Sunday, April 21, 2013

This RootsTech "grousing" is for the birds

There has been some grousing about the selection of  "official" RootsTech bloggers by one not been selected these past three years. And for these three years I've been silent, wishing to stay above of the fray. Now I feel it my responsibility to speak in defense of the hard working bloggers who are reporting about RootsTech, whether or not chosen as "officials". Clearly, Ol' Myrt here doesn't think the grousing is justified. From we read:

Related Words for : grouse

The blogger's posts specifically single out by name, each official blogger, and is based by her stated and very purposefully limited review of the work official bloggers actually do before, during and after RootsTech. Her stated purpose is to criticize how official bloggers are selected, yet she attempts to do this by pointing out perceived faults in each official blogger.

Frankly, there's a "whole lotta grousing" going on.

PHOTO: Sage Grouse
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The disgruntled blogger's posts register concern that official bloggers don't blog much about RootTech prior to RootsTech. In reality, the only information official bloggers receive about the upcoming event is from the main sponsor, The first year there were periodic informative conference calls. But in subsequent years, we received precious few emails from FamilySearch about what will be happening at RootsTech. These emails are usually sent days after RootsTech posted the same text on their official blog. Ol' Myrt here doesn't like posting "redundancies". That's why is such a great idea.

Bloggers cannot write about something they cannot "see" or "hear" about. Regularly-scheduled conference calls are advisable here, so bloggers are better able to build interest in attending RootsTech. This would best be weekly meetings, starting a good six months before the conference and would encompasses 48 hours of work, half for the conference calls and half for writing a post each week.

There is a misconception that travel expenses are paid for official bloggers. We come at our own expense, though typically our conference registration is paid. This represents a hardship on Derk (Germany), Sonia (Spain), Rosemary (England), Jill (Australia) and others who traveled many thousands of miles to participate in RootsTech throughout the years.

Our conference admission is comped, though this year I paid the $99 "early bird" special conference registration rate. I did not know I would later be chosen as an "official blogger". I was not reimbursed.

One decided perk, each year official bloggers attend a bloggers dinner the night before the event, where we receive our registration kits and conference bags. This saves us from standing in registration lines the following morning. There is no partying late into the night, as the next day we must be up early to cover the opening keynote.

On RootsTech day one Official RootsTech Bloggers can elect to attend an private tour of the closed exhibit hall before the opening keynote session, making it easier to find a vendor later when he is at his booth. Interviews must be done in quick moments when the vendor can get someone to manage his booth. Typically this interviewing is held during class session periods when traffic in the exhibit hall is lower.

We are not restricted as to which classes we must attend and how many tweets, blogs, Instagrams, Facebook and Google+ posts we must make as "official" bloggers.

My work with video blogging is completely discounted by the disgruntled blogger. My blog had one "DearMYRTLE Live! at RootsTech 2013" post pointing my DearREADERS to my YouTube channel. Except for participating on two panels, one live-streamed, I attended no sessions because I was taping and uploading the unprecedented number of video interviews on a timely basis. Ooops, I did attend one session - where my daughter presented, her first time at a national conference. It was all I could do to FB a picture of her at the beginning, since my tears of joy prevented blogging of any sort.

I agree with Amy Coffin's comment on the disgruntled blogger's recent post, that the disgruntled blogger has only considered our blogs, when more conversations are going on using other regularly-accepted social media tools. This multifaceted social networking trend is well-documented by main stream media. Our blogs may have put us on the map, as noted by Thomas MacEntee with his comment about "top 40" and "official" blogs. Drew Smith responded with "I am more of a podcaster than a blogger". In my case, more conversations are indeed happening on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter than in my blog. Photos from the presentation at the bloggers dinner brought the first look at FamilySearch's new look posted by "official" bloggers Thomas and Ol' Myrt on Facebook.

By the disgruntled blogger's own admission admission, she chose not to put the effort into analyzing these well-accepted social media outlets resources when evaluating the reach of RootsTech Official Bloggers.

Ol' Myrt realizes it is hard to keep up with changing technology, and it is hard to quantify the impact of the RootsTech bloggers. Checking Klout, you'd find my score higher than Dick Eastman's rating, and that is obviously inaccurate. His readership is higher, and he is more techy than Ol' Myrt here.


Let's avoid playing the ethnic or religious heritage card. I attend genealogy conferences as an family history researcher, not as a Quaker, Lutheran, Catholic, Anglican, Presbyterian, atheist or a practicing LDS; nor as a German, English, Scottish, Irish or Welshman, with typically Caucasian but some Native American in my blood.. Those orientations certainly shaped the lives of my ancestors and affect who I am today.
I come to conferences with an inquiring mind to discover new research methods and learn about evolving tech tools that may assist in my personal ancestral quest. I choose to share what I learn with my DearREADERS in my blog, and more effectively in my video work now developing on my YouTube channel, where we can actually try out some of the tech tools together and discuss rather than lecture about research methodology. I certainly don't know it all, and:

I sure enjoy being in conversation with other genealogists on a regular basis where we can grow our research skills together.

By contrast, disgruntled blogger states "I write for myself. I write because I want to and I write about what I want to write about." Blogging is indeed a worthwhile method for honoring ancestors and expressing individual breakthroughs in research.

Ol' Myrt here applauds and it's sponsors for the profound, forward-thinking influence in the genealogy space. Innovations such as live streaming were previously unheard of at our conferences. Is there room for growth and change? Certainly. And big changes on already on the docket.

RootsTech is scheduled to broadcast to 100,000 attendees world wide in 2014, using satellite technology in place at local LDS meetinghouses throughout the world. I know of no other organization willing to dedicate such time, effort or expense to reach a world-wide audience and teach them how to preserve the history of their culture and ancestral heritage.

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

G+ DearMYRTLE Community
Twitter: @DearMYRTLE
Second Life: Clarise Beaumont


  1. Great points, Pat. I can see both sides of the coin, but I feel it is more important to bring the genealogy community together than to find ways to tear it apart.

    I read the disgruntled blogger's post, and I do feel it might be wise to pass it on to the "powers that be" at RootsTech. But, in the long run, I don't think it's important enough to even make an issue of it.

    At the beginning of the year, I asked RootsTech what it took to be an official blogger. They indicated that the more traffic on one's blog would determine whether they were chosen. If that's the case, then it seems that would always include the chosen few.

    Again, I can see both sides of the issue.

  2. Very well said and you speak for me too, DearMYRT! It was a year ago that I was offended by this "disgruntled critic"'s writings and I severed any connection with her on social media. We are very blessed and should be grateful for all the effort and expense put forth by FamilySearch for their sponsorship of this wonderful conference. I choose to look at the positive and as a result, I'm a happy family history researcher. Thank you for being who you are. We love you!

    1. I too have had to completely sever all ties on social media with this individual. I simply tired of getting a constant stream of negativity about everything. EVERYTHING. All other reasons aside, perhaps THAT's why she wasn't asked to be an official blogger.

  3. I love you Myrt...I come here so often for advice and teaching....but I'm not in full agreement here. I am not familiar with this blogger, but I had to agree with some of her "grousing". We are all in awe of the amount of work it takes to do what you and the other greats do for our community, but I get a bit nervous when those we admire make light of someone's valid concerns or criticisms - regardless of their perceived critical habits. There are many great bloggers who have been passed up because they are not popular enough, not because they work less. Also, as a predominantly anglo-based community, we should be extremely careful about criticizing any such "race" card. Equality for all based on their hard work should be our motto, but when the "haves" make fun of or invalidate the complaints of the "have-nots", it can look....ummm...awkward or insensitive, and I know that was not your intent. While some might try to point out the "race-card" issue, I think that is trivializing things - we need more diversity in our community - not just race, but age and research diversity. While we have those things already, we just don't promote them enough via the official conference channels.

    1. Dear Cheri, I specifically do not believe the disgruntled concerns are valid. I think everyone is doing their level best to do what's right. The disgruntled answers her own question about why she hasn't been selected when admitting in comments that she writes for herself. If the focus of her blog was to reach out to others, then perhaps her stats would be different.

      Then there is that acidic writing style that might come back to bite.

  4. DearMyrt, I do not understand what the purpose of Banai's post was?? Does she think that is going to get her an invitation to be an "Official Blogger" next year?? I HOPE NOT! I would not have posted a single link to her blog if I was you! By the way, thank you for your videos from Roots Tech 2013, that she slammed! They were the closest that some of us were able to get. We are in debt to you!

  5. Anyone who thinks official bloggers are chosen based purely on their blog traffic should take a look at mine! I've only been doing genealogy, let alone blogging about it, for 3 years! Why did they chose me? I have no idea! But I was beyond honored to be included and tried my best to be worthy of it in spite of a leg injury that slowed me down and kept me in almost constant pain the entire conference. Are there bloggers out there more deserving than me to be "official"? Absolutely!

    And I agree with you Pat about FamilySearch. What they do would be amazing even if it was limited to church members. The fact that they do it for everyone, including those of us of other faiths, is not just amazing, its beautiful.

  6. Well said, Pat. This is quite an issue for me, both personally and professionally. I am choosing to look at the entire discussion in a different light; "what can I offer that will bring our community together?" I believe another reply also brought this up. Rather than rehash my opinions, I am asking my readers to guide me. As part of the In-Depth Genealogist team (Official Bloggers for NGS in Las Vegas), we have decided to seek input from the audience. "Tell us what you want to read about, and we'll do our best to get that to you" type of approach. Having said that, we've got a blog post up today about all of this conversation as well.
    Ultimately, I believe this particular person to be incredibly negative, and I hope with an open heart that she will find joy in her life. In the meantime, I will choose not to read her blog. I will continue to read those of people in the community that embrace collaboration, challenges and growth.
    Thanks for your post. ~ Jen

  7. I'm with Cheri on this issue. I think some of the criticism is justified. Perhaps the honor needs to be renamed to "Official Social Media Ambassador" or something, because if someone is an "Official Blogger," I expect to see blog posts during and after the conference, and I saw very few of those. I don't want to watch videos or listen to podcasts or follow tweets, etc. And for what it's worth, I had no interest in being an Official Blogger at RootsTech, as it will be impossible for me to attend until I retire. So no sour grapes grousing here, just disappointment.

  8. Escribiré en español, cualquiera puede usar google translate para leer mi opinión. Se me ha mencionado varias veces en este tema en los diferentes blogs, el que critica y los que son criticados.
    Pagué mi vuelo desde España, sintiendo que estar aquí era algo que merecía la pena por muchas razones. Deje a mis tres pequeños hijos junto con una abuela y un esposo pacientes y comprensivos.
    Como todos los bloggers oficiales tuve comidas gratis, fui sólo a una. Rápido me di cuenta que ese no era mi lugar. Ninguno de mis compañeros estuvo en las comidas de cortesía. Todos trabajaban todo el tiempo. Tomar fotos, filmar, preparar presentaciones, hablar con la gente, mirar a las empresas, preguntar, averiguar, ir a sugerir a los desarrolladores apps en español... Fueron tres días muy largos. Dormir a la 1PM y levantarme a las 5.30AM. Mi mac no iba con mi móvil y mi cámara tenía problemas con mi mac. Cientos de fotos, horas de vídeo, no quiero saturar. ¿No te aburre leer sobre lo mismo día tras día? A mi sí. Por eso tengo material para ir poniendo. ¿Te importa realmente lo que pasó durante RootsTech? Si te importa, agradecerás leerlo de a poco.
    Lo más importante que logró RootsTech en mi vida profesional fue el darme cuenta que hay que construir. Hacer y trabajar y no preocuparte por cómo lo hacen los demás. Hacerlo mejor y alentar a los que trabajan. Sin egoísmos y sin envidias.
    Gracias Myrt!!! I Like You!!!

  9. I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at

    Have a great weekend!

  10. Dear Myrt,
    Can I just say, first of all - Carrie made us all proud. We were honored to have her as part of Story@Home's line-up. She did a BEAUTIFUL job!

    I responded to the post in question, with my own thoughts. I hope you won't mind me posting them here as well. She touched on issues that impact everyone in the community.

    I mainly reserved my response to her comments about the "outliers" - I know them well.

    To Banai:
    Listing the lifestyle bloggers as official RootsTech bloggers was a rather last minute courtesy to facilitate cooperation between Story@Home and RootsTech. The "outliers" more than did us proud in their blogging and social media efforts. In fact, it is my understanding this group's collective efforts had much to do with more than doubling the attendance at RootsTech this year. They helped to expand the demographics to a much broader base of people interested in Family History.

    I am not in a position to speak on behalf of RootsTech or FamilySearch, but as a business owner, and as an event producer, I know when looking for someone to represent my organization or brand, I look for someone who is consistently professional and courteous, shows an ability to see the big picture, brings a unique perspective, and can represent more than their own narrow or niche interest. Someone interested in being "hired" by an organization (which in essence is what is happening when someone is extended an "official blogger" status; some form of compensation and perks are traded for representation and PR). My bloggers and social media experts don't always need a big following, but at least a loyal one. It's all about authenticity and the relationship - they are like the hostess inviting me to their party. Do they make appropriate introductions, tell specific things about me to their other "guests" or are they unpredictable and likely to talk bad about me behind my back? Any blogger looking to be given that status would have to ask themselves if they are someone a brand or organization could trust.

    One final observation. Given your expertise in the industry Banai, you know an interest in Family History does not exclusively belong to researchers and developers. There's a movement, and you've no doubt felt the rumblings. In traditional researcher and developer circles, I've heard the question and challenge posed, "Will we be welcoming to include an expanded demographic and the next generation (aka "the children")?" I guess I don't think that's the question - the real one: Will you come along?

    Carol Rice

  11. I am standing in my living room applauding all of you! I value these "official bloggers", their comments, suggestions and most of all efforts to educate those of us who find themselves in the dark on many genealogical information. I very much appreciated ALL the blogs from RootsTech since I wasn't able to attend. Gave me a tiny taste of my dream to someday attend the conference. I will never be a blogger, I don't have the skills all of you do, so I need all of you to help me do my job! Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!

  12. Now home from a wonderful post Rootstech holiday I feel I must chip in albeit late.

    How I have gotten a spot on the Official Bloggers team for three years is beyond me. I am honoured that Familysearch appointed me in the first place and have continued to do so in spite of my small blog readership, that am not not LDS and I come from a very distant land.

    When I read the offending post I was so deeply hurt that I could not even respond and I did not want to dignify it with a response. From a blog post by Amy Coffin that I read today it seems she was similarly hurt by what she calls "A stellar pat on the back from another genealogy blogger".

    Thank you Dear Myrtle for your post and outlining our thoughts so eloquently. You are indeed our "Friend in Genealogy".