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Correcting Errors in Transcriptions

by SteveFriday, April 17, 2009

We continue to receive e-mail asking why we won't make corrections to errors in transcriptions.

Please take a look at my previous article on this topic...


The most important point is that transcriptions are not meant to be "open documents" where the public, or even ourselves, are allowed to make corrections. Rather it's a snapshot of someone's effort to record information they found elsewhere.

A genealogist wants to know what was recorded on a tombstone, or in a sexton's records. That's another important reason why we don't make error changes.

It could be that the tombstone is inscribed with errors, or the sexton's records contains errors. Even if you know that information is incorrect, the genealogist still wants to see what information is out there, correct or incorrect, and then decide what information to rely on.

We are trying to support exactly that. To let the genealogist decide. That's why we don't allow anyone else to make corrections to these transcriptions.

Now, typing errors is a different matter. But it's not possible for us to determine what is a typing error versus incorrect information from a tombstone or sexton record. Hence, we need the author of the transcription to advise. So when you notify us of an error, we contact that author, and let them decide. If that author feels he or she transcribed the information accurately, then we'll leave the transcription alone.

But what if the author doesn't respond to our inquiry? It could be he or she has since changed their e-mail address and has not informed us of the change. We've also had many authors pass away since their last contact with us. In that case, we need proof it was a typing error, and not an error on the original record.

I realize that if you saw your mother's burial info on this website, and noticed incorrect information, it becomes an emotional issue. But remember that Interment.net was not meant to memorialize the deceased, rather it's meant to be a genealogical reference.

So please keep in mind proper genealogical protocol, which is to transcribe records character-for-character, and not add editorial modification.
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Each transcription we publish comes from a single-source, be it the cemetery office, government office, church office, archived document, a tombstone transcriber. Other websites already do an excellent job of crowd-sourcing a single cemetery together. But genealogists also need to see the original records from a single source. That's what we offer.