Do your research, get it right, assume the negative.
My family tree is on Ancestry.com. I love that my entire family tree is online. I love that when I put a name up a little green leaf might pop up to tell me someone else is researching that person's name. I really love when the little green leaf is right and it connects me to a person with photos of my long dead ancestor. These are the moments when the little green leaf shines like the sun. Screen shots like this, from my actual tree, used to bring a tear to my eye.
Look at all those leaves!!! Little green dots of hints, leading me to more names and leaves! Ahh.
But after this, it all goes to hell in a handbasket.
Ancestry.com is a very useful tool for an experienced genealogist, but it's also a mecca for the ill informed and inexperienced to really muck things up for the rest of us.
We've all seen the commericals of the novice ancestry.com user who just went to the site, entered his grandpa's name and a leaf popped up that connected him to the tree of another member who was researching his family. BINGO! Instant family tree.
The only problem is that sometimes, indeed, many of those times, the "leaf" doesn't lead you to YOUR ancestor, but to someone else with that same name. With one simple click, you've now linked your ancestor to a family that doesn't belong to him, or to you.
We, as humans, are all fairly unique, but our names are not.
Here's a visual. A leaf hint popped up recently on this ancestor of mine.
This was the hint. Can you see why I would reject this "hint" for this ancestor???
The key is in the dates, and in history. When did the Revolutionary War happen? When did my ancestor die?
It's kinda hard to be a Revolutionary War Patriot, and therefore be on the Patriot's Graves Record, when he was dead over 100 years BEFORE the war happened.
If you would have linked this hint to this ancestor, I want you to stay away from Ancestry. com for EVER. I'm not kidding. NEVER GO THERE.
If you would have linked this hint to this ancestor and you are already on Ancesty.com, know that I am on there and I hate you, especially if I'm related to you in some distant fashion that makes our trees intersect. Now I have to weed through all your muck, and eventually I'll have to keep ignoring the hints linking me to your tree because I'll know your "research" is all crap. Each time I click "ignore" because of you, I'll be thinking ill thoughts of you.
Don't trust the leaf. Do your research, get it right. Or risk my wrath.