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Sharing or stealing?

Guinea pigs sharing food

Michael Turner

2 March 2021

Protective of your data…?

Ancestry subscribers can get very cross when people copy their data, especially images from public trees. But is it ok?

Complaints are on the lines of “I’ve spent all this time on research and I don’t see why other people should just take it”. Or, “they are my family photos, very personal to me and I don’t see why other people should just take them.”

My response to this complaint; if they are so personal why have you made them public? You don’t need to make the tree public – you could choose with whom you want to share.

Confident to share?

Secondly my view to the sharing of data thing is different. None of us is around very long so isn’t it better that we leave a legacy for future researchers, raw data or images? The information we find is only there because our forebears did make the information available.

They didn’t have us in mind, and by us I mean family-historians. Our ancestors recorded information, the bureaucrats decided how.

This view is illustrated by an email I had recently from an experienced genealogist who had been researching her family for many decades. The question “what is going to happen to all this when I go? I don’t have children to pick up the baton and carry on with it. Will it just end up in a skip?

I don’t make my Ancestry trees public though. That is not because I don’t want to share the information, it’s because there are hypothetical records on my tree. It is this pending unverified research I don’t want copied. Some records are there that I know are wrong and marked as such. Ruling out the wrong people is often the best way of narrowing down searches and finding the more likely people. Although I don’t make my tree public I am very happy to share on request. Before I do I make it clear that they should only use information that has been verified with reliable sources.

I never share my tree with details of living relatives visible. They are always marked as private.

Share your well crafted work with pride, even your relevant personal photos. Be proud of your legacy and your contribution to making information available to all.


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