Saturday, June 9, 2012

Ancestry... ownership, and accountability

So after being a member of Ancestry for, oh 12+years? When did Ancestry start? Because I was there back when it started and it was FREE. But now finally after being a Paid member for so many years, I finally decided to upload my "tree" to Ancestry.

I'm still torn.

I figure, throw it out there for those to find it.

I still love Rootsweb. I'd thought that Ancestry tied in to Rootsweb. It used to, at least. You'd look someone up on Ancestry, you'd get their Rootsweb submission.
Today, still, you have a Rootsweb tree and you get the Ancestry hints (provided that you're an Ancestry member, of course). So it seemed like the two were still tied together.

But recently people have told me that they could find ME on Ancestry. Which after 17yrs of having an online database just seemed preposterous, yet... True. My database was not accessible on Ancestry.

So I did it. I uploaded my tree.

All my 28K people including thousands of bad data, because you can't have one without the other.
I've tried.
I've purged as much as I can about real people I know about, but so so many years of bad research with no sources and nothing to back it up... is still part of my tree.

It pains me that I've found yet another venue to perpetuate my years of bad research.
And so, I apologize to you out there for that.

I'm not a fan of the "online tree", as far as the online version housing my notes and sources. MY research is stored in my database, on my computer or server or wherever I have it. I do not want it to be on Ancestry. I'm not a fan of "including this source" into whatever record I find online. I do not want Ancestry to be my house. And I'm quite sure that somewhere in the rules and regulations that I clicked "accept" to without reading, I've now allowed Ancestry to OWN my data. Which I REALLY DO NOT LIKE.

That being said, I uploaded my gedcom without sources attached. I included notes, not that anyone will really look at the notes pages. Right now, it probably looks like an unsourced tree, which is grossly untrue and unfair. But my fear of Ancestry owning my sources, I'm just not happy with doing that... yet.

So the few "hints" that I've found along the way - there is something nice and appealing about that little green leaf that appears - I have "added" to my tree. Of course I've manually added to my own database as I move along. Because, well, I've learned better over the years.

I'm also recently not a fan that you can add someone else's submission to your own tree, whether photos or documents. Which it may source it through the Ancestry online tree, I find this oddly EASY to suddenly claim this document as MINE.

It's not MINE! I've found So many documents and photos attached to Ancestry online trees that so easily get incorporated into my own tree... and they're not mine! This is a LIE to just, with a simple click, attach them to my tree. Someone found that oral history, compiled it, wrote it down. For me to just attach it to my own tree.... it's just wrong.

I'll say it. It's WRONG. It's TOO EASY. And it's simply not fair to those that have done the work.

So in researching my own immediate family, no surprise to find that not only is my data attributed to others' trees, but so are my photos, which I supplied here on this blog.

And I'm questioning that a bit.

I mean, I post a picture of James Barney Webb. I have no more connection to him than any other cousin. Just because I own this picture doesn't make me any closer to him than a cousin out there that has equally never met him. Which is why I share! I claim ownership because I physically own that picture in my boxes and safes of historical documents about my family, but I have no ownership to this man.

And I'm happy to share.

Let me reiterate this for myself and everyone out there.. I am happy to share! It is, afterall, what we're all doing here. I posted pictures on this blog and on my personal website in the effort to share. I am SO thankful to people who've shared their pictures with me. And I am SO SORRY for those that I do not give credit - goodness knows I did not document anything for so many years. I am exactly the person I'm trying to stop right now.

But there's something about Ancestry... maybe it's just my own witness of "it's" changes over the years, that while I want to share, it does bug me when I see MY photo show up on 30 other people's online tree. I don't know what that is, and I'm working on it.

But as far as my online tree at Ancestry goes, I've now watermarked my images. If you want to research or do a simple google search, you'll find all the same images here on my blog, you can choose whether or not to source them. But just because you can simply "add to tree" to someone in your online tree... I think a watermark is warranted.

Let me know how you feel about this.