During his presentation on the upcoming Family Tree program as a replacement for the existing New.FamilySearch.org program, Ron Tanner talked extensively about My-Tree-itis or claiming ownership of genealogical information. Just in the last day or so, I ran into a major case of my-tree-itis from someone working on New.FamilySearch.org (NFS) trying to clean-up the records. Unfortunately, the person in NFS he was working on was from an old New England family with literally hundreds of duplicates. Three comments stuck out in the short email exchange I had with this person. The first was the fact that he was basing his demand on me to change my record in NFS on a published book of New England genealogy. Second, after I explained what was happening with NFS, he said he hoped the new program would not allow anyone to change his entries and last he believed he was making progress because he had reduced the number of combined records on NFS from over 300 to something less than 200. He exhibited no interest at all in finding out about the Family Tree program, he was dead-set on reforming NFS.
The email exchange was not conducted in pleasant terms. As Ron Tanner pointed out, what are these people who claim ownership to their genealogical information going to do when they find out they have no "control" over the data on Family Tree? I am expecting to receive similar demands from other distant relatives as I get into the Family Tree program and start to make changes. In my case, I have been preparing for something like this for years. I have multiple sources for most individuals in my pedigree. When I get back to some of my remote ancestors, I could list almost a hundred sources for some lines and yes, I intend to put all that documentation into Family Tree. I hope they don't have a limitation on the total number of sources for any one individual.
One lesson I hope is learned by the genealogical community that is apparently a problem with some, is that making demands on people to change their genealogical information is not a good tactic. I do not handle unfounded and impolite demands well after 37 years of legal practice.
I hope that this email exchange is not a harbinger of future exchanges, but I fear that these people are out there and are going to be upset when they realize they have no real control over what they put online.