07 April 2014

The Genealogy Elite and the Genealogy Police

{opinion alert--we are also working on some research posts as well...so stay tuned for those as well]

According to some, high upon a mountain top, hidden among clouds and gray skies, are the genealogical elite. According to current mythology, they sit in judgement of virtually every genealogical statement that is made.  It is possible they wear white robes and carry gilded copies of the genealogical proof standards in their glove-covered hands.  However, no one really knows since they rarely appear face to face with any mere humans.

I have never been contacted by the genealogical elite so I can provide no evidence for their existence.  The genealogical elite apparently dispense scathing criticism to researchers, bloggers, and writers. Their criticism is always negative and always harsh. They rarely share their knowledge freely with anyone, only dispensing it quarterly in journals that are only seen by other members of the genealogical elite and their minions: the genealogical police.

The genealogical police serve two purposes: protecting the genealogical elite and dispensing genealogical justice. The genealogical police are stationed at the bottom of the mythical mountain on which the genealogical elite reside. The genealogical police restrict access to the genealogical elite by use of  defensive editing, grammar correcting, and an extreme enforcement of the genealogical proof standard.

I don't believe in the existence of the genealogical elite and I don't believe in the existence of the genealogy police.

In the course of my nearly thirty years of genealogical experience, I have only been on the receiving end of encouragement of "big names" in the genealogical field. I have never received disdain or biting criticism and I've never received any nasty emails. On those times when I have been wrong about something, I've received either suggestions or questions that were asked politely in order to get me to think myself through my mistake. In fact, I have found well-respected genealogists to be more approachable than "well-known" individuals in other fields.

Publishing genealogical conclusions online, either in a "tree," a blog, or a website makes it easy for others to learn of your conclusions. And it makes it easy for someone with a different conclusion or who may not understand how you reached your conclusion to contact you. Someone who sees your conclusions and asks you where you got them or how you reached them is not being "elite." Someone who points out that there are a number of sources that run contrary to your conclusion is not being "elite." I am one who wants to know that I have made a conclusion that needs to be revised (translation: "I made a mistake.") Those people are simply searching for information on their ancestors.  And isn't that what we all are doing?

If a correspondent is rude or condescending, that's one thing--but simply asking you a question does not make that person elite. I want my research to be as accurate as possible. If someone helps me to better my research or my research skills, I may call them many things, but elite is not one of those words.

Calling someone names because they disagree with me is something I gave up in third grade.

[here's my post on why citation and methods matter]

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