Tuesday, 25 June 2019

On sharing Genealogical Research

A perennial problem with genealogy is sharing research, both your own and knowing that other stuff you find online is accurate. Unfortunately a lot of online genealogy trees are just people sharing the same inaccurate and/or unsourced trees.

I keep my own tree local using Family Tree Maker, which isn't perfect but is quite powerful. I regularly export snapshot gedcoms from this and keep everything in multiple backups, both locally and in the cloud. The advantage of FTM is that it also allows synchronization within Ancestry, although I personally keep it all one way from local to Ancestry. My experience is that two way synchronizations can go badly wrong (not with Ancestry but in other systems) and I'm not trusting automatic imports into my 'source of truth' file. I keep my Ancestry tree private to avoid my data getting mixed into the background noise, but anyone who wants to view it should just ask me. You don't need to be a paid member to see trees, just have an account.

I looked at WikiTree many years ago, and back then it suffered all the same problems of indiscriminate copying. However, in the years since then, the editing process has changed and tightened up noticeably. These days entries must be manual and are tracked. Whilst you can upload a gedcom for ease, it can only be merged into the WikiTree on an individual by individual basis. There is also now a requirement for sources to be recorded. There is still some clearly dodgy data from its early days, but it is being tidied up and there are further restrictions on people adding data for people as you go back in time. As a result this has the potential to be a valuable resource with its intention being to create one common tree.

I don't have the time to dedicate much of myself to it, so I don't have the pre-1500 editor access which does require some time to acquire. This means I can't create new profiles for people born prior to 1500, which is a useful restriction generally. However, I, and others, can propose changes which existing editors can make or merge. There is a less rigorous restriction for people born prior to 1700.

As a result, I have started copying some of my data across to WikiTree. I strongly suspect I will never get the time to copy even the majority of my data across, but it does seem to be a useful resource of itself and a good pointer for new avenues. As such it only seems fair to add back the data I have on the lines that I have used WikiTree for, as far as I'm allowed. I may well add people going back before 1500 as entries in this blog at various times.

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