15 December 2014

I Just Can't Wait to Be King

“Trust me, Wilbur. People are very gullible. They'll believe anything they see in print.”
― E.B. White, Charlotte's Web
From surname books that have little to nothing to do with genealogy to flat out lies like "family coats of arms" there will always be people trying to make a quick buck from genealogy. There always have been. The easiest prey are those who want fame, a royal connection.
Royal wannabes can buy fake coats of arms (most sites are not as upfront about the fake part as that one), their own royal portrait or their own royal title. I can't believe how many people have fallen for the latter one. They are easy to find because once someone is titled they need a website and/or a Facebook fan page to tout their importance and communicate with the little people.
The entire front page of the Royal Titles site focuses on impressing those who are, obviously, beneath you, and giving you a sense of self-importance.
"Sense of Grandeur and Historical Belonging, Social Status and Prestige, Instantly Perceived Glamour, Power and sense of difference and Privilege, Preferential treatment Everywhere, An incredible Source of Joy, Happiness and Amusement." 
The capitalization of random words really emphasizes the professionalism and trustworthiness of the site. (My kingdom for a sarcasm font!)
"We can offer a number of Royal Titles to choose." 
Because everyone knows if the King/Queen wants to knight you you can say, "Um, I'd rather be a Baron." Check out their disclaimer page. The site "does not sell noble titles." Yet a "Single Royal and Noble Title and Royal Medal is EUR €199." If you want to see what that gets you click here.
There are free sites that feed the royal wannabes need for these things. Most of the information on these sites has been copied to numerous Ancestry Member Trees (AMTs). At least Ancestry does its part to keep information on living people private. These other sites usually have no privacy boundaries but like a majority of AMTs, they have no credible sources. This one has profiles copied from a handful of books. From the "sources" section of the FAQ page:
"About half way through this exercise, I acquired a copy of S&N’s Royalty database, and merged this with my own database. Given I already had around 20,000 quite detailed records at this point, and the S&N was around 106,6000 separate records (with little detail given and absolutely no sources), this merging process took me a considerable period of time." 
No sources? No SOURCES! And you want to merge with it, why?
Then there's this one. Go to one of the indices and click through to a random entry. Chances are the only "source" you'll see is WorldRoots.com, a website that no longer exists. The only way to view it is with the WayBack Machine.
You might be thinking, "Well, no one would take those unsourced profiles as fact." I hate to burst your bubble but I didn't search for these sites. They were posted to Facebook threads by people encouraging others to use them.
What will it take to get these people to search for a record?


ADDITIONAL READING:
Genealogy as a Fraud from Genealogy's Star
Genealogy Scams: What You Need to Know About Generic Surname Histories and Coats of Arms from Price & Associates Genealogical Services
Myths, Hoaxes & Scams from Cyndi's List


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08 December 2014

To Complicate Matters

Rule #11: Women are always entered with their maiden name.

Otherwise you end up with a profile name like this:

  Mary Hester Ann "Annie" Maples Luxton Hunter Baylor Ratliff Routh

No joke, there is a tree, well probably lots of them, with all women listed this way. On this particular tree the records attached, from what I can tell, are actually correct. All but one census has Ann or Annie, the one that doesn't has Mary A.. There is no information on the profile about where the name Hester came from. Her gravestone only has one given name, Ann. Of course that's not the issue. The issue is the surnames. The surnames of her spouses are Luxton, Hunter, Baylor, Ratliff, and Routh. Hers is Maples. Just Maples. Only Maples.
Do a search from her profile and it will need to be edited every time since it will automatically include the spouses surnames in the search. Do a search from Mary's profile and you're searching for: Mary Hester Ann "Annie" Maples Luxton Hunter Baylor Ratliff Routh Luxton Hunter Baylor Ratliff Routh.
Mr. Luxton did not marry Mary Hester Ann Maples Luxton Hunter Baylor Ratliff Routh. He married Mary Hester Ann Maples. Mr. Hunter did not marry Mary Hester Ann Maples Luxton Hunter Baylor Ratliff Routh. He married Mary Hester Ann Maples. Mr. Baylor did not marry Mary Hester Ann Maples Luxton Hunter Baylor...You get the idea.
There are a few instances when you will have to edit a search anyway. For some modern day marriages you might need to remove the husband's surname from the search. You'll also want to make a note on the profile if a woman didn't take her husband's surname.
If you've crossed a border or an ocean you'll want to look into naming practices in that country. For example, in Mexico women do not take the surname of their spouse and their full name includes their father's surname followed by their mother's surname. And then there are patronymic surnames.
We have enough to deal with. Don't complicate things further.


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05 December 2014

Facebook Hijackers

Some people use Facebook groups and pages as their own personal photo albums, with no regard to the participation of every other user. In most cases these people will inundate a wall without stating a purpose. Do they want these pictures identified? Are they photos of their own family or were they found at an antique store? No one will ever know because not only do they usually post and run, they post only the photos and nothing else. If you criticize someone for posting two dozen photos in the span of an hour the Pollyannas (every group has them) will whine that you're the Grinch or Satan because you're against "sharing." Hijacking a group or page has nothing to do with sharing. It's narcissistic and self-centered. That or they have something to gain from a rise in the number of carpal tunnel cases.
Apparently some people do not realize that they can create a public photo album on their own page and share the link.

1. Go to the Photos tab on your own Facebook page and click "+ Create Album."


2. There are options to caption photos, write something about the album and set the privacy when you create the album. If you forget to do that or you want to change any of those things on an existing album click the "Edit" button for the album.


3. The Facebook prompt to "Say something about this album..." is actually a space to type something about the album. Use it!


4. (Still the image above.) Set the privacy to "Public." Be sure to click "Done" when you have finished editing (after Step 5) to save all the changes you made.


5. There are spaces under each photo to write your own caption. Use them!

Whether you want to share a single photo or an album, write something. Why are you posting? No one, except maybe your friends and family, will click through the album if you just title it "My Family" or don't write anything at all. Do you know where and/or when the photos were taken? Do you know any of the people in the photos? If you want to find out those things then ask. If you are just looking for compliments and likes try not ticking off dozens (hundreds? thousands?) of people in the process. Especially if you ever plan to ask for research help in said group. If you annoy people they will remember your name and scroll past anytime you post in the future.


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01 December 2014

No Photo Yet

Rule #10: Every profile in your tree does NOT need a photo.

Each of the 9,000+ profiles on this tree has a gravestone photo. Of course most of the images are this:



On every profile the gravestone, whether the actual gravestone or the image above, is the profile photo. Even if there's a portrait of that person available! Apparently Ancestry's silhouettes aren't an obvious enough sign that a profile doesn't have a photo.


Please email me at buwtree(at)gmail(dot)com if you have a photo or profile to suggest. ;-)


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24 November 2014

A Genealogy Far, Far Away

"Our registered users have created more than 60 million family trees containing more than 6 billion profiles. They have uploaded and attached to their trees over 200 million photographs, scanned documents and written stories." [source]
Ancestry.com frequently touts their numbers. Of the trees I've seen I would estimate at least half of the "photographs" are actually clip art and other genealogically useless images. When you factor in trees back to Adam & Eve or Greek mythology, how many profiles are also genealogically useless? And then there's the trees. How many of them are just plain junk?
Do a search for your favorite fictional book, movie or television character and you are bound to find them somewhere in Ancestry's Member Trees. A search for Darth Vader brings up two trees for Star Wars characters and another tree created by a dog breeder who has 7000 dog profiles on 5 different trees. Then there are these gems. Each one is a tree in its entirety, minus any profiles for living people.

✿ ✿ ✿
✿ ✿ ✿
✿ ✿ ✿
Last but not least, a tree created by someone with the sense of humor of a three year old:



Thanks to Louise for the idea for this post! ;-)


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