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  • BIG Trees - really BIG!

    This was mentioned recently in another thread.

    When someone literally has many thousands of surnames in their profile or their "tree" what can we discern about their research?

    Are they really genealogists, or what might they be called?

    (I don't know which extreme is worse - those who cite thousands of surnames, or those who reveal absolutely nothing about their ancestry.)

  • #2
    Some people have worked quite hard on their family trees and they indeed have documented many surnames in their tree. I would wait till I had shared information with someone before I determined whether their research was sound.

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    • #3
      Big Trees!

      I don't think you can tell anything about the level of someone's research based merely on the size of their tree or the number of surnames listed.

      I have several thousand entries in my tree. Many entries are well researched and documented, but many are just unresearched things I copied from other people's information posted in various places. I treat these as leads for possible further investigation, and not as settled fact.

      When it comes to genealogy, everybody should take unsupported and undocumented information with a grain of salt.

      Originally posted by Carpathian View Post
      This was mentioned recently in another thread.

      When someone literally has many thousands of surnames in their profile or their "tree" what can we discern about their research?

      Are they really genealogists, or what might they be called?

      (I don't know which extreme is worse - those who cite thousands of surnames, or those who reveal absolutely nothing about their ancestry.)

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Carpathian View Post
        When someone literally has many thousands of surnames in their profile or their "tree" what can we discern about their research?

        Are they really genealogists, or what might they be called?
        When they get up in the tens of thousands, I regard it as a sickness.

        Jack Wyatt

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        • #5
          Originally posted by georgian1950 View Post
          When they get up in the tens of thousands, I regard it as a sickness.

          Jack Wyatt
          The more applicable term for it is 'obsession'. The phrase "junk collectors" also comes to mind...

          Mesamike commented:

          I have several thousand entries in my tree. Many entries are well researched and documented, but many are just unresearched things I copied from other people's information posted in various places. I treat these as leads for possible further investigation, and not as settled fact.
          This admission is what I find troubling. There is nothing wrong with gathering leads or information from various sources. Supposition can be useful in working toward resolving unresolved relationships. However established relationships and conjectural entries need to be kept strictly separate. Elements of uncertainty should not be included on a tree. The display of trees containing unsubstantiated entries on public access sites adds to the spread of disinformation.

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          • #6
            Collaboration with others can be the answer for those willing to do so. WikiTree strives to have just one profile per person. A profile on WikiTree will alert about possible DNA matches if any of the descendants have taken DNA tests. WikiTree links with GedMatch and vice versa.

            Bottom line, if one uses WikiTree then there's no need for people to duplicate their entires trees with thousands of profiles on FTDNA.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Carpathian View Post
              This admission is what I find troubling. There is nothing wrong with gathering leads or information from various sources. Supposition can be useful in working toward resolving unresolved relationships. However established relationships and conjectural entries need to be kept strictly separate. Elements of uncertainty should not be included on a tree. The display of trees containing unsubstantiated entries on public access sites adds to the spread of disinformation.
              I have a few like that in my tree, but usually I flag them with (speculative) in the name field.

              I like to share what I do, but the tree also functions as a work document for me. Maybe we need a universal symbol for 'speculative'.

              Jack Wyatt

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              • #8
                WikiTree is full of errors an undocumented assertions too.

                I just don't understand why people try to get as many names as they can in their trees without proving any of it with primary documents, and then do a DNA test! You cannot inherit DNA from people who are not really your ancestors!

                I've been researching for about 18 years and I still have a couple of branches on my tree that are extremely short because I can't find any documents telling me who the parents of these ancestors were. I see no need to stick some names in those blank spaces. In one case I have a few speculations, but my speculations have been shifting around a bit lately due to DNA matches that have appeared. Still just speculation. And the only way I can see for these new matches to be any indication of direct ancestry would be if my mother's 3rd great-grandfather were illegitimate. It's a possibility.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by georgian1950 View Post
                  I have a few like that in my tree, but usually I flag them with (speculative) in the name field.

                  I like to share what I do, but the tree also functions as a work document for me. Maybe we need a universal symbol for 'speculative'.

                  Jack Wyatt
                  I also like to share, and I DO share, willingly. But I also set limits on my sharing. If anyone can show that they are related to me, either through DNA or documentation, I gladly share with them all the relevant parts of my family trees that are relevant to our relationship.

                  I don't think we need to have symbols at all, universal nor otherwise. Apparently you are referring to the posting of trees in public sites.

                  None of my trees are posted anywhere in any public domains. All are kept private. They are the result of 40 years of intensive research, some conclusive, and some ongoing. Why do I not post them publicly? Because some are proven trees and some are conjectural worksheets - not actually that of proven "trees". The rigor of academic research requires the responsibility of not publishing anything that cannot be proven, lest one's reputation be considered untrustworthy. Also such hard and long researched findings are none of the general public's concern; they will only be shared with those who are related to me.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Carpathian View Post
                    None of my trees are posted anywhere in any public domains. All are kept private. They are the result of 40 years of intensive research, some conclusive, and some ongoing. Why do I not post them publicly? Because some are proven trees and some are conjectural worksheets - not actually that of proven "trees". The rigor of academic research requires the responsibility of not publishing anything that cannot be proven, lest one's reputation be considered untrustworthy. Also such hard and long researched findings are none of the general public's concern; they will only be shared with those who are related to me.
                    Thanks Carpathian. I appreciate your viewpoint.

                    In my case I have found some connections that I was in a unique position to find and if I do not get them out, the information will be lost forever. However, doing so is probably a futile effort on my part as I find people believe what they want to believe with genealogy.

                    At times I think maybe a certified tree is the answer where you have to make your case for a particular connection and other interested parties could give counter-arguments. You probably will not find too many people who want to be part of a public tree which goes way back.

                    Jack Wyatt

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by MoberlyDrake View Post

                      I've been researching for about 18 years and I still have a couple of branches on my tree that are extremely short because I can't find any documents telling me who the parents of these ancestors were.
                      Same here.

                      I cannot prove who one of my gtgt-grandfathers was, so at this point the tree I use for DNA purposes stops at him. I know his name and approximate age and where he states he was born, but I cannot find a single record back in the UK which supports any of this.

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                      • #12
                        15G

                        My own Innes line comes to a screeching halt in 1797, my grandmother's line goes back to Charlemagne, and my mother married five times - between all that I have accrued a rather large file. I have most of the main Innes arteries as collateral branches in my grandmother's Irvine line so that if and when my Innes line is identified, they will most likely already exist in the file. Regardless, they are in there legitimately, if distant.
                        Most of the older lines are from Burkes or other recognized/established sources. My grandmother proved our Irvine connection to the satisfaction of the Dames of the Magna Carta before she died.
                        I also like to pursue collateral lines to see where lines often split and then rejoin a few generations later, or relocate to other parts of the world.
                        I'm from MS. My friend is from AB. We live in BC. In researching her ancestors I found that our sons are 10C1R through the Kidders in my MIL's line. I rather like having a large file and seeing where the cousins and in-laws led, but my online tree is much, much, smaller.

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                        • #13
                          I don't buy the idea that you shouldn't publish a tree that contains links that aren't proven on the theory that it might sully your reputation. Rather, I think it's useful to publish what you think the genealogy is, and state your reasoning. You may have found the evidence that somebody else needs! Your research, although inconclusive, may include exactly the clue that will help someone else to uncover the proof! In other words, it may be useful to publish a hypothesis suggested by something you have found that you think others have overlooked. However, in order to do this, it is essential to include RESEARCH NOTES, and to publish in a place or in a form that supports the inclusion of extensive notes for each individual in the tree. I don't think FTDNA includes "notes" of any kind when they import and publish a GEDCOM file, unfortunately.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by John McCoy View Post
                            I don't buy the idea that you shouldn't publish a tree that contains links that aren't proven on the theory that it might sully your reputation. Rather, I think it's useful to publish what you think the genealogy is, and state your reasoning. You may have found the evidence that somebody else needs! Your research, although inconclusive, may include exactly the clue that will help someone else to uncover the proof! In other words, it may be useful to publish a hypothesis suggested by something you have found that you think others have overlooked. However, in order to do this, it is essential to include RESEARCH NOTES, and to publish in a place or in a form that supports the inclusion of extensive notes for each individual in the tree. I don't think FTDNA includes "notes" of any kind when they import and publish a GEDCOM file, unfortunately.
                            Dear John,

                            Not everyone has time to publish RESEARCH NOTES, nor provide GEDCOM files. I don't do either. Experienced researchers such as me have no need to prove that or anything else to anyone in the world at large.

                            How's about trying to encourage others that they not publish anything until the veracity of what they have found is proven or accurate through research and documentation? Discussion of their findings with their DNA relatives might be productive. Good scholarship and protection of one's reputation requires a measure of reticence. But now we are in a world of (dare I say it?) intellectual and academic prostitution. Or might I mention comparing that with cholera, or other viral diseases that result from 'going with the flow'?

                            Today anyone can publish anything and make a quick buck on it. Disinformation has been around forever in the academic world, but not to this high a degree, such as through social media. IMO, genealogy is now becoming a quick buck activity. This includes genetic genealogy which IS scientifically accurate, but it is non-specific and can never be more than that which it is.

                            Virtually no one ever labels anything as a hypothesis when they post or 'publish' it. So whom are we kidding? GIGO: Garbage In, Garbage Out.

                            IMO, the bottom line for anyone who is doing genealogy in a responsible way is this: If you can't prove something, don't publish it. When anyone publishes unverified elements, stated or suggested as fact, they are only polluting the pool or reservoir of currently provided information by introducing what amounts to (you get to fill in the blank) into it.

                            Let's not turn reservoirs into cesspools.

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                            • #15
                              I really don't care if you moralizers approve of my big tree or not. What's the matter, you don't like my Charlemagne or emperor of Byzantium? ha ha!

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