Open Thread Thursday: Genealogy Bloggers and Source Citations

keep calm and cite your sources

In today’s post Bloggers Should Set An Example over at The Slovak Yankee, Martin Hollick asks why more genealogy bloggers don’t post their source citations in their blog posts. He asks, “Shouldn’t bloggers be setting am example?”

This may seem like a discussion we held several times at GeneaBloggers in the past and due to the explosive growth of genealogy blogs and new members, it might be a good idea to review the topic of source citations and genealogy blogs.

First, for source citation resources and previous discussions on this topic, click here.

Second, for technical information on setting up footnotes in a blog post, click Footnotes – How to Cite Sources In Blogs and Websites.

Third, one of the most heated discussions here at GeneaBloggers took place in our infancy, back in March 2009 when genealogy blogs were accused of being bad for genealogy.

Finally, the decision to include source citations in a blog post is left to the individual blogger. This community did not reach a consensus for several reasons:

  • by their nature, most blog posts are usually two to three paragraphs in length and many bloggers prefer to limit them to that length
  • many genealogy blogs are created to share information with family members and including source citations may detract from that function
  • most bloggers would prefer to be contacted by individual researchers and then share information including source citations
  • many bloggers – some of whom are professional genealogists and some with certification credentials – don’t treat their blog posts as academic research and again, prefer to provide source citations upon request

When bloggers say that they do provide source citations upon request, I trust that most of them really do and are not trying to provide poorly researched information on their sites. My personal opinion is to not include source citations and to provide them upon request, which I do.

One thing that can’t be said is that we haven’t pushed the concept of source citations and their merits here at GeneaBloggers.  In recent activities such as the GeneaBlogger games, with cheat sheets like the Source Citation Quick Reference and other posts, we’ve consistently tried to impress upon the community the importance of backing up your research with source citations. Whether you choose to include them in posts is up to you individually.

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So, let’s treat this as an Open Thread Thursday.  What are your thoughts on the subject of source citations and genealogy blog posts? If you do not post them, do you offer them to other researchers upon request? Do you think that the lack of source citations on a blog post reflects poorly on the post content, the research, the blogger, the genealogy blogging community? Have your say in the comments.

Oh and if you have a minute – check out our Keep Calm and Cite Your Sources button. I will be at #fgs10 in Knoxville next week and will have these with me and available for purchase.

©2010, 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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