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Coming soon – fake family history and genealogy info


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It seems that, advertising programs are quite a profitable thing for websites (mileage varies by the type of site and traffic.) For some time parking a popular domain name with a bunch of sponsored links on the subject was a way that some would try to take advantage en masse, now it seems genealogy will see the next gold rush….

There are reports out, of software that can make authentic looking information to flesh out a fake genealogy page? Why? so that when people search for certain family names they’ll find the bogus pages, then ads get clicked and make the owners money.


Some researchers say YES!! this could mislead folks into piecing together completely bogus genealogies, pollute other online databases and make sifting the wheat from the chaff much more difficult. Personally, I don’t see it tripping up any of my research unless fake census transcriptions are in the works, still I like to see the originals if possible, but for pre-census searchers? One of the things I really don’t like about it is the signal to noise ratio. Look, I have adsense on my pages and appreciate the revenue stream that it’s turning out to be. It’s not a ton of money, but it beats any other affiliate program I’ve used on a site before.

The real problem is when people create bogus information to cash in on it, they wind up making real information harder to sort and find. Let me use an example a search for Parker genealogy yields some good relevant results at the top at pick your search engine, what if by using this software, multiple sites were added to the top ten that were irrellevant? So now you have to search through twice as much noise to get to the data you’re looking for (signal). Some names it’s hard enough to track down relevant links because the name is so common (Parker was 17th or 18th most common last I knew…).

Fortunately, search engines realize that polluted search results are a problem and are working to limit the impact automated splog (spam blogs) and other such tools that increase the noise. I’m afraid that like junkmail, there will likely be an arms race of sorts between those making the spam sites and those trying to filter them out of the search results.

The bottom line for ALL of this though is, be sure to document your research. Treat “discoveries” from other websites as merely leads unless you’ve seen the documentation. Documentation should be copies of original records. Most seasoned researchers are already thinking in these terms. The beginners, or ancestor “collectors” are another matter.