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Hiding living relatives on trees

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Sentosa Report 7 May 2011 23:22

I'm a bit puzzled. I have always requested that living relatives on my tree are 'hidden' - 'my account' section of GR. I've now found a few trees with details of my family listed.

I think it would be good if, when sharing information, the 'hide' request could be transferred as well. So that the information about living relatives doesn't become altogether public on family trees in general.

Any comments?


TootyFruity Report 8 May 2011 00:25

I just don't put living people in my tree. I don't see the point if I am going to hide them


jax Report 8 May 2011 02:35

I was under the impression if you added someone to your tree who is living it would still be shown if you searched the trees but hidden if you let someone view it??

My parents and myself are in my tree but if I search for them it does not show that I have them but anyone else searching for them will see it. Same goes for dec'd ancestors my gran does not show up on my tree when searching but she is on others

Please correct me if I am wrong



Sentosa Report 8 May 2011 11:45

Thanks for all your responses.
I think my 'hidden' relatives must have been 'released' on general view a few years back when I temporarily opened my tree completely to a newly-found cousin in another country.

CrumblingCookie: thanks for your tip about GR being able to remove names from other trees if requested. I hope it won't come to that but it is good to know that option exists. Thanks for yr BMD comments as well.

TF: I put living names on my tree for future generations - I don't use any Family Tree Maker or similar software and intend to put details on Word.

jax: You're probably right. I haven't tested!

Thanks to you all. I feel a bit reassured.


TootyFruity Report 8 May 2011 11:55

Sentosa, I keep my main tree off line and have split my maternal and my paternal sides on here by using two accounts, one subscribed and one free.

I exclude living people because without them giving their permission to be in anyone's tree then that is a breach of their privacy and trust. Even though I do not have living people in my trees I have made some very good contacts through my grandparents and other ancestors. I only open my trees to contacts who can tell me about their research so that we can ascertain that we may have a connection.

I also find it easier to share using FTM software because I can filter information into a report to email along with source materials when appropriate.

Good luck with your research


JaneyCanuck Report 8 May 2011 21:49

If you want to keep people in your tree for your own future ref, but not have them findable on tree searches, try just jumbling their names.

Mary Ann Smith could be a person with no given name, no middle name and the surname MaryAnnSmith. No tree search will find her then. Hiding living relations will also make sure that no one viewing the tree sees her.

I don't generally give access to my tree. Instead, I exchange information in prose form about the particular line I share with someone.

In any event, I mostly only have my direct lines in my tree here -- starting with my deceased grandparents, then their parents, grandparents, etc. I don't bother with anybody's siblings (or siblings' children), unless they're in a line that's a mystery where nobody seems to know the origins, since I figure people I share ancestors with will find me on a search for the actual shared ancestor.


Sentosa Report 8 May 2011 23:49

Thank you again for very encouraging responses.

TF: You highlight my very concerns about relatives' privacy. FTM certainly has good reviews. Thanks for your good luck wishes.

CC: Again, you have bolstered my concerns re privacy. Am impressed with your word-processing and spreadsheet skills. Mine not up there wi flowcharts etc. I've found that widening my tree of 'old' ancestors to include siblings has led to contacts who have been able to answer questions and solve some long-standing riddles.

JC: Name-jumbling is good idea. When first I joined GR I had a John Smith on my tree. Soon learned to jumble that particular name!
All in all I think I'll delete living relatives altogether online. Rather be safe.

Thank you again for all your help.


JaneyCanuck Report 9 May 2011 15:25

Not everyone puts a family tree on this site for the benefit of some third party.

Some people use the facility here for their own reference.

You use it for your purposes, Lana Gene, others will use it for theirs.

Being open to contacts from people with shared *ancestors* does not call for putting personal details about living people in a tree here, and does not mean that one wants those details to be disclosed to third parties. Such info can be exchanged privately if a relationship through shared ancestors is found, and if one wishes to do that.

I would never do it if I thought the other person was going to turn around and put that information in a family tree and allow it to be seen by others.

It simply is not up to me to give out personal details about people who happen to be related to me.

For your info, Lana Gene, since you have given such a lot of personal information about your family in your post: when I click on your username I see your full real name. Five seconds of searching gives me your sisters' names, and the names and birth details of a number of young children and others.

Do you really think they all wanted you giving out that information about their private lives on the internet in such an identifiable way?

If you go to My Account you can select "yes" so that your username is the name on your messages (the name that shows when we click on your username). I strongly advise doing that.

Mrs John

Mrs John Report 13 May 2011 19:10

If someone was born in 1898 they are probably deceased, but if you don't know when they died and haven't entered it here they will be classed as LIVING, so will be hidden if you chose that option. It makes it impossible to find common relatives when so much data is blocked. I don't put personal data in my tree for the current generation, but leave it open otherwise. I started my Tree to FIND RELATIVES, so why hide them?


JaneyCanuck Report 13 May 2011 19:37

John ...

People on trees are *only* hidden from someone viewing the tree itself -- which they can do *only* with the permission of the tree owner.

*No* names in trees are hidden from tree searches, which is what you are talking about -- "find common relatives".

"Tree search" means the search performed using the "Search trees" button in the menu up top; it doesn't mean a search of some individual's family tree.

Death dates in trees don't affect the results of tree searches one iota. If someone has a newborn baby in their tree, that baby will show up on a tree search, even if "blocked" from anyone viewing the tree itself.

Maybe if you had read through the thread it would have helped you understand this.

In any event, are people born 112 years ago, with no death date, actually classed as "living" in trees?

You ask:

"I started my Tree to FIND RELATIVES, so why hide them?"

Well, maybe because you don't actually have their permission to put their personal information in your family tree at this site -- where it can be found by anyone with an internet connection?

But once again, this has Nothing To Do with the "hide living relatives" function in trees.

It is your choice to put these people in your tree at all, without their consent, that is the problem here. If any of them or their family finds that you have done this, they could in fact require that the site management remove them from your tree.


JaneyCanuck Report 13 May 2011 19:43

By the way, Lana Gene's post -- she hasn't bothered to reply to mine or alter hers -- is a good example.

I was able to find all the people she was talking about -- the names of the adults and children -- showing as in her tree here at GR. So her stories about them were not anonymous; I and anybody else with the least experience at this can find that information with a few clicks of a mouse. Do all those people want their laundry aired here? (Including children who are given no say in it.) I don't know, but I'd doubt it. The fact that all the names are in her tree meant that she did it, completely non-anonymously, though.


grannyfranny Report 13 May 2011 22:19

If you tick 'hide living relatives', and don't enter a death date, they remain hidden for 120 years.


SylviaInCanada Report 14 May 2011 05:34

BUT "hidden" names do show up if you do a Search Trees, along with the name of the tree owner, so you can contact the owner.

BTW ................. I was doing a search on Google the other week, and discovered that GR has been rated as having one of the best tree software programs:-

"Once you have created your free account, you have unlimited access to the free family tree software hosted by the site. This is one of the best features of the site, offering the opportunity to create a professional, flexible family tree with surprising ease."

so I think a lot of people may be joining GR as a free member solely as a place to start and develop their own trees, with no intention of sharing

I know that my first intention when I started my tree on here was not to share ................ I just wanted to get parts of it together in one place

In fact, only a very small part of my tree is on here ............... and I do NOT open my tree to anyone. I will share information from it with people after I have established that there is a genuine connection between us.



Darklord Report 14 May 2011 19:32

A Good idea, but probably unworkable and to be honest with all the info out there in the public domain!

Well lets say I took a punt on a relative via Ancestry and, got lucky that time in contacting them.

So unless you stop all access to public records then I cannot see how it could work.




JaneyCanuck Report 14 May 2011 20:27

re public domain -- this may be a good place to mention this again:
(emphasis in original)

Guidance - Copying of Birth, Death, Marriage and Civil Partnership Certificates

2. You are authorised to reproduce the layout of the form in any format including on the web, in films and in print. This authorisation is subject to the following conditions: ...

>> That you comply with the Data Protection Act 1998 and the Human Rights Act 1998. This guidance *does not* authorise you to reproduce the contents of any certificate containing personal data about living individuals;


elained Report 16 May 2011 10:16

hiding relatives dead or alive defeats the object


JaneyCanuck Report 16 May 2011 18:41

How eloquent and useful, elaine. Not.

Never mind what anybody else thinks ...

Never mind what anybody else has said in this thread ...

Never mind that putting living relations in one's tree w/o their consent is unethical ...

elaine has spoken.

Just failed to address anybody else's concerns or interests.


jax Report 16 May 2011 18:51

Well I doubt whether Elaine will see your comment JC she has not found her way back to her own thread yet .



JoyDean Report 16 May 2011 18:57

"hiding relatives dead or alive defeats the object" - the object, in your opinion, being?


SylviaInCanada Report 16 May 2011 19:15

I will continue to hide the names of the few living relatives on my tree,

and continue with not putting on there the much larger number of other living relatives.