If you are member of the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG) and you’ve had the “pleasure” of subscribing to the APG Mailing List and have done so for some time, then you already know about the problem: having meaningful posts hijacked by a select group of users with a personal agenda advocating an extreme view of licensing and “genealogy professionalism.”
The APG Mailing List Problem
I’ve been a member of APG for several years and my frustration with the mailing list and the lack of leadership by APG has come to its boiling point. Yes, there are mailing list moderators, but their actions are ineffective, perhaps due to the structure of their duties.
In essence, the moderators have created a de facto unmoderated forum where for years two individuals have successfully overtaken the list with their repetitive statements related to their agenda.
Tolerating a Polluted Channel
What if you had a television, but on one channel, the programming was inconsistent? And let’s say this channel is one for which you provide money each year in support of its programming. You enjoy watching most of the shows and feel they have value. But lately, every show seems to devolve into the same theme: a theme that provides little interest to you and one that has nothing new to say.
You contact the station, but their “rules” for effecting change are self-serving and rules that only help to maintain the status quo. They ask that you not discuss programming issues publicly either by confronting the propagandists directly or by voicing your opinion publicly. The “code of conduct” for programmers is structured in such a way that domination by one or two persons is not only tolerated, but permitted. In fact, speaking out publicly is a violation of the “code.”
So what are your options? Get up and change the channel? Ignore the problem, as many urge you to do and as the station seems to do? Or be steadfast and ask for change?
Why The APG Mailing List Matters and Why Change Is Needed
Change is needed now. I want to get the most out of my APG membership and all its channels, but I’ve basically been told that one channel can be frustrating and ineffective but that this is a tolerated nuisance. “It’s always been this way . . .”
Nonsense. I don’t wait for any organization or anyone for “permission” to create change. I believe the opportunity to bring about change does not emerge out of the status quo. This means sometimes you have to say that the emperor has no clothes and you have to do it out on the streets, publicly, so others can hear.
If you are an APG member, I’m asking you to do what I’ve done: demand change and reclaim what is rightfully yours as a paying member of the organization. Do not be afraid to voice your opinion or to “add fuel to the fire” as so many people have told me via offline emails. Don’t tolerate a Fight Club mentality where “the first rule of the APG Mailing List is that you don’t talk about the APG Mailing List.” Such behavior is abusive and the sure sign of a dysfunctional organization.
Yes “genealogy professionalism” discussions have their place. However, this doesn’t mean that almost any and every message on the APG Mailing List should be hijacked to include such a discussion.
©2013, copyright Thomas MacEntee