One of the basic facts of life in genealogical research is that all ancestral lines end. The point at which they end is sometimes not very evident to those doing the research. The FamilySearch.org Family Tree is a good example (or bad example) of the fact that many traditional family lines extend far beyond any accurate historical supporting documentation.
My daughter, Amy Thiriot, has posted a very helpful explanation about how one family with a prominent ancestor in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is confronting the issue of unsupported traditional extensions to a family line. You can see the post and the link above. The most productive response is to dig in and do some long overdue basic research in the historical documents. The unproductive response is to rely on the family tradition and add in unsupported and obviously inaccurate information.
By my own choice, I am in the middle of one of these situations. If more of the users of the Family Tree were carefully documenting their ancestry, this type of situation would be more common and many of these "traditional" and copied ancestral lines would disappear. As Amy explains in detail in her post, the inaccurate Tanner ancestral line is well entrenched. I determined that Francis Tanner's (b. 1708, d. 1777) parents had never been accurately determined. In order to spur interest and to emphasize the point, I detached Francis from his traditionally entered parents. All of this has been explained in detail in the posts cited below.
The effect has been that someone adds the traditional parents without adding any supporting documentation about once or twice a week. This happens despite the extensive documentation and analysis we have entered and continue to enter as we focus on the research. My research consists of a page by page examination of the historical microfilmed records. When and if I run out of microfilm and still haven't identified Francis' parents, I will be planning a trip to Rhode Island to continue the research onsite.
I have a standing challenge to anyone with an extensive ancestral pedigree in the Family Tree that I can find extensive and obvious errors by examining your portion of the Family Tree within a few minutes. The only lines where this does not happen are those that have been researched quite recently.
From time to time, I will keep posting an update to this situation and the conclusion if there ever is one to report.
This is an ongoing series but all the posts do not have the same names. Previous posts in this series.