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Compiled genealogy CDs are often a hot topic amongst genealogists. In recent years, there's been a good deal of debate over the value of CDs such as you'll find in Family Tree Maker's World Family Tree series; some genealogists express concern over the way new genealogists incorporate the data found on these CDs without further research. Others are delighted to find data and connections to family for which they have long been searching.

So, what's the consensus -- are compiled genealogy CDs good or bad? The answer depends on how you approach the CDs -- if you look to them as the Holy Grail of genealogical information, you're in trouble. If you view them as any other data resource -- a starting point from which you can track down and verify information -- they can be very useful.

Let's take a look at just what comprises a compiled genealogies CD. The most prevalent are the World Family Tree CDs, which contain information that users have contributed to Genealogy.com for inclusion on the CDs. Genealogy.com does not verify the validity of the information before it includes them, but relies on the individual contributors, both beginners and more seasoned researchers, to maintain careful research techniques. Genealogy.com also sells a series of CDs based on data from Everton Publishers, which originally gathered the data from submitters in the form of family group sheets and other other formats. Again, the data was not verified before being placed on CD. A third type of compiled genealogies are the family history CDs, which for the most part consist of images of the pages from published genealogies (although some family history CDs may contain transcribed text instead of images of the books). Family history CDs may or may not contain data that has been thoroughly verified and sourced, but for the most part you should assume the information is unverified.

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