A Code of Conduct

One of my great joys of working with an online community like GeneaBloggers is the opportunity to interact with many people from diverse backgrounds.  I don’t know about you, but my life is much richer for this experience and I feel blessed to be able to learn new things and gain new perspectives every day.

What Is GeneaBloggers?

I feel we have a great community – we are now at over 1,000 blogs as of this week – and our members come from many different backgrounds.  In the past two years (yes, it has only been that long!), I’ve seen not only our impact on the genealogy community but the impact on individual lives – some have said being involved in the genealogy blogging community has been a literal lifesaver in helping them get through rough times.  Others have said that blogging opened up an entire new world of professional and economic opportunities.  And others have said it has allowed them to reconnect with their own families as well as ancestors.

The GeneaBloggers Organization

GeneaBloggers has existed without much organization – we are not incorporated as a non-profit or for-profit and we don’t have a lot of rules.  Many folks have said this is the way they prefer it to be – that it becomes too restrictive when membership requirements (and fees) are added or a board is appointed.  Right now I am in agreement with that but this concept should be periodically re-examined and I am open to working with other members on this topic.

Code of Conduct

However, one area that needs to be addressed is how we as members interact with each other and what behaviors are or aren’t tolerated.  I’ve never been a fan of groups that determine who is “in the margins” and who is “outside the margins.”  But when it comes to the very basic ways in which we treat each other, I do need to try and set the tone, if not help develop a code of conduct.

Recently a member of GeneaBloggers has had to consider legal action against another member due to actions and communications which were inappropriate and personal in nature.  Despite being asked repeatedly to cease contact, the behavior continued.

For me, my guiding principle has been “do unto others” and to consider the impact my actions have.  I was raised to be considerate of others and to not think that the world revolved around me and my wants  and desires.  While I may stray from this from time to time, I always come back to this as my guide.

If I were to come up with a Code of Conduct for GeneaBloggers, it would be that all members should:

  • Work to further the genealogy community and its reach.
  • Communicate the importance of genealogy and family history to others.
  • Comment and give feedback not just to other members but also to genealogy vendors and others involved in the field.
  • Feel safe in the online environment and the genealogy blogging community. This means being able to set limits on communication and involvement and to have those limits respected.
  • Not tolerate posts and communication that advocate hatred, racism, sexism or any of the other insidious “isms,” many of which not only detract from our mission as genealogists, but don’t serve to make the world a better place.
  • Feel comfortable having honest conversations with other members.
  • Separate any advocacy of a political or religious nature to a separate blog.  While our spiritual and civic upbringings have helped shaped us, posts that go beyond informational and seek to advocate or convert are inappropriate.
  • Always be able to ask for help, be it technical advice or emotional support during a rough time.  Many of us feel like family after all.

Your Thoughts?

This is your community as much as it is mine.  What would you include in a Code of Conduct? Do you feel that GeneaBloggers needs more structure and organization?  I’d love to hear comments and thoughts.

©2010, copyright Thomas MacEntee

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Comments

70 thoughts on “A Code of Conduct

  1. Great idea Thomas. I love the Geneabloggers is open to all with genealogy blogs and don’t think we need to start charging for membership. But I think your code is a great way to give some guidelines to our activities (and hopefully more respect).

  2. Thomas, these seem like very good codes to me. One question I have is what to do about a situation like I have where I have members of the community who follow me on Twitter where I initially didn’t do much genealogy. I tweet about anything & everything. I’d hate to have to restrict my tweets. Wouldn’t it be better (on Twitter – not the blogs) to allow people to choose to follow or unfollow if they don’t like what I tweet? That’s how I view it so I don’t restrict my tweets on any issue. Yet I feel bad for those who are totally just genealogy minded / those who may disagree with me regarding religion and / or politics, etc. and don’t want to read my random ramblings. Yet it’s their choice…… Hmmmm….. ???? Are you talking about just the blogs?

  3. Yes Irish Mason, I was thinking purely blogs in terms of the “separation” issue. I agree with you on Twitter – I follow almost everyone on Twitter who express an interest in genealogy. And I realize I may see tweets about church, politics, and even General Hospital (LOL!) which I love. If I really feel someone is being inappropriate on Twitter I just unfollow them.

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  5. Always a shame when disagreements get so far out of line. Looks like a good summary, well rounded list. Well done.

  6. Thomas I appreciate your going through the exercise of crafting what a Code of Conduct for the GeneaBlogger community could be.

    100% on board with your thoughts!

    As much as we all love a free flowing community, certain measures have to be introduced as our community grows to ensure that it remains an enjoyable [and safe] experience for all involved.

    Well done!:-)

    Luckie.

  7. As any entity grows, problems are bound to arise. GeneaBloggers is an awesome community and it is very unfortunate that anyone feels they may need to take legal action against someone else. I am all for having a Code of Conduct, enough to keep things in control within this environment. One bad egg…

  8. I missed the controversy as it happened, but heard about it through the grapevine…what a sad shame. The really silly part is it never should have got to the point where a genealogy blogger would have to consider legal action for protection. Sheesh…What in the heck was that person thinking? I do like the elements of this code of conduct, but in reality, basic common sense and common decency should have ruled the day.

  9. If a code of conduct is needed, so be it. I agree with Tim, common sense and respect should have been enough of a conduct code in itself.

    It saddens me that it has come to this in our genealogy blogging community, At times I have felt closer to geneabloggers than with my own family. I have felt accepted more as a person and for who I am within the geneablogging community more than anywhere else. I feel safe here and love it.

    The emotional support, technical support, help, and commeraderie has been amazing. I have created wonderful friendships with other bloggers that I would have missed out on in life had I not started blogging with all of you. But, never would I ever over step boundries or disrespect another’s wishes or privacy.

    If I new that another person didn’t want to communicate or interact with me, I would be out of there…in a heartbeat. Opposite, at times, I am over cautious and careful as to how I interact with someone and make sure they are ok with it, that I am invited and welcomed. To me, respect is everything.

    Thank you Thomas for your attention to this matter and all you do for us. You have my support and help if needed.

  10. Thanks Myrt for your post! Just to clarify, the recent situation did not involve copyright – but I think your suggestions are great! I do think that respect of copyright has to be part of a code of conduct for any blogger, whether they blog about genealogy or not.

    As a genealogist we should seek for proper source citation and attribution. This means giving credit where credit is due and providing links back to other blogs and sites.

  11. Thomas, thank you for clarifying that you meant blogs & not tweets. Glad you like the GH tweets! ;) You’re so much fun! Back to the serious though – sometimes you’re forced to put codes into place despite the best attempts to avoid it. I remember when I started running a Rootsweb surname list that was large and rowdy and genetically (IMO) inclined to fight a lot – over anything & everything. They didn’t want rules – but rules had to be put into place and they’re what held the list together through thick and thin – for years. Hope that makes sense. I didn’t know about the original problem and loved Myrt’s post. I have been approached by people writing their own books on the AREA of my blog and were interested in my people. One in particular was a professor / published author. Knowing that the personal stories would give oomph to an otherwise dry story my family became concerned about him or others taking my info. I didn’t know that had already happened to some. I’m definitely interested in the copyright issue as well now. Codes & Copyright – both great topics! And I ramble off with my rambling….. exit smiling. :)

  12. Thanks Thomas for being on top of the situation, and I agree with the Code as you have written it. Just makes good common sense to me.

    We, and I feel safe in saying this, as a collective, appreciate all that you do for the group, and for promoting genealogy!

  13. I’m also 100% on board with the code of conduct! The Geneabloggers community is amazing and I’m thankful to be a part of it… especially after the week that I’ve had! The words of support from total “strangers” really helped me through my nephew’s crisis this week and I’m eternally grateful.

  14. My gosh,

    We need a code of conduct & ethics at the Census Bureau (where the average age is 55+!). I come home to read about issues at eneaBloggers?. I’m sad.

    Peace,
    “Guided by the Ancestors”

  15. Thomas –

    You know how much I love Geneabloggers as an organization (or group or whatever official term we are using for it) as well as the individuals within this group. I am so grateful and blessed to have such people in my life. I consider the people in this group fellow bloggers, colleagues, and friends (many of you I consider my own family).

    I love your codes of conduct. It is sad that they are needed, but things happen. I think the code of conduct that is outlined above is perfect. The only thing I would add is something along the lines of copyright. I also think that something along the lines of an “copyright apology” should be added in because sometimes newbies who don’t know any better infringe on another’s work. Since it isn’t purposeful or malicious in nature, as long as the copyright infringer apologizes, immediately removes the content, and promises to cite their sources from now on. I’m just trying to think of the newbies.

    As far as a “board” is concerned, I don’t think anything official is needed.

    Perhaps, however, a mentor-ship like program can be started? Maybe volunteers can be matched up with newbies who are looking for some guidance, advice, etc? This would be entirely voluntary and the two people can exchange email addresses.

    Maybe we can even have a list of people who are kinda like our “go-to experts” who are willing to answer questions are certain genealogy, blogging, or technology topics? The list would be made up of volunteers only and list the volunteers’ email addresses, facebook, twitter, blog, etc so that those with questions are able to ask and get an opinion from someone in the know-how?

    I know the above two suggestions aren’t really about creating an “official board”, but I think they would be beneficial to the group.

    If you liked these ideas, wanted to go through with them, but needed help, you could always ask for volunteers. I don’t know how you get so much done in one day (I still have a theory that you either don’t sleep, have a clone who does some of the work, or both…).

    I know that was a lot of stuff, but I hope it helps.

  16. Bad idea, Thomas. I should be entitled to make a fool of myself in my blog. My speech in my blog should not be regulated in any way. IMHO, it’s foolish to try to regulate or suppress anybody’s speech with speech codes or fairness doctrines.

    My objection is with the “hate speech” and advocacy sections – who’s going to judge this? A panel of persons of all persuasions? What will be the penalties–banishment to geneablogger hell? Where’s that? all it’s going to create is controversy and argument and detract from genealogy. I don’t need the hassle and neither do you.

    People read genealogy blogs for the genealogy content. I don’t care about the preferences of any blogger or their personal opinions about political or religious or other issues. I ignore them and don’t comment because of the blowback.

    We’ve existed for two years in a semi-perfect state – don’t muck it up with regulations and judgments. Common sense and common decency should be the watchwords.

    I’m behind on my reading, so I’m blissfully unaware of the current controversy – can you give me some readings? Have you heard both sides of any argument or disagreement?

  17. Good points, Thomas. Looks like Geneabloggers is facing a few growing pains. I’m confident that these will pass and this group will remain a strong and positive force in the world of genealogy.

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  19. I don’t know what happened recently, but I’m a little shocked that it apparently got so out of hand that somebody had to take legal action. I think of genealogists as such a friendly group. It’s disappointing that we have the same problems as everyone else.

    I have to confess that although I’m good with the rest of it, I share some of Randy’s concern about the political and religious content. Although I HATE HATE HATE seeing that stuff and will unfollow a blog/tweeter in a nanosecond if it starts preaching to me on any topic, I wouldn’t want to tell others what to do with their blogs. In fact, it helps tell me who NOT to follow. I like to have a big bright streetlight shining on hate so I know to cross the street, y’know?

    I also think that if we’re going to discuss General Hospital, we need to have equal time for the Real Housewives of New York.

  20. I recall when I started blogging about genealogy, I hadn’t yet created a separate blog to do so. And anyone who chose to read my blog had to make their way through my other posts…which were often about politics and religion, because I like those topics.

    It is one reason I created a separate blog for genealogy. Bloggers should realize, in general, that they will lose readers if they mix multiple topics. This pertains to pretty much any topic. I’m less likely to read a blog that blogs half genealogy and half cooking, as I’m not interested in posts about cooking.

    But as long as the blogger realizes they are risking readers, I don’t think refraining from posting about a particular topic should be part of a “code of conduct.”

    “Back in the beginning” of my geneablogging days, if I had been told my blog was somehow violating a geneabloggers code by mixing these topics, I would have screamed loudly of censorship. And I wouldn’t want to discourage others from blogging about genealogy amongst their other interests.

    Give them the time and space to become obsessed and realize they need a separate blog.

  21. This point comes in any group; it’s inevitable and unavoidable. You have taken the matter in hand very well, and come up with a reasonable approach. We may not like to see this come up — and I’m astonished that what you describe happened in our community — but we have to acknowledge that life is like that.

    Heavens, Thomas (and I’m being very mild here) — you do a BOATLOAD of work with Geneabloggers! “Thank you” seems so inadequate!

  22. Thomas, I am a fairly new blogger and have had an overwhelmingly positive experience with Geneabloggers. I am sad to hear that someone has had the opposite experience.

    While I agree 100% with your idea of a code of conduct, I don’t see the need for an “official” board of conduct. This sounds too much like censorship to me.

    Common sense, courtesy and decency should rule the day. That’s been my personal experience with Geneabloggers. I don’t know the particulars of the incident you referred to, but it sounded like an extreme and (hopefully) isolated incident.

  23. Thomas –

    After reading Randy’s comment, I must agree that I shaer that fear. Perhaps the code of conduct is too much?

    The thing is, whatever happens between two bloggers does not reflect badly on the group (as a whole). It isn’t like they are representing the group – it is just two bloggers who aren’t getting along.

    I’m also with Kerry in the fact that I just avoid any blog that includes politics or religion or topics that aren’t related to genealogy. I either don’t read the articles that aren’t related to genealogy or I don’t read the blog at all.

    A blog is a very personal thing. People are bound to get defensive if we put limits (even if these limits are small and unrestrictive IMHO) – it might just be asking for trouble.

    Perhaps a code of conduct isn’t needed afterall.

    I don’t know what controversy is currently going on and that is fine with me – but it has nothing to do with Geneabloggers as a whole. It does not reflect badly on you, anyone within the group, or the group’s “brand”.

  24. In any group – whenever there are rules or ‘guidelines’ created for its members – members who do not like those rules of ‘guidelines’ will choose to leave the group and form a competing group with differing rules or ‘guidelines.’

    If one all-encompassing group is desired, there can be no rules or ‘guidelines’ beyond the most basic. I think the even numbered guidelines are pretty basic. Feeling safe, and comfortable. No harassment of others. Being pro-Genealogy.

    The odd-numbered guidelines are all questionable. No one should feel a need to recruit new members to the group. No one should feel the need to comment on other posts, or to post commentary on genealogy vendors. It’s nice, but not necessary. And no particular post should be prohibited – except the blogger should be aware some posts will result in lost readership.

  25. When I see all the “important” names that are on board with this I feel hesitant to say it, but I can’t agree. To begin with “Work to further the genealogy community and its reach” seems to exclude me right off the bat. I am the first to admit that I am an intermittent genealogist. I can’t think of one thing I’ve done – or posted – that would meet that first criteria. It’s fortunate I didn’t see something like that when I started or I’m not sure I would have!! And I would have missed out on so many great conversations and ideas and great PEOPLE.

    I’ve seen things on blog that I follow that I don’t agree with – but I just move on. Everyone should be able to say things that I disagree with….of course they’ll be WRONG, but then that’s certainly their prerogative!! :-)

    Obviously I’m missing something here – being so far behind in my blog reading. But I don’t want to see a “rule” that I can’t consider myself a geneablogger unless I’m willing to separate my genealogy and everything else into separate blogs.

    On a general note I’m just sorry to see that codes of conduct are now thought to be so necessary. Every year at work I have to sign one. It makes me wonder because I have to think that anyone who would violate it wouldn’t have any compunction about signing it whether they agreed or not.

    What ever happened to those wonderful idea of politeness and respect – seems like that should cover it!

  26. Thomas – lots of food for thought.

    We are a community of independent individuals who share a common passion and goal. I can safely say that we are all indebted to you for your creative work on our behalf.

    Schelly Talalay Dardashti
    Tracing The Tribe: The Jewish Genealogy Blog

  27. Thomas et al,
    Hate to think that we as a group need a code of conduct because of one incident. Perhaps we can learn from this “incident” and know that if this happens again some rules, guidelines etc will be put into place.
    As for being a totally genealogical blog – I personally blog 5 days (weekends are just too crazy!) and MOST of my blogging is on genealogy. Now & then I slip off and get into a splattering of other things – usually flowers or such – hopefully it doesn’t chase anyone away, perhaps they understand its a temporary thing and return to read another day. If I had to blog exclusively genealogy I’m not sure I’d hang on.

  28. On Diana’s last point, regarding having to sign a Code of Conduct at work every year (and the idea that bad people won’t take that seriously anyway):

    I was a corporate HR executive for years, and you’re right about the fact that the bad eggs don’t let a Code of Conduct stop them. We had employees sign them every year too…not to make them behave, but to make it easier to fire them when they did bad things.

    If someone does something awful with your company’s uniform on (or your group’s badge on their website), you want to have some ability to say, “Our group is no longer a fit for you.” It sucks that situations like that come up, but they do…and it’s best to think about how you’re going to handle them BEFORE they occur.

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  30. Hi Friends!

    As being the one who made the offense public, via my Our Georgia Roots blog, I must say that I cringe at the word “controversy”.

    I can assure you because the matter was not a genealogy issue, I tried not to make it public & there has been no sorted argument. I can also assure you that it is far more than “two geneabloggers not getting along”.

    Speaking as someone who builds online communities for a living will say that every community I launch, in whichever medium, has a set of “house rules” that all members operating within that space must adhere to.

    This is a measure implemented to protect the integrity of the community overall; just as laws/guidelines exist within our culture for the same purpose.

    No, it doesn’t bother me if someone discusses religion or politics — it’s my choice to read/comment or not.

    However, if the actions of one person infringes upon another, there should be some community standard/expectation that applies.

    I am fairly new to this community (2 years in Aug) but I have spoken with people within this community who experienced similar issues. So I believe I am not the first and as growth permits, will not be the last.

    To Randy’s query, of whether Thomas has heard both sides of “the story”, I will say that I was concerned of possible spillover to the community from the onset, and looped him in as an FYI. He has had complete transparency in respect to communications over the past 2 months.

    He will tell you, any actions taken were the last resort for me.

    How tight or loose conduct standards/house rules are depends on the community. However even within my real-world community, I have HOA guidelines to honor, so the concept for me, is not a foreign one.

    Additionally, an Advisory Board of trusted community members is not a bad concept either.

    This removes the weight of every issue off the shoulders of Thomas and allows for input of other community contributors.

    When I formed CoAAG, it was one of the 1st tasks I implemented, to address standards and issues as they arise.

    No one more than me regrets that this issue has occurred and desires to put it to rest. To that end I am working.

    Best,

    Luckie.

  31. While my two genealogy blogs are my first and only forays into the world of blogging, I have been a part of various online communities for years. (Everything from interior decorating, fashion, health, shopping, politics, etc.) It has been my experience that most major issues that arise have nothing to do with the community as a whole sees. Most problems arise outside of the collective eye of the community when a member in private oversteps their bounds.

    Will a Code of Conduct prevent this from happening. Most assuredly not but it will let anyone and everyone in the community know that such actions will not be tolerated.

    It doesn’t bother me that folks talk religion or politics. Heck I’ve been a member of political board for a little over 2 years and believe me if I can handle that I can handle anything that is posted on a blog in regard to such topics.

    As I posted previously, I think these are a good ideas. I think they will strengthen the genealogy blogging community and not distract from it.

  32. Thomas,

    I like your idea for a code of conduct. I think a general set of standards is appropriate. While we all would like to think respect and common sense are no-brainers within the genea-community, that is not always the case.

    Sandra

  33. Several thoughts occur to me:

    (1) Currently, Geneabloggers, in addition to being a loose community of people with a shared interest, is also its own brand, associated with the author of this blog. Should Thomas decide to institute a Code of Conduct, it is fully his right. It will also mark a step in the direction of a more formal organization, which may carry its own benefits.

    (2) If anyone chooses not to follow the Code of Conduct, there is no way to stop them from continuing to write about genealogy. And if they are otherwise contributing to genealogical knowledge they will continue to have readers.

  34. Also,

    (3) I am generally against censorship — however what has occured to generate this proposal did not occur in competing blogs, it happened in real life. In my opinion, legal action is the only way to defend against this kind of abuse.

  35. I think AWARENESS of playing nicely in genea-bloggers sandbox is what Thomas is encouraging.

    Please set aside the concern that one doesn’t belong in genea-bloggers because we tend to write about other topics from time to time. We research in cycles as well — never 100% genealogy focused. We have our lives to live — and there is that laundry to fold. ;-)

    Who we are as individuals comes through on a genea-blog — that is the beauty of NOT writing for the New York Times. We have the luxury of being personal and approachable. When you as a “real person” make a genealogy breakthrough, it means more to me. I can then see myself as able to do it sometime myself in the future.


    My take isn’t that Thomas is attempting to regulate our posts content, however,

    To my knowledge, there have been 11 instances in the past 2 years where genea-bloggers have used content (photos, paragraphs, etc.) from someone else’s blog, and haven’t taken the time to provided a keystroke of attribution.

    Only two of those concerned my blog.

    The others came to my attention because other genea-bloggers sought my advice on how to handle the situation. Not sure if this is because I knew both parties in question or ??? However, I think none of us wishes to become a member of the genea-bloggers police.

    Blogging is a fluid, informal, even FUN method of sharing one’s thought — in our case genealogy & family history related items. No one wishes to change that paradigm.


    KEEP ON WRITING everyone. Just have fun, and respect the work of your fellow genea-bloggers.

  36. There is always an opportunity to learn and grow from each incident. And this situation is no different.

    We also have been reminded that what can be a vibrant community—-it is still be a completely “virtual” one. We interact on screen and I am sure that most of us truly appreciate the new friendships that we have made, but we have to keep them in perspective.

    In many cases I may be fortunate to have some of the online relationships grow into real time, real life contact and hopefully really fruitful friendships can grow from those meetings.

    BUT—–online we interact virtually. And just like in real life—we have to respect the space and boundaries that are set down by those with whom we have contact.

    If a person says, let’s move on and go our separate ways—well , in an online environment all we have are words–words on a screen.

    BUT—-we are still obliged to respect those boundaries when asked.

    If one asks for “no contact” —they mean, “no contact”.

    And again—the only way in an online environment to communicate is words on a screen. (Well for the most part—excluding skype, and tokbox, and video options.)

    For this issue—respect for one another is critical—and until we meet in person—we must remember this WE DON’T KNOW EACH OTHER and no matter how important it is to us to interact—the relationships are “virtual”—and to try to force them to be anything else is not healthy.

    All of us have to come offline, and just like DearMyrtle has pointed out—we have to fold that laundry and tend to life, home, family.

    The blogging environment is one therefore that we have to respect—and we have to to understand the limitations of what we have.

    Until we meet in real life—we must work with the words on the screen, we must respect those words on the screen and honor the requests of those with whom we interact.

    And if they say, please “let’s no longer communicate”—-it is imperative that we respect that request and move on.

    To ignore it, or to force contact when it is not desired is harassment. Pure and simple.

    It is possible that the 1 party viewed their actions as making a gesture of extending a virtual “olive branch”.
    But was this done after a request to discontinue contact?

    Again since all we have in the blogging world, and the email world—are words on a screen—-then perhaps this understanding of what constitutes harassment, can and should be incorporated in some way into the Code of Conduct.

  37. I’m conflicted about this question, I think it is good to have a stated code of conduct backed by community consensus on what is proper behavior and what is not.

    As new members join the community, a stated code of conduct will help then know what is and is not acceptable.

    But I also believe that social groups can, and do govern themselves without an advisory board or formal sanctions. Social media communities seem to be especially good at governing by informal consensus via follow/unfollow, supporting a member or not, etc.

    It seems to be rare that an online presence leads to this sort of situation, and when it does, community members generally reign in the offender via informal controls inherent in social network communities.

    In the rare instance that existing informal sanctions do not kick in (as perhaps in this instance) or are not effective, we have laws in place to deal with that.

    One of the great things about blogs is the voice that bloggers find, and own, in expressing themselves on their blogs. I don’t think we should limit that freedom via formal community sanctions. I honestly think that is throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

    I think in this case contacting authorities and documenting the events that unfolded was wise. Any time someone with an online presence feels that things have progressed into the danger zone, they should tell others in the community, and authorities, immediately.

    But if this sort of occurrence is indeed rare (and in my experience I think it is, I may be wrong), I think having a stated code of conduct is good, but I don’t think a board with the ability to sanction is needed, or indeed, enforceable.

    Best,
    Toni

  38. Thomas, As a former member of the GeneaBloggers group and as an active blogger of genealogical and family history blogposts, it is my strong recommendation that the informal and non-organized group of writers often identified as “geneabloggers” not have any sort of official code of conduct. Most of us are adults (and responsible ones at that) and to have any sort of “code of conduct” presented is demeaning, and, in my specific case, funny that it is coming from you. I do give you credit, however, that when I requested that you stop sending me emails that you did so — but I can’t support you on any suggestion of a Code of Conduct nor on any other aspect of organizing the GeneaBloggers into a formal group of writers.

    Terry Thornton
    Former member of GeneaBloggers

  39. Point of clarification for our readers:

    While Terry Thornton and I have had our disagreements in the past, the current situation which prompted this discussion of a Code of Conduct (involving a genealogy blogger and their request to not have contact with each other) is not to be construed as what has happened between me and Terry in the past. I wish Terry only the best and success in his writing – I recommend readers who haven’t already done so check out his sites over at Hill Country of Monroe County, Mississippi.

    I truly appreciate everyone’s feedback and this is what blogging is about: dialog and conversation. I will post later today a summary of the issues involving the Code of Conduct.

  40. Point of clarification for our readers:

    While Terry Thornton and I have had our disagreements in the past, the current situation which prompted this discussion of a Code of Conduct (involving a genealogy blogger and their request to not have contact with each other) is not to be construed as what has happened between me and Terry in the past. I wish Terry only the best and success in his writing – I recommend readers who haven’t already done so check out his sites over at Hill Country of Monroe County, Mississippi.

    I truly appreciate everyone’s feedback and this is what blogging is about: constructive dialog and conversation. I will post later today a summary of the issues involving the Code of Conduct.

  41. I’m not understanding!! No matter where you go and what you do in life there is always a Code of Conduct. If not professionally but morally.

    Although the situation that was done was done privately, but when it became public there was a need for some action.

    Thomas, I think the code is an excellent idea. It shows a paticular standard that we as Bloggers expect and violation will not be tolerated.

    Now for those that is so concerned about censorship and what you can and cant put on you’re Blog:

    1) you’re Blog is you’re Blog. You can write abt whatever you like and If I don’t like it I won’t read it.

    2) If you are so worried abt Tweeting something other than Genealogy, form a different Twitter account and make it personal.

    There goes that Common Sense again. Some have turned this into an issue other than what it is:

    There are rules to follow whether in life or in the Genealogy Community. You can follow the rules or move on.

    Like I say you are in a Community and if you don’t like it MOVE!! Just like you do in you’re own neighborhood!!
    Felicia

  42. While I support most of what is in the Geneabloggers Code of Conduct above, and the good intentions of it, I am very apprehensive about the document in its present form for several reasons:
    1. As a free speech issue (from a Canadian perspective) I would not be part of a group if there were a rule about not giving my opinion on controversial issues – especially since I presume that it is an American board that is going to decide what is controversial or not. I have rarely broached controversial (?) issues (e.g. Native issues in connection with Mohawk genealogy posts, and the restart of abestos mining in relation to settlement of that area) a few times, but I have NO INTENTION of submitting to censorship of any kind.
    2. If you put this in place as a formal code with a person and/or Board in charge, then there is going to be an expectation from members that you will act on this – swiftly and competently. Do we want to open up this can of worms?
    Evelyn
    A Canadian Family

  43. “Comment and give feedback not just to other members but also to genealogy vendors and others involved in the field.”

    Although I’ve left literally hundreds of comments on fellow geneablogger sites, this is a pleasure – not a commitment.

    Genealogy vendors ???
    Why should I commit to leave feedback to “vendors and others involved in the field?

    Is Geneabloggers now a commercial operation! Did I miss something?

    Confused in Montreal

  44. I’ve already put in my two cents and more … and included a bit of levity about my TWITTER. I don’t blog about non genealogy things in my genealogy blogs but that’s my personal choice – and may change on a whim. ;)

    I just want to add my thumbs up to what Michael Hait wrote. That’s common sense too. It’s not a right we have to be a part of this community – it’s a privilege. We wouldn’t have that privilege if Thomas hadn’t started this community. Many thanks to him for all he’s done – non stop working it seems like!

    I don’t know the issues with Terry but it’s interesting to note that he’s obviously still following geneabloggers. ;) It’s a great community!

    Great input, Myrt! I always love reading your thoughts! Great input from everyone!

    At the moment I’m really glad I left running that surname list I mentioned. Even though I dearly loved it with a deep passion – the constant overstepping of boundaries by listmembers wore me out. I’m still hiding from them. LOL I don’t want to see Thomas ride off into the sunset as I did. Just sayin….

    Common sense & respect always strike me as the logical “answers”. Unfortunately there are people – and we have to accept that fact – that will overstep in any group.

    Whatever you feel you need to do, Thomas – I support you. And I thank you MUCHOS! :)

  45. There are at least two communities that are being confused with this discussion I think.

    The community of geneabloggers defined by “People who blog about genealogy.” The idea of a ‘Code of Conduct’ being developed for this amorphous group of people leads to the question “who has the right to do so?” Who are the leaders, and when did we vote on them? I know I never got a ballot.

    And a community defined by this blog, owned by Thomas. The ‘tagline’ for the blog is “The genealogy community’s resource for blogging.” So it appears he looks at his blog as a resource for the amorphous community defined above — not as a community separate in itself.

    As Michael Hait states, Thomas certainly has a right to decide which bloggers he includes in his Genealogy Blog Listing. And he can come up with any guidelines he likes for that listing. And make them public, or not. It is his blog, and his decision.

    However, I’ve been a member of the genealogy blogging community since April of 2007, and object strongly if Irish Mason really believes that Thomas created this community with this website. – as Geneabloggers.com was created in January of 2009. The genealogy blogging community was around long before that. Before even I came on board.

    It *IS* my *RIGHT* to blog about anything I want to blog about in any way I see fit. Thomas, nor anyone else, has the right to take that right away from me (Except for the government, if I break any laws, or the host of my blog, if I violate any of their rules.)

    The only “Privilege” that Thomas has any control over is whether or not we get listed in his list of blogs. Just as Chris Dunham has control over who he lists in his Genealogy Blog Finder: http://blogfinder.genealogue.com/ and just as any blogger has control over who they list in their blogroll.

    Thomas isn’t my king. I think he has great insight, and I have been following, and enjoying, his posts on this and his other blogs for awhile. His, and a hundred other geneabloggers. But he doesn’t have the standing to create a Code of Conduct I have to sign before I can blog about genealogy.

  46. Blogging should not be regulated by a code of conduct, no matter the topic. However, if you wish to enforce a code of conduct as part of membership into a particular group such as the geneabloggers, I see no issue with that.

  47. Is it *REALLY* necessary to have a Code of Conduct in order to blog about genealogy or anything else for that matter? I think not. If, as a “member” of GeneaBloggers I must restrict my blog content to just genealogy then I would no longer be a “member” – I haven’t written a genealogy blog post since October 2009 but still consider myself a genea-blogger. I made the decision to not create a separate blog for my journey when I started out in September. I felt that if my existing readers were interested in my travels they would continue to read. In fact, my readership has increased, not gone down because of that decision.

    It seems to me that the “Golden Rule” should apply in blogging as it does in other areas of life. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Simple. Effective. And a great “rule” to live by.

    The idea of making GeneaBloggers a “formal” community has been discussed before. Personally, I like it the way it is – an informal, loose-knit group of people blogging about something they love. Simple. Effective.

  48. Quite frankly I am shocked at the number of people that think this is a good idea. I think John’s and Mavis’ comments sum up most of my thoughts. I will continue to write about whatever interests me and if religion, politics, grandchildren or gardening creep in that’s OK, it’s my blog. I enjoy Carnivals but I can pick and chose which I participate in. I will not be blogging on any topic just because someone else thinks I should. If I happen across any “isms” I will either delete them or click away. There are a couple of blogs that I am not comfortable commenting on, so I don’t. Their loss, not mine!

  49. This is not the first time this kind of thing has happened. I’ve been watching the history of blogging for the last 10 years (and ) and there’ve been egregious examples in the past. (see the “Controversy” section in this wikipedia entry –and all the footnoted linked articles)

    There’ve been blogger codes of ethics.

    There are best practices that we can discuss and adhere to.

    This kinda thing has been going on for as long as online communities have been around.

    I like the saying done by The Well: YOYOW: You Own Your Own Words (Search in Google for the phrase “you own your own words” for more). When it comes to matters of plagiarism, there’s a downside.

    Communities talk about the values that they share.

    This is a fun and wild and wooly sphere. In time, best practices emerge.

    I’m all for the occasional statement affirming those practices that are agreed to be best, ethical, and moral.

    But codifying them? eh, not so much. Turning them into a boundary that declares these people as “inside” and these other people as “outside”? See yawl later, I got other things to do.

  50. Pingback: Follow-up: Code of Conduct | GeneaBloggers

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