There is a very successful, global, web-based operation which can be very helpful when you first begin to research your “Ancestry”. As well as providing access to world-wide databases (although it should be noted that such databases are not exhaustive), the site also provides ‘Hints’, to matching database records, as well as to matches in other online family trees.
This is where great care needs to be taken.
Never accept a hint at face value alone, particularly those from other trees.
Too often, I have seen trees where a hint has been accepted without any additional checking, resulting in major errors – the classic being parents born later than their offspring.
So when you’re presented with possible matching records:
– Always check to ensure that any recommended hint fits within your existing knowledge (names, dates and places);
– Try to confirm the accuracy of the hint using an outside (independent) source;
– If in doubt about a hint from another tree, contact the owner of that tree.
If you cannot be sure of the accuracy of a hint, don’t use it. If, at some future stage, further information becomes available which may confirm a previously ignored hint, then it can always be reviewed.
So your rule of thumb should be: ‘If in doubt, leave it out’!