Status: Hoax-facilitating software
Genealogists are in an uproar
about new software that allows people to create fake (but real looking) online family trees. The program is called Fake Family
. (Because of the controversy, the website of the software maker is now given over to an Open Letter to Genealogists.)
Genealogists argue that the fake information created by this program could easily find its way into real family history databases. They also charge that the only purpose of the software is to create webpages that will lure people with false information, and then profit from advertising links.
The maker of the software, Don Harrold, defends his creation by insisting it's very unlikely that a serious researcher would be taken in by the information Fake Family produces. For instance, the software will often list people as being born in cities before those cities existed. He also makes a curious point:
The people most upset about Fake Family seem to be folks who have a RELIGIOUS reason for being upset. (However, if I was going to be baptizing people who had passed on, I would do more research than just "grabbing names" from a website.)
Does this mean there are people who do genealogical research in order to retroactively baptize their ancestors? Can a dead person be baptized? I had never heard of such a thing.
Anyway, Harrold's basic argument is valid enough. The internet is so full of misinformation that anyone who uncritically uses historical information they find online is asking to be misled. But having said that, it sounds like the purpose of his program is to create spam (spam that clutters search engine results rather than email inboxes). And spam in any form should be condemned.