So how do you prevent yourself from becoming a contributor to the vast amount of bad genealogy data?
Well one easy way is to not share your data. Like viruses, bad data is only a big problem if it is spread.
But we need and want to share information! Most of us have a great need to share what we find and appreciate getting good leads from others. Sharing is in many ways the ‘life-blood’ of genealogy. It is especially important when you have or need information from one of those hard to get at places (actually most places fit that description at one point or another).
So what do you do to make your information ‘reliable’? There are a number of simple acts you can take:
- Firstly, I recommend that you obtain information from reliable, high quality source materials whenever possible. Easier is rarely better. (My next post will provide some additional clues here.)
- Any time you find vague or in-specific source data be cautious. Multiple data sources are best.
- Have friends, associates review your data. A peer review of your genealogy data goes a long way in improving its reliability, not to mention your confidence in it.
Once you have scrubbed your data for errors and omissions, it should be ready to share. Remember no matter what you do there will be some risks of error. After all, we are dealing with the past as well as with circumstances and environments which no longer exist, so uncertainty is a constant companion.