Data, Friends, and Reviews – part 1

Beware of the free hints at Ancestry.com.

One of the biggest problems with Ancestry.com hints is in the poor quality of the research that backs up the actual hint recommendations. Couple that with poor heuristics used by Ancestry for ‘hint’ data validation and you can some real genealogical data disasters. As I noted in an earlier post, beware the quality of ‘other peoples’ work’ and ‘information’. Rely on source information if at all possible.

There are plenty of risks in doing genealogy work without taking on another’s mistakes.

There are also a number of ‘easy’ ways to mitigate the risk of assuming bad data, no matter the source. Included among these are:

  • Read the data BEFORE clicking any button that will incorporate the data into your database (work). Make certain the recommended data makes logical sense and is supported by source information.
  • Check all information against known histories of the time and place. Don’t take data that implies world trips from poor Quebec farmers in the 1700′s (as I have seen in some recommendations).
  • Check the sources behind other peoples’ information/ data; if you can’t find a source attribution, don’t rely on it, use it as a guide or pointer until you can find the source (a source?)

The bottom line is, if it seems incredible or hard to believe, it is probably wrong.