Sea Genes

Family History & Genealogy Research

Accuracy, Clarity, and Conciseness

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A recent blog poster stated the following query: “Most people do not know how to access the best genealogy resources and determine whether they are right?” This query is more properly stated as “Some people do not know where the best genealogical resources are located. Who is to determine whether the genealogist has found the right resource?”

The plain thrust of the article in which the query appeared was to show best practices and resource usage. However, there are no best practices outlined in the article, nor is there a single resource other than the poster’s company referred to.

The question is answered simply by providing the person with primary, original, and direct information about their research project. Whether these primary, original, and direct resources are available on the Internet or not matters little; such materials are extremely accessible through diligent searching. One simply has to google Agincourt, for example, to learn that it was a battle instead of a war.

The poster of the above query advocates contacting a specific professional business, instead; a business that dresses up its advertising with pretty pictures and excess verbiage. The poster makes use of lots of repetition in the article, repeating phrases like “best genealogy” and “Professional Genealogy Research Services”. This is advertising at its worst, giving the consumer what looks like an authoritative statement with the least amount of content.

Best practices is a popular phrase these days and abusing it in advertising in this fashion is, well, not best practices. A wonderful depiction of genealogical best practices is available from Mark Tucker’s ThinkGenealogy.com.

The poster also takes the stand that only someone with the “right” education, the “right” experience, and the “right” “commercial profes­sional” status can be a professional genealogist, that everyone else is an amateur. This is an example of the culturally illiterate staking a claim in the “commercial industry” of genealogy. The phrase “commercial industry” is an oxymoron that has no place in the marketplace of profes­sional for-hire work, which is what a professional genealogist performs. See for instance the Latter Day Saints Family History Library’s Resource Guide: Hiring a Professional Genealogist. The statement under “Genealogical Credentials”: “Years of education, research experience, and satisfactory service to clients may be just as important as credentials” is intriguing.

Does the blogger who posted the article have the right, or even the skill, to say that I am not qualified to be a professional? Someone who has not even inquired about the potential for doing business with me? Someone who has never asked after my professional qualifications built up in closely related fields and research projects elsewhere? Or, especially, someone who claims to be the best, but provides no evidence of such ability? To go back a bit, I didn’t have to google Agincourt. I knew, from long, long ago, that it was a battle. It also had nothing whatsoever in common with the American Revolutionary War or the American Civil War as the poster apparently believes.

I abide by the Genealogist’s Code as published by the Board for Certification of Genealogists. Although I am not certified, I have read and believe in the phrase at page 29 of their manual, that “all of us, as reputable genealogists, abide by its provisions.”

The statement at page 31 of the manual about exposing genealogical charlatans and injuring the business of another genealogist is also quite interesting at this juncture. As the advertising statements made by the original poster were extremely general, as well as generally offensive, I suppose I don’t have a case against them; nor them me.

The preceding statements are my sole opinion and are meant only to be informative as such. As in all business, caveat emptor.

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Written by N. P. Maling

5 October 2009 at 20:14

Posted in Blogging

Tagged with , ,

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