Blogging and Ancestry.com

By Eilene Lyon

A disconcerting thing happened to me recently as I was perusing photo hints on Ancestry.com. Ancestry is a great place for people to share information about family. Old photos and excerpts from old books, as well as old documents, are all fair game. But things seem to be getting out of hand.

Someone found one of my blog posts about a mutual relative. Then using screen shots, he or she hacked my story into pieces that even a professional jigsaw puzzlist couldn’t make into something coherent, and posted the bits on Ancestry.

Granted, my writings are no Gone With the Wind or Shakesperean sonnet. But imagine someone took one of your paintings or poems and whacked it up, then posted the results on the internet (without any credit to you, of course, but maybe that’s for the best). Yes, I was a tad ticked off. Perhaps I over-reacted. I’m no saint, right?

I’m used to people taking photos from Find-a-grave and posting them on Ancestry – something that goes against policy on both platforms, by the way. I take gravestone photos all over the country and I’m happy to share them, no strings attached.

My writing, however, is different. I explained to this nameless person that they needed to take the images off Ancestry and suggested that if they wanted to share my blog post, that they could add a link to that person’s page in their family tree.

That’s the entire purpose of having the linking feature. It’s the proper way to attach information from outside sources to a person in your tree in a way that doesn’t violate any copyrights.

Screenshot_2019-02-17 Peter Springer - Facts
My copyright violation of Ancestry.com to illustrate how and where you add web links to your pages. (Actually, this probably falls under “fair use.”)

Then I got to wondering why I hadn’t thought to make links to my blog on my tree. It makes perfect sense. Anyone looking at pages on my Ancestry trees is likely related to those people and interested in the stories I’ve put together here on Myricopia.

Though I have a year’s worth of blog posts, it actually didn’t take me very long add the links on Ancestry. And from now on, I’ll be placing links on my blog to the subjects’ page in my public Ancestry tree. Sounds like a win-win for me and all my distant relations. What do you think?

49 thoughts on “Blogging and Ancestry.com

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    1. Thanks, Ally. I hope it is good. I doubt people will ever stop copying things and misusing them, though. I mentioned this to Dick Eastman who has a widely distributed genealogy newsletter and he basically told me to get over it – it’s not going to go away, but become more widespread. No way to enforce online copyright.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Wonderful idea, Eilene! I am going to do the same. Even though I add the content as a story with the link listed at the end of the text, some people might prefer the quick link option.

    As to the person who failed to give credit for your work, ugh! It drives me crazy how many people think that just because they find it via the internet that they don’t have to obtain permission or give credit where credit is due. 😦

    Liked by 3 people

  2. That is the risk of posting on a blog. I suppose, really, anyone can take and use writing and photos. It is upsetting and in many ways feels like an invasion of privacy, like walking into your home and stealing from you. Hopefully the nameless person learned something from you and won’t be up to their tricks again!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Before I comment Eilene it took me a while to find the same equivalent page on my Ancestry account which is different on the web page as opposed to viewing it in the app on my iPad! Anyway, I’m torn but not indifferent to your stance on this. Slightly different topic, but when Dr C and I ran our education charity and NGO in Nepal a few years back and published research papers, school programmes, online courses, we did so to make them available to anyone for learning or use. They were NOT to be reproduced as if they were your own …. It often happened though, that’s the culture in Nepal’s aid environment. We were outraged, enraged, almost aggressively so! Anyway, fast forward to today. We are now older, more passive, and blog for our own interest, we are not trying to achieve anything nor do we feel particular ownership of what we post. Recently for example we wrote a couple of articles about iron and steel occupations of our ancestors …. if you want to use them without credit ….. go ahead …. we couldn’t give a sh1t!
    But Eilene, this tale is not a criticism …. if something is important to you then stick to your guns and give them hell. If it’s not so important, relax, keep calm, have another glass of Pinot and carry on. Age changes ones perspective.
    However, please don’t take this as a criticism of your stance, I support and agree with you at this stage of “your life”. But when you reach our stage, you’ll probably just laugh at them and think … “they’ll never learn, experience, create anything for themselves, how sad, who cares.”. Be gentle … B.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I did chastise myself for my knee-jerk reaction. As I said, people take my gravestone photos all the time and that is fine. I just feel that there are appropriate and inappropriate ways of using someone else’s work. This one was clearly inappropriate.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I understand your frustration. A few years ago a poem I wrote was the monthly winner on poetry.com. For years afterwards, I would find it on people’s blogs with either no credit or even occasionally passing it off as their own work! Finally, I started commenting. Your solution to linking your own blog is brilliant! Congrats on being proactive. I think your decision will ultimately be a helpful one for Ancestry users seeking info.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I just followed by your example and linked in a few of my blog posts to my Ancestry tree. SUCH a good idea!! I wish more people did that, too! It would make finding those trees even MORE fun! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I myself have had many photographs that I have posted on my blog used without permission on ancestry and other places. I could watermark them but in truth I really don’t mind. I do wish I would be given credit for my work. At times the stolen work was not mine but something I used with the owners permission. However I take the long view in that I do this so information about my family history will find other family members so maybe it is for the best.

    I really like your suggestion about adding the web links to our tree in ancestry. This is something any blogger of family genealogy should do. I think this is a great way to spread the word about our family and share information that cannot be found in old records.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Much of that stuff is not copyrighted in any way. I don’t watermark old family photos. They are meant to be shared. I still like to ask permission to use something on my blog, not that it’s necessary. To me it just shows respect. Thanks for adding your thoughts.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Eilene,

    Yikes! People really do consider the internet to be a license to steal other people’s intellectual property. In this instance, your personal property as well!

    That’s a great idea you have as far as linking to the site. Way to go in coming up with the silver lining to this episode. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

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