To Give, or Not to Give: What Would You Do?
While speaking at the Ontario Genealogical Society’s Seminar 2007 this weekend in Ottawa (which by the way was a great conference – kudos to the organizers!), I met a gentleman at one of the lunches and we were talking about the Internet and genealogy. In particular, we discussed the ability to find cousins and have them find you online. This gentleman told me a story about someone who contacted him asking him for information about a family line and how he sent some information from his descendancy chart – not everything, but what he felt was fair to share. The person published the information without so much as an acknowledgment to him and after that the correspondence ceased except for a few basic e-mails.
I have been thinking about this issue for some time. Why do we do genealogy? Shouldn’t we be willing to share our research with others? But how much do we share with someone who just contacts us out of the blue? Is it fair that you spend years doing the work only to just give information away to someone who may not want to do any further work themselves or reciprocate?
I think this is an interesting question and I am not sure there is a right or wrong answer but that it truly is a personal decision. There needs to be a balance about being cautious with whom we share information and how much we do share. And we have to consider that situations such as the one I mentioned do happen. I tend to think “half full” – that the positive outcomes of connecting with newly found cousins and sharing information outweigh the negative.
I would like to hear what other genealogists think about this issue. So if you’re reading this post and have thoughts about this topic or a story to share, I welcome your take on it.