Sunday, July 19, 2009

GenealogyWise controversy & apology

Not enough for Blogger.com?

DearREADERS,

Ol’ Myrt here takes a day and a half off to look for a wedding dress, and all sorts of shenanigans have shaken up the world of online genealogy.

This just goes to show Ol’ Myrt’s own daughters that there is indeed breaking news and political intrigue on the supposedly dry subject of searching for our dead ancestors.

Thursday morning, Ol’ Myrt here finally broke blogging silence to discuss my personal feelings about the new social networking site GenealogyWise in my posting titled GenealogyWise.com down this morning. One particular challenge is the fact that it is obvious the GenealogyWise.com coders from parent organization World Vital Records / FamilyLink are non-genealogists. No one particularly expects them to be genealogists, but at least a genealogist should have “last sign off” rights concerning promotions, policies and procedures. My comments about GenealogyWise.com included:

  • Inadequate technical support
  • Inappropriate approach to genealogy
  • Overly focused on the numbers

These comments were posted on my regular DearMYRTLE blog site published using Blogger.com’s software. Had Ol’ Myrt here published these concerns exclusively at GenealogyWise, they might have received the abrupt removal from GenealogyWise as did a posting and subsequent comments about the problems at GenealogyWise posted by Terry Thornton at GenealogyWise.com.

But now I am worried. If I make this posting, will Blogger.com cancel my DearMYRTLE blog space – considering it a terms of service violation?

A friend first brought the mess to Ol’ Myrt’s attention in a personal email. Then, as I checked around, I see that Randy Seaver wrote GenealogyWise apology to Terry Thornton.

Craig Manson wrote FamilyLink Mis-Cues Mar GW Debut; “H*ll” Breaks Loose at Site describing some of the challenges, and I appreciate his insight and his “wait and see” approach. Craig is a calming influence in times of stress and this character trait was echoed in a public response by Terry Thornton who wrote: “Thank you Craig for your insightful summary of my involvement in the GW controversy. You are one of the few writers thus far to cut to the chase especially in all of the implied reasons as to why my work was censored. I guess if you say “rude” and “disrespectful” and “bashing” and “profanity” and “porn” enough times while discussing a post that has been vaporized that everyone will come to the conclusion that Thornton was all of these things and perhaps more. Yes, I accepted the CEO’s apology — I think he was sincere. And yes, I accepted the hired hand’s apology for removing my discussion post. I forgive them both but I’ll never forget what they did to me and to the blogging community.”

But as if all this wasn’t enough, a non-genealogy site where many of our genealogy blogs exist, Blogger.com, no longer has any of Terry Thornton’s blogs. I discovered the first missing blog this morning as Ol’ Myrt here attempted to visit Terry Thornton’s website to write to him personally. I was surprised to receive the following message “Blog has been removed. Sorry, the blog at hillcountryofmonroecountry.blogspot.com has been removed. This address is not available for new blogs.” Try it yourself at Hill Country of Monroe County, Mississippi. From personal experience, I know that to have a blog site removed, it usually takes an official request from the party that was offended. I cannot picture Terry removing all of his own blogs, as each contained literally hundreds of postings, and that would be like shooting oneself in the foot. A reliable mutual friend has heard from Terry who confirms that all twelve of his blogs are “now removed from Blogger.com.”

So now, because of GenealogyWise’s initial decision to censor participation in their new social networking website, years of Terry Thornton’s genealogy blog entries on twelve different Blogger.com sites have been removed from our view, throwing years of hard work down the drain.

Don’t you think we should handle our little controversies amongst ourselves?

I certainly don’t wish to become the genealogy police, but heavens, look what we have wrought, people. Let’s work together. A little constructive criticism never hurt anyone. Ancestry.com managed to keep going despite controversy. GenealogyWise and the folks at World Vital Records / FamilyLink can do the same.

As to Ol’ Myrt’s original concerns about GenealogyWise, listed above, Paul Allen reports in his 17 July 2009 Apology to Terry Thornton that he has appointed a genealogist to head the GenealogyWise project, which is now officially 10 days old. He has directed that GW abandon censorship of postings, and took the $800 his organization had planned to spend encouraging GenealogyWise growth by giving $801 to the Itawamba Historical Society, and an additional $801 to the Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness.

In response to Paul Allen’s apology to Terry Thornton, Jennifer Eklund wrote “I would like to give a standing ovation to Genealogy Wise. To have the creators able to stand up and apologize for mistakes makes Genealogy Wise feel like a real home. No one is perfect. We all make mistakes. To have a company be able to say “Oops! Sorry about that one,” and be sincere brings great warmth to my heart. I am very excited to see Genealogy Wise continue to grow into “the genealogy social networking site.”

To this Ol’ Myrt adds “Isn't it wonderful when someone at the top can listen and learn? Such interactivity with users is to be encouraged, and will make GW a better site for all concerned. This was a sticky wicket to get through. Every new venture has its challenges. Keep up the good work.”

Here’s hoping the genealogy police don’t remove my three blogs.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
DearMYRTLE,
Your friend in genealogy.
Myrt@DearMYRTLE.com

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