I just posted a long comment on Elyse's genealogy blog in response to her post today Online Family Trees: A Genealogist’s Dream or Nightmare?
Elyse compared name collectors who have large online trees with relationships and facts that are not always verified with real genealogists who search "vital, census, military, land, court, church, and every other record" to source the relationships and facts in their trees.
Here is what I said:
"I am a name collector....I use the names collected from online family trees, newspaper articles and websites such as Facebook as a means to find distant cousins.
Being armed with a name and date (especially for the Smiths and Browns) provides me with clues with which to search "vital, census, military, land, court, church, and every other record" I can find to verify the relationships of those names to my family.
I spent yesterday doing just that. As I added the names to my tree I concurrently searched Ancestry, FindMyPast, Australian Government BDM indexes, NSW State Archives,Familysearch,The Ryerson Index, Australian Cemetery Indexes,Trove and The Sydney Morning Herald Online to try to prove whether these people belonged in my tree.
By the end of the day I had identified one whole line of Brydon/Bryden descendants of my convict ancestor, Elizabeth Phipps. I uploaded this to my online family website http://www.geniaus.net so that other "name gatherers" might use what I have gathered as clues to solve their genealogical jigsaws.
For me genealogy/family history is not a serious academic pursuit but a hobby/passion/obsession about which I am very serious. By posting names for which I don't have evidentiary documentation of relationships/existence on my website I have made worthwhile connections and entered into dialogue with cousins from all over. Some of these people have generously shared photos and documents relating to the names I have posted thus making the presence of those names in my tree legitimate.
Name gathering can be a means to an end for genealogists.