Saturday, July 09, 2011

Judging a blog: Part 1

Just how would YOU judge a genealogy blog? Per post, as a series in context? How is a blog post different from a newspaper or genealogy quarterly article? Although cash prizes are great, isn't peer recognition just as valuable? Experienced genealogy bloggers now frown on those "awards" of blogging merit that are merely cross-promotion tools.  There are great examples of excellent genealogy blogging out there, but just how SHOULD/COULD we honor excellence in genealogy blogging?

Ol' Myrt here has thought a lot about how to encourage quality genealogy blogging. I've given three webinars on the topic in the past nine months, and served as a judge on the panel for the Family Tree Magazine 2011 Top 40 Blogs award. See: Meet the Family Tree 40 Panel and the results 2011 Family Tree 40. As panelists, our genealogy blogs were removed from the competition. Some high-profile genealogy bloggers declined to participate due to time constraints. One declined so that guest author posts wouldn't be eliminated from consideration.

Me thinks that old-timey genealogy bloggers like Ol' Myrt here should do all we can to lead the industry and foster both society and individual use of blogs as a method for sharing family history, honoring ancestors, illustrating research processes, posting society newsletters, advertising genealogy conferences, evaluating software and websites and the like. Blogging is perhaps the easiest method of creating a web presence.

Gone are the days when a family association or society needs to publish a newsletter in paper format. Online versions provide for a broader audience of potential members, not to mention all the links are clickable, making it easier for readers to find out more.

A blog doesn't need to be updated daily to be useful to genealogists. After all, it only takes one post about a common ancestor to draw your attention from a Google search. However, active blogs seem to encourage the most interactive comments. Quality genealogy blogs may:
  • Add scanned images of docs and screen shots to illustrate a point.
  • Include hyperlinks to related websites.
  • Provide details about an ancestor with images of records searched, encouraging collaboration.
  • Become a professional's "portfolio".

To encourage better genealogy blogging, I recently joined the board of ISFHWE - The International Society of Family History Writers and Editors, accepting the assignment to chair the annual Excellence in Writing Contest.
From the website we see that "ISFHWE's primary goal is to encourage excellence in writing and editorial standards in genealogical publishing. This embraces all media, including newspapers, magazines, newsletters, professional journals, books (including compiled family histories), online columns, society and personal Web sites, Web logs (blogs), and broadcast journalism of all sorts."

More about this tomorrow.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt     :)
Your friend in genealogy.