Be Wary of ‘Unsourced’ Material on Web

Roxanne Moore Saucier has another great column in the Bangor Daily News (Maine), Be wary of ‘unsourced’ material on Web that reminds us all not to take everything we find on the internet at face value.

Excerpts from the column:

So is the Internet the best thing that ever happened to genealogy – or the worst? Neither. Computers and the World Wide Web certainly have changed research habits for most of us.
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An unimaginable amount of information is available on the Internet now, and it’s growing all the time. But it’s more important than ever to resist assuming that everything we read is true.

It can be great to find that someone has done a genealogical homepage that includes our ancestors – but all too often, these are “unsourced.” There’s no indication of where the information came from. And with the speed of the Internet, it’s easier than ever for one person or site to pick up on an error and repeat it as fact.

At times I find myself lamenting how “easy” the internet has made genealogy research – too easy in some cases, because I have literally had relatives take my years of genealogy research, and then casually slip in some material they found on the web, and present this as “genealogy research” to other family members.

It drives me up the walls when a relative says “look at all of this information I found during my research” and it turns out that their “research” consisted of them hitting up Google, finding a few web pages that were last updated in 1998, with contact information that is out of date, and with sources missing.

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