Thursday, November 03, 2005

Free Census Records Come at a Cost

A Genealogue Exclusive [What's That?]
A Utah company will be putting online U.S. census records from 1790 to 1930 next year. What will set PhonyFamily.com apart from Ancestry.com and Genealogy.com is the price: $0.

Ron Carroll got the idea from a recent post to the Eastman Newsletter.

"Some guy has come up with software to generate phony family trees," Carroll told The Genealogue Thursday. "His clients launder the data through their favorite genealogy program, and then post it online with ads. Once the search engines index the pages, traffic is guaranteed. It's brilliant."

Carroll's company is extending the concept to census records.

"Our website will feature digitized images of every census schedule—just like the other guys. But ours will be ad-supported. At random intervals, we'll add fake census pages. The preliminary artwork is really amazing, top notch."

The phony pages will include fabricated names, ages, birthplaces, and occupations—entire families made out of whole cloth. Hidden within the handwritten text will be small advertisements.

"You know, ads for things like iPods and condoms," said Carroll. "Things people need. Very subtle, almost subliminal."

Adding thousands of fake names to census indexes is sure to outrage genealogists, but Carroll dismissed their concerns.

"If they believe our masterful forgeries, it's their own damned fault. After all, shouldn't they be double-checking everything they find on the Internet?"

When asked if he was the spawn of Satan, Carroll declined to comment.

a missing link

I just know it...yes, I will be searching Rootsweb and will find this in too many gedcoms:

Drink, Pepsi

And, not only that, she will probably have kids linked to her (Shasta, etc.) and will have President Bush as her fourth cousin three times removed.

OH FINE! I thought I was being funny. But, I did a search in Rootsweb:

"Search Results: drink pepsi
Matches found in 2 of 46 databases."

"View 546,406 additional hits for DRINK PEPSI at Ancestry.com"

But, I think they were lying...like that cousin above.

Chris

"View 546,406 additional hits for DRINK PEPSI at Ancestry.com"

Imagine if you'd used Soundex.

Renee Zamora

OK, Chris you got me. I really bought the story about the fake census. I thought it was a true story after I found Pepsi listed both on Rootsweb and Ancestry. Can you believe there is actually a ferret named Pepsi's genealogy on there?

Your point is a good one. I wouldn't put it past someone to develop an ad system just like you mentioned. Scary thought!

Renee Zamora

Chris

Is it a compliment to have one's parody accepted as true? For the sake of my fragile ego, I'll take it as such.

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