Prove the data true or prove the data incorrect [closed]

+42 votes
I see this issue every day, and I think we need to come to some agreement as a community.  Here is the situation, and this is just one example, "Parents are attached to a child with NO proof they are the correct parents."   Maybe they lived in the same area or several "unsourced family trees" have them as the parents.    The question is...."is the burden on proving that they are the parents, or proving they are NOT the parents."?   Do we detach the parents until we have proof, or do we leave the parents attached until we can prove they are NOT the parents?

These situations exist all over Wikitree where relationships are not PROVEN.   Sometimes the dates or places are what draws a person to say there is no relationship, but, then you look at the dates and places are not proven either.   

With Pre-1700 and Pre-1500 profiles this is becoming a greater issue and with the new Database Errors project I see the issue coming up more and more, and clearly there are two camps of thinking on the subject.   Should we have a standard, and how do we define the standard?
closed with the note: New rules were developed around uncertainty and should be followed
in Policy and Style by Robin Lee G2G6 Pilot (887k points)
closed by Robin Lee
I do want to add that I am not including the OBVIOUS errors in this discussion, where we have birth and death information and the parents were 100 when the child was born, or the child was born after a proven death.

As long as there are no restrictions on pre-1800 (let alone pre-1700 or earlier "demarcations") creation of duplicates - manually or through GEDCOM - same difference because it all boils down to the same flawed but extremely helpful secondary sources only when the facts are collated with primary records - birth, marriage, sensus [US & Britain for example], death & burial records as well as wills, this is the reality we are facing. And it is not even about proving / disproving parental relationships as such, but trying to stay the exponential growth of profiles.

I'm very happy with the fact that Projects can now take custodial care of profiles - I've had situations where even a protected profile [before the new Project Profiles initiative was started] with baptism image with the names of parents clearly noted was disconnected by someone based on one of the many faulty secondary sources.

If we want to be serious about validation of parental relationships, we have to get serious about the whole proces of the creation of countless flawed profiles based on flawed sources - why is this situation [granted there have been some very succesful initiatives - the last one being the error database] allowed to continue?

One hypothetical question to perhaps make my point - if lets say within our COGH-project all the thousands of profiles have been properly validated and the familial connections locked down [which is our goal and which we will likely to achieve within the next two/three years] (meaning not only the LNAB, but also parents and because of that the sibling relationships) and every profile is under Project Management - will the duplication of profiles still be allowed?

If so - by what logic? Who is going to keep the vigil and stay arboring and merging the new duplicates?

My parents have both passed, I have their birth and death information. On other sites there are those that are related to me somewhere down the tree wanted to argue over my mothers maiden name, and over my own birth year. The only way we are going to learn anything is to ask questions on where they got their information, and to let them know who you are and how you have gotten your information. And I love the merging part it helps. And the fact that DNA can help clear some things up with some.

16 Answers

+14 votes
I have used baptism or birth records - which state both parents.  Failing this if a census says they are a daughter/son - and dates are correct eg marriage a year between births - um some were prolific in having children.

Being in Britain - Scottish/British baptism records state where the child was born or baptised.  Only a handful, show the child was born at sea though this is stated on the baptism.

As yet not had any Error Reports regarding the 2500+ profiles I have created.

Going back to the question, I hadn't realised that profiles are being made without proof of parentage.

Agree with you that without proof they could add a child in error.  Going from my own trees, offspring have children each naming their children the same as the other cousins, and dates/year of birth are equally similar - which makes it difficult to ensure when they do marry etc - have the correct family line.
by Living Bowling G2G6 Mach 6 (66.2k points)
+17 votes
I recently had the situation whereby a member's tree linked to a person that claimed to be the son of one my ancestors. My ancestor though remained single throughout his life, and his last "Will & Testament" (included in the profile BIOS) verified this fact. Having tried to contact the other profile manage to discuss, without success, although she is active, I disconnected this profile as my ancestor's son.

Ideally, I would say that without a verifiable source they should be disconnected.

Unfortunately though we seem to more unsourced profiles than sourced, and the list is mounting daily!
by Living Woodhouse G2G6 Pilot (294k points)
In this case, it's really clear-- you have and cite the sources that prove a relationship (or lack thereof) and you make the change. It is then up to the other viewpoint to support their claim with valid sources.
+30 votes
Robin are we talking about ALL profiles in general?  There are soooooo many profiles imported by GEDCOM then left to proof of relationship anywhere...I personally don't think we should be detaching anything unless it's proven they are NOT the parents.  I use the relationship trails/links here as a guideline, then go find my sources and post to the profiles. I think unlinking lots of profiles because of lack of sources would cause way too many issues, and would be more harmful then helpful. I think we should focus on sourcing the unsourced, and proving or disproving that way, instead of unlinking.
by Summer Orman G2G6 Mach 9 (96.8k points)
Yes, I am really referring to the existing profiles out there, however they were added.   Most of these are coming to light because of the database error project, and our project focus on the older profiles.  Thanks for your vote in the "don't detach without proof" side of the question.
With the "Uncertain" status marker for parents, I lean towards Summer's thinking.
I absolutely say don't detach without proof. Simply for the fact that it leaves many profiles unconnected.  Then, how would I know that there is a possibility that Bob and Mary could be Joe's parents?  If I am a sourcerer coming in to work on profiles, and Joe has no parents, no date of birth or death, and no other information, how will I find him?  If he has parents linked, that's at least a start.  I can search by the parents. If I do end up finding they are his parents, that's awesome.  If I find them and they have seven other children but no mention of Joe, I'm going to note that in the biography.

The biography boxes - fantastic little tools for noting things. (yes that's sarcasm) - Now, if people would just take the time to read them!  (not directed at you Robin, or Abby)
Agree Summer - great care should be taken with unlinking profiles and be 100% sure that you have proven the relationship false. Any doubts and research notes, can be added to the profile biography or comments, to warn other researchers of the problem.
In an ideal world we could find proof for every fact, but we live in an imperfect world. Short of every profile having DNA proof even a birth certificate can not prove the father son relationship so I do feel that it is better for relationships to have sources for proof, removing the link would be a bad idea for the simple reason that the definite proof may not exist yet and by removing parents we could cause more damage, duplicates, than we would be fixing.
agreed Dale! There are already way too many unsourced, unconnected profiles...unlinking will only add to the problem.

I just want to add... Not only do they become unattached, alot of them become orphaned as well with no one to watch over them in the end. 

Even in the cases where there is evidence contradicting a relationship and copious notes in the biography about the previously instantiated relationship and an edit history showing the removed relationships, the absence of the relationship on WikiTree is likely to result in reduplication of the relationship over and over again due to the incorrect relationship being common among the popular or frequently used genealogical sites and services.

Similar issues will arise or are arising from variations in the spelling of names particularly LNAB; when a name is corrected it is likely that the variations of the name including especially the erroneous names in the records are not being added to the profile, so there is nothing to indicate that a given match has already been entered and corrected. There is a lot of counter data on other sites and services which will lead people to believe that evidence exists for something that is absent even though the thing is absent because evidence exists contradicting its existence.
Debi's template of Unverified Parents is a good tool to flag unsourced parental relationships.
+33 votes

I've been leaving the parents attached but adding the { {UnverifiedParents}} template. I also add narrative to the bio saying they might be or are reported to be, depending on what if any sources are provided. 

For example: Lucy E. (Swann) Hill

by Debi Hoag G2G6 Pilot (412k points)
I like the "unverified" and"citation needed" templates too,  Debi.
I like your approach Debi
+19 votes
Two issues here: (1) what evidence must exist in order to justify attaching someone as a parent and (2) what process should be followed before detaching a parent.

Issue (1) - Level of confidence in parentage. My understanding from Chris Whitten's prior posts is that, on Wikitree, parentage does not need to be "proven" in order to justify having a person attached as a parent. The reason why the "Uncertain" flag was created was so allow attaching parents where the evidence was not convincing enough so say that the relationship is proven or that we are confident that the relation is correct. In my view the appropriate standard should be the overall evidence should make the parentage reasonably plausible and more plausible than any other parentage.

Issue (2) - process - I would not detach a parent unless (i) I believe that a profile does not provide reasonably reliable evidence that supports an asserted parentage and, after searching, I believe that there is no such evidence or (ii) I believe that the overall evidence indicates that a different parent is more plausible. In either case, unless it is clear that there are no active profile manager or member of the Trusted List, before changing the parentage, I would (i) at least post a public comment on the profile stating what I intended to do and why and (ii) wait a week or so to see if anyone responds.
by Chase Ashley G2G6 Pilot (321k points)
Well said. My thinking as well.  

As mentioned elsewhere, many of the imported profiles do not have sources, I have some of these as well, as I reencounter them (lately via the Error Report) I tag them Unsourced or take the time to Source them.  I will now also try to tag them uncertain if that is the case.  Many of them are infact correct but in the early days of importing GEDCOM's they came from and they were not well sourced.  I can source them and if someone else encounters them before I source them, however I would appreciated being contacted to provide the proof.  I do not mind and I welcome the challenge if I have no proof.  If I cannot provide or find the proof then I willingly accept removal.  

My concern would be that I may have a chain of unsourced lines that would be lost.  Chase makes a reasonable case for challenging these profiles.
What does "challenge these profiles" mean?
Poor choice of words. Before detaching parents efforts should be made to find out if sources exist. An attempt should be made to see if the PM is active and if they have any sources.  Similar to merge requests.
+15 votes
Robin, I'd probably tag this with EuroAristo to get those members notified.  You'd have to delete another tag since there's a limit of six.

That said, I see benefits to both methods.  When I first started on Wikitree, I would have answered that I voted to not attach parents unless they were proven.  Then we got the 'uncertain' capability and I considered the fact that it could help provide leads for research by leaving them attached.  As such, I'm of the opinion that you leave them attached, mark them uncertain, and also stick something at the top of the biography about them being unproven.

In the case of where it's an impossibility for them to be the parents (i.e. they're known to be childless or WAY too old), then I detach them and put a note at the top of the biography of who's been detached and why.

As we know for many of the medieval profiles, we aren't going to have baptism or birth records, so T. Cassidy's remark doesn't apply for those.  Generally we prove relationships for these profiles through land grants and IPMs (inquisition post mortem), as well as following Douglas Richardson's well researched books.
by Darlene Athey-Hill G2G6 Pilot (560k points)
I think it depends on the project and time period but for pre-1700 EuroAristo profiles,especially the abandoned GEDCOM profiles, we really should prove it true. If it's a plausible link, I mark as uncertain, with a comment that research is needed, wait a while and check back. After no action, or if it's clearly implausible, I disconnect with a note ("Research Notes") and links to the de-linked profiles along with anything I might have found.
Kirk, right now you shouldn't be disconnecting parents just because you don't hear back from the PM.  If, as I stated, there are multiple possible parents, or if the parents attached are impossible, then it's o.k. to detach.  The reason that the 'uncertain' tag was added was so that these potential parents could be/remain attached, but people know they're not necessarily confident or confirmed.  Until/unless there's a consensus of EuroAristo leaders and project members to change this way of thinking, we need to leave them attached.

Darlene - Co-Leader, European Aristocrats Project - British Isles 742-1499
One of the Wiki guidelines is 'Be Bold' so I usually go for it - I'll be less bold in the future. I don't literally just disconnect parents because I don't hear back from the PM and there's a lot of impossible parents out there!
One problem with Uncertain flags is that in a pedigree-collapse situation, you can only make the Relationship Finder show good lines by disconnecting all the bad ones.  Otherwise - as well as showing lines for people who haven't got one - it will tend to show a bad line even where a good line exists.

And as expected, everybody has their own idea of what Uncertain means, running the whole gamut from "somebody has expressed a mild doubt" to "I can't believe somebody made this up".
Since Magna Carta overlaps with Euroaristo, I will add this -- on the Magna Carta trails I have researched, and the ones I have reviewed, I do not consider the profile completed until all the parent and children links on the profile have been verified by Richardson or another credible source.  With Magna Carta, the problem is not usually unverified parents, but unverified children.  Not authority is perfect, but if Richardson didn't find a daughter Matilda for Sir Roger, then he probably doesn't have a daughter Matilda.
+19 votes
The initial poster has the first obligation of providing sourced evidence to support the facts.  The only time to demand "proof" that something is incorrect is when there is already evidence provided in support of the current state.  This means real evidence though, not copying someone else's tree or using ancestral file or IGI or

There are PMs here now that don't provide any real sources, but yet insist on sources from any challenger.  Also PMs that won't respond no matter what.  And the unresponsive PM process is ridiculous.  It's a stacked deck in favor of who posted first regardless of quality.
by Living Anonymous G2G6 Mach 5 (52.4k points)
edited by Living Anonymous

"This means real evidence though, not copying someone else's tree or using ancestral file or IGI or"   You are so right, however, as long as GEDCOMs are allowed, this will continue to be a problem.  Case in point, not too long ago I did a test on Ancestry to see how easy it was to create a tree and use hints.  I added my parents and grandparents and then relied ONLY on tree hints and other trees from there.  It. Was. Hilarious. Within 30 minutes, I had my ancestry tracked back to Adam and Eve. This is the method many people use, people who are NOT serious genealogists, and people who don't know better. I was one of those people up until about a year ago. 

I would personally love to see GEDCOMs still be allowed, but somehow be fixed to only match you to existing profiles, and NOT have the ability to create new ones.  I don't know if that's possible, but that would be awesome if so!

I agree .... if feasible it would be awesome ... also in the context of the curation of already existing profiles ...

YES!!!! Being that we operate on the premise of one profile per person, maintaining the integrity of that is so important!
+16 votes
I prefer that if there is no proof outside of Internet trees with no sources, that parents be removed. In case proof turns up, you can always add them back. A link to them will be in the changes tab.  My reasons are that first of all, proof works that way. Second, I want to be able to find the real parents. People are less likely to search if parents are already attached. Also, if those aren't the real parents, duplicates are more likely to made.  I think an proven connection is worse than an unconnected profile. It can connect a whole history of false genealogy. Plus, WikiTree is all about accuracy. That's one of the things we claim is different about our website and I believe that to he true!!
by Paula J G2G6 Pilot (287k points)

As Darlene mentioned,  I do not like orphaned, unconnected profiles when parents are not proven (especially in Pre-1500 where family name patterns, histories and locations are more identifying factors because sources are few). However, Paula has a point that we could be using the change logs more in our work at WikiTree to analyse the detached members, and hopefully, prompt people to search harder for sources for the parentages and connections. I guess we need to keep our focus on the mission which is to make WikiTree better, therefore, have projects correct false trees.


As soon as I wrote that, I was reminded of an exception. When parents are already attached and there is disagreement between members about whether or not they are right, I leave everything alone while we research and come to a consensus about what to do. The primary reason is that once people start making changes back and forth it can get to be too confusing about what is going on and what has been resolved or not resolved.

Thinking about this, if an active search is going on to provide proof then I don't see any problem with leaving the parents there until the search is finished.  By active, I mean going on that moment with some concerted effort to solve the problem.

There are probably other times, such as Maggie mentioned, when it makes more sense to leave them connected.  The answer seems to be it depends, doesn't it?

One thing I do not like to see is a lot of conjecture and disagreement when a thorough search for sources or records has not been done.  There are more and more records available everyday and it takes practice to learn how to find them. That's why our collaborative website is so great!!! As long as we are working together we have a whole team to figure these things out and we can learn from each other as we go!!
I agree! Many people just want to fill every empty "slot" in their tree and will blow by any cautionary language.

And how do you prove a negative? If someone insists that they're right, because an old local history or DAR lineage says so, or because they "have studied this family for years,"  they aren't likely to reconsider; they're emotionally invested.

It seems better to me to note these unconfirmed connections under "Research Notes." That way the names and any supporting arguments or information are there for all to see and consider, but they aren't given a credibility and exposure they don't deserve. And if challenged, the researcher isn't humiliated, because he/she only noted the connection as a possibility/probability. It's a win-win!

I should have mentioned this g2g discussion on disputed parentage that is excellent on this subject  as well as the Help Page: Disagreements about Certainty - both below

+15 votes
My personal policy is quite straightforward.

I would rather take the risk of gaining false relatives, rather than take the risk of losing real ones.

So I tend to err on the side of magnanimity.
by Bill Debuque G2G2 (2.1k points)
You don't have to risk losing real ones.  Speculative links can and should be entered in the text (Biography), where you can also explain the case for and against making the link.
That's the more conservative way of approaching the issue. And it will probably work just fine if only isolated individuals are involved.

The problem starts when a key individual connected to a large subtree is involved. Then the "opportunity cost" of not connecting will be considerably magnified. In a case like this, I would tend to apply the "more likely than not" approach. If it is more likely that he/she is a true relative rather than a false one, I will make the connection. And just put a caveat on his/her profile, to put everyone on alert to be on the lookout for any new info.

" Uncertain is approximately equal to unproven and can be used to mean undocumented." just use "uncertain" until it can be proven.

+10 votes

My suggestion: Mark unsourced or what the problem is. If needed add a Research Note section 

==> add a template ==> we hopefully in the future also get that included in the error reports....

{{Unsourced}} - 171 751 members
{{Unsourced|Sweden}} 1293 members

If we start to use templates for sources we could in db_errors 2.0 start error report profiles with no added sources (sources created with a template).....  I hope Chris and Aleš isn thinking in that this tool helped me to look at the family tree in another way.....

The Project:Database_Errors shows how important it is to have structured information vs. putting all the data in a free text field as we do in the Biography/Text field 

Tools I use to mark that this profile need "help" are templates

{{Unsourced}} - 171 751 members
{{Unsourced|Sweden}} - 1293 members

Project:Database_Errors is also like categorisation it adds new ways to traverse the WikiTree data.... and that is excellent in a project like WikiTree with a lot of data.... 

It's not easy to understand how we all are connected....

by Living Sälgö G2G6 Pilot (305k points)
edited by Living Sälgö
+22 votes
I think there are two kinds of unsourced parents on wikitree.

1. There are the unsourced parents attached to unsourced children (gedcom created or not) to detach these parents would be ridiculous and counterproductive, because as mentioned above, it would eliminate the possibility of discovering who they are.

2. Then there are the well known, well researched ancestors, like in the PGM and Mayflower and Euroaristo projects. They pick up unproven parents on a regular basis. These parents should not be allowed to stay attached without proof, although they should be placed in a "Disputed Origins" section in the bio.
by Anne B G2G Astronaut (1.3m points)
I think the distinctions point out that the first case, there are no sources provided or the profile has not been well documented.  Like merges, a reasonable attempt at contacting the PM should be made and/or an attempt to find the source should be made before detachment. As stated, they may actually be correct but poorly documented and I would hate to loose the clues. (however, they may be in the profile changes, but that adds a differently level of work).

In the second case, the profile has been well documented and researched, I have some of these as well and definitely want the "False" parents detached.
I completely agree Anne.  Well said.
Agreed! :)

I just disconnected the Finnish aristo parents from a 16th century yeoman's wife in Grangärde, Sweden, since I found a digitized source (in Swedish) at that shows that the same-name aristo daughter married within her class in Finland and died there. 

Profile Kirstin Persdotter Haven't cleaned up the GEDCOM or looked for better sources, since she is just on the edge of what I'm working with in Grangärde at the moment - I regularly check the Global connection for my cluster, and have yet to come up with a non-spurious path.


Eva when you are connected please connect with me so I also will be part of the party ... ;-)

But we are connected already, Magnus. Just in more than ten steps.

Actually, we should be blood related also - both through the Stockhauses and through these elusive parents in Främmestad where we have been in touch.

The people I'm working on in Grangärde aren't connected to me yet - but I know where I'm going. ;-) Just takes a lot of time because you always discover new interesting stuff when you revisit the books.

But what if you hadn't found the posh girl's marriage?  It was already very unlikely that she was the yeoman's wife, and of course there was no evidence.

Should she have been disconnected already?

I'm not sure. Before I did the searches that led me to evidence I had marked the parents as uncertain, for the reason that posh people did move around more than the peasantry - and girls did occasionally make mesalliances. So even though I have disconnected more than one grafted-together family from this same GEDCOM I was reluctant in this case.

(As far as I remember the first case I disconnected was very easy; somebody who had been given parents born a hundred years after him/herself, there's been other similar cases too.)

Point is, anybody can make stuff up.  One immigrant gets away with parents that are perfectly plausible but completely unsourced, there are thousands more in the queue.

Surely anything that could easily be pure invention needs to be treated as pure invention, until something turns up to suggest that it isn't.
+13 votes
I personally try to work with the "in for a penny, in for a pound" approach -- that is to say, if I find myself messing with a profile at all, it's probably because it doesn't appear that the profile has had adequate research from reliable sources.  So messing with it means finding better sources, adding additional material to the narrative with inline sources, with a particular emphasis on births, parents, marraiges, deaths and children.  Once that's done, the data field really needs to be corrected so that the parents, spouses and children agree with what I've documented in the narrative.  

I have revised profiles and also reviewed the work of others as part of the Magna Carta project.  I try to be quite adamant in that role that work on a profile has not been finished until all the children are documented in the narrative and the links in the data field show only documented children.  I've seen some well done profiles where no attention has been paid to the linked children, but it is in falsely linked children that most erroneous genealogies to famous people show up.

Where my idea runs into problems is (1) often I have time enough to figure out that the profile has errors, but not time enough to find out the truth,  (2) I can't find any reliable data out there leaving the whole profile in question or (3) fixing the relationships to parents, spouses and children starts to involve some research into THEM as well.  So in three minutes you could probably do a search and find evidence that I haven't met my own ideal!  

To give the short answer to the question above, if I haven't done the research, I'm not comfortable making changes to the data base including parent/child connections.   If I have done the research, and I've added it with source documentation in the narrative, then I'm quite comfortable making the changes with a public comment as to what the sourced data deemed necessary.  

I've learned to check the Changes section before working on a profile.  If there's been work on it within the last few months, I feel a much greater obligation to check with others while delving in than if no changes have been made for a while.  But one of the things that attracted me to WikiTree is the doctrine that anybody can work on a profile since erroneous changes (except merges) can always be undone
by Jack Day G2G6 Pilot (478k points)
+10 votes
Good question, Robin.

I haven't read through all the responses and don't really have input, but I want to make sure that people see this:

Those are the standards we currently have.
by Chris Whitten G2G Astronaut (1.5m points)

Those are good articles (including the one it links to on disputes).  If most members followed the guidance there, we could focus on genealogy instead of fixing the [insert your label of choice here].

Could you address one thing:is a GEDCOM import a source?  I say it's no more a source than a Xerox machine is.  It's a method of copying data to transfer between computers or between websites, etc.  If as often happens, a person copies their data from another site (GEDCOM export) and posts the same data here (GEDCOM import), all they have done is make a Xerox copy but now the data gets to cite itself as its own source.  Even if you allow it on the principle that the person maintaining the data is the source, it's still "me citing me as the source".  We should not allow that to be considered a source. 

AND the WikiTree GEDCOM IMPORT program is, or at least was (haven't come across a recent import), doing this too.  I worked on 2 profiles today where the software had inserted the GEDCOM import attribution inside a pair of <REF> tags.  Could you at least have it put it under Acknowledgements rather than as a source?

Presumably Ancestry generates the gedcoms like that.
I do not agree. Semantics. If the source was a GEDCOM, then that was the source of the data. The data might have then come (via the GEDCOM) from other sources. I do find tracking extremely important. A GEDCOM might include secondary sources cited on a platform such as I do not acknowlegde any more. There is no sense in acknowledging a GEDCOM without the metadata attached to it, even if those metadata refers to inferior sources or no sources at all. Every bit of clue helps to complete the puzzle.

Who, what, where, when, why, and how. That's what allows proper collation and research, and not a chauvinistic pre-judgement on what constitutes a source or not. If we would have done the collation of data in the COGH-project the US way, I would have long ago stopped with WikITree because it would be impossible to work efiiciently that way (covering vast amount of profiles in an orderly, scholarly and validatory fashion and still stay ahead of all duplicates created - necessity is the master of invention - and in this case - our project - this has proved to be best practice).
+13 votes
I'm having trouble imagining a definitive one-size-fits-all method that would work to solve this dilemma.  My personal experience is that "proof" is not a black and white thing.  Sources aren't always definitive, sometimes they disagree with each other, what looks definitive to one person may look less so to another, etc.

I would just say that I tend to be pretty cautious when changing someone else's work and expect a higher standard of proof than a profile, profile data or connections that I enter myself.  I would apply that same standard to this situation as well.
by Kyle Dane G2G6 Pilot (115k points)

I agree Kyle, see my previous comment ...

+8 votes
I see a major problem here, vis there is no such thing as "proof", merely evidence.

for eg why would the Baptismal record by a Priest/Pastor who may have been drunk, or hard of hearing, or barely literate, or distracted, or ill (all pretty common frankly) or etc, be taken as "proof" over the memory of my Oma (grandmother) of what her Opa (grandfather) told her?

Too hypothetical? How often have you found errors in government and/or other documentation about your life? In many cases absolutely howling errors of the most egregious sort, but nonetheless on documents which we would now consider to be "proof?"

I know that a Priest entered my name as the groom on the Marriage Certificate at my brother's wedding ceremony; an error that I immediately caught, and which in our heavily bureaucratic and highly literate society would have been caught very shortly regardless, but not necessarily 150 yrs ago or more. That sort of thing could have gone completely unnoticed, particularly on documents not in  the hands of the relevant family (ie Church, Town, Court etc records).

So please drop the whole false concept of "proof" and stick to the fact of evidence that must be weighed and evaluated.
by Mike Kaulbars G2G4 (4.9k points)
I have an official copy of one of my great grandfather's birth certificates. It has the wrong birth month. The date on the certificate disagrees with all other sources for him. If someone wasn't looking carefully they wouldn't notice that the date of the birth is after the date that the physician signed the certificate and the date that the certificate was filed.

Heh, Mike and Jamie. Maybe this should be a new Question with cautionary tales of genealogists looking back at us in 2070.  :-)  I spent 23 years trying to get an odd mistake on my credit report corrected. It showed I once lived in a state I never lived in, in a town I've never visited or even passed through. I could prove where I'd lived, but could never prove the negative: that I hadn't lived in that town. Never affected my credit score, so I just gave up trying. But at some point I'll bet somebody finds a public record and adds a source to my profile that says I lived in that Some Town, Some State.

Proof and evidence are synonymous, Mike.

Whichever word you prefer, both the creator of the profile and any challenger should not only HAVE proof/evidence, but he/she should HAVE ALREADY ADDED it to the profile (at its creation) or be ABLE TO ADD it to support the challenge.

The bottom line for both creator and challenger  is "Show us your source documentation."

edit: And we should always remember that lack of documentation does not disprove one's case!

I would have to disagree here. Evidence and proof are not the same thing. Evidence is used in building a proof. It's not proof in itself. Think of a court case: you might have tons of evidence, but it's up to the court to decide what it all means and whether it can be said to prove anything at all.

Also, like Mike, I've seen major errors on official documents. One of my gg grandmothers married twice. She had different fathers for each wedding. It looks as if the first certificate got the bride's and groom's fathers reversed.

And my grandfather's death certificate shows him to have been 100 years old when he died in 1989. He was born not in 1889 but in 1898. A small slip, probably based on the certificate filler's being used to using "89" all year.
+5 votes

My view is that the person who is challenging the data should prove his/her case.

We should presume that the manager who entered the attachment is following the Honor Code and has obtained the information from somewhere.

We should be expected to provide our proof to the contrary whenever we challenge another manager's data.

edit: To me, it doesn't make sense to make changes that are also unproven.

by Lindy Jones G2G6 Pilot (261k points)
edited by Lindy Jones
Given how easy it is to add children willy-nilly to any profile, I think it is up to the person adding them to show a reason, not the opposite. Otherwise some joker can add Cuddles the Clown or any made-up person to as many profiles as they like.

It's not fair to expect a profile manager to take on the burden of proving Cuddles did not exist. It's so much harder than showing reason to believe he did.

Also, if you genuinely  believe you have the right placement, but don't have the data, ask the forum. There are a lot of people here who are good at sourcing and would be quite happy to help nail it down.

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