GENEALOGY-DNA-L ArchivesArchiver > GENEALOGY-DNA > 2005-03 > 1111551620
Subject: list adoption Q & A
Date: Tue, 22 Mar 2005 23:20:20 EST
I will try to consolidate some answers to questions which have come up, in no
1) I did receive e-mails from several people who are willing to volunteer,
most often phrased as "if no one else steps up...." At the very least, we don't
have to worry about the list being orphaned, and some of those volunteers
might be willing to act as babysitters from time to time if anyone is hesitating
because they don't want to be on duty 24/7/365.
No one has expressed an interest in being the admin for a new list.
2) Someone mentioned co-administrators. I posed this question on the
ListOwners list, and got some helpful replies (this is the sort of thing that makes it
worthwhile to subscribe to that list). The list must have one address for a
contact person, but that can be a web-based e-mail address that several people
share. All could have access to the password protected site for the list admin
-- necessary for some functions such as checking Blocked Mail (mostly spam
addressed to the mailing list), placing people on Moderated status, and so
forth, so you would need to agree on the division of duties and have a lot of trust
in each other.
That joint address would be automatically subscribed to the mailing list, so
it would receive a combination of list and admin mail. The people sharing the
address could divide up the duties as they pleased: rotating for a time
period, or taking on certain tasks. Perhaps one person would handle letters sent to
the generic admin address, another person could monitor topic drift and/or
flaming, and another could monitor excessive quoting, and so forth. I have asked
in the past for volunteers to help with the quoting problem, but that has
never worked out. If a person shared the list admin duties, he would have some
real clout -- he could even place the "offender" on Moderation if necessary.
3) How much time is required? Charles quoted me as saying I spend about five
hours a day on list activities. Much of that is discretionary -- e.g. when I
post, I often try to craft fairly comprehensive answers with some background,
URLs, and so forth, but that is not in the minimal job description. The list
admin doesn't have to answer any DNA questions at all! I also spend a fair
amount of time keeping my finger on the pulse of the general genetic genealogy
community. For example, last night I answered a question about a surname list
admin who forbids discussion of DNA topics.
Roberta asked about how much effort is required for genealogy vs deep
ancestry postings. They must all be read, and they all can generate bounce messages,
and so forth, but personally I probably spend more time on answering genealogy
posts, but more time on monitoring deep ancestry posts for topic drift and
4) Someone mentioned some advantages of a message board format. There is a
DNA board at GenForum, but it only has 407 messages in a little over a year.
There are some helpful and knowledgable people, but it's not a very vibrant
community. It would probably take a lot of effort to build it up that way, the sort
of effort I put into building the GENEALOGY-DNA mailing list in the early
5) John B suggested a private poll about splitting the list, but I think
Alastair's web-based poll can give us a reasonable indication of how current list
members feel -- if they care enough to vote. It seems to be holding with the
majority in favor of keeping one list. However, neither method would represent
the people who subscribe and unsubscribe very quickly. That happens a lot,
especially during flame wars. The prior weekend the number of subscribers dropped
about 3%, which distressed me greatly. And this current list business seems
to be taking its toll, too -- I've received an unusual number of unsubscribe
notices yesterday and today. Maybe they'll be back when the dust settles.
6) Charles has quoted the list description that appears at RootsWeb:
> Topic: Anyone with DNA (i.e., anyone!) who would like to discuss methods
> and share results of DNA testing as applied to genealogical research.
In the beginning, that was basically all we *could* do with our DNA results.
The real old-timers will remember conversations about trying to deduce our
haplogroups based on the classic six STRs -- we called it "reading tea leaves."
The picture changed when FTDNA began offering haplogroup descriptions, and
Ancestry by DNA began offering tests for percentages of ancestry from different
areas of the world. Sometime back then I changed the guidelines in the Welcome
message to cover broader subject matter:
KEEP YOUR MESSAGES RELEVANT TO GENEALOGY AND ANCESTRY.
It is a bit more complicated to change the description in the RootsWeb index,
but it can be done, and the next list administrator can modify it to reflect
the direction he/she chooses for the list.
7) We can't really predict the consequences of splitting the list (or rather,
as Nancy clarifies, keeping GENEALOGY-DNA and starting a brand-new list).
That would depend to some extent on who ends up administering the two lists (if
they are not the same person). Some potential problems are cross-posting and
subscribers feeling snubbed or rebuffed if they are told they are off-topic and
they should subscribe to the other list. Hopefully, the two admins wouldn't
bounce the poor subscriber back and forth, each admin telling the subscriber to
go to the other list! If someone answers an off-topic post, does that set a
bad precedent and dilute the focus? Will the admin have to post countless
messages saying this or that is off-topic, and no one should answer off-topic
messages? It could be chaotic, especially in the beginning, but perhaps it would be
worth it in the long run.
Perhaps Charles, or other potential volunteers who would like to see a new
list, could give us some answers as to how they would view some topics which
come up. Which of these would you refer to the "other" list?
a) FTDNA's Recent Ethnic Origins info, e.g. why some people have so many
matches with Ashkenazi Jews
b) Super-hap tests, when they become available
c) Thomas Krahn's DYS385a/b test (probably not significant for surname
projects, but interesting for haplogroup/population genetics)
d) Checking your numbers in YHRD (a population database, as opposed to Ybase
e) Mutation rates
f) mtDNA in general (which is very rarely brought up in a genealogical
g) Ancestry by DNA or tests of that ilk
h) General and medical genetics (inheritance of blood types, hemochromatosis,
plague resistance, DNA Direct)
i) News items -- DNA testing on Columbus or the Medici, the recent completion
of the X-chromosome sequence (posted by Charles, BTW), Perlegen's
j) Locality based projects that look at the variety of haplogroups found
therein (Border Reivers, Puerto Rico, Shetland Islands)
k) paternity testing
Actually, as I start to think about the many topics which are not "pure"
genealogy, it seems like the "other" list could actually be quite broad, broader
than some of the proposed names would suggest. Maybe it could be called
DNA-NOT-GENEALOGY (just kidding).
Ann Turner - GENEALOGY-DNA List Administrator
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