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Do “Top 40” Lists Help or Harm the Genealogy Community? Open Thread Thursday

Double-edged sword

This week’s topic for Open Thread Thursday is:

Various magazines, blogs, and websites occasionally publish a “best of” or “top 40” list related to genealogy. These include the best blogs, the best users of social media, the best genealogy software, etc.

One problem with lists is that they are finite and only have room to mention ___ number of resources. In addition, a list is often subjective and can be biased based on the author’s experience with and awareness of such resources.

Is it helpful to have such lists since they can often make those new to genealogy and family history aware of these resources? Or do they tend to perpetuate the same “gliteratti” in the genealogy community each year with little room for newcomers? Are there alternative solutions such as “Our Reader’s Recommended List of . . .” or “The 40 Genealogy Resources You Might Have Missed?”

Post your responses in the comments or at a post on your own genealogy blog and place the link here in the comments.

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At first I hesitated writing this post at all: I was recently named a Social Media Maverick by Family Tree Magazine and I didn’t want to seem ungrateful. But at the same time I realize that there were several resources which I would have included (such as DearMYRTLE) if I had been asked to prepare the list. I know that it is never an easy job to select and prepare a “best of” list and I’ve been guilty of omitting obvious resources . . . I once did this while on a panel discussion: I failed to mention the creator of one of the best resources who was sitting right next to me!

While being listed is great, it can be frustrating to know that many others put many hours into giving back to the genealogy community via social media yet don’t get listed. This week it has been noted that there is a US bias to the list (it is a US-based magazine with predominately US readership) as well as a lack of diversity in terms of various ethnic groups within the genealogy community.

My opinion, for what it’s worth: these lists help more than they harm, as long as they are seen in overall context of the resources available in the genealogy community and that genuine efforts are made to highlight and promote all valuable resources – whether they get 10 or 10,000 page views a day. I’d love to see several types of lists in a given year such as “most underused resources” or “best _________ resources” etc. In addition, having a “reader’s list” where others submit their own “top 40” or “best of” could be a real eye-opener!

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This is a great topic for this week’s Open Thread Thursday! And please, if you have a topic you’d like to see discussed among your genealogy blogging colleagues, please contact us and we’ll take it under consideration.

Disclosure:  Please see Disclosure Statements for more information on my material connection with genealogy vendors and organizations.

Photo: Sword, on Flickr, used via Creative Commons License.

©2014, copyright Thomas MacEntee