Using all the Tools in the Box

Ancestry has unveiled a new Genetic Communities feature that will show genetic ancestry and migration routes of your ancestors based on DNA, family trees, and records.  Can you spot the weak link?  It glared at me right away since lately it has been an issue for me on Ancestry, inaccurate family trees.

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This is my ancestors alleged genetic routes.

I am sitting in paradise, literally, on Maui. Blue skies, waves, the Aloha spirit every where and I can’t leave genealogy alone.  I almost gave myself whiplash when we passed a beautiful cemetery on the north shore, I was itching to walk it to see the markers and honor those whom I never knew. Ancestry decided to unveil a new feature in the middle of my vacation and it has been bothering me since the unveiling. The thorn in my foot, others’ family trees.  I have been through thousands of others’ family trees, some excellent well documented trees, others, that are the genealogy equivalent of graffiti, no documentation copy and paste from other trees or facts changed to fit, with attribution erased.

I wonder why do it, vanity? Why have a trees with 25,000 people? What’s the point if it’s not accurate with documentation? The handy-dandy DNA Origins is here to help with projects.  I assume that may be how I got linked to founders of New York City since I can find no ancestors even remotely linked to that part of New York. I suppose now I can manipulate my tree to reflect that new information, but that’s not my style.  I like to research, I am all about the hunt and the facts. Hunting and fact-finding become difficult as you delve further back in time.  It is consuming and it is anything but easy when done properly.

Can you learn anything from the new feature? Yes.  Most likely it will point to communities that at least some of your relatives migrated through, HOWEVER, the information will only be as good as the trees associated with information.  So, if everyone in your line has misattributed someone, which can happen if they are all copying and pasting the same mistake of the same common relative then boom wrong migration route.

It is usually not done with malice. Most people want to have a nice tree, like everyone else, some just don’t want to do the work.  I have found errors in my own work and hoped no one copied it. I have went back and removed names from one of my trees because I couldn’t find documentation to confirm them and I didn’t want people copying them.  We are all human, we all make errors.  I remember my computer science teacher in high school telling me, junk in junk out.  That is no different from the analytic process for family trees for migration.  What we can hope for is that there is much more wheat than chaff in the process or that Ancestry will weed out the trees that don’t have documentation in their trees, however, when viewing my list my top match who I know, has no tree and is listed-it makes me wonder.

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