Monday, March 19, 2012

Copycats, Collectors, Collaborators and Connectors

printer cozy, autumn the cat asleep on the scanner-printer

What kind of family historian are you?
Are you a copycat? Do you find an online family tree full of information about your great-grandfather, and immediately copy it into your family tree?
Are you a collector? Do you have 13,000 names in your family tree going back to the 1500s?
Are you a collaborator? Do you work with cousins and relatives to further your family history research?
Are you a connector? Do you reach out to the genealogy community to make acquaintances, friends and connections to cousins?

It seems to me there are these four types of people in the family history community.

The Copycat
Chloe Copycat wants the family history information without doing any of the work. The problem with the way Chloe Copycat "researches" her family history is that she doesn't take the time to evaluate and validate the information she has found on the Internet. Chloe Copycat copies all the names and dates she has found from her favourite online source of family trees into her own family tree. This includes all the erroneous information. Then, Chloe Copycat spouts forth these "facts" as if it were the truth. I see it time and time again when I visit the family trees posted at Ancestry or Genes Reunited. Those errors are copied over and over again into other family trees.
Now, I will admit that I have copied some information from online family trees. How I work is I have two copies of my family tree. My family tree called "Our Ryckman Roots" is in my Legacy family tree program, and also in my Family Tree Maker 2012 for Mac program. My Legacy family tree version of Our Ryckman Roots is 'clean'. What I mean by clean is that the people and facts entered into this family tree have been verifed with the sources to support the facts. My other version of Our Ryckman Roots on my FTM tree is the one I play around with. I may enter information from another family tree as a clue to help me find the evidence I am seeking. When someone asks me for information about a Ryckman ancestor, I check my 'clean' version of Our Ryckman Roots for the information I want to share.

The Collector
Chris Collector is the family researcher with the biggest family tree. His goal is to have a million names in his family tree, and link himself back to Adam and Eve. Chris Collector collects every name he can find that matches the surnames in his family tree. He's not really concerned about the facts, or the details of the ancestors and relatives.His family tree software program of choice is of course The Master Genealogist, because in his opinion, it is the best. In my opinion, Chris Collector tends to be a little bit arrogant, and a know-it-all.
Recently, I had the unfortunate experience of communicating with Chris Collector on Genes Reunited. Genes Reunited has a feature that finds "hot matches" in other family trees with people in your family tree. Chris Collector was shown as a hot match for some of my Crawford line. I contacted Chris and asked if he was interested in exchanging information. He replied that yes he was. It was when I asked how he was related to our common ancestor, and what information he was seeking, I ran into a problem. Chris Collector informed me that if I didn't want to give him access to my family tree, then, fine. He already had 15,000 people in his tree, and he really didn't need my information after all.
Pardon me? Really? Sounds like Chris Collector may also be a copycat.

The Collaborator
Colin Collaborator is the type of person most family historians dream of working with. His goal in researching his family tree is to work with cousins and relatives to find facts and evidence that add details about their common ancestors. Colin Collaborator enjoys sharing his information, and has a family tree online at Wiki Tree where others can contribute.

The Connector
Connie Connector is a cousin of Colin Collaborator. Her goal is to connect with cousins and other relatives who are researching the same family lines. Connie Connector's dream is to meet these living cousins in the homeland of their ancestors. She enjoys keeping in contact with everyone by sending out a monthly family newsletter, and includes information from other family members.

Both Colin Collaborator and Connie Connector want to further their family history research by learning the details and stories about their ancestors through sound research using the genealogical proof standard.

What kind of family historian am I? I'm probably a mix of all four. I hope I am more of a collaborator and a connector, than a copycat or a collector. I enjoy working with cousins on solving brick wall problems, as well as sharing photos stories, and sources.

What kind of family historian are you?

Photo courtesy of myu2k2

Copyright by Kathryn Lake Hogan, 2012.