Apr 8, 2022

(+) Should All Genealogy Data on the Web be Verified? A Contrarian View

This is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman. Please do not forward this article to others without the author’s permission.

Caution: this article contains personal opinions.

I often hear people moaning and groaning about the quality of genealogy information to be found online. Some claim that much of the online genealogy data is worthless. These comments seem to insinuate that people shouldn’t place information online until they have verified it. I have heard a few exclaim, “We have got to stop those people!”

That is a lofty goal, although unattainable. People are people. New genealogists join in and post data much faster than we can educate them. The idea of requiring source citations for all data sounds wildly Utopian to me.

You know what? I don’t care. I want to see the claimed information anyway. Yes, I even want to read the inaccurate information. When I am looking for the unknown parents of one of my “end of the line” ancestors, I want to see every possible clue, accurate or not. If someone else even thinks that he or she knows the parents of Washington Harvey Eastman, I want to know what that person is thinking. No, when first scanning for information, I don’t care if their information is accurate or not because I am going to check it in any case. If possible, I’ll contact the person who created the information and ask, “Where did you find that?” If they don’t have a good answer, I still have a clue of a possible place or parents, clues that I didn’t have before. I’ll find out later if the information is accurate or not when I verify it in primary records. Only after I have verified the data will I believe it.

I do that for all unsourced information. I also do exactly the same thing for information that does contain source citations. I verify everything. So, what’s the difference?

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