Be Nice

I wasn’t at Rootstech. I did follow Curt Witcher’s inspiring and entertaining talk. I’ve been reading some of the blogs of those who attended. So for anyone who’s still paying attention here are my thoughts.

Everyone who attended the conference and everyone who reads blogs, tweets or searches online is pretty serious about genealogy. Most of what we do is preaching to the choir. Now we talk about letting the new kids in; I don’t feel this is much of a problem

Yes, in the days before readily available widely used Internet sources getting in meant going to an archive or a genealogical society. This is intimidating for many of us because it carries the wonderful and, in my case, often used option of making a fool out of yourself. The first time I went to the NARA facility in New York I tried holding the microfilm up to the light to read it. The staff there was so wonderful and helpful I was soon OH Wowing like crazy and having a great time. The second time I went I was helping other people. And so it goes.

I do not know anyone including the newest genealogist to the oldest who does not use the internet for genealogy. Every person who started out going to NARA for census data now revels in pulling it up on the Internet. Believe me those of us who schlepped an hour and a half on the train each way only to return home saying, “I wish I had…” are more thrilled than anyone who had that information at his typing, texting, tweeting fingertips from the beginning.

I do not see the dichotomy between old folks and young folks. The dichotomy I see is between the pleasant and helpful and the unpleasant and unhelpful. In my experience about 95% of genealogists are helpful to a fault. I’ve heard endless talk about the comma people. I have never met one of these people. Yes, there are a few of them out there insisting that every source be perfect. Almost every genealogist agrees on the need for sourcing. Kerry Scott wrote recently about the cult of sourcing. Honestly, I think the cult has very few members. If Elizabeth Shown Mills doesn’t belong, who does?

If you are a devout techie and are worried about encouraging newbies and old folks to appreciate and use that technology, BE NICE.

When Pat and I first ventured into blogging we got just about everything wrong. There’s that potential for making a fool out of yourself. We were trying this not so new technology, but we didn’t know what the H… we were doing. We got slammed a bit for not linking to other people’s posts and not accepting comments. Well, we didn’t know the etiquette and we didn’t know how to turn the comments on. Happily,  Granny Pam an others came along and pointed us in the right direction and we hardly ever piss anyone off anymore. You find the picky and the criticizing in the facebook and tweeting worlds just like you do anywhere else. Fortunately, they are a minority.

Tech, archives, societies, whatever, if you are kind and helpful people want to be there.

As for myself, I am now learning about meta data and georeferencing. Give me a little while and I’ll be glad to help you with it.

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7 comments on “Be Nice
  1. Judy says:

    Hi Kerry,
    I certainly don’t want to turn anyone away from source citations. I personally regret my early citations such as–From Aunt Myrna via Mom or the single word, census. If people are afraid they will be criticized we should all try to correct this image and welcome them to the neighborhood.
    Clicking on the picture should lead to the WikiCommons link. Credit goes to D. Sharon Pruitt
    BTW, I took the idea of posting a vaguely related photo at the top of the blog from you. Thanks


  2. Kerry Scott says:

    I don’t know how many members the cult has…but I’m still concerned that the perception that it exists turns people away from the idea that source citations are (a) important for everyone, not just professionals, and (b) not really all that hard to do, as long as you understand what they’re for and the general idea of how they’re supposed to work.

    I do agree wholeheartedly that 95% of genealogists are helpful and fun…and I think a big chunk of the other 5% often just misunderstood, in a hurry, or having a bad day. Hardly anyone ever intends to be unpleasant.

    (and I LOVE the photo you chose to go with the post!)

  3. Judy says:

    My apologies to Granny Pam and Tessa, somehow you both ended up in our usually reliable spam filter. Tessa thanks for the award, we’ll respond to it in a bit.


  4. Judy says:

    Thanks Greta,
    I think that the justifiable excitement over Roots tech made some of us see a split that doesn’t have to exist. We can all get along.


  5. GrannyPam says:

    Gosh, I’m blushing. I hope I was nice, some people do not describe me that way. ;.). What you are saying here makes good sense, and I hope everyone is listening.

  6. Tessa says:

    nominated you for the Ancestor Approved Award – please take a look at my post (sorry I am late but forgot to “pass it on via email or comment.” As the post mentions if you have already received this award just note it on your blog! I am not sure if nominated is the right word (everyone else uses it) but I am actually passing the award on – “you have already won!”

    You have an excellent blog and interesting topics. Thanks for sharing your family history. I was as interested in the rootstech streaming as you were – great summary.

  7. Greta Koehl says:

    Yes, yes, and yes! You said what I meant to say, and in far fewer words!

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