Ol' Myrt here realizes that a cadre of volunteers "man" FamilySearch Facebook discussion groups. Today one such FamilySearch Facebook moderator didn't cite the source of lengthy info he/she was providing to the group. Volunteer or not, this isn't acceptable.
"Teach correct principles, and they govern themselves." This is one of the admonitions of Joseph Smith that applies in this case. FamilySearch representatives should aspire to teach correct principles.
One of the most basic of correct principles in genealogy is to "cite your sources."
FamilySearch provides guidelines in it's wiki including “Cite Your Sources (Source Footnotes)”.
https://familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/Cite_Your_Sources_(Source_Footnotes): viewed 10 April 2013.
Let's put a sticky note on each FamilySearch volunteer's computer monitor: Cite your source!
CASE IN POINT
The moderator of a specific Germanic research group on Facebook quoted four paragraphs of a post from an unnamed "Ancestry message board" as a discussion point about what happened to Germans after Pomerania became Poland.
- yes, the item was in quotes
- no, there is no hyperlink back to the original post
WHY is this important?
One must provide the link to a message board post even when quoting part if it. That's citing a source, an essential if you want to build on a firm foundation. This also provides the opportunity for readers to:
- contact the original poster to discover his source info
- be in conversation with others on that message board
- place the quote in context
Linda Woodward Geiger provides insight in her article "Using the Compilations of Others", available online, originally published in OnBoard 7 (Sept 2001): 20-21 by the Board for Certification of Genealogists:
"Potentially, erroneous information is contained in published genealogies, county histories, genealogical lineages (including electronic files), and an abundant number of Web sites. Yet all of these sources also have the potential to contain helpful information for our research. When combined with proper caution to verify the validity of the material, the use of these sources can be of tremendous value to the researcher."
THERE IS THAT LITTLE THING called copyright
Aside from "giving credit where credit is due" FamilySearch should lead the way in providing access to accurate information. I don't know how to put this delicately... but here goes:
The words written by a person, even on a public message board, are covered by copyright and full attribution should be given.
We live in a world where copying and pasting genealogy info from one tree to another, regardless of source analysis, is an accepted but dangerous activity. The resulting family history is likely fraught with errors. Even importing a trusted genealogist's work should be done carefully with an eye to newly-available record groups for the places where each ancestor lived.
Appealing to those religiously inclined God's house is a house of order.
From a scientific standpoint, Ol' Myrt here simply cannot fathom why people would want to compile a fictitious family history.
FamilySearch is arguably one of the top two genealogy resources on the Internet. The distribution of non-digital materials through the network of 4,000+ FamilySearch Centers throughout the world is phenomenal.
FamilySearch's example should be to scrupulously cite sources of information. The correct principle is taught, and aspiring family historians will follow suit.
FOR FURTHER READING
Library of Congress. “Citing Primary Sources”. http://www.loc.gov/teachers/usingprimarysources/citing.html: viewed 10 April 2013.
Mills, Elizabeth Shown. “Citing Your Sources,” OnBoard 1 (September 1995):24. http://bcgcertification.org/skillbuilders/skbld959.html: viewed 10 April 2013. Mrs. Mills answers the burning question “Quality or junk? How do you want your research described by others?”
__________________. Evidence: Citation and Analysis for the Family Historian (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1997.)
__________________. (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 2007.) Available in digital format at www.EvidenceExplained.com.
____________________. “QuickLesson 16: Speculation, Hypothesis, Interpretation and Proof”. https://www.evidenceexplained.com/content/quicklesson-16-speculation-hypothesis-interpretation-proof; viewed 10 April 2013.
____________________. . (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 2007.) Available in digital format at www.EvidenceExplained.com.
Happy family tree climbing!
Your friend in genealogy.
Second Life: Clarise Beaumont