Here are many of the questions not directly answered during Ol' Myrt's BLOGGING FOR BEGINNERS webinar hosted last week by our friends at Legacy Family Tree. For the webinar, we used the example of Google Reader to pull in and read blog entries and Blogger.com to create a blog and to make blog postings.
"IT WAS ABSOLUTELY THRILLING for me and very excellent! This is my very first such seminar, and I am brand new to Genealogy. Frankly, I am completely overwhelmed and don't know where to begin. I love the new technology and am learning more about this. This Blogging is new to me too, and not sure where or how to start really. I will re-watch this. It's overwhelming, and sorta feel like a baby who is just learning to stand up! Thanks for keeping it as easy as possible for those of us who are total 'rookies'."
Q: = a question from a webinar attendee
A: = an answer from the Legacy Family Tree team.
Myrt: = Myrt's answers in this blog entry, not covered during the webinar.
Q: How to select name of Blog?
A: - unanswered -
Myrt: Any name will do ~ perhaps pertaining to the topic, the ancestral name, your personal family history journey, etc. Just go for it! The one I am doing using my friend's WWII and Korean conflict letters is titled "Elsie Says..." owing to our personal history
Q: What are the caveats about using your real name (and/or home address) on a website?
Myrt: My blog has a snail mail address hosted by the UPS Store. I've had issues with an stalking individual, but consider that highly unusual. It is a good practice to use a mail service. The use of real names is a matter of choice.
Q: What about using a blog to help identify family photos?
A: Another great idea.
Q: Is there any way to recall a blog if you publish it accidentally?
A: Yes, you can delete it.
Q: I have a Google ID but do not use Gmail, do I still need Gmail to use Blogger.com for my blog?
Myrt: Your Google ID will permit you to log in to Blogger.com and set up a blog.
Q: Does Blogger allow you to download the blog to your computer for backing up?
A: -- unanswered --
Myrt: Blogger.com doesn't have its own backup option. However, here are links to several suggestions:
- http://fbbootcamp.blogspot.com/2008/09/backing-up-your-blog.html (Myrt initially saved everything in Word format, as Thomas suggested in the opening paragraphs of this blog entry.)
- http://fbbootcamp.blogspot.com/2008/12/backup-your-blogger-based-blog.html (Now Myrt monthly backs up everything to the .xml format. I also have a copy of everything at GoogleReader.)
Q: Any possibility for a webinar on "What genealogists need to know about copyright, " especially as related to images, blogs, websites data, etc.?
A: -- unanswered --
Myrt: A great idea. Who could teach this?
Q: I have Windows 2000 can I still watch/listen to Webinars coming up?
A: -- unanswered --
Myrt: Current technology calls for the following system specifications, see: http://www.gotomeeting.com/fec/webinar/webinar_support
To organize or attend an online meeting, webinar or training session, the following is required:
For PC-based participants:
For Mac®-based participants:
- Windows® 7, Vista, XP or 2003 Server
- Cable modem, DSL, or better Internet connection
- Minimum of Pentium® class 1GHz CPU with 512 MB of RAM (recommended) (2 GB of RAM for Windows® Vista)
Participants wishing to connect to audio using VoIP will need a fast Internet connection, a microphone and speakers. (A USB headset is recommended.)
- Mac OS® X 10.4.11 – Tiger® or newer
- PowerPC G4/G5 or Intel processor (512 MB of RAM or better recommended)
- Cable modem, DSL, or better Internet connection
Q: How large can your blog be in Blogger for the free option?
A: I don't believe there is a limit. However, there is a limit on the total space you are using (pictures/videos, etc.)Myrt: Each blog entry can be about any length. I've not hit the limit in all these years. You may need to add space to host your graphics and videos expanding your free Google account.
Q: How do you and others connect together on a blog?
A: -- unanswered--
Myrt: As folks perform internet searches, they will find your blog entries which are spidered (every word indexed) by Google within minutes of your blog post going live. As they post comments, you'll begin to communicate and definitive family relationships will emerge. Sharing the photo you've posting in your blog may encourage someone to share the pages from the family bible they inherited. Neat, huh?!!
Q: Will Myrt talk about dealing with spam on her blog?
A: Pre-screening the comments helps. Or its built-in spam prevention helps too.
Myrt: All comments must be approved by me before they go live.
Q: So you are saying that if we are going to use Blogging to connect family, use just one large blog instead of several individual blogs - is that correct - will the blog become too LAYERED? and too hard to find the information - so is a blog searchable?
A: -- unanswered--
Myrt: You are thinking of a blog like a multi-page book, forgetting that search engines do better at finding a unique word on a blog entry than we are at tabbing through an index in a book. Let technology work for you. I am constantly surprised to receive comments on a blog post I made so long ago I barely remember it. So, basically I am saying GET IT OUT THERE, and don't worry. If you build it, they will come!
Q: Do you have to get permission from a website such as Ancestry or just cite that the document comes from Ancestry?
A: If they have the copyright on the digital image, then you'd need their permission. However, I'm not a copyright lawyer...
Myrt: I have permission from websites like Ancestry.com to show a document since I am describing the process of how to use the site to obtain the results. But I learned it is always best to give credit where credit is due.
Q: How do we get the societies to use blogs - would be much easier?
A: Yes, it really just starts with educating the board members. Have them watch this webinar later at www.legacyfamilytree.com/webinars.asp.
Myrt: It also might help to explain that it costs nothing to do a blog. Contrast this with the high cost of producing a society newsletter (paper, copying, postage, bulk mailing permit, etc.)
Q: Are all your blogs through the one Google account?
Q: Why do you say yes to the show email post?
Myrt: This permits readers to send a copy of my blog entry to another person via email.
Q: You mentioned you have different Gmail accounts - why and how does that work?
A: Some will have a Gmail account they use only for doing online shopping. Some will sign up for another Gmail account to use for genealogy correspondence. So, lots of reasons I guess.
Q: I would like to blog primarily, to assist with researching my family. Is this a reasonable use of blogging?
A: Absolutely. This helps "market our ancestors". Others will find your blog and get in touch.
Q: What kinds of things do people blog about?
A: Being answered right now...
Q: Would Google Documents work in place of Dropbox?
Myrt: Dropbox automatically updates the dropbox folder on my three computers as soon as I open one. I really like that option since I don't have to think about it.
Q: Where can I purchase the Quick Sheets on the Legacy website? I went to the store and can't find them.
Myrt: Here are the laminated Quick Sheets won by three attendees of the live webinar:
- Quicksheet: Genealogical Problem Analysis- A Strategic Plan- Evidence! Style
- Quicksheet Citing Online Historical Resources
- Quicksheet Citing Ancestry.com Databases & Images
Q: How do you upload the Google Reader?
Myrt: Google Reader can check a website that you specify (I used ThinkGenealogy.com as an example during the webinar) and see if there is an RSS feed. Google Reader resides on the internet, not on your local computer, so all you need to do is go Google.com, login, and then select "Reader" near the upper left.
Q: Picassa on your desk top will easily up-load from your photo files.
A: --unanswered --
Myrt: Yes, it will automatically sync all your photo files, however I've turned this option off, because I prefer to work through the 15 extra shots Mr. Myrt took before he got his favorite good shot.
Q: I assume pre-screening comments ensures you never are bothered by spam postings?
A: Yes, but blogging services also have built-in spam protection.
Q: How do you find blogs that you might want to subscribe to?
Myrt: Perhaps because geneablogs are growing so fast, many of us are not listed on Cyndi's List. I'd just go to GeneaBloggers.com and look through the types of blogs, as Thomas is pretty much on top of things.
Q: I post a lot of pictures on Facebook and have had family members suggest that I set up a blog instead. What would be the advantage of doing so other that more control of viewers. Also, if I'm wanting to share pictures, would they just go through a Picasa album to download.
Myrt: Facebook is limited to those who have elected to join. What if a distant relative (the one with the family bible) doesn't know to search for you by name? A blog entry about your ancestor will bring folks right to you.
Q: If I post pictures, what will be the resolution of the files for family members that want to download them?
Myrt: Admittedly, photos are reduced in quality to make it less expensive to host these photos and blogs for free. But at least, the individual has learned who you are, and you can share photos with them directly in higher quality .tiff format one on one or using a service such as a password protected Dropbox file.
Q: Is there a way to block people from taking your pictures off your blog.
Myrt: There is a technical way to go in and modify the html code to block copy/paste. However, I just don't worry about it. I am more interested in sharing information with other researchers.
Q: Sitemeter.com has a Blog Counter.
Q: How do we set up the Google Reader to begin?
A: Go to www.google.com/reader and either create an account there or sign in.
Myrt: If you have a google account, all you have to do is select the Reader from the list of available Google resources. Then review the webinar to see how to add a blog.
Q: I have family diary to transcribe. Any comments/tips about doing this on a blog?
A: Excellent idea for a blog entry. It will also help others find you.
Myrt: I am sure that the diary is regarding pre-1900, or that you have permission from the individual to transcribe anything later? Other than that, attempt to provide links to place that letter in historical context. For instance, if the letter refers to a railway disaster, provide a link to an online newspaper report of the accident, etc.
Q: I always have a hard time getting multiple photo images to be included in my blog text the way I want them. Whether I put it left, middle, or right justified, they seem to have a mind of their own, especially on the preview or when published. That seems to be the most difficult thing for me when blogging because I always add images from my hard drive.
A: I agree. I personally use Typepad and it's actually a bit easier there. But then it's not free like Blogger.
Myrt: I don't have trouble with multiple graphics if I restrict myself to 1 graphic per paragraph if using left or right justify. Otherwise, there is no problem if using the center option, and placing a line of text and a blank space before and after the graphic. Good luck!
Q: Does a blog have numerous pages on just one with all the posts; how is content, links, etc added
Myrt: A blog has numerous pages, one for each post, so that they can later be referred to one by one. There are several ways to find the content: monthly archive, using the search option, using the label option.
Q: Is this blogging mostly just useful for gene pros or can people simply researching their family use this method successfully or are the social networks better.
A: Anyone can blog about anything - about cooking, gardening, genealogy, learning, etc.
Myrt: I couldn't agree more. My daughter blogs about her health team, a friend blogs about her chocolate baking recipes, and my sister blogs about tablescapes she creates. Professional genealogists may elect to have a blog as a portfolio of work describing his/her capabilities.
Q: Can you place your tree on a blog like a regular webpage?
Myrt: You can copy/paste any sort of text to your blog.
Q: Can people respond to me thru my blog or add to it?
A: Yes, if you want. They can either add comments, or you can add others as authors.
Q: Is it easy to unsubscribe (when you've subscribed too zealously and are overwhelmed)?
A: Yes, Google Reader, and others, let you easily unsubscribe.
Q: Does google search the data/names in a blog or just the title entries?
Myrt: By default, Google searches for strings of text, but you can use the advanced Google search option to specify the date range of a blog entry's posting date.
Q: Do you have to have a Gmail account to use 'Google Reader'?
Myrt: Its my understanding what once you sign up for Google, you get all options available.
Q: Are there ways to promote one's blog, to help readers find it?
A: You could advertise in many places - submit it to search engines, Google should find it, cyndislist.com, etc.
Myrt: If it is a genealogy blog, tell the folks at www.GeneaBloggers.com. They've got the largest list, and it is categorized. Also review the webinar to view the Blogger.com setting that sends info about your blog to search engines.
Q: Will Google recognize my blogs if someone searches?
A: Yes, if you have a public blog, others will be able to search at Google at locate your blog. Myrt will probably explain that you can also have a private blog.
Myrt: YES, since Google owns Blogger.com, it spiders your blog entry shortly after you click to the publish button.
Q: Doesnt' using RSS use a lot of bandwidth? I pay per mb.
A: If you are subscribed to lots of blogs, potentially. Unless you're using an online RSS reader like Google Reader.
Myrt: I agree that if you are reading a lot of blogs via email, then you will use a lot of mb. However, if you are viewing through Google Reader, this should be minimized. However, this is a small price to pay for the amount of information you'll be learning.
Q: I use Blogger.com, but so far no matter what words I use for searches, Google never lists it.
A: Look through your Blogger control panel. I believe there is an option to make your blog public and/or searchable through Google.
Myrt: Remember, I set a Google Alert for the unique word "DearMYRTLE" found in every blog entry. Google returns an alert for the blog entry with 5-7 minutes of each posting's publication.
Q: How do you set Blogger to e-mail you comments?
Myrt: On your Blogger control panel for your blog, click SETTINGS, then select COMMENTS. Toward the bottom of the page is where you specify the email address where you wish to receive comment notifications. This is also the page where you specify to always moderate comments.
Q: Is it free?
A: Yes, Google Reader and Blogger.com are free.
Q: How do you go about obtaining your own domain name, especially if your actual name.com is already taken in order to stand out?
A: Places like register.com, godaddy.com, etc.
Q: Can you create multiple blogs on Blogger with the same googleID..and if so how many?
A: Being answered live...
Q: Is it better to be specific in your interests or is it better to go with general interest areas to begin with?
Myrt: There is no right or wrong way to go. Sometimes Ol' Myrt's blog entries are very detailed (like analyzing William Warner Player's baptismal 1793 entry) and other times I write about how to make jam.
Q: If you switch blog providers, like Wordpress to Blogger, are the postings transferable or do you basically start new?
Q: Is a blog the proper place to post a 3-generational family questionnaire?
Myrt: This sounds like a great idea, provided the info does not include living individuals. Otherwise, make it a private blog, and only specify those individuals you wish to view the blog.
Q: I don't understand how to create the account in the first place. I have Verizon. D I go into Google and ask for blogger.com or start with blogger.com or what? Once I get that done, I am pretty sure I can do 2 and 3.
A: Yes, go to blogger.com and either create a new account or sign in there.
Q: This may be ridiculous, but I am not sure WHY one would use a Blog? I seem to be doing quite well with e-mail.
Myrt: Email is great for one time use. However, imagine having that same paragraph honoring an ancestor out there in your blog for all other relatives to discover? It multiplies the usefulness of your work, since a blog doesn't require knowing the potential reader's specific email address. If you know all your relatives, hidden and remote, you are right, you don't need a blog.
Q: If you upload newspaper articles do you still need to worry about copyrighted info?
A: Probably. It depends on its time period though. We should have another webinar on copyright issues.
Myrt: You are probably safe with pre-1923 items, unless the copyright has been renewed.
Q: Do you respond to every comment? How much time do you spend on Dear Myrt Blog? Writing and responding? Say daily or weekly?
A: Are you wondering how much time Myrt spends writing her blog?
Myrt: My response during the webinar was to ask Mr. Myrt how much time I spend on my blog. When not driving to and fro across our beautiful country, I spend anywhere from 20-60 hours a week on my blog. Sometimes I take a break to have two crowns installed. Life happens. Go figure!
Q: How do you determine what comments you will respond to?
Myrt: Sometimes I just cannot help myself. ;-)
Q: Should we have a blog for the whole family or divide into blogs for different lines?
Myrt: There is no need to divide your blog into different family lines, since they tend to intertwine anyway. Just get started. The hardest part is getting the first blog started.
YOUR FEEDBACK INCLUDED SOME ENCOURAGING NEWS:
"Dear Myrtle was outstanding. I would love to hear her again. I now plan to do a Blog. Before I had no idea how to even start. Thank you this was wonderful."
"I was delighted to learn about blogging, Google Reader, RSS feeds, etc. I have been wondering how to subscribe to RSS feeds, what that entailed as well as what that would do for me. So wow, you have opened a bunch of new doors for me. Unfortunately, I was late signing on and missed the first 15 minutes and details about setting up my own blog, but I know to go back and revisit this broadcast. Meanwhile, I've already found Google Reader and subscribed to your blog as well as Dick Eastman's. Thank you!!!"
"Thank you for making this available free of charge! I'm very interested in blogging but the technicalities (can people "steal" stuff from your blog?), time commitment, and privacy are the concerns holding me back. I look forward to watching this on the archives and spending more time with it. Great presentation!"
"Some of the presentation was over my head, but at least I feel like I can start now. I really appreciated being able to ask questions."
"Good timing since I have to decide how I am going to handle Google dropping Google Group Page and File options. Not sure I wanted to transition to Google Sites or Blog for our family organization communication and sharing research. Probably we will do both."
"It was extremely informative and very easy to understand. Thanks for making it SIMPLE!"
"Excellent -- THANK YOU for making these quality webinars available free."
"Very smooth. Nice transitions from subject to subject. I hope that an "advanced" webinar will be offered in about 30 days,"
"Very good. Pertinent topic. Good clear instructions along with a lot of resources. Well planned sequence of presentation."
"Very helpful to learn about blogging which may be helpful in my research."
"I am more interested in seeing an actual blog that contains pictures of ancestors, stories or histories about the person. How is the best way to organize your information on a blog? Can you put census records, etc? Well, I know that you can put any jpg, but I am interested in the best way to organize your information. Is there a blog that I can go to and view and would show me the way?"
To this last webinar attendee, Ol' Myrt here says just dive in -- there is no right or wrong way to do honor an ancestor. You can decide to spotlight an individual, a couple, a family group, 3 generation of men running the same farm, a great-grandmother's recipe for chicken noodle soup -- whatever.
Listen to the recorded version of the Blogging for Beginners webinar here.
JUST DO IT!
Happy family tree climbing!
Your friend in genealogy.