Last week’s survey asked if you make your genealogical information available online. The results are:
48%, I do not have my genealogical information online.
32%, I have my genealogical information online on a commercial genealogical website, available to anyone who can access the site.
13%, I have my genealogical information online, on a website accessible by invitation only.
7%, I have my genealogical information online on a personal genealogical website, available to anyone.
Although this survey only allowed respondents to choose one answer, several readers wrote to let us know that they use more than one of these options. Richard Greenough commented: “I keep trees under all three online options. My three largest GEDCOMs are free on Rootsweb. Several smaller active research trees are on Ancestry.com. Two or three very small trees on Ancestry are kept private. I also have a personal domain with free PDF reports.”
Although many people have had positive experiences with posting genealogical information online, one reader shared his negative experience. Ronald Miller wrote: “This week's survey question about putting genealogy information online struck a nerve. I have done a lot of research since the early 1980s, by going to the places where my ancestors lived and exhausting the resources of the local courthouse, library, cemeteries, historians, genealogists, etc. In addition to U.S. destinations, my research has taken me to locations in England, France, Germany, and Switzerland, among them many places with records never microfilmed by the LDS. I did my best to write complete histories — not just family trees with names and dates.
“To make a long story short, much of my research has been copied online word-for-word by other people without even a mention of who wrote it. One person even had the nerve to copy my footnotes, which included commentary such as ‘I visited the cemetery on 10 June 1984 and found the headstones, but later learned at the library that they had been moved.’ In another case, someone copied one of my histories but substituted an incorrect maiden name, and that erroneous maiden name is now shown on hundreds of Internet family trees. When I discovered it, I tried to correct the error but people responded by claiming "everybody else" says the name is correct. Given that I have spent thousands of hours, dollars, Euros, francs, pounds, etc., putting together histories and now maybe hundreds of people are taking credit for my writing, I doubt if I will ever put anything online. I believe that people should understand what could potentially happen to their information if they do.”
Mr. Miller’s experience has prompted this week's survey question, which asks you to characterize your experience of sharing genealogical information online. Take the survey now!