and Data Collection

I’ve had many people ask me why I won’t make my tree public. I use my account as a data collection tool, not a FACT COLLECTION tool.

When I started Ancestry a long time ago, I was excited to see so many “hints”. Hints were considered FACTS. I wish Ancestry renamed the “hint” to “possibility”. Hint seems to infer this is information that you weren’t able to find by yourself. Possibility infers it might be true, but it might be totally out of line.

I’ve heard the following comments in many Facebook pages, blogs, etc.

1. I found a tree where the person insisted the date of death was 1923, however, I have the actual death certificate (certified copy) which indicates the date of death was 1930. The person in the tree told me I am wrong. The incorrect informer found the information in a “hint” in another tree, and stuck with it. This “Hint” has been shared with many people, and they all are incorrectly reporting this information without confirming the original source. I CONSIDER THIS AN UNVERIFIED SOURCE (except for the woman that actually had the certificate).

2. My tree says that Edward Rumford was born in Delaware and is part of a very influential family in Delaware and Pennsylvania. FACT CHECK. Wrong Edward. There is an Edward E, and an Edward M. No one took the time to verify the actual person, but the “hint” said they were one and the same. Down the rabbit hole they went. Edward M was found, but he wasn’t the person related to the original tree. Edward E. is still out there, and not verified.

I do and love,’s offering of tags, giving me the opportunity to point out that even though I have hints attached to my tree, my tag clearly says this person is unverified.

I ended up with over 47,000 hints. I took two weeks to ignore all of those hints, and marked as many people in those facts as unverified. If you see a hint — go to the tree and make sure it is verified, or unverified.

Remember, is a data collection tool, not a fact tool. And even if a hint comes to your tree, there is a strong possibility that it is NOT your family. Collect, and then confirm, and then delete those you can’t confirm.