Few hobbies have been more revolutionized by the Internet than genealogy.Exchanging information with others was once an ordeal that involved subscribing to a publication in which researchers placed classified ads. A reader would look for those that were promising, send a query with a self-addressed stamped envelope, and hope for replies that were about the right family. Someday.

Email and the Internet changed all that. But technology is both a curse and a blessing. Along the way came a database format called Gedcom, quickly adopted as a standard that enables users to exchange files. Or as I like to call it, "A License to Steal," because in this hobby, many think it's perfectly fine to take somebody else's years of research and post it on the Web under their names. Otherwise nice people would take the printed pages of information I shared with them pre-Internet and put it on the Web.

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