Well, it finally happened, I bet you have see this, or at least watched the discussion regarding the post. It the writer intended to attract attention, I’ll bet it worked! At the route of the criticism are the following statements:
- Blogs are easy to create, “anyone who can type and use the internet” may do so, and they “Don’t involve even purchasing a domain name”.
- “The credentials of most bloggers are questionable, especially when it comes to history”.
- “At the very least be sure that you can verify the information”.
I’ve been thinking about this for a while, and have decided to provide my opinion, entirely free to you, no cost, citing no sources other than my brain. I have seen some material written in response to the seem to address reasoning of the individual author about citing or not citing sources on a blog. I am more interested in discovering what the criticism actually means to me.
I do not believe purchasing a domain name makes a blog or website more reliable or accurate. Purchasing a domain name, setting up a website or blog and the associated tasks require a certain skill set, and a credit card. Those tasks do not involve skills requiring a degree in history or genealogy, a degree in English, a class in research skills, or any other education or training that would bring credibility to the information presented on the site. In fact, many blogs that exist on purchased domains have been created for reasons other than presenting reliable and accurate information to the readers.
I wonder what source the author would cite with regard to the claim that bloggers historical credentials are questionable. It may be just an opinion. Additionally, historical credentials are not necessary to cite a source, or even to make a decision on whether or not to cite a source. Historical credentials are useful for teaching history. The skills learned while acquiring an education in history is useful in learning to evaluate sources, and in understanding historical events and their effect on our ancestor’s lives. I do not believe that a blogger writing about their genealogical research without a education or background in history has any bearing on the accuracy of the information. The accuracy of their information is far more likely to be based on research skills and critical thinking.
I certainly hope that readers of my blog, or books created by a genealogical society, or books written by historians would be sure to verify the information before presenting it as fact, or basing further research on what they have read. In one old history written by a member of one of my ancestral families, I found two significant errors involving my ancestors. Research was necessary to verify the contents of the book, just as research is necessary to verify the contents on a website or blog. Analysis is necessary, that is the challenge of genealogical research.
Now that I have that off my chest, here is how I have approached writing my genealogy blog.
- I present information I have derived from research about my families.
- I may mention the sources of some of the information, as I did here.
- I may present some informal information about a family, as I did here.
- I may refer, informally, to the sources cited in my genealogy research database, as I did here.
- I may present artifacts from my personal collection, with informal transcription or opinion, as I did here.
- I do not write fairy tales, nor will I write scholarly articles like you would expect in the NGS Quarterly.
- I do not intentionally misspell words, or intentionally mislead you about my research.
- I share the sources of my information with those conducting research on the same families.
I believe I am like many bloggers, I’m blogging to present exciting information I have found, by the sweat of my brow. I did not copy someone’s book, I went to courthouses, libraries, archives, and cemeteries. I consulted books, microfilm, archived records and on-line databases and images. I have attempted to verify each fact about my family, and continue to seek more information about each family member. I’ve pieced together some of a puzzle, and I want to put the information in a place access able to persons who might be interested. A blog suits that purpose. I hope people researching my lines will contact me, now, while we can collaborate.