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.


Anonymous GrannyPam said...

Thanks for the thoughtful on this issue.

May 2, 2010 at 5:06 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

I have to agree the Code of Conduct will be followed by people that care, but it will have little effect on those that choose to ignore blog etiquette. I choose to ignore them now, I got into a long discussion with one such person about 15 years ago, and he refused to remove any of the information I wrote.

May 2, 2010 at 8:11 PM  
Blogger Joan said...

Hear ye! Hear ye! Well said.

May 2, 2010 at 8:23 PM  
Blogger Sheri Fenley said...

I was just going to blog the exact same thing but you and Randy beat me to it! LOL That's what I get for being gone for so long. I never could have stated it as klassy as you fM, so I shall just say:

"Yeah, what she said!"

May 2, 2010 at 10:13 PM  
Blogger Gini said...

Thank you said it perfectly.

May 3, 2010 at 9:06 AM  
Anonymous Susan A. Kitchens said...

Yes. This.

May 3, 2010 at 12:22 PM  
Blogger Greta Koehl said...

I'm with you and The Genealogue.

May 3, 2010 at 6:19 PM  
Blogger footnoteMaven said...

Thanks all, but skip me and read the Genealogue.

Chris is so much more entertaining and believable.


May 3, 2010 at 6:33 PM  
Blogger Craig Manson said...

Cogent, clear, concise! A+, Ms. fM! [I'm the middle of grading my final final exams!]

May 7, 2010 at 6:38 PM  
Blogger footnoteMaven said...

I have never received an A+ from a law professor before. Thank you and good luck with those exams.


May 7, 2010 at 6:53 PM  
Blogger Bill West said...

I'm with Sheri.You said it better than I ever could. I try to blog
responsibly and would hope if I ever slip up that somebody will let me know.

Well written as always, fM.


May 30, 2010 at 6:08 PM  

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