Monday, May 24, 2010

Is The Way To A Geneablogger's Heart Through Their Vanity?

I have tried. I really have, not to weigh in on the (MH) Awards, but I can contain myself no longer. Now before you title this post "Whine From Sour Grapes," let me remind you I held Family Tree Magazine's feet to the fire when they announced their plans for a Top Forty Geneablogger Award, and I do have a blog on this "MH Top 100" list.

On April 30, I received this email:

Name: Robert

Hope you're well. This might be an unanticipated email, but hopefully you'll bear with me just a second!

I'm writing to you from, the global genealogy and family history website. We've recently been on the lookout for some of the highest-quality genealogy websites out there, because there's so much excellent amateur work being done these days which deserves some recognition and exposure.

And, as you can guess from the title, you were one of the winners. We picked out your site because had high quality content, was offering something a bit different, and was also nicely designed.

I know receiving a prize online these days can raise alarm bells, but we're not going to ask for any bank account details! We were hoping to simply list you among the winners on our website, and to offer you a html badge to display on your website. There's no pressure with this, so if you don't want to have a badge on your site then you don't have to do that. But if you'd like to have it, let us know and I can send it over right away - it's very easy to embed in the website.

Do let us know if you'd like to go ahead with this. We're hoping to send out the badges very soon, so it'd be great to hear if you'd like to get involved.

Kind regards,


(Emphasis Added)

I'm sorry, but this email didn't pass the smell test. Here are the reasons why:

-- Robert does not introduce himself. Who is Robert at MH? No idea, still don't know.

-- The email had not been proofread.

-- The criteria MH was looking for was extremely vague:

1) highest-quality genealogy websites
2) excellent amateur work
3) high quality content
4) offering something a bit different
5) nicely designed

-- I was not told who sat in judgment of my site. Who selected the winners? The email doesn't say.

And the overriding question:

-- Do I win if I don't respond? "Do let us know if you'd like to go ahead with this. We're hoping to send out the badges very soon, so it'd be great to hear if you'd like to get involved."

I did not respond, declining the opportunity to display their badge on my winning blog; as this "win" appeared to be little more than a ploy to drive traffic to MH’s own site. I did not respond, and still I made the list.

I can hear you. You think I'm being too harsh. Treating the email as if it was one of those equally carefully crafted Nigerian requests. Certainly they didn't mean that if you failed to respond you wouldn't make the list?

Well, yes, that's exactly what happened.

Donna Pointkouski of What's Past Is Prologue got the same email. Donna was out of town at a conference and didn't respond. Guess what? Her blog did not make the list.

Now if you're wondering what all that ROTFLMAO was about on faceBook and Twitter, check out the badge below. I emailed it to many of my geneablogging friends who were strangely absent from the list.

Those of you who know and read What's Past Is Prologue are aware that Donna is always looking for the humor in life, and MH, bless 'em*, gave it to her.

Donna responded to the email after the list had been published, and MH, bless 'em*, sent her a badge. Then to add insult to injury, MH, bless 'em*, asked Donna to write a short piece about her site to be added to the list she didn't make. And I, who never responded and made the list, was never asked to explain myself.

Then sometime between April 30, and the posting of the winners the selection criteria changed:

How did we put this together? We wanted to identify and give recognition to websites which offered high-quality content, were innovative in topic or design, and which were frequently updated with new content. We also put some emphasis on finding hidden gems in the community, and bringing sites to attention which currently have relatively small audiences. As such, there are a number of lesser-known sites included, and a few more prominent sites unmentioned for the same reason. (Posted on the MH site.)

How unprofessional.

MH, when you decided to embark on a public relations campaign that involved naming "Top Genealogy Sites" you had an obligation to our community to treat us with respect.

A "Top Genealogy" list is a powerful entity in our world. It can bolster a geneablogger’s confidence, or crush it in a heartbeat; encourage excellence through example; or discourage it; increase a geneablogger's reputation, or damage it.

Anyone with a website and a keyboard can create a "TOP" list. Few can be considered intelligent, evenhanded, and trustworthy enough to sit in judgment of our work.

So MH, you have reflected. Good! I'm still not sure you got it; only time will tell. Your post hints that you didn't:

“We still think the selections we listed are all great sites.” Of course they are! They are the terrific geneabloggers who bang it out everyday on their blogs and websites. I love this community and I am very protective of it.

I’m sure no one ever questioned the credibility of those you included in your list. Rather, members of the geneablogging community have questioned the credibility of your public relations campaign.

And now for the slings and arrows.

* The late Dixie Carter once explained that she didn't live in Hollywood because the gossips were cruel and vicious. She said she lived in Tennessee where when you talk about someone you add "bless 'em," it's so much more civilized.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Role of Women In Our Family

94th EDITION OF THE Carnival Of Genealogy

The topic for the next edition of the Carnival of Genealogy is:

The Changing Role of Women

- ¤ -

In honor of Mother's Day, which is just around the corner,
we're going to reflect on the changing roles of the women
on our family trees.

- ¤ -

Do you have a "Rosie the Riveter" in the family?

- ¤ -

What about a "Suzy Homemaker"?

- ¤ -

Is there a woman who has made her way in a field traditionally dominated by men...
a doctor, engineer, scientist, astronaut, police or military officer, etc?

- ¤ -

Or maybe you come from a long line of domestically oriented women.

- ¤ -

Discuss the changing roles of women in your family and
share them with us in the next edition of the COG

- ¤ - ¤ -

The Deadline For Submissions Is
June 1st
30 submissions accepted

- ¤ - ¤ -

Attention All COG Participants

Read Also The Changes To The COG In 2010

Please use a descriptive phrase in the title of any articles you plan to submit and/or write a brief description/introduction to your articles in the "comment" box of the blogcarnival submission form. This will give readers an idea of what you've written about and hopefully interest them in clicking on your link. Introductions for your articles will not be provided for you due to the volume of articles submitted. Thank you!

Also, check out Jasia's post "FAQs About The Carnival of Genealogy," for all you need to know about submitting a post. First-timers always welcome and greatly appreciated!

Submit your blog article to the next edition of the Carnival of Genealogy using the carnival submission form or select the 93rd Edition COG poster in the upper right hand corner of this page. Past posts and future hosts can be found on the blog carnival index page.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Miss Conduct

I feel as if I am Rip Van Winkle, asleep for the last few weeks and only now waking up. Waking up to controversy.

Controversy is nothing new in the GeneaBlogging community. We have been controversial; we have been involved in controversy. (The Late Controversy, Just Because You Can Doesn't Mean You Should.) We have weathered those storms and are a stronger community for it.

Now we have a "Code of Conduct" controversy propelled into our midst by really bad behavior. Bad behavior by a member of our own community. Behavior so bad it became personally threatening. Now, as I have been asleep, I am not aware of the behavior. So, I will not comment on its appropriateness, but rather leave that to those who are involved and those I trust based on my own personal interaction with them.

Instead, I would like to address the "Code of Conduct" controversy; or the "Do we really need to be told how to act?" controversy. Thomas MacEntee the "Keeper of The GeneaBlogger Flame" addresses this issue and takes the comments from our community like a professional.

Now this should surprise no one, but I don't always agree with the opinions of my husband, much less Thomas, I do admire them both. Thomas never avoids the tough subjects; something he should be commended for.

So, "Do we really need to be told how to act?" My answer is an unequivocal "No."

For me, and I've been blogging for a while now, I have always adhered to the three E's Model. A GeneaBlogger will be the better for it if they educate themselves, look to the example of GeneaBloggers they admire and immerse themselves in the online etiquette experience, thereby becoming a better blogger day by day.

I say what I want when I want to; it is after all, my pile of bricks. For the most part when I receive rude or offensive comments I treat them as res ipsa loquitur; Latin for the thing speaks for itself.

They have, after all, knocked on my door; and here, to quote Luckie Daniels of Our Georgia Roots, "we play by my rules." If you don't like what I have to say please don't read me. I will extend you the same courtesy. For when blogging ceases to be fun, I will cease to blog.

I could kiss Randy Seaver, GeneaMusings, for his comment to the Code of Conduct Article proffered by Thomas. "I should be entitled to make a fool of myself in my blog." We should all be so foolish as this terrific GeneaBlogger. Please read his comment, he is spot on.

I believe you can't mandate, much less expect, compliance with conduct where you have no vehicle for enforcement. And as a dear friend of mine often says, "I don't want to be the GeneaBlogging police."

Amen and neither do I.

Education, Example, and Etiquette.

Like Dear Myrt in her article, Genea-Bloggers' Code of Conduct, my work has been "lifted." More often than I'd like to admit. In some of those cases it was "lifted" knowing that such conduct was blatantly wrong. In other instances it was lack of education. In these situations I always try to give others the benefit of the doubt.

Sometimes there is no doubt. The following is an example of lifting a photograph from my site knowing the conduct was wrong and how I handled the situation.

I collect and research Washington State photographers. I put a great deal of time, effort, and expense into this hoping someday to publish a book on the subject. When I find something really interesting or important I share it with the online community. I will share anything I have with someone who has a similar interest, and I will share everything I have for someone doing family history research.

I did an article on Shades Of The Departed about a Washington State photographer. I did the article in 2008. Recently I received a comment to the article from someone who was also researching this photographer. They sent a snippet of information and gave a link to their research while asking others for help.

So I clicked on the link. It took me to a Flickr page containing two photographs, one of which was mine; it also linked to my work. Yes, there was attribution. Attribution carelessly and incorrectly done to "Shades Of The Past." There was also unlimited download of my photograph. A real "No No" with me.

I checked this person's blog where I found they were a photographer who took precautions to protect their own copyright. After finding this information I was convinced they knew lifting photographs was not proper conduct.

I sent the following email:


I am so pleased that you are interested in "name of photographer." I collect and research Washington State photographers, as I explained in my article.

I see that you have posted my photograph to your Flick account without first asking my permission; you merely removed it from my site. Had I been asked, I would have given permission with two caveats. Proper attribution (it is Shades Of The Departed) and I would not have agreed to the unlimited download of the photograph, no download.

I’m sure this was an oversight on your part and I now ask that you comply with this request. As a photographer I am sure you work to protect your efforts, as I do mine. If you are unable to comply, I would ask that you please remove my photograph from your Flickr page.

Thank you.


The "lifter" removed my photograph from Flickr minus an apology. The lifter was not a Geneablogger, but was in fact a researcher.

Would a "Code of Conduct" have altered this outcome? Of course not.

I had to Woman Up and take care of myself. When and if I need a posse, I know who to telegraph. And if you need a posse I am there for you. In the meantime, let me continue to enjoy my online life bereft of rules, regulations, and arbiters of conduct.

Educate yourself. Here are some wonderful articles about copyright:

Oscar Wilde, Sonny Bono AND TheNaked Orphans
by Craig Manson.

The Not So Public Domain by Craig Manson

Libel and Fair Use and Defamation, Oh My!

Stanford Law School Fair Use Project

Experience our online community. Read any of the wonderful Geneablogs with a DIY eye.

Etiquette. Yes, there is blogging Etiquette. To all the new GeneaBloggers or anyone unsure of proper blogging etiquette, ASK! I don't know a single GeneaBlogger who wouldn't go out of their way to help.

Now, go enjoy a blog, write a post, share. It is after all why we're here.


Irving, Washington. Rip Van Winkle. Internet Archive.