I find myself returning to a theme I posted on back in June: “About that Paragraph at the Bottom of This Page.” That post included the following two paragraphs:
“So there is no reason to be shy: please do not hesitate to contact me! I post the information and you are free to copy it. But there is more where that came from; these are only the “bare bones”! If the feeling that you are a beginning researcher and don’t have much to contribute is holding you back, don’t let it! I still consider myself a beginning researcher, and once I was a real newbie. I basically knew my parents’ immediate families and little else. Yet I dared to write to a couple of experienced researchers who I was certain had information on my mysterious great-grandfather. I had one piece of information to trade: I knew his mother’s maiden name. And we continue to trade information.
“But you do not need even that. I am simply happy to find out a little about you and your family connection, if that is all you know. You may have a piece of information I have been searching for. And I also believe that I should treat people searching for information with as much consideration as those first two contacts and many others have treated me.”
The inspiration to bring this subject up once again was provided by Leah at The Internet Genealogist in a post earlier this month that was innocuously titled “November To-Dos” but started with a very justifiable rant about people who end up on her blog from a Google search for shared ancestors but never get in touch with her. There was also a comment from Lisa Wallen Logsdon of Genealojournal and Old Stones Undeciphered about a program called Tynt that tells her how many times material has been copied from her blog and pasted elsewhere and also creates a (removable) link to her page.
That got me to thinking. What things do I share freely and what things do I mind being copied? The information itself I share freely, though if it is used in anything that you publish, formally or informally, it would be nice to have my blog cited. When the actual word-for-word content is copied in splogs and other uses that qualify as plagiarism, then I definitely mind.
But it is still the people who consider themselves family historians/genealogists who find my blog through a search and do not contact me that are of the greatest concern to me. If you just have a passing curiosity, perhaps the few items you find here are enough.
If you are serious, however, you are really missing out on a great deal of information and enjoyment. Because the descendant reports that I publish in features such as Surname Saturday and even the juicier posts (such as “What My Ancestors Did for Entertainment” and “The Other Thing My Ancestors Did for Entertainment”) are just the tip of the iceberg. I am no longer able to keep up with posting all of the material that I and my “research cousins” are turning up. For several of the families I am researching, my cousins and I maintain informal mailing lists so that we can exchange information. Sometimes there is so much information to convey that we have to have a "Texas telephone call." The “cousin bait” that I put out on the blog has brought in a couple of “cousin ex machina” solutions to brick walls. I even went on a research trip with cousins that I met online! Other cousins send me scans of family photos and tell me family stories. I regularly send out scans and hard copies of documents I have located. Only a small portion of this makes its way to the pages of this blog. If you want to be where the action is, contact me!
Copyright (c) 2010 Greta Koehl