Thursday, May 26, 2011

My Private Forest

I call it the “Shaking Leaf Syndrome”. And I’m afraid it is killing trees.

I have enjoyed the “Who Do You Think You Are?” series as much as anyone. It is interesting to see the varied ancestries of famous people. But, they make it look so easy! And then, those commercials for “You don’t have to know what you are looking for, you just have to look!” Really? REALLY?!

I had hoped posting trees online at Ancestry would lead to exchanges of emails and information with other folks researching the same people. In the beginning, it did. I have ”met” some lovely folks and helped to advance their research and mine. Win-win.

But lately on Ancestry, people seem to just appropriate information that seems to be about their family without considering sources or possible conflicts. Pictures that have been posted are copied without so much as a “please” and “thank you”. When contacted, there is often no response and no move to correct errors. By then, the damage is done. Grafting branches willy-nilly from one tree to another creates some pretty bizarre mutations. And there doesn’t seem to be any way to halt the spread.

So, I’ve decided to privatize my trees. I’m hoping the names will appear in searches, but that people will have to contact me for the information or the pictures. I will gladly share, I just want to try to halt, or at least slow the spread of the “shaking leaf” blight.

I hope it works.



  1. Hi Mary, I know what you are saying about grafting branches in. I do that but then I go and check everything. Sometimes it is the only lead that I have. I contact people but they don't reply. Genealogy is a serious business. It takes a lot of time and patience. When I see the private trees I just figure they want to keep them private. I don't contact them. Now that I read why you made yours private, I may be more inclined to contact and ask for help. Thanks for your thoughts.

  2. I am watching to see how this plays out, and I may decide to go public again after a while, especially if it turns out that I hear from fewer people. I've benefited from the public trees also, so I'm a little conflicted.

    Thanks for your thoughts!