OK, everybody back to your corners. Here are the rules to polite behavior. Are you engaging in them?1. Do not insult anyone.
2. Do not generalize.
3. Do not stereotype.
4. Pay attention to who is saying what and how many times s/he repeats it.
5. Count to one hundred before posting. (I know, I know, I didn't follow this with my bow tie comment on Facebook, and I'm very sorry. I'll make it up to you bow tie people.)
The online genealogical community is in an uproar over ever-more heated comments in the debate on citing sources on blogs. I don't want to go into detail about the comments. One person in the genealogical community is proselytizing--telling bloggers how to blog. As far as I can tell, just one associate of the Board for Certification for Genealogists, commonly called Certified Genealogists(SM) or CGs. I am one of those AND a blogger, and I'm writing to defend both.
Snarkiness on the list has been dragged out and repeated endlessly by people who are not certified because they do not agree that those principles define professional genealogy. They can't seem to tell us what does, but I don't care what they think and I'm ignoring them. Can you? They have nothing to do with this discussion.
My Credentials Should Not Be Threatening to You
I pursued certification because I wanted to know how well I measured up against professional standards in the field. I'm just that kind of person. I wanted to know if I was doing it "right." I have never been the most confident of people, but I wanted to be assessed. I thought the standards made good sense, would make me more productive and please my clients. I measured up just fine, thank you very much. That's between me and BCG®. It's an assurance to my clients that at least I had the guts to let someone else look at my work and tell me what they thought of it. It's not assurance that I'm going to write fantastic reports every time, just that I want to do so. I do not want to lord my credentials over anyone. I do not think I am better than anyone else. But I worked really, really hard, learned a lot and am not going to apologize for that. I am well aware that a lot of the best genealogists in the country do not have credentials. Just because you never took an IQ test doesn't mean you're not intelligent. And some people who managed to get credentials create some lousy work.
But when are we supposed to follow the standards, including citing sources? In client reports? Of course. In writing articles (though some publications strip them out anyway)? Of course. In writing up our own research? Sure helps if you ever want to find it again. But how about blog posts?
It's My Blog and I'll Cite If I Want To
How about we leave it up to the individual? Yes, vast, angry, oh-so-sensitive GeneaBlogger community, it's up to you, personally, to make that decision. One guy trying to change the world really shouldn't be such a threat. Everyone engaging in genealogy does not have to follow professional standards. It depends on the post. It depends on what you want people to take away from the post. I've got credentials, colleagues who read my work and will judge me on it, potential clients who will be evaluating my posts, and still, only very rarely do I cite my sources in footnote form. I mention the record groups, and anything out of the ordinary or hard to find I include in the body of my post. THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THIS, EVEN FOR PROFESSIONALS AND THOSE WITH CREDENTIALS. There is room for everyone in the sandbox as long as you don't throw sand.
The nature of blogging is casual, transient and in my opinion only one step away from email or writing in a diary. Formal ESM-style citations are overkill there, especially for the happy casual genie. The spirit of citing your sources is to make it clear where you info comes from, and bloggers just naturally do that.
It's Not Compromise, It's Inclusivity
I think it ought to be clear by now that there are two extremes. But that's the point: they are extreme ends of the spectrum of human nature. Those who need every comma in the precise spot and those who talk/write without knowing much. Neither of these is balanced. By taking what one man says and accusing 2,000 other people of subscribing to his theories you stir up trouble. It doesn't have to do with credentials. It's too easy to paint everybody in two camps. Bloggers vs. Credentialed. Everyman vs. Elitists. Democratic vs. Fascist. I have some very good friends who are persnickety about typos, commas and the like, but I am not. I care about bad information, bad manners and bad feeling in public forums. The point is to get the information out where we can access it ourselves and judge for ourselves whether it needs more research or not. The vast amount of information I've only touched on in the blog posts I've read make it clear what a genuinely valuable resource they are. The bloggers will decide on their own format. If you want a precise citation, ask the blogger.
Some of the absolute best GeneaBloggers have now declared themselves against professional genealogy and started to show disdain for what I worked so hard to achieve. All because one guy is advocating citing sources on blogs? Really? Their voices are pervasive and important to me, and I'm sad that something I was proud of having achieved is now being mocked and equated with bad character.
If you've insulted someone, apologize. If you're feeling persecuted, relax! Can we all please take the weekend off and come back with smiles on our faces, ready to do some real genealogy? It's time!