Don't put profiles into the Frauds and Fabrications category!

+22 votes

I just noticed that the Category: Frauds and Fabrications, which is for fraudulent genealogies, was acquiring profiles at quite a clip, apparently part of the Spring Clean-Up.  They don't go there -- that's for fraudulent genealogies!  If you have a profile that's affected by one of the Anjou frauds, for instance, you put it into the Anjou fraud sub-category; if your profile belongs to some other widespread fraud that doesn't yet have a sub-category  then create a sub-category for it, document the fraud and affected sources in there, and add your profile to that.

If it's just a one-off but commonly repeated error, the profile itself can and should provide its own documentation -- put a nice firm explanation of why it's erroneous at the very top of the profile, with a bolded, centered heading, and put an "Uncertain Existence" template on it, and it will show up in Google searches and as a match on Wikitree when someone tries to recreate the thing.  I just beefed up the "Uncertain Existence" instructions, btw.

I generally put a very stern warning at the very top of real profiles when I disconnect  them from bogus profiles, for example:


asked in Policy and Style by Patricia Hawkins G2G6 Mach 1 (18.5k points)
retagged by Ellen Smith
Kudos to Beth for her diligence in creating profiles, and then for recognizing the problems with the data. Her work and Valerie's work will help keep others from falling for this fake genealogy.
Just to add I've been looking at some of the profiles now categorised. I was very uncertain about whether the whole lot should be categorised with the warning or that some research might enable parts of it to be saved (as in repurposing the doppleganger Pitts) . However, I noticed that one of the pseudo Pitts   recently had a correct profile created leaving her parallel profile attached to the false lineage

But reading  about Rockingham Plantation in medieval Cornwall has convinced me that the whole lot should be categorised: a mammoth task and hopefully eventually  deleted )
Wow, everyone's been working hard all day -- I've been out.

No, we don't delete fraudulent profiles, we put documentation about the fraud on them, and use them to prevent new ones from being made.  Then they show up in web searches, and when someone tries to recreate the profile.

Otherewise, they just... keep...coming...back.

I just edited the Frauds and Fabrications category page  to document best practices,  and also how to create and name an F&F subcategory, see what people think:

No way should it be this much trouble!

Oops, must have forgotten to hit save.  It's there now:

Thanks - sorry you now have x 2 Goodman categories, hadn't wanted to use the word "fraudulent" when creating that first category. Hope there's a way to loose it.
I converted the first Goodman Genealogy category to a "Misnamed category."
I saw the new Frauds and Fabrications issue raised and answered in my 13 Feb Wiki Genealogy Feed which brought to mind several questions I had about the Frauds and Fabrications process.

I adopted a lot of orphaned Goodmans, many of whom were born and died in England.  Several weeks later when I started paging through them to see what else needed to be done, imagine my surprise to find that someone had decided that they were Frauds and their entire life stories had been Fabricated!  No one contacted me, the profile manager.  No one provided any rationale for believing that someone had perpetrated a Fraud for who knows what purpose!  They just put the Category on these people and considered it settled.  Well, I don't consider it settled at all.
Judy please contact me directly so that we can work on entering good sources for those Goodman profiles you have concerns about.
Judy, the sad reality is that there have been some perpetrators of fraudulent genealogies whose work has contaminated many family histories. Their fakery often is blended or interconnected with valid information, which can make it very difficult to separate truth from fraud. Inclusion of a profile in one of these categories means that the person is in a family group whose genealogy was in a body of work that is now known to include fabricated information. The particular person's data may not be adversely affected, but careful research is needed to figure out what's valid and what isn't -- and to weed out the bad information.

Thanks to Valerie for offering assistance.
comment deleted

2 Answers

+4 votes
this is great, and I thank all of you for fixing and trying to prevent others from chasing down the wrong path - have done that and it is what makes a lot of folks give up! So although I do not think I have any connection to this mess I do appreciate your work sorting it all out
answered by Navarro Mariott G2G6 Mach 5 (53k points)
+1 vote
Overarching this discussion note that fraud is any action by intent to deceive. All fabrications of false information are frauds. The category title is redundant. The law dictionaries I tend to consult most are Webster's 1828, Bouvier's 1856, Black's Law 4th Edition. Last time I checked there were at least 35 downloadable law dictionaries, and I have them all, with more available only online. Court English is a monster, but it can be tamed. :)
answered by Bruce Codère G2G6 Mach 1 (16.1k points)
As I see it, the distinction between "Frauds" and "Fabrications" is largely one of intent. "Fraud" connotes a deliberate intent to deceive, usually with a profit motive, and it is often a criminal offense. On the other hand, in the genealogical context the word "Fabrication" indicates made-up information, but not necessarily with intent to deceive.

There are some fabricated genealogies (or fabrications contained within otherwise valid genealogies) that appear to have arisen from the delusions of a mentally ill author, and other fabrications may have been created by family historians who were so convinced about a particular ancestral connection that they fabricated evidence in order to "prove" it. By using the word "Fabrication" for these, we avoid suggesting criminality on the part of someone who might only have been deluded.
How is it possible to fabricate something without the intent to deceive? Committing an error due to poor or incomplete research is transposing. Ancestry is riddled with profiles that are errors, but not fabrications, while it surely also has fabrications such as in this discussion, but I don't go looking for them. I've found several errors while scouring my branches there, and have removed many incorrect relations. One manager of a profile of my paternal brickwall is keeping an incorrect father and mother in her tree that is proven wrong in Wiki. Because I informed her of her error, she is now perpetrating a deception. If there are other managers doing the same, I'll eventually inform them of their error. If someone is brought into awareness and do not correct themselves they cross the line.
I've decided to use Frauds as basically a subset of Fabrications, when the origin of the fabrication is known and the culprit can be identified. Like in the case of Gustave Anjou frauds, or Robert de Roquebrune's invented pedigree of his ancestor Philibert Couillaud.

I leave in Fabrications the numerous incorrect ancestors that look like  random married couples have been picked as the parents of anyone of unknown origin, using "Select Marriages" or similar recources when they were first made available on line. These come more from the cluelessness of a few genealogists who apparently believed that every one with a similar family name must be related. The Collineau de Montaguerre profiles also fall in that Fabrication category. Someone used the name as a marker for "Unknown mother" and they were disseminated by people who thought they represented real people.
I see your rationale and that in genealogy there are types of errors for which the common term fabrication might appear to fit, however in strict legal terms a fabrication is a subset of fraud, not the other way around. Thank goodness this is not Court. :) We don't wanna go there...


From Black's Law Dictionary 4th Edition:

An intentional perversion of truth for the purpose of inducing another in reliance upon it to part with some valuable thing belonging to him or to surrender a legal right; a false representation of a matter of fact, whether by words or by conduct, by false or misleading allegations, or by concealment of that which should have been disclosed, which deceives and is intended to deceive another so that he shall act upon it to his legal injury. Brainerd Dispatch Newspaper Co. v. Crow Wing County, 196 Minn. 194, 264 N.W. 779, 780. Any kind of artifice employed by one person to deceive another. Goldstein v . .E quitable Life Assur. Soc. of U. S·., 160 Misc. 364, 289 N.Y.S. 1064, 1067. A generic term, embracing all multifarious means which human ingenuity can devise, and which are resorted to by one individual to get ""advantage over another by false suggestions or by suppression of truth, and includes all surprise, trick, cunning, dissembling, and any unfair way by which another is cheated. Johnson v. McDonald, 170 Ok!. 117, 39 P.2d 150. "Bad faith" and "fraud" are synonymous, and also synonyms of dishonesty, infidelity, faithlessness, perfidy, unfairness, etc. Joiner v. Joiner, Tex.Civ.App., 87 S.W. 2d 903, 914, 915.
I guess you've never been acquainted with a person who could not distinguish fantasy from reality, Bruce. There's one "Fabrications" category for a genealogy publication by a man who (apparently) had lost touch with reality, but was still able to express himself with enough lucidity that people didn't always recognize his insanity, and had the financial resources to publish his fantastical version of his family history. His book has contaminated some people's family histories and has created a problem for serious genealogists, but I don't believe he can be accused of intentional deceit. Similarly, outside of genealogy, I have had experiences involving a highly educated man who expresses himself eloquently and has repeatedly commingled solid technical information with his own delusions to generate accounts of alleged conspiracies that got broad public exposure before they could be convincingly disproven/discredited. This man is dangerous, but I wouldn't label his ravings as "fraud."

I believe there are other fabrications that can be best understood as being grounded in self-deception -- not an intention to deceive others.
Ever hear of the hydrostatic principle of controversy, Ellen? Anyway, you guessed wrong, unless you're one. Moving on.
As you said Bruce, this is not Court. The name of the categories where to hold fake, deceptive, highly uncertain or otherwise disproven by further research profiles have been previously discussed in G2G and are the result of this discussion. Let's keep it at that, please.

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