An uproar in the genealogy community in recent weeks now seems to have calmed down. The owner of FakeFamily.com has taken the site offline.
As reported first in this newsletter and later in various other online sites and newspapers, FakeFamily.com advertised a piece of software that will create hundreds of thousands of bogus family trees to be uploaded to web sites.
As described on the Fake Family support web site at http://www.FakeFamily.com, the plan had nothing to do with genealogy. Instead, it was aimed at hoodwinking Google and other search engines into giving higher "ratings" to the web pages than normal. In turn, the prominent placement on search engines would attract users seeking genealogy information. Even though the users would probably recognize the data as being bogus, they would still be tempted to purchase items advertised on the same web pages. A small percentage of these hoodwinked users would make purchases and that would be enough to generate profits for the site owners.
The creator of the Fake Family software protested on various message boards that genealogists would not be affected. He claimed that the fake pages would be so obvious to genealogists that the false information on the pages would be ignored. He repeatedly stated that genealogists should not be concerned with the plans to create tens of thousands of web pages of bogus genealogy data. As he wrote on this newsletter's message board, "There's so much (expletive deleted) on genealogy family websites now that fakefamily's efforts probably won't even raise the level of background noise."
The claims of the software inventor were not well received on the message boards as many genealogists posted message after message protesting the plans. One producer of legitimate genealogy software threatened to sue because his company's product had been mentioned on FakeFamily.com as a useful tool to aid in creating bogus information. The reference to the product was immediately removed from FakeFamily.com.
Apparently the software creator has now given up. The Fake Family web site was taken down and is offline today. There is no word if the software creator still plans to sell his Fake Family software via some other means or perhaps on other web sites.
For background information, look at these URLs:
Perhaps the best article is here: http://genealogue.blogspot.com/2005/11/free-census-records-come-at-cost.html (Place your tongue firmly inside your cheek when reading it.)