To Share Or Not To Share

Just recently on a genealogy mailing list there has been discussion of the ‘dangers’ of sharing your family tree online. These discussions came under the heading Cautionary Tales where people spoke about the ‘terrible’ things which had happened to ‘their’ data because they had shared it online – their data was merged into other people’s trees on multiple family tree websites, some felt that their data had been stolen and others said that they felt violated.

What a sad situation, I much prefer to encourage people to share what they have with the people around them.

I think these sentiments stem from a misunderstanding of what the culture of the Internet is and how it functions.  Sharing is the driving force of the Internet.  If American universities, back in the 1960s, had never asked to use the military’s network and share their resources then there would be no Internet or World Wide Web as we know them today.

I openly share my genealogical research, I would like attribution for it, where possible, but I’m realistic enough to know that that isn’t always going to happen and that’s fine by me.  I choose to treat others how I would like to be treated.  I share my time, money, resources, knowledge etc and sometimes if others do the same for me that’s a bonus.  I actually get such a buzz from helping people though that I don’t care if they help me in return!!

One list member, though, Merilyn, shares similar views and spoke up on the aforementioned mailing list saying, there’s nothing to be afraid of and encouraging everyone to share their data.  Yay!!

What do you think?  Are you happy to share your family research online?


  1. Rosemary

    Generally yes. I’ve 2 public trees out there as well as copies of them on RootsWeb. Yes, stuff gets copied, but all I can do is make sure it is as accurate as I can get it until I review it later or someone tells me something new.

  2. admin

    Thanks for your comment Rosemary, “as accurate as I can get it” I like that. That’s my aim too. Sometimes I will put someone’s details in my tree but put notes everywhere that this is unverified information and the person is there as a placeholder, so that I don’t forget about them, until I can verify them.

  3. How often have I read this. I share and intend to continue. There are some wonderful people I have encountered who share stories and information with me.

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