This is an ongoing series on starting your family history research in 10 very basic steps. The steps so far are:
A Guide to Starting Your Family History in 10 Very Basic Steps -- Introduction
Step One -- Start with yourself
Step Two: Find out what has already been done
Step Three: Choose a reasonable goal
Step Four: Start educating yourself
Step Five: Seek a Teacher or Mentor
Step Six: Use The Family History Guide
Step Seven: Choose a place to record your research
Step Eight: Add Sources to Your Entries in Your Family Tree
Now I will move on to Step Nine:
Step Nine: Think About What You Have Done and Do the Math
Every time you enter any information into the FamilySearch.org Family Tree, any other family tree or even your own notes, think about what you are writing. Look to see if the information makes sense and that the places and dates are consistent with reality. Here are a few error notices from the FamilySearch.org Family Tree that illustrate the issue.
The injunction to "do the math" means to look at whether or not the dates you are entering or have entered make sense. Can children be born before their parents? Not likely. But we can easily find examples of that issue in the Family Tree. Why are all the errors in the Family Tree? The answer to that question is a little bit complex. Basically, Family Tree contains unverified information supplied by tens of thousands of people for over 100 years. As a result, the information in the Family Tree is not necessarily accurate. In beginning your own family history, it is very important to be as accurate as possible. Make sure you enter all your dates and places and that those dates and places are supported by valid sources.