It’s Not My Job to Correct the Errors of the Genealogy World

It really isn’t.

And by “errors,” I’m talking about statements that are clearly incorrect–biological events that violate the laws of space, time, and biology and other details that fly in the face of every single document ever recorded and for which the compiler has offered absolutely no refuting evidence that those documents are incorrect.

My “job” in my genealogical research is to document my ancestors to the best of my ability, accurately citing the sources I find, transcribing documents as accurately as possible, locating as many records as possible, and making an honest effort to accurately document my ancestors’ existence. I should learn as much as I can about the records that I use so that they can be interpreted correctly and that I will know what those records say and what those records do not say.

I should also make a conscious effort to understand the time period in which my ancestors lived so that I can understand the records as correctly as possible.

The summaries I create about my ancestors should be as accurate as I can make them. Where I choose to share and publish that compiled information is my own business. The records that I access I do not own. The compilation that I create is something that I do–although I do not claim ownership to any “fact” or specific statement about an ancestor. Facts are not copyrightable no matter how much money I spend to discover them or how much time I devote to that discovery. I do share my discoveries and compilations–I don’t believe in hiding discoveries that have been made.

If I see errors in someone else’s tree about one of my ancestors, I’m under no obligation to correct them or tell them what they have compiled is wrong. I can do so if I wish, but I don’t feel that I’m compelled to contact every person who has an error in their tree.

I don’t feel that I’m under any obligation to correct every error in public global trees if I encounter them. Just because the trees are there does not mean that I’m responsible for the errors that others have put in these trees. I’m also not under any obligation to correct transcriptions of original records on free or fee-based sites–although I frequently do. It’s not my job to correct the mistakes of others.

That takes time away from correcting my own errors and working on long-neglected ancestors–and I have enough of both to keep me occupied for some time.



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