Genealogy Column Causes Controversy
Recently a column by Sharon Tate Moody in the Tampa Tribune caused quite a controversy in the world of online genealogical bloggers. Moody wrote, "The genealogy world is cluttered with materials that purport to be the writers' family histories. Too many of them are nothing more than lists of people with unproven dates of birth, death and marriage, and in many cases the people on the list aren't even related."
She called the perpetrators of these histories "the joy riders of genealogy," those who believe the television ads saying you can just click a few links and create your entire family tree, racing around the internet leaving a mess for someone else to clean up.
She went on to define source, information, evidence and proof, terms used by all prudent genealogists, not just professionals, to qualify their work. After reading her column at http://www2.tbo.com/lifestyles/life/2012/nov/18/banewso8-drive-by-genealogists-should-learn-a-few-ar-567094/, I don't understand what the hullaballoo is about.
Personally I saw nothing in her article that should offend anyone. Sometimes it seems the blogging world is quick to take offense. Perhaps it's because keeping a daily blog challenges one to continually find something fresh to write about. And of course, controversy always attracts readers. So the bloggers create an offense where one was never meant and sometimes the offense takes on a life of its own, as it's repeated over and over ad infinitum.
Debbie Mascot, the blog keeper at Mascot Manor, posts every few days. She chose to take on Moody's column, titling her November 20th blog "Grand Theft Genealogy" at http://mmgenealogy.blogspot.com/2012/11/grand-theft-genealogy.html. She led off with the supposed offense, saying "I'm not good enough to write my family history."
She doubts that her "citing of sources is usually or even sometimes entirely kosher. So it [Moody's column] was about me, or at the very least, people like me." Debbie doesn't want to spend more time on sources and information and evidence and proof than on finding and sharing her family stories. She can't believe that source citations are more important than the passion and excitement of telling her stories.
Debbie has published a book about her Conner family advertised on her blog for $34.98. She is a member of a number of genealogical societies that support quality genealogical research, and she helped to index the 1940 census. Her blog is housed on the Geneabloggers website, along with some 3000 other genealogists' blogs. Debbie is likely a more accomplished researcher than she would have you believe, and I bet she does a good job of sourcing her work.
Many authors, and particularly bloggers, employ exaggeration to create emphasis or for effect. This use of hyperbole to make a point is not necessarily a bad thing, but it can be taken too far. Just because you are a blogger is no reason to take every comment you read as a personal affront.
Many of us began doing genealogy without citing our sources. As we grew in knowledge we realized our error and had to go back and find all those early sources we neglected to record. Hopefully, today's beginners using Ancestry.com and other popular websites will come to the same conclusion, and see the need to produce well-sourced, quality work they can proudly share with others, including bloggers.
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9 December 2012