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March 27, 2017

Share and Share Alike

A blog post by Judy G. Russell on her blog The Legal Genealogist was published in July 2016. Judy's words are important and her post should be read by all genealogists.

The expectation of some genealogists that we must share all research that we do, is something we will all be faced with at some point.  I call that the GIFS (Genealogy is For Sharing) mentality.

In fact it is not incumbent on us to share anything we don't choose to share. My belief is that those who expect or demand full sharing haven't thought about the reasons why an individual may not choose to share their research or a document or a family photograph.

Sometimes I share, sometimes I do not. Why do I not share all the time?

1. Because sometimes I choose to write a book about  my findings. This allows me to spread the information further afield than just one person, and also gives me a small portion of money back against what I spent in time, obtaining documents, travel expenses and so on.

2. Because I have seen my careful, methodical research taken and mixed in with incorrect information, causing a horrific genealogy mess that gets published in an online tree or passed via email to others. In other words, I lose control of the quality of the work I did.

Other times I will gladly share all my research with an interested descendant. It depends on the interaction I have with that person, how willing they are to share in return and what they plan to do with the documents and photos.

I have other reasons for sharing/not sharing but let's hear from you on how you feel about this topic. Meantime please take a few minutes to read Judy's blog post No Right to Sharing


Linda Stufflebean said...

Lorine, I think Judy's last sentence - Sharing is - or ought to be - two way - sums up my feelings. I don't source posts on my blog, for the most part, because much of what I write is cousin bait. I happily share my photos and documents when people contact me. I used to have all my media on my Ancestry tree set to public. However, a few years back, I noticed multiple people were mining LOTS of images, many of them from my own private collection, for certain of my family branches. I always contact people inviting them to trade info with me. I never got any kind of reply from them - multiple people, not just one person. After that, I reset all my media to private so others would have to contact me. Some have emailed complaining that it should be public, but I tell them that I want to meet new cousins and then share whatever it is they were interested in. It makes sharing a two-way street, as Judy stated.

Marian B. Wood said...

You and Judy make some good points. Let me point out another aspect of sharing. When I spend money to buy a document (marriage cert or similar), I scan it and post it on Ancestry to share. This is my way of paying it forward for all the people who have done something similar and posted on Ancestry or other sites, where I found the documents and learned something about my family tree. Although not everyone does this, I believe that I'm reinvesting in the community by sharing something of value, not just names and dates without evidence.

T said...

My reasons exactly. And I've found things that I had done so much work on and spent so much money attributed to someone else. Uploading my work to does not make it your work. How can anyone take an author's name off of research and call it their own?

Mary Foxworthy said...

I must admit that when I've spent much time and effort on something, I feel a little possessive of that information. But I've gained so much from other people's research that I feel obliged to share. I do resent those who take information/photos without first contacting me.

Lorraine Escobar said...

Actually, I prefer that someone copy my work (speaking to the trees posted on because there are so many mistakes "out there." I am a certified genealogist, which means I have applied the scrupulous assessment of the evidence before it is uploaded or linked. (If my job was to correct these mistakes, I would certainly have job security for decades to come.) So many novices just copy someone else's tree and that is where the problem lies--if they copy a tree by a novice who has not applied the genealogical proof standards, then the mistake goes on for perpetuity. I am not concerned about someone copying my work because I would rather the truth be out there. However, it is my goal to put my name on anything I have transcribed and uploaded. And, if someone copies my work to their tree, will attribute the origin of that document to the original tree. I don't mind sharing; but I don't want someone taking credit for my work. So, although I put my name wherever I can and credits the origin, doing my part to make sure that others can copy correct information is still satisfying.