Have you done this yet? If not, what are you waiting for? Genealogy is about making connections and how are your cousins going to find you if you're not online?
In the early days I provided a cousin that I had tracked down, a register report (75 pages - completely sourced) on our common line. She typed the information into her database (no sources or attribution) with lots of errors and posted the entire thing online, including living people. Needless to say, when I discovered it I was upset, but she didn't return my calls or emails. By the time she had taken it down, someone had downloaded the file and submitted it to Pedigree Resource File, along with 25,000 other names (not connected). I decided I would NEVER put any of my information on the Internet! That lasted for quite a while.
A few years ago I got to thinking about this. I hadn't made any connections on my family in a while. When I created my website, I placed my family files in the "About Me" section. Lo and behold I started hearing from people. One woman wrote me to say she knew a woman in my file and did I want to be put in touch. My first thought was embarassment since the woman was still living and I thought I had done a good job of privatizing my file. But my response was, of course I want to contact this person. It was a cousin of my grandmothers and I had never been able to find out what happened to the part of the family that left Ireland for England and Scotland. Not only did I contact her, but was able to visit her in England the following summer!
When you put information online, you control the content. Did you know that you can't copyright dates and places, so what harm is there in putting the names, dates and locations of your deceased family members online (with sources, of course)? I hear people complain all the time about the incorrect information that's online. There are people whose only research consists of copying information that's already out there and not checking to see if it makes any sense. These trees are pretty easy to spot. There's no way to force any of these people to make corrections to their trees…you can gently let them know that you have the correct information. In fact the best way to correct the "bad" information out there is to post the correct information with sources. Anyone who is serious will be able to check the sources for themselves.
So here are some things to think about when putting your tree online…
1. Post names, dates and places.
2. Do not include living people.
3. Always include sources.
4. If you're not sure of a connection, provide an explanation. (I will sometimes add a record on Ancestry and in the description field state that this is the best match at the present time but that I'm lookin for additional information to confirm it is the correct individual.)
5. Do not include sensitive information.
Over the next few weeks I'll look at different ways to put your information on line.
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