fictitious genealogy

+9 votes
Re pre-1500 spring clean

What does one do with strings of fictitious genealogy?
WikiTree profile: Richard Goodman
asked Apr 21 in Requests for Genealogy Help by Valerie Willis G2G6 Mach 2 (26,600 points)
edited Apr 21 by Valerie Willis

I'd love to know,  as I  recognise this style There is  also a whole line of fictitious  descendants of  from it seems the same origin as this one.( right dates/places as his real family , but totally spurious biographies, wives and subsequent lineages)

It is known about by a leader, but unfortunately still there several months after I found them. (  Heck, I  really hope someone doesn't find them on the error list and now try to link them back again to the real family, as I've spent a lot of time and at the moment fruitless effort on the real children and haven't yet felt able to create their profiles  )

I'm up for the pre-1500 spring clean which is where these popped up. Reckon my whole volunteer effort this weekend could be in getting rid of these. Recognized some of the names in an 19thC. online genealogy, so could separate, verify & write up those.
You could try to find out what "medication" he was on, and where we can buy some
I've got a plan of attack, reckon I could find a family of Goodmans and rewrite the profiles, could be quite interesting.
But why bother?  It's not as if profiles are expensive.  You aren't rescuing anything worth saving by recycling a profile.

You can't even reuse the disk space, because the entire history is saved anyway.

In fact, reusing a profile removes any possibility of releasing resources by wiping it.
Reckon just leave it as is?
Don't leave it as is. Revise the profiles to become (or at least include) documentation of the fictitious or fraudulent genealogy. Tell about the claims that have been made, the fake stories that have told, who made up the story (if this is known), why the fake genealogy is known to be fake, etc. People who have received these fake stories deserve to be given this information. See the category that Jack Day cites for some examples of how this has been done on other profiles.

And label the profile with an appropriate template, and categorize it as Jack describes.
Valerie is going to create a category as indicated and work these profiles....thanks so much!
Have heard from the original PM who writes " I removed this from my tree as I did not believe the information that was sent to me from England.  They all believed it over there but I could not prove it."
Thanks to Ellen, they have the category {{Questionable}}  [[Category: Goodman Genealogy Fabrications]].
I had a similar response to another family line that the same person created, that was a mixture of 'real' names but biographies that didn't fit with any known facts.   At one point I even thought that maybe it was a huge elaborate con on Wikitree to create all these 'fake' biographies, but the current work of the profile manager is fine.

However I'm not sure about creating a category and putting people under Frauds and fabrications etc, if it is just one person making huge mistakes, which is what this seems to be.  

If this 'fake' family line was in many online genealogies that would be different, but I couldn't find that anyone else online had the same names or strange biographies, as those I was investigating.
All of this "creation of profiles" happened in 2013 and 2014 when no one really watched over Wikitree.   Marking them as fictitious will help us in the future if we ever find a way to actually "delete" profiles from the database.
These profiles are now being categorized as "Goodman Genealogy" in Frauds & Fabrications : Uncertain Existence. There are a great deal of them but they'll all be together now. Am editing the bios a little to remove the profiler's name as she isn't in a position at the moment to deal with this herself and has acknowledged their uncertainty.

I saw some of this same genealogy uploaded in "My Heritage Family Trees" so kudos to WikiTree for having a way of dealing with it.
I am not a fraud or a con John. I know you don't like me for some unknown reason, but you are being very obvious, all of you - almost cult like. This is disgusting.
You are going to flag something that is not your own, yet you were allowed to keep information that wasn't proven at the time? Perhaps that person wants to keep their profile private?

2 Answers

+10 votes
Best answer
One problem with fictitious genealogy -- as opposed to simple mistakes -- is that it keeps popping up.  This is one reason we created a category for it:

If we could just make a fictitious person disappear from WikiTree, Murphy's Law says well-meaning people would re-create the profile again and again.  So it's better to leave the profile, but with a clear indication that it's fictitious.  It's best if the fictitious nature of the profile can be documented with sources proving it's fictitious.

Fictitious people cannot be born, marry, or have children, so they should be de-linked from all connections, and the fictitious connections noted in the narrative section of the profile.  

A particular kind of fictitious person is a fraud, where the person was created by a fraudulent "genealogist" for money.  Frauds also contaminate the profiles of real people, to whom the fraudster has given fake information and connections.  These need to be documented, again, so that they don't keep reappearing.  Gustave Anjou is now a well known fraudster, and the profile of any person that he ever wrote about needs to be categorized with "Gustave Anjou Fraud" as a warning to people that the profile may contain contaminated data if it is not thoroughly sourced with reliable data.

I looked at the two profiles you cited, and it is not obvious to the reader that it is fictitious or that anyone thinks it is fictitious.  The profiles contain items that need to be removed, "this is my 27th great-grandfather" -- but one also contains a will or extract from one.  Is the will fictitious, or is it just the connections that are fictitious.  Both profiles are poorly sourced, so adding sourced information showing what is fictitious would be a big step forward.

If you have a source for the whole line of Pitt descendants being fictitious, it would be good to create a category "Category: Legendary Pitt Descendants" or "Category:  Pitt Descendant Fraud" or whatever best describes the fiction, and then add the category to all the profiles impacted by it.  That way, the information that is common to all the profiles impacted -- how the legend started, was it created deliberately, sources for more information about the legend or fiction, etc, can be put on the category page.

In addition, the profile manager is active on WikiTree this month, so some collaboration would be appropriate.
answered Apr 21 by Jack Day G2G6 Pilot (117,250 points)
selected Apr 21 by Ellen Smith
Just to clear the air, it's highly unlikely that the people who post "fictitious" genealogy on WikiTree were the original authors of that genealogy. They should not be blamed for the information, much less labeled as fraudsters. I think it far more likely they are simply people who obtained data from someone else's credible-looking published genealogy -- and it is likely that the published genealogy had obtained the data from yet another published source. Often there's a long chain of "victims" -- people who accepted the bad information and passed it along to others.
I have noted this re the Goodman profiles, it is apparent that the original profiler tried to make something of a genealogy she had been given, before realizing that it didn't hold water and removed herself from management of the profiles. I have contacted her and we agreed that I deal with the issue on her behalf. All acknowledgement of the original profiler and personal comments are being removed from the profiles as I go, while leaving intact any notes pertaining to the profiles themselves.
It looks like the questionable Goodman content originally came from someone named T.A. Goodman in York, England, who operated the "Goodman Genealogy Archives."
That's why I don't think this should be treated as 'fictitious genealogy' but merely as a mistake on the part of the person who originally published it on Wikitree and profiles should be corrected rather than labelled or categorised.
Do we have a challenge for the Sourcerers?
Ok, just read John's answer, I have put the category on them at the moment but I'll get back to it later this weekend ,adopt them,,remove the fictitious biographies 'reuse' this  'wrong' set of Pitts as the right ones (but will come back to this thread first before acting...just in case!
We need to use these categories because all of us are vulnerable (to at least some degree) to failing to recognize fake information, and accepting it into our genealogy. Once this information has been published, it is likely to keep coming back unless we use elements like templates, categories, and free-space pages to alert people to these situations and explain the problems.
I could understand that if this information had been published on the internet and there was a danger of it being recreated back on Wikitree, but what I have been trying to say, is that these particular profiles, are currently only published on WikiTree.  

If you do a Google search for "Masta Goodman"(one of the profiles at the top of this G2G discussion) the only results are from WikiTree pages. The same thing if you do a search for "Richard Martin Goodman" then the only results related to genealogy are from WikiTree.

The whole premise of this discussion seems to be based on something that hasn't actually happened.
John, the original question was about fictitious genealogy and I responded to it in general terms.  I glanced at the profiles but don't have the knowledge to know what the specific issue is and what is fictitious and what is not.  If there is no source out there that might result in the fictions being re-created, then as you say, there is no value in retaining the bad profiles;  they are then simply erroroneous profiles which need to be corrected, either by appropriately changing the data, or by merging them into valid profiles.  But I continue to talk from a theoretical perspective;  I do not have the knowledge of the specific profiles to make specific recommendations as to exactly how they should be treated.
John's observation is worth pursuing.

I didn't think "Masta Goodman" was necessarily an especially good test, since he's not alleged to have descendants. But -- except for links to WikiTree -- I've also not been able to find entries  in the user-contributed content at or MyHeritage for people in this date range with some of the more common names (such as John Goodman) in this Goodman collection.
+1 vote

As +35000 wikitree profiles are connected to Wikipedia we have reports running daily that identify profiles not matching our criteras

see Wikidata:Database_reports/Constraint_violations/P2949

The profiles we have right now is

"Type human (Q5)human biblical character (Q20643955)" violations

Violations count: 6

Q353255 = Polanie-1
Q1157703 = Skinner-3545 
Q1320730 = Hen-5 
Q2575747 = Polanie-4 
Q2608009 = Ottarsson-23
Q2659818 = Of_Poland-38

answered Apr 22 by Magnus Sälgö G2G6 Pilot (199,010 points)
edited Apr 22 by Magnus Sälgö

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