I’m a huge advocate for Public trees in Ancestry.com. Private trees have often been the bane of my existence. I still plan on a post about why I feel we all have a duty to share our research publicly. But, as of today, most of my trees are now private and unsearchable, and it was the right choice.
I wrestled with this for a couple of weeks, but once I found that my trees were getting picked up in Ancestry’s predictive tools (Ben Franklin, and how We’re Related took me from chasing my white whale, to chasing my tail) which ignore all of my warnings about how unreliable my “Working” trees are, I started to understand I probably had to bring these tress undercover.
It’s easy for others to filter out weak research on well documented lines, but on lines with little data, it naturally more likely for undocumented “facts” to get attached to other trees.
This week, I found a new Ancestry tree that contained a bunch of GREAT information on my Leonard line. The user even found my 3x GGF headstone in a little catholic cemetery that my wife and I have been to 3-5 times but we couldn’t find it. It looks like the headstone was dug out of the earth! There was a ton of original research I’d never seen, or had index of, and I was so happy we had a new research expert on this line. Then, I saw that he had relatives past my 2x GGM, who is a major brick wall for me!! This is a well researched tree, great original work…and one of my Working/Uncertified trees was the source of this “breakthrough”. Later, I found that another of my wildly speculative ancestry guesses was in his tree, looking very definitive. One of the comments on my previous post talked about how a reader had their work republished over and over until it became “fact”, and here I could see that happening to mine.
It’s just too easy for my speculative work to get pulled into trees, that feed other trees, that get repeated so often it’s impossible to determine the source. This is especially true for lines where there’s little to no other data…which is why I’m building a speculative tree in the first place. Very quickly my tree becomes the only reference to these undocumented ancestors, which means it gets found as a “breakthrough” by others who are stuck, which makes it more likely to become authoritative. It’s easy for others to filter out weak research on well documented lines, but on lines with little data, it naturally more likely for undocumented “facts” to get attached to other trees.
So, for now, I’ve taken most of my trees out of the mix on Ancestry.com. It’s hard, and I’m not entirely comfortable with this, but for now I think it’s best.