Friday, February 24, 2012

Anonymous

I recently received the following comment. I might mention beforehand that I have not edited this remark in any way:
I think World Traveller is on to something. Deep down the LDS church uses the geneolgy information they gather to posthumously baptize people who were not LDS during their life time. They do this to artificially increase their membership numbers (they say they don't but they do) and can steal that information from ancestry.com and other sites they are associated with. It raises deep ethical problems. Another big problem is having to spend your own money on membership to update and complete their database with zero compensation. So they get free research labor. Another ethical problem. on Who owns the genealogy companies?
Of course the people who write this kind of drivel never sign their own name. In this case the comment was signed "anonymous." This is a response to an earlier comment by someone signing "World Traveler."

Let me examine this statement sentence by sentence.

I think World Traveller is on to something. Ignoring the misspelling, I originally thought this referred to me. That is what you get for writing in the middle of the night. But it refers to the earlier comment from World Traveller that said:
So, does the Mormon church have a stake in it or not? That's the biggest question to me. So, for example, as Ancestry.com collects all this information from people, is it going to lead to guys in suits knocking on the door and trying to convert them to Mormonism?
I can say with certainty, that I have never found any ownership connection between The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Ancestry.com. Whether or not the Church owns any of Ancestry.com's publicly traded stock is totally irrelevant to the issue raised. As I said in a comment below, I have never heard of anyone getting a visit from missionaries merely as a result of signing up for Ancestry.com.

Deep down the LDS church uses the geneolgy information they gather to posthumously baptize people who were not LDS during their life time. Again ignoring the misspelling, I was not aware that the doctrine of the Church was "deep down." I thought that the doctrine of proxy baptisms for deceased relatives was pretty well publicized and discussed extensively in the press, especially recently. In case you happen to have missed this point, I would refer you to Why We Build Temples.

They do this to artificially increase their membership numbers (they say they don't but they do) and can steal that information from ancestry.com and other sites they are associated with. I am not certain where this person go information that the membership numbers of the Church include deceased persons. I am personally familiar with the Church procedures and as soon as the death of a member comes to the attention of the Church, the name is removed from the records reflecting church membership. I am interested in how the Church can "steal" information from Ancestry.com when anyone paying an Ancestry.com subscription fee can copy all the information they want from Ancestry.com or any other subscription site. The last time I checked, that was the reason for the sites. I have never been able to show any kind of connection between the Church and Ancestry.com other than agreements to share some database information.

It raises deep ethical problems. I am not sure what raises deep ethical problems. Certainly none have been raised by this commentator. I find it hard to reconcile deeply held religious beliefs with an accusation of ethical problems.

Another big problem is having to spend your own money on membership to update and complete their database with zero compensation. This is the most puzzling comment of all. Who is spending their own money on membership with FamilySearch when all of the resources are free online? Who expects to be compensated for doing their own genealogy? I suppose you can do you own genealogy and keep it entirely to yourself, but then what is the point? If you don't freely share your genealogy with other members of your family, who will ever know what you did or care? If you don't like any of the FamilySearch products, you can certainly avoid them at your own loss, I suppose.

So they get free research labor. Another ethical problem. (I know this is two sentences) I am not sure who gets the free research labor? I have been researching now for over thirty years on my own and other people's lines and I don't recall being paid for any of it. Even though I am a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists, I do not charge for genealogical research. I choose who I help and what I do. I also do not understand why doing free research raises any ethical problems. I certainly have no expectation of any compensation whether I contribute my research to FamilySearch.org, Ancestry.com or any other organization. I contribute for my benefit and that of my family, not theirs anyway.

This type of comment shows a gross lack of understanding of genealogy, of the relationship of online databases to the genealogical community and of the world in general. This comment may have originated as a result of some of the news coverage of the dishonest and unethical use of the New.FamilySearch.org program, but I cannot see any clear connection.

5 comments:

  1. Anonymous referred to a comment posted by user "World Traveller" on September 14 that reads: "So, does the Mormon church have a stake in it or not? That's the biggest question to me. So, for example, as Ancestry.com collects all this information from people, is it going to lead to guys in suits knocking on the door and trying to convert them to Mormonism?"

    If you consider that comment for just a second or two, you'll see the insanity behind the logic displayed. The idea proposed by the commenter, is that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints runs genealogy websites with the sole purpose of obtaining information on potential convertees.

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  2. Oh, I see. This raises several other questions. I don't believe I have ever heard of anyone being contacted by a Mormon missionary as a result of signing up for Ancestry.com. I'm sorry, I get these comments out of context and I should have looked at the previous post.

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  3. It doesn't take away from the fact that paranoia is rearing its ugly head as genealogy in general, and genalogical websites like Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org in particular, are gaining more and more interest from the general public. It's a good thing that you are addressing these issues. Ignorance isn't always bliss.

    I also think this comes of the back of recent news articles on the posthumous baptizing of Anne Frank by members of the Church.

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  4. It's curious how many people are willing to get so outraged about the topic of genealogy work and the Mormon Church without actually bothering to find out anything about the subject. But I guess that's par for the course for most comments on the internet about any subject.

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  5. Further proof that ignorance is not bliss. That anonymous commenter is definitely ignorant, but the tone of the comment shows anything but bliss.

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