Sunday, July 13, 2014

Comments about Facebook Comments and Genealogy

[In a sense, this posting was inspired by Lorine McGinnis Schulze's blog post "15 Genealogy Things That Amaze Me" and a comment on Gail Dever's Genealogy à la carte Facebook group.]

One thing I enjoy doing on the various genealogy related Facebook groups is helping others in their own research. However, I have been noticing several things recently in different groups that has really started to annoy me.

The first is that the follow up posters don't bother to even read the comments posted before they answer the original query. These kind-hearted people just jump in with their answers possibly not realizing that the same answer has been posted a dozen times before. I realize that reading through all the posts on a mobile device like a tablet or even a smart phone can be difficult (I know since I use both) but make the effort to do so. If you think a previous poster is correct in their answer then use the Like button to add weight to their comment.

The second issue is not reading the question being asked. We all know that you (not you gentle reader1 but the one posting the comment) can locate the birth and marriage certificate for the person in question but the query was concerning the death. Try not to flood the original query with information that doesn't directly apply to the question. However, what you may want to do is post a comment that you "couldn't find the information asked but I did find X, Y and Z. Do you have that information?" Wait for a response (I know ... waiting is hard in today's fast pace world) before posting that extra information.

Finally, what truly annoys me is the "Here is the answer" with the image provided type of comment. No "this is how I found it" or even posting leading questions to get the original poster to actually look for the information. The answer is posted as a fait accompli.

I realize that the chase is sometimes the really fun part in genealogy research and it can serve as an ego boost when you can find the answer and the original poster can't. But have you actually shared your knowledge as to how you found the information? It is an example of the old adage "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." Explain where you found that hidden piece of information, maybe even provide the Google search that you used to find it. Don't do their genealogy for them but let them experience the joys (and possibly happy dance) when then actually find the information for themselves.

What are your feelings on what I've stated? Do you, when helping someone out on Facebook or on a message board, try to also educate the person asking the question?

[1] Thank you Isaac Asimov for introducing me to that phrase.


  1. Exactly! Like doing kids homework for them.... they aren't going to learn.

  2. Agreed. Not to mention the number of queries that could have been easily answered with a simple Google search, or queries about a person with no dates or location!

  3. Unfortunately, genealogy isn't the only subject to which your comments apply. It seems that many FB users don't read previous comments before posting theirs which end up being duplicates.

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