No, I’m not aiming towards an Ancestry.com mutiny with this recent run of posts; it just so happens that they’re so HUGE and have SO much going on! And as I will point out, it’s a double-edged sword.
Check this out…
Ahhh, yes. This is the genealogical equivalent to a debate on religion or politics. There are some strong opinions out there, for sure. Foreshadow, foreshadow… And check out the pages and pages of comments! Which I will read AFTER this post.
I fully agree with Ancestry Anne’s answer… to a point. You just knew that was coming, eh? If you’re the number one genealogical website, shouldn’t there be some types of *gasp* standards set for the massive amount of Public Member Trees (PMTs) they host under their Ancestry.com name?
I can’t go merrily updating James Brown‘s Wikipedia page claiming that he has risen from the dead and will be appearing for a limited engagement at Bellagio’s poorly-named O Theater in Vegas. Wikipedia won’t allow me to do that!
Why do we use Wikipedia? Because, overall, it is the most reliable encyclopedia of EVERYTHING; because they have standards. Why doesn’t Ancestry.com have the same mentality when it comes to their PMTs? Huh, Anne??
Ancestry has no checks and balances when it comes to the “factual” information their members are adding to their trees. Heck, I could totally manufacture a tree on there. I’d link existing families to other non-related families; what’s to stop me? Or create a completely ridiculous, totally fabricated member tree; like so…
OK, a show of hands… How many of you clicked on one of the three hyperlinks, bringing you to their Wiki page? Come on, admit it – when you did see it was Wikipedia, was there an immediate sense of relief because you KNEW that the information on their website was probably 99.999999% accurate?
Now, if you tried to post erroneous info on Wolverine‘s Wiki page, rabid fans would be looking for a bounty on your head! But what if the X-Men links led to a “legitimate” Ancestry.com Public Member Tree? Would your confidence level for Ancestry be comparable to that of Wikipedia’s; or more towards their “leftover” .000001%?
Don’t get me wrong, Ancestry.com is usually the first site I hit for family history research. But when it comes to their PMTs, I was already following Ancestry Anne’s suggestion of having little trust for the information provided on “her” website. OK, that’s not quite how she put it, but in so many words…
Did Anne’s watered-down quasi-excuse address any of these issues? Heck, no! It’s Ancestry’s 800-pound pink hot potato in the room. Huh?!? “Since we can’t control how accurate our PMT info is, we’ll wash our hands of it and say ‘You’re on your own!'”. Think you’d see anything like that from Wikipedia?
“We’ll return to The Online Genealogist’s post in just a moment; right after this timely semi-related chuckle…”
Granted, many Ancestry Public Member Trees are fantastic; wonderfully documented timelines with viewable source images included for all to see. But those are the exceptions and not the rule. Tell me again, why isn’t ANY kind of proof a requirement to add a “fact”? Have the PMT “lunatics” taken over the “asylum”?
I feel as if I’m beating a dead horse, as I know this has been a major bone-of-contention for long-time Ancestry subscribers. Most of who would’ve never included so many bad clichés in one blog post. Then again, maybe we DO need to yell our heads off so the PMT Dept. can hear us!
So, Ancestry Anne – if there’s even such a person – did you have to bite your tongue… uhhhhhh, bite your FINGERS, while replying to “Vicki”?
Ancestry – you expect the gazillion documents in your collection to be accurate and reliable; why not the similar high-quality standards for your PMTs? I know of several members who have brought this issue to your attention with specific examples, yet to see no resolution.
And, no, I refuse to play the New Membership Trumps Public Member Tree Accuracy card. Doesn’t even need to go there. Or did I just inadvertently use it by saying I wasn’t going to??
Here’s a typical scenario: In comes a new (free) Ancestry.com member. She adds her known family information and receives several “shaky leaf” hints. Unknowingly, she attaches herself to an erroneous PMT, which propagates further as it shows up in other members’ hints; repeatedly… “Wow! I found a bunch of new relatives! Where do I join?”
Time for Ancestry.com to roll out their new PMTs slogan?… “Don’t fully trust our Public Member Trees; just use them like really good hints!” OK, so it could use a bit of tweakage.
Now to spend a few hours reading this post’s 127 comments accumulated over the past 12 days… I’m surely not the only one to bring up these issues.
And here’s hoping you never receive a shaky leaf for your newest “relative”, Fantomex!