WIKI-GENPAGES-L ArchivesArchiver > WIKI-GENPAGES > 2011-06 > 1307044266
From: Bill <>
Subject: Re: [WIKI-GENPAGES] Wikis
Date: Thu, 2 Jun 2011 15:51:06 -0400
Always glad to spread merriment!
But seriously, I think genealogy benefits from the work of every
genealogist who makes their information available to others whether
it be through a wiki, or a more conventional genealogy venue. While
everyone of us seems to have our very own alternative reality there's
value to be obtained from even the most awful lineage posted on
Ancestry. As I've often said in other venues, I really like haveing
about a million people searching through all of those records, and
making their findings (understood or not) available to me online.
I'm definitely not one of those who views Ancestry Family Tree's, for
instance in terms of "we don't need no stinking Ancestry." as one
research I know puts it publically.
But the real problem in genealogy, and one that directly affects the
value to obtained from collaborative wiki's, is that we have a
"culture of belief", in which documentation of facts is really
irrelevant to most. Its pretty much "What I believe is right, and to
the extent you disagree with me, you're an idiot."
Basically, what most genealogists seem to do is accept whatever they
come across as right, and there after anything that contradicts that
is obviously wrong.
Oh, they might argue the subject for awhile, looking for different
interpretations, but eventually they settle on something (usually
something published before 1900) and decide that its right, any
anything else is wrong---no matter how ill documented the work might be.
I recently had a conversation with a researcher who was upset because
there were actually some folks out there who had the temerity to post
a lineage that she felt was absolutely wrong. She wanted to set the
record straight and let everyone know what the correct lineage for
this particular family should be.
She didn't offer any evidence to support her view (which by the way I
suspect was right).
So I asked her what the evidence was
She responded with a typed version of the lineage. No documentation,
no sources. Just the facts.
Then as, an after thought "If that's not sufficient for you, Futhey
and Cope say the same thing". Futhey and Cope being a well known
late 19th century publication on the history of Chester County PA.
Its a very useful work if your interested in the area, but its really
bad for documentation. Everything is presented as a matter of fact,
with no way to check to see what its based on.
Making a long story shorter, I eventually responded something like
"You realize the Futhey and Cope is not an original source, but a
The answer was "It is NOT a deriviative source. They consulted
original records and that makes their work an original source. Now
please go away because you don't know what you are talking about."
it was pretty much "I'm right, and your an idiot."
Unfortuntely, that seems to be the attitude of a great many folk.
What they believe is what they believe. Until that culture changes,
and people understand why original sources are needed, its going to
be a hard slog getting good quality collaboration on a wiki---or
The real key to making genealogy wiki's work the way they should, is
changing the culture. That's a pretty big task, as the view point
seems to be endemic in America.---or maybe that's "pandemic". A case
in point is the Obama birther controversy. Obama was quite right
when he released his birth certificate, stating that for some people
even this wouldn't be enough. What was the response---for most
people releasing the birth certificate pretty much tool the wind out
of the sails of the argument...but there was a US representative who
went on record as saying that it was "a very nice bit of
photoshopping". True believers never change their views, and no
amount of evidence will change their opinion. Facts are not
important to them...unless they can be used to support their own
views---otherwise, facts are irrelevant.
Then there's the "Deathers", who didn't believe that Bin Laden had
been killed. That went on sometime...until his followers started
vowing revenge. Some think even that is a conspiracy, and that Bin
Laden is still out there---and that his followers just wanted to make
it look like he was dead so we'd stop looking for him. We all know,
of course, that he's alive and well and partying in Las Vegas with
Elvis and Michael Jackson.
For people for whom belief is important, facts are irrelevant. For
people for whom facts are important, belief is irrelvant.
I'll accept "belief" as a fit and proper basis for religious views.
But as a problem solving method it doesn't have much to do with
On Jun 2, 2011, at 2:56 PM, Michael G. McManness wrote:
> Genealogy wikis seem to have a set of issues.
> I about fell out of my chair laughing at Bill's on-target comment, "a
> genealogically naive potential user community, many of whom self
> themselves as expert genealogists, having a Gedcom of more than 50,000
> people, and having been doing genealogy for the past 30 years.
> Chris' explanation or use of forking terminology explains the
> complexity to
> sync. Technology is improving and AncestorSync would appear to be
> headed in
> the right direction. Also, as has been mentioned, the steep
> learning curve
> remains an additional issue. Ease of use seems to be a dominant or
> However, the basic issue today seems to be technological in nature
> with gedcom which is a limited lineage-linked data model.
> Genealogists need
> a new specification with an evidence-based data structure model that
> provides the ability to exchange, transfer and sync genealogical
> data in an
> easy way.
> This is way over my head, but the people at this wiki recognize that
> genealogy file sharing isn't working properly.
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