A Code of Conduct

One of my great joys of working with an online community like GeneaBloggers is the opportunity to interact with many people from diverse backgrounds.  I don’t know about you, but my life is much richer for this experience and I feel blessed to be able to learn new things and gain new perspectives every day.

What Is GeneaBloggers?

I feel we have a great community – we are now at over 1,000 blogs as of this week – and our members come from many different backgrounds.  In the past two years (yes, it has only been that long!), I’ve seen not only our impact on the genealogy community but the impact on individual lives – some have said being involved in the genealogy blogging community has been a literal lifesaver in helping them get through rough times.  Others have said that blogging opened up an entire new world of professional and economic opportunities.  And others have said it has allowed them to reconnect with their own families as well as ancestors.

The GeneaBloggers Organization

GeneaBloggers has existed without much organization – we are not incorporated as a non-profit or for-profit and we don’t have a lot of rules.  Many folks have said this is the way they prefer it to be – that it becomes too restrictive when membership requirements (and fees) are added or a board is appointed.  Right now I am in agreement with that but this concept should be periodically re-examined and I am open to working with other members on this topic.

Code of Conduct

However, one area that needs to be addressed is how we as members interact with each other and what behaviors are or aren’t tolerated.  I’ve never been a fan of groups that determine who is “in the margins” and who is “outside the margins.”  But when it comes to the very basic ways in which we treat each other, I do need to try and set the tone, if not help develop a code of conduct.

Recently a member of GeneaBloggers has had to consider legal action against another member due to actions and communications which were inappropriate and personal in nature.  Despite being asked repeatedly to cease contact, the behavior continued.

For me, my guiding principle has been “do unto others” and to consider the impact my actions have.  I was raised to be considerate of others and to not think that the world revolved around me and my wants  and desires.  While I may stray from this from time to time, I always come back to this as my guide.

If I were to come up with a Code of Conduct for GeneaBloggers, it would be that all members should:

  • Work to further the genealogy community and its reach.
  • Communicate the importance of genealogy and family history to others.
  • Comment and give feedback not just to other members but also to genealogy vendors and others involved in the field.
  • Feel safe in the online environment and the genealogy blogging community. This means being able to set limits on communication and involvement and to have those limits respected.
  • Not tolerate posts and communication that advocate hatred, racism, sexism or any of the other insidious “isms,” many of which not only detract from our mission as genealogists, but don’t serve to make the world a better place.
  • Feel comfortable having honest conversations with other members.
  • Separate any advocacy of a political or religious nature to a separate blog.  While our spiritual and civic upbringings have helped shaped us, posts that go beyond informational and seek to advocate or convert are inappropriate.
  • Always be able to ask for help, be it technical advice or emotional support during a rough time.  Many of us feel like family after all.

Your Thoughts?

This is your community as much as it is mine.  What would you include in a Code of Conduct? Do you feel that GeneaBloggers needs more structure and organization?  I’d love to hear comments and thoughts.

©2010, copyright Thomas MacEntee

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About Thomas MacEntee

What happens when a “tech guy” with a love for history gets laid off during The Great Recession of 2008? You get Thomas MacEntee, a genealogy professional who’s also a blogger, educator, author, social media connector, online community builder and more. Thomas was laid off after a 25-year career in the information technology field, so he started his own genealogy-related business called High Definition Genealogy. He also created an online community of over 3,000 family history bloggers known as GeneaBloggers. His most recent endeavor, Hack Genealogy, is an attempt to “re-purpose today’s technology for tomorrow’s genealogy.” Thomas describes himself as a lifelong learner with a background in a multitude of topics who has finally figured out what he does best: teach, inspire, instigate, and serve as a curator and go-to-guy for concept nurturing and inspiration. Thomas is a big believer in success, and that we all succeed when we help each other find success.

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