trying to answer?  Maybe you want to know who the children of a person were. Or when the person was born. Or where.

The upcoming site update, which is being rolled out incrementally to our members, offers a new way to look at your sources.  (Note: You may not have seen this yet, but it is coming!  Read more at Sneak Peek of The New Ancestry Website!)

The new presentation makes it a little bit easier to see what the supporting documents for a fact are.

On the tree page, choose Facts.

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Then click on the fact that you are evaluating.  If I want to know where the information for the birth date comes from, I can click on Birth.

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I see that information came from the 1850, 1870, and 1880 censuses and Find A Grave.  I can click on the record, click VIEW, examine the details, and then view the actual record.   Always look at the supporting evidence!

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When determining if the children are correct, look at each child individually.  Start with birth dates and locations.  Do they make sense? What supporting evidence is there?  And even if there isn’t supporting evidence on that tree, don’t assume those names are wrong.  Do some investigation on your own.  Can you find census records, vitals, or probates to support that parent-child relationship?

Don’t look at an entire tree or entry as being right or wrong. First, ask yourself, what question am I trying to answer?  Then look at the entry, see what evidence is available to answer that, and evaluate each piece of evidence on its own.

Go slow, examine everything, and keep looking to find more evidence that confirms or denies.  But don’t avoid trees!  There is some bad information out there, but there is also a whole lot of great research and plenty of documents for you to examine.  A really good genealogist looks at everything.

Happy searching!

Anne

Anne Gillespie Mitchell

Anne Gillespie Mitchell is a Senior Product Manager at Ancestry.com. She is an active blogger on Ancestry.com and writes the Ancestry Anne column. She has been chasing her ancestors through Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina for many years. Anne holds a certificate from Boston University's Online Genealogical Research Program. You can also find her on Twitter, Facebook and Finding Forgotten Stories.

139 Comments

  1. dfalkayn

    Should I assume that the examples presented here are from the APP version? The website presentation looks nothing like this.

  2. Sandy Martin

    On my computers..Vista and Win 7…I see nothing at all that looks like this. Do we folks who have the versions I see get this soon?

  3. Ken Graves

    Anne, I think your answer to the question “Can I Trust Trees” is somewhat out of synch with reality. Most of my use of family trees (Public Member Trees) on Ancestry relates to various Graves and Greaves families. I find that recent ancestry is usually pretty good. However, going back 100-200 years or more, perhaps as many as 50% of the submitted genealogies have serious errors (where one ancestral line suddenly jumps to an entirely different unrelated line because of a similar name or place), and generally they do not provide sources for that erroneous information. That is almost certainly because they have just copied information from someone else’s genealogy. My suggestion is that you and everyone else at Ancestry emphasize the extreme importance of finding and reporting sources, Perhaps you can also figure out ways to make the finding and inclusion of sources and verification of correctness easier. Once bad information is in submitted genealogies, it seems to stay there forever (which, incidentally, reflects badly on Ancestry).

  4. Lynn

    The short answer to Vicki’s question is: “No!”
    Yes, you may be able to glean a few hints from another tree, but they should all come with caution signs. I saved for several years an example where the children in the family started coming when the mother was 8 years old and didn’t stop being born until 12 years after the mother died.
    Verify everything! Trust nothing! … and, do not forget to ANALYZE! Think about the ‘facts’ you are accumulating in your tree.

  5. Larry

    Well written; though commenters have pointed out that there are very serious problems with many trees. You just have to think them through. Worse, many of the erroneous ones have a person who uploaded them probably during a free trial period and has never logged back in. They cannot be contacted.

  6. Irene

    To answer the questions/comments asked by the first posters – what you are seeing is the Beta interface for the new Ancestry site – it isn’t just the APP or specific to one OS. Follow the link to read more about that and also see the dedicated forum for the beta site to read more about the possible issues here: http://ancestryforums.custhelp.com/hives/cb418ad80d/summary

    As to trusting other trees – my answer would also be NO – they are not trustworthy for the most part, unless they are well sourced. Too often people find a tree that they think looks related, copy the whole thing and never verify any of the sources found there. Or worse – the ONLY source is other trees – also without sources. It becomes a kind of merry-go-round with everyone basing their “facts” on everyone else – with no actual facts given. Be very wary of member trees and check each and every source carefully for verification. Independent sources are better than just one person saying something and everyone else “swearing to it” without any basis at all!

  7. Debbi

    I always investigate and confirm validity before I use someone else’s tree information. I will use their information as a springboard for my own investigation and conclusion, such as a relative they have that I don’t in my tree. There are too many obvious errors in other people’s trees that I see that would create issues for mine if I just copied what they have. Not all trees are “finished” and it’s hard to know if they have done their research completely. I do search other trees for “hints” to start my investigation for missing ancestors in my trees.

  8. Judith

    No would be my answer. But it’s useful to look at what others have done. Sometimes there’s something you haven’t stumbled upon, and you have a lead to go out searching for some objective confirmation. It’s a “hint” after all, not a guaranteed fact.

  9. I have three rules of thumb about looking at other trees:
    1) Ignore (or better yet, turn off) tree hints. I only look search in other trees when I’m completely stuck.
    2) The person building the tree isn’t deliberately trying to mislead me. There might be something there worth looking at.
    3) The more sources they have for the person in question, the more time I’m willing to invest in looking at their conclusions.

  10. Denise

    Not directly related to the question of relying on other trees, but I have found nowhere else to lodge this complaint. Can we PLEASE get a way to stop having family crests (real or imagined), pictures of generic immigrant ships, pictures of generic trees or generic pilgrims or generic anything delivered to us as “facts” or hints? They just clutter search results and slow real research down.

  11. Timothy J. Barron

    Rarely do I bother looking at other family trees on Ancestry or elsewhere, as I routinely find incorrect data.

    One prime example is one of my sixth great grandfathers, where the majority of trees on Ancestry are incorrect. There are two different men with the same name, who both married a woman with the same forename.

    I just wish that Ancestry.com would publicly show all person notes and relationship notes from Family Tree Maker, as I fully document how I make conclusions, etc.

  12. Deborah Ann Wampler Krieger Burchel

    I am a v travel nurse who loves to visit cemetaries all over the world…I have taken pics of headstones and tried to match up with people on ancestry, but the site makes me start a new tree and makes me link all these people together even though they are NOT related…how can I attach a pic when I cant find the person..??

  13. Susan Hintz

    The best answer is NO, other peoples’ trees should not be considered real sources. When one person posts incorrect information, it gets copied by so many others that it seems to be correct, as “everyone” agrees with the information. Do your own research using documents, not someone else’s trees. I usually offer tree owners alternate information (i.e. supported by a document) but even then some people don’t respond, and some respond but prefer to believe the wrong info. When asked for the source of his obviously wrong info, one person said it had to be correct because it came from Ancestry hints. Sometimes Ancestry trees cause more harm than good. I rarely look at Ancestry trees for clues. I find that almost all who claim to have 1 source have merely copied someone else’s information so their only source is another tree – not real documentation.

  14. Pam

    I have been able to go back to my 14th great grandma, there are several generations that have royalty. There is no one for m e to ask, how do I know this is correct. I would love for my 12th great grandmother to be Mary Queen of Scots.

  15. Susan Clizbe

    Deborah Burchel – I would suggest submitting them to Find a Grave. That’s where so much of the info you see on Ancestry comes from, and what you describe is exactly what it’s meant for. And it’s an Ancestry source. It’s easy to find the signup and contributor info on the site.

  16. Godfrey Crane

    I’ve learned to scrutinize other people’s trees very carefully. They are very often faulty, miost frequently with birth dates of children that are biologically impossible given the stated age of the parents. I agree this comes from mindless matching of names, followed by mindless copying.

  17. BR

    I am part of the problem. I link to other trees when doing research sometimes if I sense that the folks have done their homework. But I know that I have to eventually do my own work. It’s the best way to remember to research a certain line and I document my doubts. I don’t know of any way to set up unproved trees with all the media attached, etc. without adding someone else’s tree otherwise, It would be nice to have a “sandbox” or a staged tree that can easily be changed to “production” or something similar if any of the above makes sense at all.

  18. Jan

    My feelings echo the others here. I never take any other trees as fact. It was because of bad experiences with them that I made my tree private. I found my ancestors on trees where they didnt belong. I notified the person but doubt they did anything about it. I dont want my information that I had to dig for copied all over wrong trees. I only used information that I could back up and when I got as far as I felt I could safely go printed out copies for my immediate family. Still have kept my tree private.

  19. James Bradley

    Woudl be nice to be able to assign records to other eventsrather than how the web site wants to default them. Eg. baptism records frequently become births events and marriage intentions become marriage dates. It’s possible manually add the other evant then edit the sources and reassign them to other events after they’ve beeen added to the tree but is tedious and time consuming.

  20. I’ve developed several methodologies to scrutinize other people’s trees to see if they’ve done their homework, and will only link my tree to those who look like they have. For instance, if they show a woman giving birth to a child when she would be around 200 years old, or before she was born, or when she was a child too young to have babies, that person has not logically thought about the information in their tree. I tell myself with a laugh, “They’re an idiot, and I know I’m not related to idiots!” The information in other people’s trees is often the first lead you get on another ancestor, and while I’m sure that some of my information may be faulty from relying too much on those, especially when I was new to Ancestry, those trees have allowed me to track some lines of my ancestors back for more than 50 generations. It’s been fascinating, and I’m looking forward to turning more of my attention to it shortly.

  21. Linda

    I do look at trees for help, especially if it’s something where I’m stuck. And I do copy certain facts from these trees into my tree, but I always make a note of which tree I found it in (tree name / owner). If you accept it through the hint thing, Ancestry just uses the generic source so you know it was A tree but not WHICH tree. It’s a good place marker for a time when I can research it further and either agree or disagree. I don’t have my own information in a tree, I use FTM on my computer.

  22. It happened to me with my grandfather, it showed this person and I matched DNA but my grandfathers wife at site was not my grandmother so I wrote them and told them and it was said that another member put in the wrong info so the person corrected it with my info and updated info. I keep looking at their site saying to myself this has to be my grandfather but his wife is wrong. I would have by passed their site if not for the close match that our DNA showed, so you see people make a lot of mistakes and you have to go with what you really know to make sure the info is right about your ancestors. Don’t trust everything you read and see .

  23. Jane

    The answer is “no”. Don’t even look at other trees unless you are completely out of ideas, and then don’t believe any of it. I have worked on family history for 58 years; there is no ‘easy way’. Don’t fool yourself…

  24. Wayne

    Unfortunately, even the “Find a grave” site is seriously flawed, because some of that data is also provided from un-verified sources.
    I find the rampant copying of trees as most annoying and misleading, so I try to never use those as a single source of information, even though I know from my own tree, that I have data that I know of from first-hand knowledge without any verifiable document to prove any of it.

  25. Jack Shreve

    How can I get more of my DNA matches to answer my requests to see their trees? Most ignore me. And some write back that they are not interested. How can they be “not interested” if they took the DNA test in the first place?

  26. Gerald Boman

    When I put info on Ancestry I try to put sources when I have . I have seen people who have my Relatives being born in China when they never left the state and the individuals do not want to correct their mistakes ( most of which come not paying attention to what the drop down menu suggest for places

  27. Wayne

    Another thing that has annoyed me is, when I upload a document or photo, then some one else takes it and locally changes it on their computer, then uploads it as an original and theirs, and sometimes with extra garbage added to it.
    I think record matching overall can be vastly improved, I constantly get matches that are outside the birth-death range…why is that!!!

  28. Diana

    I agree with the “No” answers. Others’ trees are usually very disappointing–a big number of sources and records–must be good, right? Wrong. I look last at the trees as hints, and I start with ones that match facts I’ve confirmed elsewhere. People aren’t necessarily “idiots” but often they are NOT meticulous–and everybody wants to be descended from royalty. “Never Trust the Trees,” Janet said. Should be an anthem!

  29. tmgazda

    Personnel I don’t trust other trees at all, I do 98% of it myself, then I only have myself to blame for mistakes. There is one feature that I would love to see is a way to flag a person that you know has questionable data attached, like with a background color or boarder around the person. This could be a simple check box on the person Icon. Then when you zoom out and look at the tree the ones that need work would stand right out, and in the list of people they would also be flagged or highlighted in some way.

  30. Wayne

    Ancestry’s TV commercials don’t help the situation any, the inferred expectation to the public, is that those little leaves are all valid “hints” that should be followed without question

  31. yes, I do search other family trees but I seek verification as a priority. They may have copies of Wills etc which I might not find otherwise. They have also taken me back several generations but I have searched for verification. Those trees are an excellent starting point I have found but I have done research to verify.

  32. Dot Grabon

    I noticed on Ancestry trees a profile sheet of each person. I don’t get this with FTM. Is it just when you upload to Ancestry. It’s very helpful but I don’t know how to get it. Please help

  33. Tom

    When I started this process five years ago, I had no idea where it would lead. What I found out along the way is that there’s a huge gap between good research and what I’ve found in many trees. People are shown to be born in the US before it existed, for example. The subtle errors are hard on us as well: people who actually existed, but whose genealogy before they show up is either not there or can’t be verified from any other sources. We have to remember that the compilation of the source material is being done by people who have varying degrees of skill at it, and the comments elsewhere here reflect that. So, like others, I urge caution. If you can’t find a record in Ancestry that supports the information in the tree, then you have to question it. And remember that many of the compilations, such as the Millennium File, can contain obvious errors because of the skills of the people who put it together.

  34. Panya

    Ditto Denise! –> “Not directly related to the question of relying on other trees, but I have found nowhere else to lodge this complaint. Can we PLEASE get a way to stop having family crests (real or imagined), pictures of generic immigrant ships, pictures of generic trees or generic pilgrims or generic anything delivered to us as “facts” or hints? They just clutter search results and slow real research down.”

  35. UB

    Many valid comments. I recently got a hint on a child that died within 14 days of birth. There were 16 family trees linked to the child. Of sixteen, all had birth and death correct. Nine had him married with a large number of children. Of the nine marriages there were six different wives. Of the large number of children, many were duplicates in the same family.
    Would it be too difficult for Ancestry to set some alarm parameters to let people know there are some things that may be wrong? At least questionable?

  36. Also, I have included on my tree copies of records I found which can also be helpful to others seeking information on my “people’. These include civil war enrollment forms, marriage certificates, family burial plats etc.

  37. Barbara

    I have come across many mistakes on my trees. Seems some people will add to my trees just because the last name is the same. Very frustrating

  38. I have added many copies of documents to my “people’ which others might want. Such as Civil War enrollment papers, marriage licenses, family burial plots etc. I think we can help each other.

  39. Judy

    Speaking of other’s trees…I would like a way to contact all tree holders at once (or a few). When you find an obvious error like parents dying before a child is born or some such and all the trees have the same info, it would be nice to be able to contact them all at once to point out the problem date or whatever.

  40. Following Judy’s question One of my peeves is showing a birth date and location before the area was settle for example the Mayflower arrived in 1620 yet a hint shows a birth of 1600 in New Hampshire?? How does one let the people know the information is now on multiple trees

  41. Cathie Schafer

    I really don’t trust much on these family trees online because it’s horrible what is going on with just copying anything that sounds good. I’m not sure why the two cross reference rule is never used. I don’t have my family tree online because I’m afraid people will butcher it! When researching I start with what I for sure know. I then build timelines for each person with city directories and double check on census years their addresses, careers, spouses with Voter Reg., census and vital records if in those years. I then hunt down newspapers with names, street addresses and relatives names to find more details. I don’t add people until proved. I still have a Scranton family I’ve been trying to prove or disprove for 20 years. Just hate how much junk is now on these family trees!!

  42. Lynda Leeds

    Re relying on other trees, I use there info as a place to start documentation get. Having “something” is better nothing, even if you prove it wrong. As a beginner I’m sure I made many of the same type of errors I see today, so I try to have patience. When I’m not sure of something, I wish there were a big red Question mark or something I could use to warn others. I’ve tried making comments, such as “these are not his/her parents because…” And putting “not proven” or “possibly” in name or description fields, but I still see my stuff in other trees with the note still attached. To keep from duplicating, I work directly in Ancestry and I’ve had to create a second tree I named “Research” just to be able to try things out in. Maybe a big red box around a person to mean, “this is undocumented, an active search, do not copy into your tree as fact without documentation.” Is that asking too much?

  43. June Higgins

    This discussion brings up a question I’v wondered about. Why do the Hints label the Family Data Collections as “Historical Records?” If they are only based upon family trees, then they are bound to have many mistakes. There must be a more honest label.

  44. Charles

    not all trees are complete and none100% correct unless you are the king of england. most are works in progress and therefore the only veritas would be in a persons direct living tree, meaning that which one can touch; living relatives, graves and personal knowledge of ones grandparents and great-grandparents. this is your starting point if you have nothing else to go on.

  45. Robyn Weed

    I keep a tree on Family Tree Maker for doing research. I can copy data to it and then verify it before putting it into my Ancestry tree. It’s more work but it works for me. I wish I had taken the time to add sources as I entered the data – it’s so much harder to find it again add it later.

  46. James E Bradley

    The real answer is No – do not assume any tree is correct. You can use the information in the tree as clues to point your research in a certain direction. I have found a record in a tree that is wrong and contacted the person whose tree it is to ask them to change the information…no response. Worse yet is the person that you have shared an entire set of Family Group Sheet information with and that person turns around and uploads it to Ancestry’s Trees. That is the last time I will provide that person any of my information. Another Comment Re: Looking for Help…Contact Customer Service…and grow old waiting for “the next available person”!

  47. Linda Neal

    My answer to Vicki’s question is No! , unless they are sourced with census records, vitals, tax lists, probates, etc. I believe many people never verify the sources of a member tree and just assume that the given facts are correct, so the merry-go-round just keeps going. If their source is another member tree, I’ve learned that that is not real documentation; it’s just a ‘hint.’ Member trees should not be considered real sources but I place them at the bottom of the list. However, I use them as a source, IF that is the ONLY place I find a clue or new info.

  48. Koko

    I tried Ancestry two years ago and found a little information about my family. I am trying it again, but seem to hit a roadblock on what happened in Pennsylvania and before. I agree that the Trees change information to be able to use it as a source. The price seems high for the information that is available.

  49. Maureen

    I too, have been extremely frustrated with trees that have very blatant mistakes. Some of the trees have been posted and re-posted numerous times, without a care to the errors.

    Some of the tree owners have been grateful for errors to be pointed out, and they have made the requested corrections. Others have been completely obnoxious and rude. Here is what I have done in regard to those trees:
    1) I start out politely telling the owner that we have “differing” information and offering them the correct information, i.e. the town where my grandfather died. If they make the correction, then everything is fine.
    2) If the corrections have not been made after a week or so, I gently remind them again.
    3) If another week goes by without corrections being made, I make a comment right on the tree itself, on the offending page(s). The message I enter is typically something like this: “The death place of my grandfather is incorrect as listed. I have asked the tree owner several times to correct it to read “Big City, NY” rather than “Little Town, NJ”. The owner has not made the corrected errors to date. Once the errors are corrected, I will happily delete this message”.

    By doing this, EVERYONE looking at the tree can see the message, and it often is just enough of a poke for the owner to make the corrections.

    When I find a tree has way too many errors for me to send corrections for, I note THAT on the pages as well by saying something like: “FYI…This tree has an unbelievable amount of factual errors on all pages…please be extremely careful if you decide to use this tree as reference…check out all facts and documentation before connecting it to your tree.”

    The tree owner cannot delete the messages that you have posted. They can only delete their own. Only you can delete the message…when YOU are ready to do so.

    I have found that when adding a comment such as this, it gets added in automatically to all of the other trees who connected and linked to their trees. Hope this was helpful!

  50. LaHonda Jo Morgan

    Thank you for asking and answering the question about trusting other folks’ material. Of course, we all make mistakes, but usually they are simply accidents or the re-telling of family stories. However, I have noticed a truly alarming development recently where commercial firms actively and aggressively promote proliferation of un-sourced and unreliable information, even claiming it to come from “official documents”. One of the fastest growing professional groups these days appears to publish and then re-publish information they have been notified is totally false. Ancestry is great in that you welcome corrections where necessary and most importantly put researchers in touch with one another. I must add that the Family History Center in Salt Lake also is dedicated to correcting errors and have readily done so in a couple of cases where I was able to provide primary documentation which even affected already recorded temple work. Accuracy is more important to some folks than scrabbling for the almighty dollar, and Ancestry displays the highest level of concern for accuracy. Thank you.

  51. Linda

    Looking at others’ trees is definitely hit and miss. View it as a possible lead, with verification needed. I thought I had found a good source of family info until I realize that the parents were born 20 years after their child! Other people’s trees are only a potential clue, one that needs source documents to verify whether or not those names and dates are ones that you are tied to. Use with caution and verify.

  52. Ann Johnson

    I would be on board with the flat-out NOs, but for two exceptions-I’ve got an abundance of records which are primary sources, family owned and more accurate and descriptive than “official” records. And the opposite, official records in which my ancestor deliberately lied or incorrect information was added. For that, I lean heavily on unsourced family data. Find A Grave is pretty bad, (not useless), a recent eg. but my own sisters in law had the wrong DOB put on my mother in laws headstone. Unofficial data can be great, if the recorder makes a note of its source. I hope that option is still there– my Quaker ancestors were good hoarders!

  53. Linda Walton

    Wow. This has been a wonderful thread of comments to peruse!

    Firstly, I concur with the majority about not relying solely on the trees of others for accurate information. I do, however, like the way Ancestry puts my tree to the right of others to scroll through and see where there might possibly be a new tidbit of information that I am not privy to.

    I do not consider anyone to be an “idiot”. Everyone has a different set of skills and not everyone has built in research/investigative abilities. It is of my belief that some are just so darned excited about the prospect of finding their roots that they become overzealous and start adding every possibility to their tree without the ability to filter out fact from fiction or incorrect transcription. They are stoked over the possibility of having found some “roots”!

    While Ancestry encourages posting your family tree publicly, I have chosen not to to avoid anyone else from the possibility of copying incorrect information as a result of my errors while in research mode. I just recently purchased the Family Tree Maker software and now understand why I did not in the beginning. I find it easier to work right within the Ancestry.com interface, however, I am now synching information from my online tree to FTM. Strange perhaps, but it is working for me and I have a specific reason why I am doing so at this time! I am very meticulous in proving facts before posting them as such.

    On the positive side of peeking into other trees given as hints by Ancestry, I am now corresponding with a first cousin, once removed who lives in Israel and is the last surviving child from her parents (my grand aunt and uncle). Not only have I connected with a blood relative, but this priceless connection is sharing stories, family connections, etc. that I would never know otherwise. I found my cousin by finally following an Ancestry hint that I ignored for nearly a year. Upon checking it out once again, I found the tree owner had added new information that included my great grandparent’s complete marriage date without a source attached. I contacted her through the Ancestry messaging system introducing myself, how I was connected and letting her know that I felt she had inside information since no source document was listed. Bingo! She gave me a link to a video that had been made documenting my cousin’s search for her long lost brother and her grandfather (my great grandfather). She had hired a genealogist. After several years of research, acquiring certificates and other various documents, she is not only sharing her discoveries with me, but has put me in touch with her genealogist friend. I am helping to add to her amazing project as well and am truly over the moon! When all is said and done, I will have a HUGE tree filled with from whence I have come on my paternal Grandmother’s side!

    Sorry to ramble on so, but there are A LOT of positives to rummaging through other family trees with discretion.

    My final bit of input is that in my not having my tree made public, I do offer the following for others who may be searching out the same surnames that I am. I allow my tree to be searchable, but not seen. Any documents, photos, etc. that I add are attached to the person’s name, searchable, but not visible. I have listed the surnames I am researching in my bio and let it be known that if anyone wishes to inquire about a particular person, birth dates, marriages, etc., I am most willing to share what I know to be accurate information with them via contact directly through Ancestry.

    Great write up Anne! Your suggestions, as how to browse through family trees, are well stated. Thank you!

  54. Mary DeLara

    From the experiences I’ve had on Ancestry with other people misusing my information, I’m beginning to think all trees should be private. If that’s not possible, then Ancestry should not allow members to automatically post what is on other trees. Make it difficult. My data, photos, and documents are all over the internet because I posted them to my public tree. The accuracy of my information has been compromised. There’s no way to make corrections or verify ownership of my documents when someone else removes my username and all other identifying information. I’ve never posted “Ancestry Family Trees” as a source. They should not be considered sources because most are not the result of research. I depend on the records that I find on Ancestry and will continue to use them.

  55. Sheryl Hunt

    When I first start my family tree I copied info that later proved to be wrong for all the different reasons people have previously listed. I did not really know what I was doing.. As I progressed, I have figured out more about ‘sources’ and every time I get a chance I try to verify and correct info I already put in the tree. Of course I am now more careful with new info. I am sure others also made ‘honest’ mistakes because they were learning how to put it all together. Also, I have discovered that ‘family’ information is also colored by the times. I.E. children born out of wedlock or other ‘shames’.

  56. Diana

    Remember too when looking at Ancestry hints, you may be getting hints for other generations ie. Joe Jr or Joe the VI listed under Joe Sr. You must look at dates and sources that come with those hints. Going back in time names were used over and over to show respect for family members. Popular and Biblical names were used in subsequent generations. It wasn’t unheard of for Joe Junior to have a wife with the same first name as his mother. Take your time, accept nothing at face value. Make sure your hints are for the right generation. Ancestry hints are very much like looking things up on Google they look for certain words or phrases for hints to come up.

  57. Sue Chilberg

    I say NO. I have found at least 2 dozen trees that had my Father married to his stepsister. My Mother married to my Fathers stepbrother. My Father death listed in the wrong city. And a lot of other mistakes about my Father. I have contacted the persons with the wrong info. only a couple ever bothered to change it. And I had several tell me that they knew their facts were correct,after all they got it from some one else that just knew the info. was correct. And that I was the one that had wrong info. I should know where my Father died as I was with him when he died and I should know who my Mother is.
    On my trees I document the sources that I have gotten the info. from and I also post a picture of it if I have a copy of the document.Or other forms of items that I have used.

  58. Nikki

    I am keeping my tree private until I can confirm the information. I’ve been considering keeping a tree for confirmed information and perhaps another “scratch” tree for collecting hints from other people’s trees. I don’t want all trees to be private, as suggested above, because I’ve learned a lot of great information from other people’s trees. I have information gaps in my tree and I would rather have access to possibly sketchy information (based on people’s recollection or handwritten notes), even if it is subject to error. I always assume (like ALL INFORMATION you find on the internet) that it is subject to error. Sorting and filtering is one of the most frustrating parts of the internet, but it also gives you access to tremendous amounts of information (at our fingertips!) that we didn’t have access to before the internet.

  59. Laurie Condrin

    I gave had various results from others Trees. I had a person who insisted that we were related. They took information and applied it to their tree. We both did the DNA test, we are not a match. Just because last names match does NOT mean you are related.
    Then on the other hand I have found lost family members using family trees. That part of the family we knew of, but had no contact since 1958. We have reconnected and visited with each other.
    We also found a branch I never knew existed. I found them also thru the Family Tree process.
    You just have to be smart about it.
    I don’t like how people grab your info and just go with it. I research the information before accepting it if there are any questions

  60. Deb S

    I also have no faith in other member trees unless I have given very serious consideration to to the information included there. I have also found that some databases that are searchable list their sources as member trees, so I always check to see the source information listed for a very general information database. One specific issue that has plagued me several times is that other members will attach my family photos to an entirely different person with the same name. I now always post photos with specific info in the description. Hopefully, anyone else who looks at the photo will not continue the error when they note this person had different birth and death dates, different parents and spouse, and a different place of residence.

  61. Finderonline

    No! I cannot begin to tell you how many times I have been reviewing “other Families Lines” and found that their lineage is REALLY messed up! They might have the head of household correct, but then they tried to attach a resource to it, and have actually picked up ANOTHER line, say for instance a George Washington Luther, who married Caroline Perkins, but they picked up a census for George Washington Luther and his wife Cathrine. This person has taken two different families, granted they may be related a couple of generations ago, but because families tended to name their children after their brothers and sisters, and they may live in the same state, doesn’t mean that automatically this is their correct person! I have seen people create families of similar names, and add two families together – they will have one family of children, and then another family of children, not paying any attention to the fact that the census’ doesn’t show these “other” children in the census.. they may be 150 miles apart within the same state, but they aren’t paying any attention! So, I have seen them put these “Concocted” families into “find-a-grave” as well! Then linking them as parents, siblings etc., and the information is all WRONG! That is making a terrible mess! DO YOUR OWN GENEALOGY!

  62. Kathryn H

    Ancestry.com would provide a substantial help to us all by adding the ability for us to make citations to our entries, such as “Pending Proof” after a person’s name.

  63. Linda

    Aim for the highest standards. I did an intense 3 years of research, way back before the internet existed. I am a oollege graduate, so I was careful to always footnote exactly from where & when I got any facts. I organized all my info info a very readable book (of course, keeping the footnotes) for the living relatives. Now being a member, and having glanced at various family trees, I will admit the “siren call” of a large batch of would-be ancestors on various family trees is awfully strong. And it’s much less tedious and slow moving to grab someone’s info, rather than validate it oneself. But, one you incorporate someone’s info that has been fully substantiated, you’ve basically adulterated your own research. You might end up putting in hours on a family line that is basically fictional….and definitely incorrect. I would say that though it’s slower, a meticulous method is still fun. Genealogy is a puzzle and it’s a wonderful challenge to accurately solve it.

  64. Jeanne

    My interest in genealogy began when my grandmother, at age 88, started telling me stories about her childhood as the 3rd child in a family of 7. All 7 attended family reunions thru out my childhood so I knew each of them personally. Imagine my surprise when my nephew married the daughter of a fellow “genealogist” & my grandmother’s family became a family of 18 children! My grandmother, Mary, who in a different census was listed with her nickname, Mamie, which apparently then looked like Marnie to him in a the next census. Anyway, my grandmother is still listed in his family tree as a set of triplets born on the same day in 1900. Nothing has convinced him to change his tree from a family of 18 children born within 14 years, all are triplets or quadruplets. So I do not trust info in other trees even if they have sources.

  65. Larry

    Ancestry could do a couple easy changes. One program I once worked with had levels of certainty that you could attach to an individual. I liked that you could find a hint in another tree and attach it with a very low level of certainty meaning it needed more work. Now everything gets entered with the same level of certainty making it harder to sort out the duff.

    Another feature that would be nice is a way to highlight your direct ancestor on a profile page. I work so many lines and get back so many generations that if I come back at a later date I need to work down the line to find how I was connected, wasting time.

  66. Dave

    I agree with Larry’s point about “credibility of the source” being a rating to assign to information. My hand written notes and info that I keep filed all have ratings of 1 – 10. 1 being best, in my case because I started listing my “ratings” at 1. 1 is either 1st Hand Knowledge of someone I can contact directly or information from a record that is corroborated by at least 1 other source or record. 2 a very likely record match. 3…etc etc.

    And to the original question… .I place other people’s trees at a flat 10. They can improve that rating the more and more their information aligns with my own because I try to be 100% sure of all my info. Nobody’s perfect, but when I print updates for my non-computer literate connections, they can plainly see how confident I am with any piece of info.

  67. Judith Clarke

    I don’t trust trees, but I do use them for possible hints for further research. The worst I saw was an entry for a person who died in 1789, aged 3 years. The entry has her marrying and having children in the 1800s. The worst thing is that the tree’s owner commented that all of the records he found showed the 1789 death and that they were all wrong! The data about the death was from verified Mayflower descendants with a certain credibility. To date, the info has not been changed.
    I have often wished for a way to mark questionable information and appreciate the ideas given by others.
    I have found my cousin’s paternal family line on public trees, many of them with pictures she knew nothing about even though she is in several of them. I did print them off for her, along with the source. She has established contact with a couple of tree owners and has remained in touch. She does not have a computer so none of those connections would have been made without Ancestry and the trees.

  68. Chick

    As someone who documents almost every entry in my tree, I am tired of people questioning me and my source. I give my source, go check it out if you aren’t certain but please stop emailing and question a source that is clearly stated. People copy my tree all the time without giving credit for the research I have paid for and gladly share, but when I point out that you have made a gigantic leap in your assumptions, please correct your tree. I can make mistakes, I can forget to scan documents I have had for over 40 years but don’t assume I made a wag. I don’t mind being corrected or questioned, but not with the assumption I am a name collector or want to be related to the whole world. I take my research seriously, be polite and have a basis for your question because of conflicting information not because you just don’t trust anyone.

  69. Jenien Ferguson

    If I have interpreted all of this discussion correctly, most experienced genealogists feel that its not of much value to look at other people’s family trees. Only beginners seem to value them. That’s why I neither look at them, nor post my own. There are too many errors just passed along and not much respect for the hard work of others, including myself.

  70. Rene Halpern

    I have found the family trees helpful. They have confirmed information given by relatives and/or documents that I have found. Also, there has been new information. In addition, it has enabled me to connect with relatives (some old and some new) that live thousands of miles away.

  71. David Bischoff

    In my experience, the larger the tree is, the more likely it is to be complete garbage. If you find a tree with 10,000+ ancestors in it, run the other way! Find one with a couple hundred ancestors in it and maybe there’s something interesting to look at but for pete’s sake, don’t copy the whole darn thing and pretend like it’s your own work! That’s plagiarism. Why Ancestry makes this so easy to do is beyond me. Needless to say, I no longer post my tree publicly but my initial work is still out there attached to some other ficticious trees and there’s nothing I can do about it.

  72. Marta Reeves

    Great thread and comments, very relavant as I was trying to decide this past weekend whether or not to take my tree private. I have a large family spread across the world and Ancestry.com provides a platform for me to connect with them, many I have never personally met, and share pictures, funeral programs and some family history or stories. Additionally, it gives me the sources to verify information provided by family members. Take my grandfather who my mom insisted that the year on his headstone was off by a year, other family members disagreed. Social Security records, census records confirmed information on headstone. Marriage license which my mom said both parents lied about ages verified she was correct when comparing it to census and Social Security records. When asking other members to verify where they got their information most if they respond at all say they don’t know or have copied from another’s tree. Many show an incorrect death date for my 2nd Great grandfather (1897) but then show the source of him being alive on the 1900 census. No one that I have contacted has updated their information. To make matters worse I even have a marriage certificate for him from 1901. Ancestry.com needs to build in an alert or the inability to attach records when at odds with birth or death dates. Making some pop ups that say Death date listed occurs prior to documentation so these errors can’t be made initially. As far as personal pictures are concerned or documents placed by member other members it should be required that they gain permission to use these on their tree from original owner and that where obtained has to be sourced and credited. If these changes could be implemented then I would have no problem keeping my tree public without them I will be making mine private. Ancestry.com to maintain its credibility as an accurate source needs to do everything possible to limit the copying of trees and then linking them as hints 6 – 10 unsourced trees is wasting your server space, my time, and diminishing the validity of your marketing plan.

    Basically, the answer is no don’t trust the trees unless they are providing actual personal documents you may not obtain elsewhere or are limited resources (pictures of bride & groom signing marriage certificate, or funeral program, and personal letters.)

  73. M

    I would like to say that a little kindness is needed on this site. Just because you might be a world premiere genealogist….a lot of people who use Ancestry do it as a hobby or for fun. If you don’t like the info included in someones tree; don’t use it. It isn’t necessary for anyone to “set the person straight”, or “point out the error in their trees”. If there is a mistake, it’s theirs to make and not your responsibility to make sure the world knows about it. I imagine that is why a lot of people have their trees set to private. The criticism can be a little off putting. A lot of people pay for the service…it’s up to them what they get out of it.

  74. Marie

    This is an interesting discussion, with many valid points. I started researching well before any digitized internet documentation was available and begain using Ancestry to verify the facts I had accumulated. Having been a FTM software user for over 20 years my procedure for posting has been more defined by the way I started recording my info. I record my info in FTM and use the notes in it to record my thoughts about the validity of the information or what I need further research on. Then i use Ancestry to verfiy, looking at posted trees for hints about my brick walls and for original documents that substantiate the hint. I then post to my public tree the into that I’m confident is correct. I only post the scans of documents and photos that I am willing to share with the world. I also try to always attach any original documents I find to the persons in my tree. This is especially helpful when I have several persons with the same name in a family line.

    Having a public tree has led me to relatives that have become friends and the sharing of information and identification of photo subjects I would not have been able to have otherwise.

    I also try to make comments on my facts if for instance there is a misspelling or nickname in the original document that might be misleading.

    Thanks for the chance to hear others thoughts on various subjects thru this forum.

  75. MJ Spivey

    Never assume any tree or any part of a tree is correct. It is your responsibility to verify any part of a tree that you repost or copy. Otherwise you are causing problems for future genealogists and it will take them days or weeks to correct rather than the few hours you would spend verifying and getting it right to start with. That is why you should always include SOURCES. Then another responsible genealogist can verify your info and move on more quickly. Some of the trees that include my family members are bungled beyond repair. And it is almost impossible to correct errors especially with the MERGE fuction on Ancestry that allows someone to copy thousands of relations – correct or not – to their own tree. Then that incorrect tree is copied or merged umpteen times making it impossible to get corrected. Basically we are headed for a genealogical train wreck and all we can do is verify our own trees to make certain our ancestors’ memories are factual.

  76. Juanita

    I agree with all of you about accepting other trees info as truthful. I have the same problem. I have a 4th great grandfather born 1730 in PA and his father is listed as being born 1724. I find this hard to believe! According to newspaper articles I have copies of and early immigration records, they say the same thing. How do you dispute that.

  77. Kickyj1

    After looking through all the beforehand comments, it seems not many people are trusting other’s trees. I do agree that we must be careful, use common sense and a ton of math! But I find public trees are very useful even if we must verify all the info. My tree is public and I feel that is what going on Ancestry.com is all about; people sharing info. If everyone keeps their tree private, how do we help each other? If we pay the fee to be on this site, we need to have a little faith as well as doing our own search for verification. The worst problem I found while working on this site, was when one certain set of trees, was an instance of a date of birth and death as in the 1900s , and the years I was researching was in the 1400s, which I believe was intentional and mischievous. As I went down the list of pertinent trees, several people had copied that mistake, as if it were true. Still, I will continue to keep my tree public and hope others will too. Jo

  78. Interesting and valuable discourse among ancestry members, thanks for providing this opportunity. I empathize with the frustration expressed over the hints and copying from other trees. However most of the comments appear to be from experienced researchers who have public trees. It’s important that we remember when we started out and searched for anything and everything, often relying heavily on these hints. Very few trees start out with accurate sourcing as this is a learned skill. These new members all have a potential of bringing valuable family records that may provide missing links the older trees have been searching for in vain.
    One suggestion I offer to those tired of seeming mindless requests is to click on the tree name under contact. Go to their profile and see how long they have been on ancestry and the activity level. Click on the related tree and then type in your last name. This will enable you to decide if the request comes from a tree that is more than remotely related to yours. Click on view all photos. If they have gravestones, documents and are adding stories they are usually serious researchers who you may find it rewarding to assist from your experience. Just do it without any expectation of acceptance or praise. If they make suggested corrections great, if not move on, but don’t let it keep you from helping others. If they make the corrections, edit it and present as their own without acknowledging you tree as originator, then I agree with the the prior member who said they submitted a clarifying comment for others to view.
    As regards photos of places, tombstones etc., you are probably not the only one who visited a site and took a similar photo possibly from the same location.
    The comments requesting ancestry to remove COA’s and/or family crests point out the desire of many researchers to find a connection with royalty, knights and famous persons in history. I offer the following insight from two research trips to England.
    While searching thru Chancery Records, Rent Rolls, Manorial records, etc at the National Archives in Kew near London for confirmation of widely accepted family connections back to the Norman Conquest I found a disturbing reality. After talking with several archivists it became apparent that we Americans are quite gullible. The prohibitive costs associated with travel and research across the pond led early ancestry researchers to engage agents or research services. Under the ‘you may get what you pay for” I found 4 source records in the original Latin or pre-modern English script that were word for word exact, except where a family name was substituted for the original. Th expectation seems to have been that nobody would ever go to the expense and hassle to conduct their own research.
    So now that I wasn’t descended from royalty and Norman knights I looked into another family assertion, that of our supposed COA. My research found that identical COA was assigned to a Merchant organization of which one of my ancestors belonged in the 17th century. It wasn’t his and these guild COA’s don’t transfer to individuals. So that left me with the widely held family belief we had knights in our tree. Turns out we did, but wait. There were numerous levels of Knights in medieval England. Not all wore expensive armor, fought battles and were heroic figures on great steads. Turns out Knights shared one thing in common, they were all paid for their service. They were employed by royalty of course, but also employed by each Shire, towns within Shires, and even wealthy members of the merchant class. Common people were not allowed to wear or display such symbols of imortance. The COA’s or family crests they wore over what passed for their armor was an identifier of whoever paid there fee. The COA did not belong to them unless they were representing their own or related family granted arms. The Shire knights were often associated with the Sheriff or employed associates. Reducing this knowledge to our modern day would probably equate to wearing a specific uniform or driving a certain model and color police car, vs horse. So realty may be that most of us, who claim COA’s or Crests undocumented in the various heraldry books such as Burke’s, may simply descend from the medieval version of Sheriff Andy de Mayberry or Deputy Barney de Fife. Gotta love the ironies of life. Enjoy your research for how it enriches your life.

  79. Suzhorton

    Like many others have commented, I ignore Public Family Trees until I am stumped. When I choose to view trees and the comparison trees appear, notice the number of sources, records and photos (numbers in parenthesis). Usually the tree with the most sources is listed first. I click on the name of the person I am comparing to. The profile on the member tree will appear and I can see what proof sources have been provided. If the only sources are other trees, I move on. If I do gather names and dates from other’s trees, I IMMEDIATELY set about to verify.

  80. Walter Cullars III

    You may be perpetuating the myth that “there were two brothers” that landed in Charlestown, SC in 1735 aboard the ship “Mercury”, from Switzerland. The names are found as “Keller” and also “Kuller” (+ other spellings) are in various Ancestry. Trees. but these families do not relate to each other. Later History has the Keller name in Philadelphia, then in the Shenandoah Valley, and later in NC and GA early colonial settlements. The Kullar name stayed in SC and became “Collar”, and later Cullars. (my surname) but most of the Ancestry information is garbage. The Library at Ornageburg, SC has a deep resource file on the “Celler” name (also an early spelling) but as you will find, the “Keller” name in GA and the ship manifest for the early Gissendanner settlers brought both Keller and Kuller into your files. Suggest someone at Ancestry look at the forensic information on the claim that there “were two brothers” which can’t be proved.
    W. Cujllars III

  81. Jane B

    Yes, be aware. When you great-grandmother had 12 children (she did) and 8 are named John (not), stop and pay attention that something is not right!

  82. Susan Chisum

    Someone wrote at my husband’s death that we were married 4 years. It was exactly 4 years & 9 months… and I resent not being able to alter that.

  83. 3 hints does not make a public tree reliable. There are 9 trees on Ancestry that have the same information…all wrong. They all have one of my ancestors marrying and having children long after he was dead! I do not trust the information on any tree.

  84. Freda

    I am guilty. I was on and off Ancestry for several years, never spending much time until I retired. Then I got all excited to spend more time and just accepted too many hints as reality. DNA helps in confirming some relationships. Please feel free to mark me FredaNash as a source who is still learning and making mistakes, and have no wish to mislead anyone. My mother is 95 and I have other elderly relatives, so much of my information is from first hand knowledge for couple generations back and from memories of conversations with my grandmother – never imagining that someday I would remember the names she mentioned of people I would see on census reports as her neighbors and relatives, giving me confidence in using the sources.

  85. Wow, I am fairly overwhelmed at the number of replies that are so negative.
    After reading the responses it is clear to me that:
    1. Do your own research
    2. Rely on RECORDS and preferably several.
    3. Silly photos, crests, shields are useless. Ignore them.
    4. Name calling is immature and uncalled for on any public site…. restrain yourself.
    5. Enjoy the process and now – get back to work!

  86. Carol Ann Waldrop

    I became a member of ancestry.com when it cost $29.00 for a year and have been a member every since. I agree 100% that the family trees are almost useless. Some people, rather than update a tree they have posted, will add a tree. It would be a huge help if ancestry.com would, at least, delete these duplicates posted over and over by the same person.

  87. Amy Wright

    I think we are losing sight of the fact that Ancestry.com is service that we each pay for to help us access information to build our own trees. My purpose for using this service is not to provide information to others – correct or incorrect. I am glad to share any information that I have, but I do not like to be ridiculed if my tree doesn’t reflect what someone else wants it to. Please consider that some people save items of information to refer to later in order to help sort out the discrepancies and adopt the more likely/realistic/documentable elements. I have information saved to my tree to aid me in later research. It does not mean that I fully accept the information provided therein – nor should you!

  88. Sandy

    I too am somewhat guilty of copying trees – at least when I first started. I was new at genealogy and Ancestry and thought the trees were factual. Call me gullible. I soon learned to do my own research. I turned off the tree hints and only use it as a go to when I am stuck, and check only the trees that are well sourced as is my tree. My tree is public and other people are free to check it out. We are all here to help one another, at least that is what I thought. Once, I had someone in my tree who was not a close relative but I found his birth record and assumed it was the correct person. Then I attached someone else’s information to this person and I was emailed and berated for using her hard work and attaching it to the wrong man. I had the name correct but, it seems there were two men who were born the same year, with the same name, and in the same area. Even though I thought I was right, apparently I was not. I was struck, however, by the anger of the other tree owner’s anger. What I did was make an honest mistake. And I corrected it. However, I no longer use the other member’s pictures or research to my tree. It is just not worth it. I, on the other hand, love sharing information. I have been contacted many times by others who have actually given me information about relatives I never knew existed. And I have been contacted by others letting me know how my information has helped them. I am in contact now with a distant cousin in California who wrote to express his thanks for my tree information. So please don’t assume people are just lazy when it comes to their tree info. Sometimes it’s just logical mistakes. One other point, my tree has over 10,000 people in it. My tree is well sourced and still a work in progress. That does not mean I copy other info willy nilly. I come from original Virginia Families and much of my family is well documented in books written by relatives. And some large trees have several family members working on them. Do not assume a large tree is wrong just because of its size.

  89. Alvin Osborne

    Firstly…. I agree with many complaunts about erors in details. I have used the hintsas “HINTS” onky. Not facts until I find proof. I also ake corections to my trees when erors arecpointed out an thank the person who comments. a suggestion for improvintg the site would be allowing us to remve errrs in the place names that pop up when entering data. There would be a great saving of data space if I could remove or replace these errors. An example is the home town of many of my ancestors has as many as ten variations mostly because of differing abbreviations and spellings.

  90. Lynne

    I just found my great-grandfather’s death certificate attached to another member’s tree. According to the certificate, the person the coroner talked to was a neighbor who didn’t know anything about his wife but said that my great-grandfather’s mother’s name was the same as what the two censuses I’ve found show as his wife’s name. Could this be true? Could my great-grandmother and great-great-grandmother have exactly the same names? It’s possible. My great-grand father could have married a woman with the same name as his mother. Even though that doesn’t seem likely I haven’t yet been able to find any of my great-grandfather’s or great-grandmother’s parents’ names, so could this be a starting point? Sometimes it’s hard to find the right source–or any source–and unfortunately it makes what we’re trying to do accurately that much harder, and makes it understandable how the wrong information gets passed around.

  91. Robin

    Many excellent comments. I concur that online trees should be used as hints only. I always independently verify any data before adding it to my tree. Re: “person notes” in FTM that do not go into the online tree; I also use person notes to explain my reasoning and analysis. To put this into my online tree, I copy the note and paste it into the online tree as a “story” which I title “Research Notes for John Smith.” Finally, when I encounter a grievous error in an online tree, I post a polite note explaining what the error is, giving my sources, and end with “just thought you’d want to know.” Sometimes it’s ignored, sometimes I get a thank you . . . but, whatever, anyone else who looks at that tree can make up their own mind!

  92. Janelle Via McKown

    Common sources that I use frequently are the Douglas Richardson books (all volumes), the books by Gary Boyd Roberts, ANCESTRAL ROOTS of Certain American Colonists Who Came to America before 1700, 8th Ed., by Weis, Sheppard, Beall and Beall,, Plantagenet Ancestry by David Faris, The Royal Bastards of Mediefal England by Wilson and Curteis, Blood Royal by T. Anna Leese, Ancestors and Kin by Coggeshall, The Magna Charta Sureties, 1215, 5th Ed. and The Origins of Anglo-Norman Families by Lewis C. Lloyd (deceased) reprinted in 1992, All of these books are in my own library and are available in most big city libraries I do not type sources to my data at Ancestry.com because I would be typing the same data over and over again. Of course, I use birth, death, marriage, records when they are available knowing that some are incorrect; Much depends on who gives the data. Most wives and daughters, I have found, are the most reliable. I have been researching my family lines about 40 years when there were no computers. I have spent much time and traveled afar in and to court houses, state archives and cemeteries. I have sources for all or I do not assume all data is correct. I’m sure many of us genealogical research the same way. All I am interested in is the truth. I study hints posted on Ancestry.com, but I verify if possible before I add to my own tree. As someone wrote, I may attach data until I have the time to check it out, but I do check it before it becomes permanent. Indexes do little good. Some of the time on Ancestry, all that is there is name (no date) and usually gender. What goodd does that do? Thank you for allowing my comment.

  93. kkelly5037

    I’ve been doing research for my paternal lines since I retired 4+ years ago. It took me about 2 months to realize not everything I see on ancestry.com public trees isn’t really reliable. Trusting public trees? Absolutely not. I do my own research independently and if I can verify by census, marriage/birth/death records/certificates, tax rolls, city directories (and even here you have to be very careful), and any other legal documentation then I enter that data/info into my FamilyTreeMaker program. At the same time I’m keeping word documents with the info and web links to the data & images for each and every person in my tree. Those word documents are printed and kept in binders for reference. The very last thing I do, if I’ve hit a brick wall or perhaps looking for specific info, I’ll check the FMT leafs for potential new “data”. As for correcting incorrect data, I contact them once, if they don’t respond I go back to that tree and leave a comment right on the tree page about what’s wrong.

    I recently came across someone who had added residences for my gr-gr-grandfather as living in Texas 1926-1931, when he died in Oklahoma in 1908 (this person had the death date correct too)! I grew up in the specific town and know exactly where he’s buried. This person also gave a “Jr.” to the same person when he was never a “Jr.”, and gave a nickname to a great uncle I’d known for over 22 years when he never used the nickname but was always known by his birth name. This same person even “corrected” a 1940 census with the wrong info!! That’s not the only instance with incorrec info, just the latest. It’s very frustrating since you never know where they got the info. Thin air? Perhaps. I feel it’s my responsibility to correct someone when they’ve posted wrong data/info about a relative I personally have known. It’s almost like they have undermined the credibility or the life of my relative, especially when they refuse to correct their error(s).

    My biggest problem is that so many legal documents use initials, first name/middle initial, different spellings, and even the hand writing is very hard to read. Not to mention the faint or blurred document images make it hard as well. Then you add in the fact that so many of the related people have the same name, birth dates close together, in the same town (even neighborhood) but in actuality different parents.

    BTW – I haven’t uploaded my tree to ancestry.com, but when I do it will be strictly private. Access will be given to family members I know, and no editing will be available. I’m the last of two paternal lines, and a maternal relative will have all my notes/research, pictures, etc. – so stated in my will (having no children). After I upload my FMT, I’ll use the links I’ve saved in the documents to go to the fact and attach to my tree for sources/citations.

    I have seen lots of private trees that have lots of sources, but when I contact them for viewing access only all I get are “crickets” (no response), or even outright “No”. In my contact I always give them a brief genealogy line from me to the person in their tree, but still get nothing. There have been only two people I’ve contacted that allowed me to view their tree, but they didn’t have as much data/info as I did.

    Don’t forget to look through the message boards (ancestry.com as well as other ancestry search sites) for clues to your people. I’ve happily contacted five 2nd & 3rd cousins I had lost track of or didn’t know of, and we’ve shared info. Also DNA tests (full family finder, mtDNA and big Y-DNA) are very valuable (although a bit expensive). After your tests are done, join a genealogical group for your last name(s) and see what data/info they have. I’ve been able to absolutely verify both paternal ancestor lines back to the early 1700’s, just can’t get across the pond so to speak.

    I’m not trying to prove I’m related to royalty. I’m only interested in my “across the pond” paternal ancestors (Scotland & Ireland), and none of them were anything but honest, hard-working people who belonged to some historical clans.

  94. M

    Facts? Researcher beware! For many immigrants researchers assume that the departure port or city lived in before immigration was the ancestral home. My father told me that his hometown in Europe no longer existed. He said if anyone asked he was from near BigCityX. I found the town does exist. documents Census, immigration records, naturalization and passports,etc. list my ancestors from differnt ountries depending upon the political division at the time the papers were recorded. One ancestor is variously from Austris, Hungary, Austro Hungarian Empire. and considered himself Hungarian. The town has been all of these plus Turkish and Checkoslivakian and is now Ukrainian. Beware shifting boundaries – this applies to USA state, cities and counties as well. Anyone can find one of my grandfathers with the family in several consecutive census records. We know that he left his wife and children at a certain time. The census from the family town around that time shows him as head of the house. I found census of same year, different city and state where he lived for the rest of his life without family contact. It was taken the day before the “family” census and lists him as divorced. His children always asumed that the parents divorced but until today there is no evidence of a legal divorce.It pays to keep looking for information. Also the latter census shows that he added his town of birth and that of his parents with aline through it as the columns required country of birth. This substantiated that he was born in a differentrent place than the town where my father lived in Europe with his parents. It had been assumed that he was from this town but verifiable info until this surfaced did not list this town.

  95. jwtrack1

    Are you going to have the quick edit boxes put in the beta version?, This new format takes a lot more clicks to edit a persons information. Also before when you went into tree view and people you could edit many people with the quick edit view box on each person in you tree from that window. I do not see that in the new beta version so for editing I feel the beta versions takes many clicks to edit information. I prefer the old version for doing editing

  96. Ernie

    It has been a number of years, since pitting my tree together, and I am one of those that has submitted atree and do not go to the site, but if you have any questions on my tree email me. erniehattyahoo.com.au. every part of my tree was search from reputable sauces by me, not from any other tree.

  97. Many of my photos in my tree has been totally misaligned now with the “New Ancestry”. Their faces and even their heads are not visible. Why did they put an oval for the pictures instead of a square where more of photo shows. Why put pictures if Ancestry realigns and ruins them?

  98. Find a grave is a wonderful site, but note that good photos of readable cemetery stones are one thing, but the guesswork by some people assuming relationships without sources are another. I have had trouble with folks who assumed a relationship of my ancestors to another same-name family. Although I have both civic and family documents that prove this is not true, and because the non-factual info was entered by a person with a huge number of gravestone reports, most of them posted before my own, findagrave doesn’t permit me to make a correction even on a site where the I own the photo of the stone which was copied from my website. Sure, I could hire an attorney, but I don’t have money to do that, and what would it actually accomplish other than to make me look like a troublemaker?

  99. Carolyn

    After reading all the negative posts, I feel the need to join the conversation to make a case for public trees. A second cousin, whom I met on Ancestry.com through a public family tree, saved the day for me!
    My great grandfather had children who were born after the death of his wife. I was confused by the fact that my great grandmother appeared on subsequent censuses even though I had several official sources for her death. At first I thought my grandparents might have been raising their nieces and nephews. However, being new to family research, I just could not figure out the extra children. Fortunately, I contacted an Ancestry member/relative who was doing similar research only to learn that she had actually interviewed my parents while researching her family history. She explained that my great grandfather lost his first wife and remarried a lady with the same first name and middle initial. I doubt if I could have ever figured out that situation without the positive interaction from a public family tree owner.
    I feel most of us are trying to get it right. A little patience and understanding would go a long way. Just look for official sources for all facts added to the family tree.

  100. I have been working on my trees for 10 years and was initially ducked in all that information. Nit knowing better I did some wholesale copying as information on my father’s side was non existent. Then I started new trees verifying each step as I went. But I must say at find the public trees helpful in triggering list information I once knew it giving me an idea for my next step. I look to the tree with additional personal information such as given names or very specific death details etc. I find these are usually the work of an immediate family member,just as zi give all four of my fathet’s given nsmrd,or the correct place if death fir my mother. However after ten years I am still stumped by my paternal grandfather McLaren and am using my father’s recollections only as the basis for finding clues.Ot dies bothered when I see my pictures all over the place with an incorrect label. I wish it was easier to add a name but with a ‘not proven’ asterisk. ‘

  101. Amy W

    I have seen entries from other relatives that are different from the factual documents I have. including one thst said my 3 times great grandmother was a mother to her own stepmother. (Two different familie’s records got mixed up).

    One brief example: I had a great grandparent named for president William Henry Harrison. Therefore his full name was:
    William Henry Harrison Harris.

    The find a grave website entries, various entries on. The Ancestry site and other genealogical sites seem to have assumed that it was a typo and that his name was simply William Henry Harris. (:-}

    So I agree about always taking it with a grain of salt, and double checking and verifying facts. Beyond that, we can’t really do anything about anyone else’s input; just try to keep the best records we can in our own right.

  102. Åsagutten

    To tell the ungarnished truth, most trees are 99% full of misinformation copied from other trees of the same quality. This is why I do not make my tree public…. adding researched and documented information from my tree would only give these other trees a facade of being correct.

  103. Ginny

    Why are none of you wonderful people who are meticulously analyzing data and including original sources related to me?

  104. Who , What , When , Where ,and Why .is the way to go . and the stone cuter will not be paid if he is wrong , so all ways look at the headstone .

  105. Jdcuster

    I liked the entry about how knights were employed in England. I find culture like that very understandable. Thanks Rob Warfield for the Coats of Arms culture information.

  106. Jdcuster

    You know the police in America call their badges their Shields. It has the city name and officer’s number on it. Maybe the culture is the modern version of Coats of Arms usage in Europe.

  107. I’ve noticed that when some researchers can’t find a father for their “John,” they “assume” William, Sr. is the father. There is no verifying proof for that assertion. This “John” could be a brother, cousin, or even an uncle to William Sr. Please, verify before attaching inaccurately, thus causing for other researchers.

  108. Maureen Worsley

    I too have had problems with an ancestor being ‘hi-jacked’. The name wasn’t even a common one like John Smith or Sarah Jones! Watson Tempest is an unusual name but two were born almost together- one in July 1849, my great grandfather, and the other in 1850. The difference being the place where they were born. My grandfather was born in Skipton , Yorkshire UK and the other came from Halifax,Yorkshire Uk. My grandfather emigrated to South Africa and the other to USA where he has been added to a family tree, along with his wife and family. I have tried to get the information corrected by the tree owner but still it is there. So I have put a comment to that effect that the infromation is incorrect and the details of why, below the information.
    I have been tracing my family since I was 12 and use FTM on my own computer. I only put people on my tree who I can verify as being my ancestors and this takes time to prove. To upload other’s trees seems to me to not only be plagerism but without their express permission a breach of privacy. My advice would be to look at the trees if you are stuck but don’t read too much into them. Look up the places on a map and see exactly where these strange names are, Yorkshire is a big county and travel was not all that easy back in the 18th and early 19th centuries. Do your own research and check, check and check again before putting anyone into your tree- they may not be a relative you want to have!

  109. Judith Boutelle

    There’s a lot of errors and I try to change them but some tree owners leave no connect inf. Jane B yes German and French brothers can all have the 1st name of John ( Johann, Jean). I have two families that follow this pattern. Some names are so “poplar” that one male may have a mother, sister, wife and mother-in-law with the same name. There were church and civil records to document this. When one child died name was reused. I used DNA tests from two sources with every different results. One was 27% Scandivanian and 20% Iberian. I have no known connection back at least 6 generation and it don’t list German or French. The other had about 2% for the Scandivavian and Iberian each and German & French as I would expect. I have a gr-gr-gr-grandfather from Ireland. But both have connected me to “cousins” without the use of family names.

  110. Deb

    Asagutten – I have the opposite reason for having my trees private. I’m a dilletante and while I am trying to be detail oriented in the direct lines, I am not so diligent when the tree is spread to my aunt’s parents, or their siblings’ spouse’s grandparents. I want to see where the branches lead, but not to the point that I have to have perfect documentation that far out. I just want to be sure that the line isn’t broken – if that makes sense. I do use public trees, but only to tease out the tangled end of a hint that might help me past a dead end. If someone did contact me for info about their family in my trees, I would be happy to help them – if only to give them an idea of another direction to go in tracking down their ancestors.

  111. Greg Chambers

    If one wishes to insert data from a member tree, can it be marked somehow as unverified, so that we know there is work to be done AND it is not reliable?

  112. Kpac50

    No! Do not trust trees! I’ve posted explanations regarding how info found on many trees cannot be accurate yet members choose to keep that “fact.”

    The “three hint” rule of thumb doesn’t hold water. I’ve seen endless hints for an individual that all turned out to be incorrect.

    One common error I come across: the will of a supposed parent doesn’t include a child who is my ancestor, while there is no primary source documentation.

    “Family Data Collection” records are also notoriously unreliable. The information was submitted by individuals who may or may not have had proper documentation. Frequent glaringly inaccurate “facts” are found in these.

  113. Kpac50

    That said, I have numerous primary source records which were found in other members’ trees. I do my best to find other such records elsewhere and share with others.

    Pooling our skills and resources is a vital aspect of the ancestry community.

  114. Thomas Morningstar

    I have to confess that private trees annoy me, their owners gladly appropriate my info and photos which I share to help others then turn around and refuse to pas the help along. I have contacted private trees when a relative is listed only to have the owner say. I have no such person. Obviously they just don’t want to help and should not be on Ancestry

  115. cece

    I was unable to find my 3rd great grandfather and his parents. A cousin decided that he could do better than I could so he looked for them. When unable to find any info either he looked for a family that was in the right age group. He added our 3rd great grandfather to this family then added other children, who knows where he got them. When I asked him for documentation he said “There was no documents back then!” Then he proceded to add his bogus tree to ancestry.com (10 times) and of course it has been copied many times. I have since proved that one of the “children” belonged to another family entirely. He has made no move to correct his trees. Buyer beware is a good way to look at other’s trees.

  116. I use the posted trees as “launching points” and then do my own research. But what would be incredibly useful if there was some way to find out who put the (possibly) erroneous information up originally. Sometimes the trees given as “hints” will all be recent and those individuals may have copied names from other trees that had really good sources/documentation, but that information (the sources) was not added to the later trees. Thus, when you look up other trees under “hints” you may not be able to discearn how long the good/bad info has been around or how it got there. A way to get back to the original posting of a name/ancestor would be wonderful!!!

  117. Sandy Williams

    I now have the new Ancestry, I do like it, but I am having a lot of problems with adding stories I have found and would like to attached to my specific ancestor. Also I have not figured out how to Search Wikipedia thru Ancestry, in which I liked to do with the old version. Please help me. I am now having to relearn the navigation. Thanks

  118. Margie

    Hi everyone. I have actually spent the time and read through all the previous posts here since this has been a sore point for me since I started. I have been doing my family research for about eight years. My best suggestion to anyone starting is ‘do your own research’, starting with hints here on ancestry (excluding other trees), take the time really read through the census reports and under the description add in some of that information, ie: address, occupation, family members. It makes it easier for a quick reference rather than going back into the specific record. Don’t just depend on what ancestry automatically puts in, its of absolutely no use. Take the time to checkout newspaper articles, obituaries, books, most of which are now on-line, visiting archives and old fashioned leg work. While this is a hobby for me it is also a dedication to my family and its history and I want it as accurate as possible. I look at the tree hints after doing all I can but never copy, because to many in most circumstances after checking them out the information is not verified.

    I also learned the hard way not to have a Public tree. One reason, and this is per Ancestry, if your tree is public, it just that public. Open to anyone to take whatever information is in there and open to the worldwide net. To many times things were copied from my tree, added into others to wrong people and wrong events. It became very frustrating when I would contact the tree owner and let them know the correct information with verification and it not be changed. I had cousins that started new, didn’t know better and by the time I got to them there trees were a mess of wrong information because they just copied from those that were wrong. While that was the bad, their was also good that people did listen and correct their tree. Problem is that once the wrong information is out there, there is no way to stop it. Enough on this subject.

    Next is the “New Ancestry”. I have no idea what they were thinking. From a researchers point of view it is absolutely horrible. Things that were put into trees are now not there and you can’t find them. Photos are no longer attached to specific events and are now have an oval look. This cuts off much of the photo from its original and totally negates any articles that may have been put in as a .jpg since most of it is cut off, and the complaint list goes on and on. It is absolutely not user friendly. The “Classic look” which was simple, clean looking and easy to use will be gone soon, the new one with all its poofy colors is hard on the eyes and to busy that a quick overall look is impossible.

    I can only hope that the many negative user comments on the ‘new’ version are listened to by Ancestry. I have spoken with many of my cousins and friends that have trees here and though many of us have years worth of information in our trees, if the change is made are seriously thinking about NOT RENEWING or cancelling our membership. Everyone here pays good money for access to this site, but what good will it be if they don’t listen to what we are saying.

    Best of luck to all with your research!!

  119. BJB

    I am overwhelmed by all the negative responses, Although I knew there were validity and reliability issues since I started this process, like many people, I did import info from other people’s trees on a regularly basis. It would help if new members had to complete the basic training before creating their own trees. People don’t intentionally add false data, they view Ancestry.com as a relatively quick, easy way to gather data. I don’t know how people with jobs, families, and a life find the time to verify and document all sources of information.

  120. Kim B.

    I would like ancestry to not show the links to other trees as a source. For example, I find a series of trees when following a leaf, all show “1 source”, and when I examine them, they are sourcing another tree! Please Ancestry, don’t list that as a source. A source is first hand knowledge, census or external document. It just creates a feeding frenzy with no backing. My 2 cents.

  121. Marguerite

    I have read all the comments and have learned a lot from them. First, I think ancestry is wonderful, by having a public tree a cousin of mine found me last year and opened up a whole new family I didn’t know I had and I have been in contact with ever since!! On the down side there is a tree out there that made a mistake on her gr grandmother and ended up taking my tree as her tree from my mothers marriage to my stepfather. I did the research and found her error, emailed her and was ignored. I found out here I can leave a comment which I will now disavowing any relationship. But I do have a question , what happens to a tree like this if the person quits ancestry??? Does it stay out there forever incorrect???

  122. Nancy

    I agree with those who have posted comments indicating that they rarely use someone else’s family trees. I have contacted many of these people asking for a source for a particular bit of information. Rarely do I even receive the courtesy of a reply; and when I do, they just say they copied it from someone else’s tree. Mostly useless!

  123. Diana Jensen

    I find that information from public trees, findagrave, and even death certificates are often times incomplete, and therefore inacurate. It gives a researcher a starting point to locate information. When I started my family history research some 20 years ago it was many times harder getting to a starting point to find data. I remember spending many hours going thru census records trying to trail my relatives thru their lives. Ancestry.com has put so many documents on-line that it is easier to find accurate data, but even census takers spelled badly. You have to judge the accuracy of the hand writing and look at it as a piece of the whole picture. As for the new format of my tree as of today — I hate it. Last night or rather at 3 am I stopped in the middle of entering a family intending to enter data to complete that family today and I saw the new look. I couldn’t figure out how to enter new data, stories, pictures, etc., maybe that is just because I’m old. I want the old look back PLEASE. My tree has just hit 13,000 individuals, I’m back to the 1600s from the Plymouth Colony, the Quakers, and such as that, I’d hate to have to say I’m done but I sure am unhappy with the new look.

  124. Am in agreement with most all previous posts – to a degree! No, I don’t trust the Trees, but I have contributed to some of the mess, as I’ve used ??? or comments, etc., to show information still in the research stage. The warnings were ignored. Pre-computer sharing has been taken as proven, when all parties were only searching for the truth. I see this info now being presented on Ancestry as gospel. As to DNA testing, I have been connected to people I’m pretty sure are not related to me at all, mosty where surnames match, but not given names. Sometimes I wonder if the “testing ” is not computer roulette. On the other hand, there are pairings I know are good, and some that I hope are! I have no desire to lead others wrong. If they don’t see the ??? or “Comments”, should I give up a tool – that I pay for – that has given me many hours of pleasure? Almost all of the pics on my tree were mine pre-computer. I also have personal information on my most convoluted family, but those who have different info do not listen if I try to explain. I have thoroughly enjoyed Ancestry.com, but probably not for much longer. It’s a shame. I was looking forward to the “Overseas Connection” that pops up so frequently during my searches!

  125. Hugh Harris Rhodes

    The reason I have not used your service is that I have only my mother’s family and do not know anything about my natural father.

  126. Pamela Crewe

    Actually meeting other people from your ancestry can be a big eye opener. The genetic similarities can’t be denied.

  127. M Peacock

    Don’t believe every thing you see. Several families have had my husband dead for eight years or so. I wonder who I’ve been feeding in my house all this time and delivering to dr appts.

  128. Jean

    I think the huge amount of errors in trees comes from many people not knowing what constitutes actual research. Relying on original documents such as court records, census, land records, military records, citing the sources that you personally collected will cut down much of the erroneous trees. Just like in school, we must not just copy from others because they often have wrong answers. Its a very good thing to take classes from certified genealogists at local or larger city libraries.

  129. Meli

    Have spent an hour reading this thread and enjoyed everyone’s comments. I agree that Ancestry should not use Ancestry Family Trees as a source. Other trees are not sources and provide no documentation unless you can read the actual tree and see what is provided. Meanwhile, thank you, Ancestry.com, for your great Customer Service staff! They always come through when I have questions and technical problems!

  130. John

    I look at other people’s trees as a tool for exploration and hint for further research, not as an answer. If I find someone has really bad info in their tree, I will contact them privately with the correct info. If, after a few months the mistake is not corrected, I will post something in comments including the correct info. It’s all about collaboration. By the way, I absolutely hate the new format. Don’t see the point and it actually seems kind of insulting.

  131. Douglas

    Far to many comments to read all but those I have read are very good. My problem when I read those other trees is the amount of times the same person appears in their tree. I had a problem with the software adding one of my relatives and their family twice because the names were not precisely the same. I don’t understand how the software would let us enter the same person multiple times when that person is identical information. For instance I looked at one of my DNA matches to see what they had put in their tree. They had our 4th G Grandfather and his family listed on the tree 5 complete times. To make it worse they had descendants of this man 5 complete times. This is something I would hope that Ancestry is working because it probably over loads some trees with the exact same data. These folks probably only had 1300 people in their tree but when all of them get added multiples of times then that amount really can increase and becomes very hard to work with. I would also ask that when I look at my DNA matches and then try to look at the tree that the software be made to separate folks with a tree from those with no tree available and those with private trees. On one of my DNA pages I had over 35 of 50 matches that had “NO TREE AVAILABLE” What a disappointment. No information to gather from another tree at this point.

  132. Elizabeth

    I have experienced, and committed, many of the errors mentioned in these posts. After trying to clean up my tree, I decided to start from scratch using Family Tree Maker and am entering only information I have verified or comes from my own research. The simple things have made me want to scream: implausable dates, incorrect historical information, and incorrect locations. For locations, especially colonial, I have researched the dates when states and counties were created. Prior to 1783, I list the country as “British America.” During the American Civil War, I enter USA or CSA. I also separated my family tree and my husband’s tree for DNA purposes. I created my own forms for documentation as I include information not found on many forms. I would also like to see Ancestry make changes to help identify errors:
    1) Date checker – flags dates that are incorrect or implausible
    2) Location checker – flags locations that do not match the date and historical information
    3) Data flags – as suggested to flag data we have not been able to verify
    4) Ability to provide automatic ID numbers as each person is added

  133. pdavies

    Ken Graves said it well. I have researched a lot of types and places for 51 years and am glad for the internet, but I try to have three valid and solid resources for each name. It is my standard, although not always practical. One outstanding incident was my grandfather’s mother was on his death certificate, but it actually was his grandmother’s name not hers at all. The daughter who reported this was from the first marriage of grandpa and probably saw the woman as such, because his mother, whom she never saw, had died when he was young. My mother didn’t even notice the error since he died when she was 11 and his sister-in-law was the one at the probate finality and may not have been shown the death certificate of either parents of the nieces and nephews.
    I recently had a change of my great, great,great grandfather’s death noted by some as 1839, but I confirmed, because of Ancestry’s continual leaf hints through his son that ggggrpa was on the 1850, but not on the 1855 census, even though his wife and son were still in the same place.
    Our work will continue,even on the ones we figured were done—-as long as more records are brought to light.

  134. Gary

    I have been using FTM from the earliest versions. I started with my family history (from my parents and family documents), then bought discs of trees, and now subscription searches. At first I thought trees were almost always valid, today I use trees for hints and then merge only if the information seems valid, hopefully with document sources. However, as an example, I have one Civil War document where my ancestor’s name was spelled three different ways in the same paragraph. Which is correct or none of them? Even census information sometimes has incorrect spelling. Reaching back before 1850, information gets more difficult to verify.

    I have two main goals. 1. Document my ancestry and 2. Find new cousins through DNA and common ancestors. When searching my ancestry, goal 1, I know there are discrepancies and while I do evaluate information to make sure it is reasonable and try to find supporting documentation, I usually have no way of knowing if the unsourced data is true. That is OK with me for this goal. It often facilitates finding supporting documentation. For my second goal, I’m much more conservative. When I find a potential DNA and common ancestor cousin match, I then evaluate my sources and do my best to have supporting documents before making contact.
    Sometimes I find errors in my tree and have to delete branches. While not pleasant, and often not easy, a discovered error must be corrected or removed.

    Except on rare occasion, I totally ignore private trees. There usually isn’t enough information available from a private tree to determine if it is worth the effort to try to contact the owner. Their sources may just be other public trees. I would rather have information to evaluate than a closed door.

    What I would like is that when I merge information from a tree, that I have the choice to include their source information as a source, including the actual media, rather than just the tree. Web clipping sometimes helps but is often frustrating.

  135. goslipstream

    Ancestry REALLY needs to add the ability to quickly and clearly notate the source — in this new version (which so far I am not impressed with), it is done automatically if the source is from an Ancestry-found record — but what about info that is sourced from family records (for example, a family tree created in 1905) or personal knowledge. A comment does not show up as a source. A little checkbox to indicate source of data when entering would be nice.

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