"Mistakes" in original records

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"Mistakes" in original records

Post by Lindsay » Tue Nov 22, 2011 7:30 pm

Hello All

I hope you don’t mind me using you as a neutral, genealogy savvy sounding board, and apologies in advance for the moan. :(
I’m involved in running a website which grew out of a hobby, and I hope is of use to at least some of you (http://www.scottishmining.co.uk). Over the years we have gone through various levels of interaction with the public, some tremendously positive, but mostly involving a lot of effort on our part with very little thanks. We also occasionally get some quite upsetting feedback and that’s what I want your input on.

Our policy is not to correct any names or other details from transcribed original documents. On occasion if a mistake makes it difficult to locate a record, we will add an annotation to help, but we won’t do this for a simple alternate spelling e.g. Mackie when death cert is McKie or a mistake in firstname. We always double check our transcripton when queried and send a polite explanation of our position. We often get critical responses, and once previously we got a rather abusive e-mail. Yesterday we got another quite rather upsetting one (we are disrespecting the memory of their G grandfather by not correcting “our” mistake) which on top of a few negative ones in recent weeks makes us both want to shut up shop. I would appreciate any more neutral views (positive or negative) on whether our non-correction/non-annotation policy is valid.

Our reason for not adding lots of annotations is 2-fold. Firstly, time. Secondly, we are aware people often misunderstand what is from the original records vs our additions. Of course for the indexes we compile for the more recent records, we always update per relative requests as these are not originals.


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Re: "Mistakes" in original records

Post by Hibee » Tue Nov 22, 2011 7:44 pm

Hi Lindsay

Experience has taught me that all forms of voluntary activity, which allow criticism from the public at large, will indeed receive such criticism, justifiable or not.

It is generally the case that far larger numbers are appreciative of this work, but do not take the time to say so.

I have drawn information from your website on many occasions, and would like to take this occasion to thank you.


Adam(s): Newton, Midlothian
Brock: Orkney/Leith
Bridges: Leith
Sweeney: Ireland/Leith
Brown: Edinburgh/Hamilton

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Re: "Mistakes" in original records

Post by DavidMK » Tue Nov 22, 2011 8:04 pm

Hi Lindsay,

Thanks for your web-site which provides a huge service to those of us with relatives in the mining industry.Your policy of publishing articles untouched and un-edited is spot on.

Please do not give up the ship, or shut up shop, in response to the negative minority.

Cunningham,Marshall,Dun, McCrossan,
McFarlane,McMillan, Connel, Waters.Torley;Scannell;Kean;Howard;Kinsella

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Re: "Mistakes" in original records

Post by Lindsay » Tue Nov 22, 2011 8:22 pm

Hi Hibee & David

Thanks for your replies. I'm not looking for any thanks on the website (although it's always good to hear it is appreciated). And we're not about to shut the website, just maybe remove all contacts as we're thoroughly fed up, even though that means we lose out on additions, and the facility to make true updates.

I just wish people thought more before they got on their "high horse". To me, an accusation of being either disrespectful or inaccurate is hugely upsetting when I believe we are being the exact opposite :( I for one find all the mistakes fascinating.


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Re: "Mistakes" in original records

Post by nelmit » Tue Nov 22, 2011 9:09 pm

Hi Lindsay,

I have used your amazing site regularly over the years and recommend it often. I am horrified that you get negative (never mind abusive) feedback. :x :x I have sent thanks in the past through your site for the tremendous work you do.
Our policy is not to correct any names or other details from transcribed original documents.
In my view that's the way it should be!

It must be very upsetting and frustrating to receive these emails, and I don't know what the right answer is, but I for one wouldn't blame you for retracting your contact details - but I would be stating my reasons for doing so on the website.


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Re: "Mistakes" in original records

Post by Falkyrn » Tue Nov 22, 2011 9:26 pm

Firstly, I would like to express my thanks for the work you have done and which I have made use of.

I also agree with the other posters in that I believe your policy is the correct one.

PS I can also appreciate your distress as similar abuse caused me to resign as a Moderator on another forum site.
~RJ Paton~

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Re: "Mistakes" in original records

Post by AndrewP » Tue Nov 22, 2011 11:44 pm

Hi Lindsay,

I agree that when transcribing records, that should be done verbatim. It is not for us in the current age to re-write history. Whether to provide footnotes showing 'corrections' is a matter of opinion. It may be helpful to some people. Others could regard it as trying to correct history. It can be a delicate balance.

One possibility for you to consider is to put a footnote saying that (or something like) your transcriptions are taken verbatim from the content of the original documents, and you are not responsible for the correctness or otherwise of these documents.

All the best,


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Re: "Mistakes" in original records

Post by joette » Wed Nov 23, 2011 1:47 am

Agree with what everybody else has said & think Andrew P's idea is a great one.
As we know name spellings were not really standardised until the 1900's when we became a more documented society.
I have to say though that I was really upset when the CWGC misspelled my Great-Uncle's surname although that was more that he was hard to find under his original spelling-his parents with the correct spelling were listed as his Next-of kin too.They did correct it.
You are working from originals and I have been transcribing for Family Search I am tempted to write what I know is the correct spellings on names/locations.However I don't as I must transcribe how it is recorded not as to how I think it should be.
Please carry on I have used your site many times & am very appreciative of your work.
CARR/LEITCH-Scotland,Ireland(County Donegal)

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Re: "Mistakes" in original records

Post by Alan SHARP » Wed Nov 23, 2011 5:21 am

Greetings Lindsay.

Not having to have had recourse, to your web pages, I will not comment upon your sites service.

However as one who has, for over 45 years been heavily involved in a number of large service organizations, run by volunteers, I personally know IGNORANCE IS NOT BLISS. As volunteers we have to have a thick skin, re those ignorant souls out there, unfamiliar with voluntary service and the subject at hand, who think they “know their right’s”. Ask any volunteer car parker, about the number of times they have been nearly run into/over etc. Respect, politeness, and consideration, at times, seem to be part of a bye gone era.

The instigators of TalkingScot site saw fit to put the following on the front home page of their site. Though I suppose most jump right past it.

This site is moderated by common sense and good Scots manners.
If you have any questions, please make a post, or contact the TalkingScot Administrative Group
e-mail: talkings@talkingscot.com
© 2004 - 2009 TalkingScot.com

Stick to your guns re your policy. In the past, it has stood the site in good stead, and should in to the future, because the principal is sound, and in keeping with good practice.

[Good house keeping: From time to time, review your forums operating policy guidelines, and how they are communicated to the participants on the forum/web.]

Where the ignorance is expressed in open forum/guest books etc, it will be seen by others, and the author judged accordingly. Though managing such an “issue” in open forum, takes specialized skills, moderators should have the option of closing the thread. I’ve seen some heated forum debates, but most have moved on, or been moved on constructively. Can be messy though if you are collateral, caught up in one.

Where the ignorance is expressed in the form of “private messages” or direct email that is another story, and hopefully your site has risk management protocols in place to deal with it. [eg locking out the abuser/accuser’s address]

A reason why site administrator’s / moderator’s should be very wary re personal details and contact options. [In this regard I’ve been amazed at the trust / respect in me, shown by TS volunteers. Very accommodating indeed.]

With regard to my own family research I’m SHARP and very proud of the fact. That is the name used by the NZ family for 170 years, yet after 30 years of my research an Australian branch, have caught up with me, and they are SHARPE, and very proud of the fact.

If we want to have a fight over the spelling, there is plenty of ammo, for either case, back in Scotland 200 years ago, with even the same gentleman’s records, on official documents, being spelt either way, as his life unfolded.

My advice is continue with the voluntary service, as you would like to be the recipient thereof, and to XXXX with the ignorant ones. What goes around comes around.

When I was invited to join the local Young Farmers’ Club, upon leaving school in the 1960’s, we were ritually welcomed with the greeting of, “The more you put into it, the more you will get out of it” and I’ve always found that to be so. You just have to rise above the political intrigue of office, and those who never have a positive acknowledgement to give.


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Re: "Mistakes" in original records

Post by Lindsay » Wed Nov 23, 2011 7:28 am

Thank you all for the feedback. When people act in a way which seems so irrational, you sometimes begin to wonder if you are the one in the wrong :(

Anyway, we have decided to shut off our contact details - we lose out on new information but it means we are not exposed to the small number of rude people who are causing us such upset. I'm glad I don't work in a customer services role - my skin is not tough enough to deal with the public!

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