I'm using an online service to create a family tree. I have already included my own information.

Is it a common / best practice to include the son and the wife of one's half-brother (I think that is the term) since we share only a father?

  • You might want to review genealogy.stackexchange.com/q/86/104 to understand some of the approaches being taken to protecting the privacy of living people, and then make sure you're not publishing details of living people without their permission.
    – user104
    Commented Apr 19, 2015 at 13:29

2 Answers 2


It is your family tree - you can include anyone you like. It is perfectly acceptable and appropriate to include your half-brother's son and his family.

It appears from your tag that you are using Ancestry.com. If this is the case, then living people should be automatically hidden from public view. Only you and the people you let access the tree would be able to see living persons. If using another online service, you may want to review privacy settings to make sure no personal information about living people is shown.

  • 3
    Caveat - re Ancestry public trees and privatizing living persons: the site uses certain clues to determine who may still be living. If the person's birthdate is badly formatted, or missing the year, the whole profile may still be visible to other Ancestry subscribers.
    – bgwiehle
    Commented Apr 19, 2015 at 12:34
  • Agreed - hence my use of the word "should". There is an onus on the user to enter dates in a recognizable format.
    – Harry V.
    Commented Apr 19, 2015 at 12:48
  • 3
    @vervet A new user might think that leaving the birthdate blank or incomplete would keep that information private. However, they risk exposing all the events in the profile with that tactic - and they would never realize this as they need to be signed in to access the tree and are automatically recognized as the owner with full access.
    – bgwiehle
    Commented Apr 19, 2015 at 13:40
  • 1
    "you can include anyone you like" is not a satisfying rationale. Sure you can, but if it is legal or might be challenged with a take down notice or even in court certainly varies from country to country. Especially in Europe people are more sensitive to matters of privacy, especially when it comes to underage persons. Independently from regulations it is certainly not wrong to ask those whose information you want to put online.
    – lejonet
    Commented Apr 20, 2015 at 9:35
  • @lejonet I think you need to provide some evidence for this criticism - e.g. the legislation or website terms that restricts one's legal or moral prerogative to include their family members on their Ancestry.com family tree. As my answer indicates, there are reasonable privacy measures in place on Ancestry.com to ensure that such private information is not made public - therefore I stand by my claim that "you can include anyone you like".
    – Harry V.
    Commented Apr 20, 2015 at 11:12

I agree with the previous answers that protecting the privacy of your half-brother and his family is very important and should be your primary consideration, along with their own wishes about whether they want to be included.

In my own online trees, which are private, I only have the information about the members of my family who are already deceased. All the information I have gathered on my living relatives is only in the files on my own computer. In cases where I want a representative for the generations who are living, I have a single person to represent that family with no gender so I can use that person as a starting point for the relationship calculator.

There are two other points that you might want to think about.

  1. What will happen to your research after you are gone? If you are planning to pass your research on to other members of your family, including your half-brother and his family, then it makes sense for them to be included. It gives them a head start on doing the work on their own records, though they'll want to verify what you've done.
  2. Is your family (or your half-brother's family) interested in DNA research? If so, having them on your tree will be useful for triangulation for autosomal testing.

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