Please note: I don’t have any affiliation with Ancestry.com and I don’t receive any money from them at all I simply like their product.
I feel that Ancestry.com sometimes gets a bad rap and it’s not necessarily all deserved. I’ve used Ancestry.com over the last eight or nine years of researching my own and others’ family trees and yes I’ve fallen for beginner mistakes however I like to think I’ve learned from those mistakes and found a way to make Ancestry work for me.
I have some basic rules which I stick to:
– I don’t use Ancestry’s tool for merging someone else’s tree with mine because this is how errors are copied from one tree to another. I write down any information I didn’t have before and then click on Ignore Hint. I can always go back and look at it at a later time because Ancestry keeps a list of your ignored hints. The things I’ve written down from other trees I can then investigate for myself.
– Birth, death, marriage, census and electoral roll hints. I try to remain sceptical, and look for any inconsistencies in the information provided and what I already have. Ancestry gives you loads of hints but remain sceptical and research the hint before accepting it. I use other websites such as FindMyPast.com, FamilySearch.org, newspapers eg. Trove or the Gale News Vault, local libraries, history centres, visiting cemeteries, books etc. to either prove or disprove the information.
– Cite your sources. This is a general research rule which is largely overlooked by people using Ancestry.com and I’m not really sure why as it can be as simple or as complicated as you would like. You can use the Add A New Source Citation button (as in the picture below) or use the description field to add source information.
– If you’re not sure then don’t do it. If it’s information you’ve gathered and you’re not sure whether to add it or not then keep a record of it and you can return to it later. There is no rush to add new information to your family tree. I have a pin up board on the wall near my computer and sometimes I will pin notes there and as I do more research I will often go back to those notes and find out that they either do or don’t fit with the new information I have.
In January, Thomas MacEntee of GeneaBloggers fame suggested a Genealogy Do-Over . I’m not doing a do-over but I am, when I have time, revising all the branches of my family tree to root out my errors which have crept in along the way.