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3 Ways to Deal With Incorrect Family Tree Data Online

I remember the joy of years ago when new family history data became available online. Being able to search online was a doddle, much easier than planning vacations around trips to libraries and historical societies. However, the joy was tarnished every time I came across a pedigree online that was either confusing or completely wrong. Nearly ten years ago, I became so frustrated with online genealogy errors that I started my own last name website (Tennessee Pryors). Starting a website may not be your cup of tea, but there are three things you can do now to address incorrect data online and make for a cleaner research path for future genealogy hobbyists.

1. Upload your own data – Many of the major genealogy websites give you the ability to post your own data. The LDS FamilySearch.org website allows visitors (church membership not required) to submit their own family data. Subscription websites like Ancestry.com offer the user the ability to add multiple family trees and even post documents, photos, and other documentation. Genealogy.com also provides space to post your own genealogy and family tree. Any of the genealogy sites’ community areas and message board areas also allow you to post not only queries, but also your own recent genealogy data and discoveries.

2. Ask for the information to be changed– I have communicated with other researchers with mixed results. Some are willing to change their family tree or publish data when provided with new data backed by a good source of information. Others are compromised with information passed on by relatives, incorrect information from accepted genealogy books or other authorities, or in rare cases are unable to log in and access the data to make changes.

3.Add comments– My personal favorite is to comment wherever the opportunity presents itself. The good news is that commenting is allowed in a multitude of places on the web. Ancestry.com understands that users have something to contribute and allows feedback: adding a comment to a census record, noting a family tree, and identifying name variations and transcription errors. Book reviews on Google Books or Ancestry.com are also a method of attaching your opinion and alternative information.

The Internet is always increasing the opportunities for an interactive genealogy experience. That means whether you’re an expert or a novice, you can get involved. It’s time to take advantage of opportunities to get involved and help increase the accuracy of online genealogy data.

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