Saturday, November 27, 2010

You Are Missing Out on All of the Best Stuff

if you read my blog, find your ancestors, and do not get in touch with me.

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


  1. Greta, You are not alone in being frustrated by this issue. It really is baffling to me why someone with an obvious interest in the same person wouldn't contact another researcher. The bottom line is that we wouldn't be posting info online if we didn't want to share.

  2. Great post Greta and thanks for the mention of my blogs! Anyone who checks their stats surely must agonize over this same problem. I'm considering adding something tantalizing (like your blog here but much shorter)on the side bars of my blogs in order to catch the eye of some of these visitors and lure them into contacting me. Just got to come up with the right bait!

  3. I'm not sure which is worse - knowing people are looking and not contacting you or those who do contact you only to fall off the face of the earth after one or two emails (little bitter here). I have yet to find the cousin who wants to collaborate. My theory is they are simply surfing, and not researching.

  4. Excellent post Greta.

    Lisa, I'll be watching to see what kind of bait you come up with. I think that's an excellent idea.

    Nolichucky - hang in there, I have found a couple of cousins who actually do want to truly collaborate. They are out there.

  5. Linda - "baffling" is the right word. I mean, before I started genealogy, I could be very reticent about contacting people that I didn't know. Not any more.

    Lisa - My problem is figuring out exactly the right wording and putting it in the right place.

    NR - I have had a number of contacts who exchanged an e-mail or two, then didn't pursue it. I have to think that they were just curious, but not really passionate about research.

    Michelle - Yes, I think the contacts that we do get are worth it all. My "research cousins" and I are having a blast.

  6. What a wonderful post! I couldn't agree more. I've only had my blog up since March and I've already had a number of people contact me that are researching similar families. But I've noticed the same thing - people googling specific ancestors of mine, but then not emailing me or commenting. It can be frustrating to say the least...


  7. As a newbie blogger, I had never considered this. But you are so right! I'm not even related to the people I'm writing about so obviously the only reason I'm doing it is to help others by sharing. Never imagined that those who are related to the families I'm covering wouldn't get in touch for more info.

  8. I've been really lucky on this. I "found" a long lost cousin from Warsaw who's also into genealogy. What's the likelyhood of that happening? His grandfather and my grandfather were brothers. I also met a lovely lady online a couple of years ago. She lives in Maine. This is the second year in a row we've met for lunch when my family and I were weekending in the area.

  9. Greta, I feel your pain, and loved how you wrote your post. Almost as though you are crying out to help these people.
    I responded to Leah's original blog because I've the same problem..I think we all do. A few times, a person has written, and I knew that that was the person who did the google search.
    Sidebar information could help, but I never look at the side bar, that is one reason I have little on mine. Maybe a statement at the top would help?

  10. I know your frustration, but from a different viewpoint.
    I have several relatives who write to me about our family, but so far they are of younger generations and can't help my problem. No one seems to have inherited the Wright family information.
    I give them everything I can because anyone who is interested in the family line needs to be encouraged!
    Maybe someone of them will make the breakthrough.
    Meanwhile keep up the good work, I enjoy your blog.