In cruising the blog sites today, I ran across an item on Randy Seaver’s blog about “Sharing Genealogy Information“. It, in turn, was referencing an article by Lisa Alzo called “To Give Or Not To Give: What Would You Do?“. I thought I would take a stab at my take on this subject.
First off, I am still fairly new in the genealogy scene. I’m sure there are some who have been doing genealogy research for 7 years who consider themselves seasoned veterans but I still consider myself wet behind the ears! So, please, keep that in mind while reading this.
First off, I haven’t had a lot of success in attempts at asking others to share their research. That being said, I owe the fact that I am still doing my research to someone who was willing to share their info with me! Six months into my genealogy search, I was all but ready to give up. No one in the family was able to give me much information. If it hadn’t have been for one Debbie Miller sharing her research with me, including sources, I would have given up long ago. So, I do know that sharing your research can be vital to another researcher.
However, I must say that the information she shared was only on my immediate line. She shared no other information with me personally. I did find a genealogy database on World Connect that she had and was able to garner other info from that. She shared enough to get me started and for that I am thankful. Could she have shared more? Probably, but if she had then I would have probably been like a lot of others who get all this information and then post it as their own research. I’m thankful that she didn’t give me more. She whet my appetite and the hunger drove me to become what I am today. (Not that that is any good thing! )
On the flip side, being a naive newbie, I shared a lot of info with folks when I first started. Of course, some of that info has been proven faulty now. Most every person I shared with immediately added all this info to their trees online. No, there was no credit given and to this day I can’t get these folks to change information that I know is wrong. In some cases, these folks also researched and found birth dates and such for living people and turned around and put that info online. Once again, I have been unsuccessful in getting that info removed. It is sometimes (actually oftentimes) very frustrating and you are virtually helpless in most cases.
So, where do I stand on this question? Well, obviously I don’t mind sharing my information online. However, I have removed all sources from my online research. In moving my website, I am now pondering just what to share. I have, in the past, posted pictures of those who are no longer living and have posted their obituaries and such. Today, I am of the persuasion that I may make a list of the resources I have and let folks know that they can email me if they would like to obtain a copy. I would probably have to have them prove their connection to me and then, if satisfied, I would share my information with them. Is this wrong? I don’t feel so. If they are truly related to me or somehow connected to me, then it is a win-win situation. If they can’t prove their relationship with me, then I will direct them to the proper location to be able to obtain that information.
It’s really sad when you think about it. I have had so many wonderful people who have helped me and I have been sure to give them credit when I published my website. There is a special page on my site called “Credits” and I try to include everyone I have had the privilege of encountering. I would in turn love to be just as helpful, but it seems that folks today just want to be able to have that instant gratification. Someone should publish a book called “How To Find Your Family Tree In 24 Hours Or Less”. That is the mindset for a lot of folks today.
I still share my research. I have made connections with many cousins who I would have otherwise never known, thanks to my web site. As far as the online trees, I feel that I will eventually do away with the one I have at WorldConnect, if that is possible. I may go to some of the ones that have posted my info and not given credit and leave a “Stick-It”, or whatever they call it, and let folks know this info is wrong and direct them to the right place to go. Would that be wrong?
So, I guess my answer would have to be that I do share my research, however it is in a different way now. The newbie has learned a lot and with the aging of my research I have gained some wisdom in how to share. I also find that I am a lot less likely to ask someone to share with me nowadays because I understand what position that puts them in. Yes, you can be pretty much assured that if you put your GedCom online, someone will probably grab it, extract the info, and put it on some paid database site and you will not be able to do much about it! However, if you are smart about what you put online, perhaps you can discourage folks from grabbing this info. Just remember, anything you place online is fair game to everyone, especially when it comes to genealogy because as has been pointed out in the past, facts are not able to be copyright protected!
Thanks for bearing with me. It would be nice to see if anyone else has any input on this subject!