But Their Information is Wrong!

There is no way to avoid it. Wrong information is everywhere.

Wrong information is in online “trees.” Wrong information is in blog posts. Wrong information is in online websites. Wrong information is in printed books. Wrong information is in original records. Whenever a document has the potential to be correct it also has the potential to be wrong. With any positive comes the negative.

Some gnash their teeth over it. Some complain in blog posts and online forums about it. Others rant on Facebook about it. Genealogical speakers talk about it. Writers write about it.

A genealogist can bypass the sites that contain online “trees” as a way to avoid some of the wrong information.  While understandable, it is an imperfect solution. Some online trees are accurate, containing solid information. Others are not.  Even while the trees on the “big sites” can be avoided, online information cannot be avoided entirely, particularly if one performs Google searches to potentially locate photographs, transcriptions of actual records, and the like.  Information from those erroneous trees will also come up in general searches of the entire internet.

Locating information online that ones knows is incorrect can be extremely frustrating–especially when it involves family members that we knew personally or includes ancestors we have spent years painstakingly researching.

But…we cannot correct it all. Once the wrong stuff is out there it can be difficult, if not impossible, to control.

Some individuals will not respond to even the most polite inquiries about “where did you get that?” and curt, blunt emails are less likely to get a response.

Make certain your compiled information is as accurate as you can make it. Consider ways to publish or share that information with others.

Your time may be better spent being as accurate as you can and sharing that information with others instead of trying to convince someone else they are wrong.


Just some thoughts. Your mileage may vary.







3 thoughts on “But Their Information is Wrong!

  1. That’s the truth.
    I’ve seen pictures of my family members labeled incorrectly. I’ve seen incorrect information put out on the Internet and then myself listed as the source!
    My tree on Ancestry has documentation to back up my entries, but there are mistakes – my typing is horrible and I’m dyslexic. I’m gonna make errors.
    “Everything with a grain of salt.” Momma used to say. That’s the way I take my family research.

  2. I do the best I can, but I have written a few blog posts that turned out to be incorrect. In a few cases, they turned out to be “former ancestors”. In another case, I mixed up two men of the same name who lived in the same time period in approximately the same places. It’s embarrassing. I’ve corrected the errors as I’ve learned more, or as someone has been kind enough to point out the errors of my thinking.

    I will say that it is important to be just as polite as you can in asking “where did you get that”? It’s a question that tends to put one on alert, if not on the defensive, and can be taken as being a bit hostile. So be gentle, and be willing to share what you have, if you want to get the error corrected.

  3. It took two years and several emails to get the owner of an Ancestry tree to correct an obvious mistake where she had the wrong person as my grandmother (impossible dates, etc). Then she accused me of making something big out of something insignificant! If a person isn’t willing to correct an obvious error, they shouldn’t even be on a genealogical site!

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