Talk about biting the hand that feeds you!
What follows is my take on the subjects of a blog post that has merit for the issues it brings up, and has done much to stir up the Genealogoshere for the last 4 days. ;-D
The other day Paul Duxbury, of Genealogy and Family History, a Genealogy Blog, wrote an interesting piece about "5 Bad Genealogical Sources (Bad sources of historical data for your genealogy research)."
The opinions on Wikis, Historical Novels (I was a huge fan of the old Historical Family Saga Genre of 1975 to 2000), and Films, I can agree with, but the other 2, on Personal Sites, and Blogs I can not, especially, Blogs.
ON PERSONAL WEBSITES THE AUTHOR WRITES:
Many entries on personal websites are made without much regard to whether they accurate or not. And since a personal website can be made by anyone, personal websites is not a source of historical detail.
I have no clue just how many such sites Paul, who lives in the UK, has explored, and how deeply, but it can not have been near enough to judge all such sites by the content of the bad ones.
Most people make, and maintain, personal websites, especially of a Genealogical nature, to share what they know, and continue to discover, of their family history, and yes, it is true most folks are not professionals, but just as knowledgeable as their time, and resources, allow them to become.
Do not shun these sites out of hand, because you never know what clue, tip, or resource, to help your own research, that you will find.
ON BLOGS THE AUTHOR WRITES:
Just like personal websites, blogs are a good source of unreliable information simply because anyone who can type and use the internet can make a blog site especially with the “throwaway blogs” which don’t involve even purchasing a domain name. And since the credentials of most bloggers are questionable especially when it comes to history, blogs will provide no help in your genealogy research. So when looking for a historical account, stay away from blog sites.
Let me add an addendum to that last comment in the light of some feedback....
There are some good Genealogy Blogs as a number of people have highlighted, however my own experience has shown that the majority are quite poor - so at the very least be sure that you can verify the information before you rely on it to take your research forward.
This angers me.
Paul knew he was making sweeping generalizations about the majority, by tagging them with the same brush as the bad Blogs he has encountered, because he was getting feedback that made him add a throw away line along the lines of "Yeah, yeah, there ARE a few good ones, but..."
No serious library blog would even agree with his opinion.
I began my own digging in the roots of my Family Garden, in the late 80's, and have kept at it as best I could ever since.
I consider myself still a newbie in so many ways.
I began Blogging in 2002 and, from the start, included the occasional story about my Genealogy research, with pictures, in the mix (In 2007 I closed that old place, and moved most of my old Genealogy stuff to this blog, and greatly expanded my Genealogy Resource Blogroll which this discussion has me thinking of writing more about over time in order to help get the word out.).
Back then there WERE no Genealogy Blogs, to speak of, that I am aware, and Genealogy Websites, and Genealogy Themed Personal Sites were not as many as today, but this has changed significantly, in the last 5 years.
Because of my 1st writing about my research, mysteries, and rare success, on my blog, I had something coherent to write on message boards at Rootsweb, and elsewhere.
This led to my making important contacts, through by blog posts, and my message boarding, with researchers who had information, relevant to me, or at least advice and tips, that have been useful to me in my research.
Because of my Blogging about my Father, and his journey from the old country to the new, my cousins, and his 3 Sisters contacted me after 15 years of silence, and while the last 3 years of intermittent contact, with people on one side who speak, and write little English, and on the other side a guy who speaks, and writes neither Serbian or Macedonian, has been difficult, I may finally make a breakthrough in our confusing correspondence.
Yes, many Bloggers, like me, have no credentials related to Genealogy, but that does not mean that they will "provide no help in your genealogy research."
Bloggers may have info such as names, dates, and places that may be related to you, and help you in your research, but they also share their experiences of researching, the good, the bad, the funny, and the ugly, and anyone who reads such stories will learn something from them.
Of course, the smart thing would be to follow the paper, or link, trail they used to get the names, dates, and places, for yourself, if you can, because you may find out something your source overlooked.
Don't automatically accept the evidence from any secondary source - blog, website, county history, Library book, etc - without trying to verify the info, from original sources, if you can.
Many Bloggers, like me, are natural, and talented, storytellers, even poets, and humorists, and do so much more than post dry statistics, and information, and that is another reason to read them: You might come across old family stories, and legends that you never knew about, as well as writing prompts to encourage your genealogy research.
For instance I shared a magnificent writing prompt called "Where I'm From", that every researcher, and their older relations, should try their hand at.
For instance, in my case, I did the research that found out the fate of the long lost sister of my Maternal Grandmother, a story that anyone related to her husbands family (Her and her Hubby were childless.) would be interested in if they knew it was online on this blog.
In another instance, I've shared, here, my research into the story of the mysterious death of my Maternal Grandfather, a story that mentions the names of the suspect, the coroner, witnesses, and the people involved in the inquest into the death, and includes newspaper images, and articles.
In another instance I've shared the roadblock that is this mans Mother, and the 5 husbands she outlived, including the 3 that gave her children, and how it took a DNA test of my Uncle to confirm which one of her Hubbys our family was related to.
Lots of names there, and still plenty of mysteries that need solving. ;-D
There are people out there looking for the names I have posted in that story as well,, and one day they will stumble upon my blog, and whole new avenues of research will open up for both of us.
There are more mysteries in other branches of my Mothers family, from the same period, that I am just beginning to explore, things that my Uncle, and Mom never knew, and that their Mother took with her to the grave a few years before I got interested in my roots.
My Genealogy Archive, on this blog, is here = Digging Up Roots in the Family Garden
I've found lots of useful advice, and tips, and links, by reading Personal Genealogy Sites, and Genealogy Blogs, and that's why I've built up a resource in my sidebar.
You can read more of this writers thoughts here: 5 Bad Genealogy Sources.
24 hours later the tune of this Genealogy Blogger had thawed even more, toward his fellows, than his brief adendum indicated. ;-D
He should have known that he'd get some, um, feedback. ;-D
Well I never! The world of Genealogy Blogging has been aghast at my suggestion that many Genealogy Blogs are poor sources of verified information to help you with your own research...
However, I do agree that there are some blogs which are excellent, albeit that they are greatly outnumbered by the poor and less than plausible...
So in the spirit of ensuring access to great genealogy information anyone who has a Good or Great Genealogy Blog is invited to let me know and we will feature them here.
You can read about how to do this here: Do You Have a Good Genealogy Blog?
Not letting the guy off the hook completely, here are some informative essays by others taken aback by the initial negativity:
FROM Thomas MacEntee, of GENEABLOGGERS:
I’d like to invite the author - whose own blog post conveniently has comments disabled - to take a look at many of our over 367 blogs and then perhaps recouch his or her statement....
I think Genealogy and Family History does not serve the genealogy community well by ignoring the growth of Web 2.0 technology usage in the genealogy community. Irresponsible statements, such as the one posted on March 29th, only serve to misinform amateur genealogists and others new to the family history field and lead them to believe that only “traditional” methods of genealogy research are acceptable.
Full story and 17 Comments, including one who researched the backround of Mr. Duxbury, and found some things that will be of interest to anyone interested in his own credentials for writing about Genealogy, much less finding fault with others, as well as a spirited defense by Mr. Duxbury himself: Genealogy Blogs - A Bad Source?
THE GENEALOGUE - Genealogy News You can't Possibly Use!:
This post , and comments, adds 4 more "Bad" Sources, and will make you laugh. ;-D
One final thing, over at Geneabloggers, the author has started something he calls Cite Right - A Source Citation Initiative:
He explains what this is, and why he hopes this discussion continues, but ends with these thoughts, which, for folks, like me, with miniscule traffic, will either thrill, or frighten you, with its possibilities:
Keep in mind that come April 20, 2009 with the premiere of the series Who Do You Think You Are on NBC, we may very well see an uptick in traffic to many genealogy blogs from people seeking ways to trace their roots using the Internet.
The last few days have seen me return to own Genealogy Blogging and, soon, to my own research, as best I can, thanks to meeting Thomas, and a couple of other researchers and bloggers, far more knowledgeable than me, via Blogs, Twitter, and Facebook, and I look forward to where these knew contacts will lead me on my trip through the mists of time.
I hope you, dear reader, and researcher, will be curious enough to explore my genelogy related posts, and I encourage you to leave comments as well.
***UPDATE - 4/4***
#1 - If you have made it this far, dear reader, then I hope you have read the interesting dialogue between Mr. Duxbury and I in the comments.
There is more to this story, coming to light by the day, and it's well worth your time so you can judge its relevance for yourself:
Chris Dunham, The Genealogue, writes that he had blacklisted Pauls blog, from his blogroll, because of suspected duplicate content.
As he writes "use of content from article mills on a website is NOT ILLEGAL and does not constitute "stealing," though it may in some cases be unethical, unseemly, or contribute to making the website seem worthless and laughable".
Read: Genealogists in Glass Houses.
I was troubled by this news, and was curious to see if Paul would respond further on his blog.
#2 - Paul Duxbury has written 2 new posts, in response to all the uproar, that are well worth your time:
In the 1st he acknowledges the quality he is now finding among so-called Free Blogs, such as those found on Blogspot/Blogger, but expresses some concerns about Googles Terms & Permissions.
I like the comments posted in response to his concern.
The 2nd post is called... Do I Write All My Own Genealogy Blog Posts?
It is a response to those, like Chris, who have expressed concern about his content.
The center piece of his post is as follows:
There are three primary sources of articles/posts for this blog:
1. Articles by me - for instance this one you are reading right now!
2. Articles by Guest writers - I give the opportunity to other writers and site owners to share their work with our readers and to gain valuable links back to their own sites.
3. PLR or Private Label Articles - which I will explain in a little more detail below!
PLR stands for “private label rights”. A customer purchases a pack of articles on a particular subject. Those articles can be used as is and marketed as your own professional content.
So what's this PLR? That's what he goes on to explain, and defend his use of.
Hmmmm...Purchasing the work of others to post in their entirety on your blog, or adapt to suit your own purposes, is an odd, and expensive, way to blog, but not illegal.
I just find it troubling, especially if I have no way of knowing whether the writer IS the writer IS the writer.
Using something written by others as your own would seem to give the impression that YOU are an expert on the subject under discussion, when you are not.
I guess the lesson of all of this, for anyone digging up their roots, is to be careful, and thorough, out there, when it comes to the blogs, and websites, you visit.
While I, like others, have issues with the idea of publishing some pieces the way he does, as long as what he does is legal then it's up to the reader to judge its worthiness, and usefullness, to them, especially once they understand the nuances of authorship.
If you can check the same sources as the site you are looking at, all the better.
I think, that I, for one, am going to go over my old posts, and see how I can enhance their value by adding info about the documents I have, in case I overlooked that detail.
Genealogy Blogging has come a long way in 7 years, and we all learn something new, every day, that makes us better at it.
***UPDATE 2 - 4/5***
I added links in an update to my post as I think it only fair that any readers of my piece see where this discussion has led you, and others, over the last day or so.
While I, like others, have issues with the idea of publishing some pieces the way you do, as long as what you do is legal then it's up to the reader to judge its worthiness, and usefullness, to them, especially once they understand the nuances of authorship.
Don't let all this uproar discourage you from your efforts.
As long as you feel comfortable in your own shoes, and in educating others about why you blog this way, then continue.
You are not going to please everyone, regardless, and shouldn't try.
As you say you have a popular, and successful collection of sites, and this aspect of your blogging is only 1 part of a larger whole.