Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The 40 Best Genealogy Blogs - Hmmm!

Diane Haddad of the Insider Blog at Family Tree Magazine announced the following:

Do you have a favorite few genealogy blogs that you read regularly? Maybe the blogger offers excellent genealogy advice, insightful analysis or a unique point of view. Or the writing especially creative or humorous.

If so, we want to know about it. In the May 2010 issue, we’ll be naming the Family Tree Magazine 40 Best Genealogy Blogs (“Family Tree 40” for short).

First, we’re asking the genealogy community to nominate the genealogy blogs they read most. Later, family historians will vote on their favorite blogs in several categories.

The nomination period is from Sept. 3 to 30. You can nominate as many blogs as you want (one at a time), your own included, as long as each blog is related to family history in some way.

Voting will take place from Oct. 5 to Nov. 5.

Thank you Family Tree Magazine for embarking on an endeavor to recognize the growing segment of the genealogy community known as GeneaBloggers. I believe it is long overdue by the real world genealogy publications. That said, I have a few questions and I am not trying to be a wet blanket.

1. Do you have a favorite few genealogy blogs that you read regularly? You can nominate as many blogs as you want (one at a time), your own included, as long as each blog is related to family history in some way.


I just checked Chris Dunham's (The Genealogue) Genealogy Blog Finder and he is tracking 1,413 genealogy blogs.

Each blog votes for itself and let's say 10 others. That would be 15,543 nominations (now of course we know there will be duplicates and some of the 1,413 blogs are not active. I'm no math wizard, nor do I know anything about probabilities, so I can only guess at that number). So I'm choosing 1,000 to work with.

Now we, your readers, thought enough of these blogs to nominate them. Will we vote on each of the 1,000 nominations or will Family Tree Magazine cull them into say 200 blogs to vote on? If we aren't voting on all the blogs nominated, how will FTM determine those 200 blogs? Nominated the most number of times? Family Tree Magazine's favorites of the nominations? Just asking. And I will disclose that I am nominating my Top 40.

2. Family historians will vote on their favorite blogs in several categories.


What are those categories? Are they the teasers written in Diane's post? (Maybe the blogger offers excellent genealogy advice, insightful analysis or a unique point of view. Or the writing especially creative or humorous.)

Or, are the categories the product of the descriptions we wrote as to why we nominated certain blogs? I find it so difficult to pigeon hole genealogy blogs. Look at the questions below and insert a blog name. You could probably answer yes for all of the blogs you've nominated.

Does [Blog Name] offer excellent genealogy advice? Does [Blog Name] display insightful analysis? Does [Blog Name] offer a unique point of view? Is [Blog Name's] writing especially creative or humorous.


Does GeneaMusings offer excellent genealogy advice? Absolutely! Does GeneaMusings display insightful analysis? Always! Does GeneaMusings offer a unique point of view?Absolutely! Is GeneaMusings writing especially creative or humorous. I think so!

At one time or another Randy has been all those things. So what category of blog does this make Randy Seaver's GeneaMusings? Especially when determined after the fact. Do you see my point?

I truly wish I had known those categories before nominating. I would have structured my nominations to the categories, not the categories to the nominations. The only way it can be done now, and a way that could leave some very deserving (round peg in a square hole) blogs wanting if all nominations are not up for a vote.

3. Voting will take place from Oct. 5 to Nov. 5.


Will I only have one vote per category? Will I have forty votes? Inquiring voters want to know.

4. Family Tree Magazine has provided the following badge:

Hey bloggers, want to garner nominations from your readers?
Post this icon on your blog and link back to

I will participate and promote this project wholeheartedly. However, I am uncomfortable with a "nominate me" badge. I am posting an altered form of the badge here on footnoteMaven and on Shades Of The Departed.

I am asking everyone who reads this to participate. Nominate your favorite GeneaBlogs! Support our band of GeneaBloggers! Vote if you have a blog, vote if you are a blog reader! Each and every one contributes to a terrific online experience. There is no more generous group of bloggers online.

And support Family Tree Magazine for taking on this project. As you can see, this will not be an easy task.


Blogger Caroline said...

Oh, Wise One! As usual, you are "spot on". I don't envy FTM and their task, and considering the number of genblogs, the Top 40 that is planned does not seem enough. I also wish the nominating process was easier, so that I could enter my nominations on one entry instead of separately. Oh well...

Family Stories

September 9, 2009 at 1:14 PM  
Blogger Jasia said...

You've brought up some very good points, fM. I read about this promotion that Family Tree Mag is doing and arrived at different assumptions than you did. I suspect this will spell trouble (disgruntled participants) for FTM down the road.

So you think multiple nominations for a given blog will make a difference, eh? I didn't get that. I was only going to nominate a few that I thought might have been overlooked by others, not the blogs of the more popular bloggers. After all, this is just the nominating process... the actual voting come later. If others came to the same understanding/misunderstanding I did, that will be a problem for the more popular bloggers!

September 9, 2009 at 1:48 PM  
Blogger footnoteMaven said...

Usually when wise is used in conjunction with me it is followed by a word beginning with an "A."

Being completely honest, the thing that just doesn't feel correct is that we don't know the rules before we nominate.

When I vote for the President I know that he may not win by garnering the popular vote, but may be elected by the votes of the Electoral College.

At least I know the rules.


September 9, 2009 at 1:52 PM  
Blogger footnoteMaven said...


I don't know that you have misunderstood. I may have. As we have no explanation or rules, this can only lead to assumptions. Right or wrong as they may be. I'm just asking here. The nominations alone could be a staggering number.

So is FTM going to categorize 1,000 blogs and have us vote on 1,000 to determine the most popular 40? To me that would be a nightmare job. The categorizing alone would require that they read each blog.

Won't they have to cull to a more manageable number and then will it be their nominations rather than ours? How will they determine?

If you and I see this two different ways, how many more ways are out there and as you have said, "I suspect this will spell trouble (disgruntled participants) for FTM down the road."


September 9, 2009 at 2:11 PM  
Blogger BeNotForgot said...

I am SO glad you posted this, fM. I had some of the same questions, but was rather hesitant to ask, and I, too, was uncomfortable with the badge (in effect) yelling PLEASE VOTE FOR ME! Jasia, I was thinking like you, with the idea of nominating those less well-known instead of the ones I figure everybody else is nominating. Caroline, I agree -- it could definitely have been a more efficient process. Hmmmm . . .

September 9, 2009 at 3:08 PM  
Blogger footnoteMaven said...


As I dodge and duck, I think you may be the only person who is glad I posted this!

As I see it, the only equitable way to deal with this, now that it has begun, is to be able to vote for EVERY blog nominated. A "Do Over" is probably out of the question.

This is in essence a People's Choice Awards. The difference is that the PCAs have distinct categories and nominees in those categories. One winner per category.

Using my 1000 nominations, let's say there are 100 nominations that fit in the "Best Family History Writing Category." (Just an Example) So is there one winner in this category or could all 40 winners be in just this category and no winners in any of the other categories? Might that be a possibility?

Now two of my favorite quotes from Alice in Wonderland.

Doorknob: Read the directions and directly you will be directed in the right direction.

Alice: It would be so nice if something would make sense for a change.


September 9, 2009 at 4:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rather than a 40 best of, FTM would generate more goodwill - and provide a useful service - if they had a monthly column pointing to one or more blogs each month.

September 9, 2009 at 4:20 PM  
Blogger footnoteMaven said...


Highlight a blog. I like it!


September 9, 2009 at 4:39 PM  
Blogger Herstoryan said...

I voted for you! I love your blog! I think you are a great role model especially when it comes to citing sources! :)

September 9, 2009 at 4:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I nominated you because you are so insightful and wise - oh, and you're my mother ;)

September 9, 2009 at 7:29 PM  
Blogger footnoteMaven said...


First, I love the name. (You do an excellent job of documenting your history. Second, thank you for nominating me, but most of all for nominating me for a reason so near and dear to my heart.

Thank you!


September 9, 2009 at 7:38 PM  
Blogger footnoteMaven said...


It's about time you realized I was wise and insightful. Oh, and I was even when you were a teenager.


September 9, 2009 at 7:39 PM  
Anonymous Diane Haddad said...

Hi, there,

Thanks for asking the tough questions! I’ve attempted to address them on our blog at

I think the thing to remember about this and any kind of “listing” article it that it involves judgment, both on the part of nominees/voters and on the part of editors. We realize it’s a subjective process, and we’re not thinking of it as a contest (no one’s winning any vacation packages!), but rather as a list of great blogs we think our readers will find helpful in their research.

As I attempt to explain in our aforementioned post, narrowing the nominees and forming categories depends in large part on the nominees we get—how many and who they are. Footnote Maven guessed 1,000 unique blogs, but I don’t know, it could be much more or much less. We’ve never done this before, so how it all works is a bit of a learning process, and it may be that if we do it again, it’ll be completely different.

The “excellent genealogy advice,” “offer insight,” etc. qualities mentioned in our first Family Tree 40 post aren’t intended to hint at the voting categories—rather, these are suggestions meant to get people thinking about how they might answer the question about why they’re nominating a particular blog.

Something else to remember is that the nomination/voting process is also designed for our readers, many of whom keep tabs on fewer blogs than your average “established” member of the genealogy blogging community.

Regarding the nomination badge, we didn’t realize bloggers were so modest! We admire your desire to encourage people to nominate other bloggers, too. And though we also admire your graphic design work, we don’t want people to think the nominations are limited to those on the “GeneaBlogs” list at the GeneaBloggers Web site. So we ask that you please use the new, alternate version that we created, which is in the above-mentioned blog post.

Thanks again, and we appreciate your spreading the word about the Family Tree 40.

Diane Haddad
(Family Tree Magazine managing editor)

September 10, 2009 at 10:27 AM  
Blogger Schelly Talalay Dardashti said...

Dear fM

Glad you are feeling better and posted your questions. You raised some great questions and Diane answered them quickly. I am a happy camper for both of those reasons. When I read the original announcement I immediately thought the nominated blogs would be in a bunch of categories so I thought others would have done the same (e.g., think of the possible categories). It will be interesting. And great idea on the new badge, which I will post ASAP.

Schelly Talalay Dardashti
Tracing the Tribe

September 10, 2009 at 1:39 PM  
Blogger footnoteMaven said...

Schelly Love:

Up and taking nourishment, thank you.

Yes, kudos to Diane and FTM. Needed the clarifications and they jumped right on it. The sign of a true professional.


September 10, 2009 at 3:56 PM  
Anonymous Pjer Hagen said...

I left a comment on Family Tree magazine blog yesterday, but it is still not showing. Their second message links to you.
I am confused by this award. The GeneaBlogger Awards for the best genealogy blogs was an initiative by genealogy technology blogger Tamura Jones. (
Did she hand this over to Family Tree Magazine, or are they cooperating now, or did FTM just "borrow" her idea?

September 15, 2009 at 7:08 AM  
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September 23, 2009 at 2:52 AM  

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