Randy asks if he should be helping clients find living people.
Yesterday, Cyndi of Cyndi's List, was saying that searching for live people wasn't genealogy. Several people disagreed with her in the comment thread.
Of course the examples they came up with - searching for lost - or formerly unknown - cousins, hoping they have the missing information they've been seeking - is not the same as a client seeking help in finding a grade school classmate.
I am reminded of my discovery back in September of the online Texas vital records. One of the two blind letters I finished writing yesterday was to a cousin in Texas. It will be mailed tomorrow. The other is to a cousin here in St. Louis. I've never met either of them, and didn't know they existed until recently. I'm hopeful they will be happy to be found - and happy to find me.
I'm not sure what I would do if someone asked me to help them find a non-relative. While I am by no means a professional yet, I now know several techniques I didn't know a year ago, which means I know more than the average person. I'd probably help a friend out (someone I knew wasn't the stalker type), but I would hesitate helping a stranger. of course, they could go hire a private detective. People are findable - depends upon how hard you want to find them. I think I recall reading that the #1 most requested job of private detectives is simply finding people. A lot of us are lost.
A private detective blogger suggests if you are unsure about a client, when you find the missing person, instead of giving the client the information, you contact the missing person and ask for permission to give the client the information. Or you agree to deliver a letter from the client to the individual. That seems like a good precaution. The post also details some rather specific true-life horror stories. (I also had to remind myself several times while reading the post that one doesn't judge the quality of a private detective by how well they use the English language.)