Tuesday 31 October 2023

Checking Tree Inconsistencies

I have what I thought was a well constructed family tree currently with 9,556 individuals in 2,957 families. I use Legacy Family Tree Genealogy Software as my basic system.

Copies of the tree have been uploaded to a number of websites including Ancestry and MyHeritage, as a means of searching for other relatives who may have information on family lines I have not researched. I use the tree in conjunction with matching people using my DNA analyses.

Recently MyHeritage has been sending me emails that state that there are inconsistencies in my data. I thought my tree was pretty good, and that I had all my ancestors accurately listed.

It turns out that, according to the latest assessment, there are 493 inconsistencies! These are mostly date-related: child older than parent, child born after death of parent, alive but too old, parent too young when having a child or parent too old when having a child. The problem areas are grouped under these categories.

Many are not in my direct line or are distant cousins, but I was shocked to see that some were for closely related people for whom entry mistakes should not have been made.

There were more than 493, but a few weeks ago I checked some of the errors and made the necessary corrections. They mostly turn out to be careless mistakes made when I input the data. But that does not excuse them as I should certainly have been more careful, especially when the data is put into the public realm.

When you are doing a lot of entries, as I have done occasionally when inputting data for whole families or family lines, it is easy to mistype words or numbers. If you don’t check what you have done, though, then the tree will have errors that other people or systems can pick up.

And who needs that?

Now I am in the process of going through the entire list, both on the MyHeritage site as well as on the tree on my computer. I guess I will have to check other sites as well, where at least parts of my tree have been uploaded to back up DNA searches.

You can access your problem entries by going to the menu under Family Tree on your home page and clicking on Consistency Checker. That will bring up the entire list of problems in your tree, if you are like me and have some.

If you want to learn more about the MyHeritage Consistency Checker, you can read their 2017 blog post.

The Consistency Checker has been available for a long time, and I should have taken advantage of it much sooner. It’s never too late to get things right, I guess!