Genealogy Blogs – A Bad Source?

Over at Genealogy and Family History there is a post entitled 5 Bad Genealogy Sources which, in my opinion, expresses some generalities about blogs which are, simply put, irresponsible.
 

In mentioning various sources of genealogy information, including wikis, personal websites, historical novels and movies, the author makes this statement about blogs:
 

“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. 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.”
 

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.  
 

Among our genealogy bloggers we have some who actually cite their original sources for blog posts about their families or research that they’ve performed. We also have many bloggers that specialize in very specific areas of genealogy and offer information that, while perhaps not appropriate as a cited source, can help break down a researcher’s brick wall or give them a jump start on their research.
 

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.  As many of us have stated previously, Internet-based research is not a substitute but a supplement to the more traditional (archive  and library-based) methods of research.

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27 thoughts on “Genealogy Blogs – A Bad Source?

  1. Who are those people?? I couldn’t find who they are anywhere on the site. Most of us put our name on what we do.
    Whoever they are, they are so out of touch with the exciting things happening on the web.
    My entire work will be published on my site in the end. Sources, notes, files, everything. I have no one to leave it to so the only answer to keep it out there and alive is to leave it on my personal website and blog. I want people to be helped by my work.
    When was the last time you got information from a ‘Historical Novel’ or movie for your genealogy file?? LOL
    You got my motor started on this Monday morning!

  2. Interesting that someone would take the time to write about the questionable legitimacy of blogs and bloggers…and then post it on their BLOG!
    In the author’s defense, I would not accept the evidence from any secondary source – regardless of whether it was a blog, website, county history, etc – without trying to verify the information using original sources. I think what the author is trying to make the point that people researching on the internet should not accept everything they find there as fact. However, I don’t think the point was made very succinctly. Reading through some of the other posts, I’m not entirely sure that English is the first language (although the various links seem UK-based).
    When I created my first PHPGedview site years ago, I intentionally left all sources off the site. I had found a number of things on Ancestry which were copied verbatim from my earlier HTML site – including the reference to the physical file number in my file cabinet that a copy of a will resided!
    Upon further review – on the latest version of the site, sources are back. I figured if people were going to go through the trouble of copying and propagating my information, at least I could make it possible for someone who might be interested to verify my work.

  3. You know, I could have accepted many caveats about blogs – recheck everything, use them as a starting point etc etc…all the things that most of us know about any information we receive from others. What I can’t accept is calling them “bad” and to “…stay away from blog sites” when looking for information.

    What BAD advice!

    I’ve found a veritable plethora of wonderful things since I’ve entered the GeneaBlogging community. There are so many knowledgeable people who, through their posts, are helping me to be a better genealogist…and by “better” I mean to use better evidence, better sourcing etc. And all because I read blogs!

  4. Anyone who has ever been in a library can probably turn up one or more reference books with “bad” information in them. Nobody would say “libraries will be of no help” in your research.” [Or substitute the word “newspapers”]. By far, those who take time to blog have contributed in significant ways to historical knowledge, the ability to connect and understand bits of evidence, as well as specific facts, the dissemination of which would not have occurred in other media.

  5. I believe that the owner of GenMates is Paul Duxbury who is active in the UK.

    Funny how he doesn’t mention all of the family trees submitted to web sites and databases over the years.

  6. The title of his article makes me think he just wrote it to get hits on his site. Whenever I share anything genealogical with someone I always caution them that nothing is written in stone, including my own “documented” records. Question everything!

  7. Randy is correct, the owner of GenMates is Paul Duxbury. He also owns http://www.amateur-genealogist.com/ with Kevin Cook. There are many Genealogy articles there lacking any source information.

    Randy gave them a shout out in 2006 – http://www.geneamusings.com/2006_09_01_archive.html

    Duxbury does say:

    “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.”

    I doubt that the NYPL blog or any library blog would agree with his analysis.

    And as to credentials, I have found he is an internet business coach. Whatever that may be, and this:

    Paul is Head of Training for a major UK Charitable Organisation with a wealth of experience in personal development, management development, e-learning and operational management. In addition to owning one of the UK’s leading Ebook Providers http://www.pk-ebooks.co.uk Paul also owns two leading Genealogy Websites http://www.amateur-genealogist.com and http://www.catholic-genealogy.com

    I believe this is Paul on Twitter, the picture matches. http://twitter.com/PaulDuxbury

    I think he has used this to generate hits for his website. Do you think his GenMates looks like an Ancestry clone?

    I’ve wasted far too much effort on him.

    -fM

  8. Pingback: Not a bad genealogy blog « Rootsfinder Family History

  9. I disagree that blogs are a bad source of genealogy data. Good grief, there’s a lot of bad information out there anyway. My old GEDs were routinely lifted off WorldConnect and incorporated into other family trees. Gosh, I probably made the same mistake myself when I was a newbie 10 years ago. That is not the point.

    The point is that people should always be encouraged to share their genealogy.

    However, I think it’s a good reminder that we should publish our sources. Here we go: http://rootsfinder.wordpress.com/2009/03/30/not-bad-blog/

  10. Well that certainly generated some interest and discussion. Which, despite the interpretation of my motives by some posters here, was precisely the aim. For every good Genealogy Blog there are literally hundreds which are filled with poor genealogy information.

    If one person was motivated to think again about how they construct their blog, to start giving verified sources for their posts or to check their sources before quoting them – then the article achieved it’s purpose. Yes of course it was also intended to generate hits to the site – why else do we have websites if not to get people to visit them – and to think about the postings and to take action?

    I am sadddened that some people (who don’t actually say who they are other than their initials) felt the need to resort to personal insults. Perhaps if they had taken a little time they might have discovered that as well as operating one of the longest standing Genealogy Groups (prior to MSN closing Groups) I have over the years been published in various UK Genealogy Magazines and presented at various Conferences. So I do know a little about Genealogy.

    Take care

    Paul

  11. Thanks Paul for the comments – I appreciate knowing more about the article and I agree that posting it has had one good outcome: to get people to think more about their sourcing and citations.

    I do think that there are more good genealogy blogs than bad however – perhaps that’s my pollyanna-ish “glass half full” outlook. While many genealogy blogs are run by people new to the field, we all have to start somewhere. With their fellow genealogy bloggers they’ve come to find a helpful supportive community who can teach them the importance of proper citation format. I’d never want to discourage anyone from starting a genealogy blog or reading them. A person simply needs to exercise good judgment when using information found on a blog, or any website for that matter.

  12. Unfortunately, Mr. Duxbury has failed to cite any sources or provide any examples to support his statements. The lack of documentation leads me to question the veracity of his conclusions.

    Kindest regards,
    Stephen J. Danko, PLCGS

  13. If one person was motivated to think again about how they construct their blog, to start giving verified sources for their posts or to check their sources before quoting them – then the article achieved it’s purpose.

    But, Paul, if they followed your advice – they’d be staying away from blog sites, so they wouldn’t see the blog posts, even if we did include citations? Of course, they’ll have stopped reading your blog, too. You did say, “Stay away from blog sites” (qoute endquote.) You didn’t say “stay away from those blog sites that don’t cite sources.” There is a big difference between the two.

    I do think I will be staying away from yours, since you seem to prefer dealing with exaggeration and hyperbole, as opposed to actually offering good advice.

  14. I knew that all of this sounded familiar. I went through the exact same thing when someone called me on the carpet for not citing my sources for this article – http://sherifenley.blogspot.com/2008/08/genea-blogger-games-final-day-of.html

    I redid the article with footnotes and source citations here –

    http://sherifenley.blogspot.com/2008/10/practicing-what-i-preach.html

    I may not have credentials behind my name (yet), but I work my butt off to be a responsible researcher and take offensive that someone would say that what I publish on my blog is essentially bs.

  15. I’d say Paul got exactly what he set out to do. the topic is out there and his hits have gone through the roof – I’ve seen this same discussion on at least 5 different blogs. I disagree with the sweeping sentiment of the blog but his article has merit – not everything is to be trusted (but you could say that about anything could you not?).
    Very clever, Mr Duxbury, very clever.

  16. There are two types of posts that generate traffic

    1) The post that generates a spike of hits, but the visitors don’t like what they see, so a majority of visitors don’t return.

    2) The post that generates a spike of hits, and the visitors like what they find, so they do return.

    The goal of most bloggers who are out there seeking traffic, is to get people to return to their site. Not to visit it once. (Note: I am speaking of the goal for those who are seeking traffic. Many genealogy/family history bloggers aren’t seeking traffic.)

  17. In addition to what he says about blogs he also finds fault with “personal websites” – well my “personal website” is on of the best and I am very proud of it as I strive to post only information that researchers can take to the bank.

    Paul Duxbury does not know what he is talking about – By the way, I found it frustrating that I could not find how to post a comment or contact him on his blog.

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