5 More Rules for Accepting Online Hints

One of the things I emphasized in my prefvious post is that online trees and hints are not always accurate, and should not be accepted uncritically. They are also often incomplete. Bearing this in mind , here are some more rules for accepting online hints.

  • Remember that you want to record the names of females in your tree with their maiden names. If you are reviewing a hint, and the tree you are looking at only lists the married name, just use her first name. This is most common when reviewing census returns or death records, but can also happen in online trees.
  • Correct mistakes or incomplete data whenever possible when you transfer data. An example might be where a wife has children from her first husband listed in the census. It was not uncommon for such children to take their stepfather’s name, so it may not be clear when first looking at the document.
  • Evaluate the data before you transfer the information you find. If what you have is more accurate, do not accept that datum. For example, a census may give, say, an age of 25 in 1871. You can calculate that the person must have been born in 1845 or 1846. But if you already know the person was born in the 3rd quarter of 1845 you already have better information than the census.
  • If you are not sure whether the hint belongs to a person in your tree, do not guess. That’s one way to make mistakes which can get perpetuated when others look at your tree online. Do more research, and come back to the hint later.
  • Be active in your research. In other words, don’t just rely on hints to improve your tree. All of the big websites, like Ancestry, FindMyPast, and MyHeritage allow you to search from scratch. That way, you can be sure that your search covers the record collections you need. It also lets you try out variations on the name, and even wildcards.

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