Do a search of public trees for "John Brown 1800-1859" on Ancestry.com and you will get 546,177 results. FIVE HUNDRED FORTY SIX THOUSAND!!!!!! The amount of information present is overwhelming to say the least.
It would not be so bad if all of the information agreed...but it is a great big mixture of correct and incorrect information. I am getting really good at telling where the tree owners cherry picked the information from. Don't get me wrong, many of the trees are correct, but there are others that are wrong, and I mean really wrong! There are mistakes in the basic information about John Brown, his wives, his children and on and on. Dates are wrong, locations are wrong, who married who is wrong. It is enough to make me pull my hair out!
I have given up asking tree owners if they would possibly make changes to their information, so that others will not copy incorrect information and spread the lies even further across the Internet. Of those I have asked, nicely mind you, with the information that I am a direct descendant working on a complete genealogy of JB and would they please make the following corrections to their information I get one of three responses
- Of course, I will change the information. Thank you for letting me know that data I copied from x-place is wrong. I want my tree to be accurate, and I really appreciate you letting me know. (25%)
- No response at all (25%)
- What do you mean my data is wrong?? Who are you to tell me that? I found the information online so it must be correct. Hell no I am not changing it. (50%)
I spent months trying to track down a connection to a family because I found a clue in a tree. I could never make it work, but the tree owner was adamant that the information was accurate. I finally in desperation asked for the backup, i.e. sources, only to be told, "Sources? What do you mean by sources? I just copied the information from such and such tree."
Sigh. I filed the information in my Not Related To JB file and moved on, frustrated by the lost time, but more worldly in my knowledge that the Internet is full, and I do mean FULL of incorrect information.
Does this happen to others? How do you handle the frustration and misinformation?