Fake Family Software

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.

History Identity/Imposters

Posted on Sun Nov 13, 2005


that's easy, it's hard to attack nihilists beliefs
Posted by some sick girl in chile  on  Fri Dec 28, 2007  at  11:11 AM
I have to say that I have never seen a more idiotic set of people who are fired up over nothing. If you don't share our beliefs that is fine. Just please stop claiming to know what we believe. So far all of the non-LDS statement about LDS beliefs are far fetched and any of those that are close are blown way out of proportion. If you are actually concerned about these topics and want to understand them, as an intellegent, mature adult, go to the LDS.org website and look up the "Temple" and actually read what is there. Maybe then you can speak about something that you know.

As for underwear, why do you want a pair of mine? I honestly don't want any of your nor do I want to know anything about them.
Posted by Sam Daventrie  on  Fri Jan 04, 2008  at  08:45 AM
I am not Mormon, nor am I all that crazy about some Mormon beliefs, and baptism after death is among the beliefs I'm not that crazy about. (Why? Primarily because the important thing about baptism -- the really crucial thing -- isn't the act of splashing water and saying words, however meaningful. What baptism is supposed to be is a public commitment to a faith, which means that it is meaningless unless someone makes the commitment him or herself. If it's done after death, there clearly is no choice, which invalidates the whole thing, at least in my theology.)

But anyway, that's not what's important now. What's important is that there are people participating in this thread who can say with one breath that Mormons ought to respect the beliefs of others and then with the next breath deliver a diatribe about the beliefs (many of them distorted and inaccurate) of Mormons ...well, that's just wrong. Shouldn't the beliefs of Mormons be respected too? Or are they not included in the list of "others"?

Nothing can force you to become Mormon, OK? If there is life after death, you will still have to choose to make the commitment or not as the case may be, and if there isn't, it won't matter.
Posted by Kathleen  in  Indiana, USA  on  Fri Jan 04, 2008  at  12:13 PM
"As for underwear, why do you want a pair of mine? I honestly don't want any of your nor do I want to know anything about them."

But YOUR underwear is MAGICAL!
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Fri Jan 04, 2008  at  01:58 PM
Yes, we Mormons, or Latter Day Saints, as we prefer to be called, do perform baptism for the dead. Although, it is not as morbid as it might sound. No dead bodies are involved. Instead, a living person is baptised as a proxy for the deceased. And we do believe that the baptism holds no meaning, unless the person the baptism is performed for accepts it. My husband works in a hospital and has seen many devastated parents who felt that their just deceased baby was damned because they did not have the opportunity to be baptized before they passed on. We believe that God has made the blessing of baptism available to all His children through baptism for the dead.
Posted by Another Nettie  on  Mon Jan 07, 2008  at  11:33 AM
Evedently there is a new software that generates fake family trees available. They promote it as a way to get SE listings and make money on adsense. Why would anyone want to do this is beyond me, I think it's a new low in ways to make a quick buck. Also looks like it has the geneology community up in arms.
Posted by Kelly Lawson  on  Thu Jul 14, 2011  at  01:15 AM
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