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Proposal: Genealogy & Family History

The new description does not reflect what this Q&A site should be about. It is far to restrictive.

Proposed Q&A site for genealogists who study families by the tracing of their lineages and history.

Why not Tom's suggestion: Q&A site for anyone interested in Genealogy or Family History.

  • 8
    Yes. This one is not even as good as what we had before. – lkessler Sep 19 '12 at 23:02
  • @RobertCartaino Please explain why you changed the description. – user42535 Sep 20 '12 at 0:53
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    @JustinY During our 45% evaluation, we tighten up and finalize the description readying it for the FAQ and final launch. We often pull out these enumerations to lose the redundancy and wordiness (useful early on; not so much later). That list of audiences pretty much said "all genealogists". It's like saying "Programmers: A site for beginning programmers, expert programmers, hobbyist programmers, and anyone interested in programming." We typically tighten that all up for the opening FAQ. – Robert Cartaino Sep 20 '12 at 1:00
  • @RobertCartaino Good to know. Thanks for the explanation. – user42535 Sep 20 '12 at 1:10
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    Genealogy is the study of families and the tracing of their lineages and history. So it makes no real sense to have that in the description. Family history is the narrative and research of past events relating to a specific family, or specific families. While genealogy is the convenient label for the field, family history is the overarching term, since genealogy in the strict sense is only concerned with tracing unified lineages. Forms of family history research include genealogy, genetic genealogy, one-name studies, one-place studies, heraldic and peerage studies, clan studies. – Very Big Kid Sep 20 '12 at 2:22
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    @RobertCartaino - Well, StackOverflow is: "Q&A for professional and enthusiast programmers". They enumerate and include 2 groups. They exclude (don't want??) beginning programmers, expert programmers, hobbyist programmers or anyone interested in programming. In fact almost all the descriptions of the StackExchange sites and the Area 51 Beta sites are enumerations of the different groups of people that the site is for. What you changed it to is like saying: "Q&A site for genealogists who do genealogy". – lkessler Sep 20 '12 at 3:00
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    Genealogy is the study of families and the tracing of their lineages and history. So it makes no real sense to have that in the description. I agree with @VeryBigKid – Simon Sep 20 '12 at 3:21
  • @RobertCartaino The new description is too limited, as others have already mentioned. To a professional genealogist, this narrow view makes the project seem juvenile and uninformed. What about genealogists who study cartography? paleography? society changes, disease and migration patterns? The changed version is not inclusive enough of the diversity of this craft. Please consider changing it back to the original version. – Canadian Girl Scout Sep 21 '12 at 7:04
  • @lkessler Nope; its all in the hands of SE now. – user42535 Sep 21 '12 at 14:47
  • In case anyone's wondering about Justin's comment, he was answering my comment as to whether he can change the Description. But I deleted it after seeing jmort253's answer below. That was before I saw that Justin had answered me. – lkessler Sep 21 '12 at 15:48
  • @lkessler: "They exclude (don't want??) beginning programmers, expert programmers, hobbyist programmers or anyone interested in programming." Hobbyists are enthusiasts, as are expert programers. Indeed, most experts are professionals too. – Nicol Bolas Sep 25 '12 at 0:13
7

Let's use a variant of the description Tom Wetmore suggested in the earlier thread, "Q&A site for anyone interested in Genealogy or Family History."

His suggestion received six upvotes.

For the purpose of Area 51, Tom's suggestion can be modified to, "Proposed Q&A site for anyone interested in Genealogy or Family History."

  • 3
    I have no objection to an edit, but your suggestion seems awfully circular and doesn't add any additional information. It reads like "Parents: A site for parents" Why? – Robert Cartaino Sep 20 '12 at 0:54
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    @RobertCartaino - No, we were saying "Parents, a site for dedicated parents, aspiring parents, full-time parents and part-time parents". To me, this illustrates that we want the full range of parents, not just those "interested" in parenting. - IMHO, if you want to attract professional genealogists (and there are many professional genealogists out there) then you have to explicitly state you the site is for professionals. They won't want to go to site for people who are just "interested" in genealogy. – lkessler Sep 20 '12 at 3:17
  • 3
    How about "Q&A site for professional genealogists and people interested in Genealogy or Family History" – Jeni Sep 20 '12 at 8:43
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    @Jeni That sounds pretty good. It avoids that circular feeling and seems to address most of the concerns raised. I'll wait for any objections. – Robert Cartaino Sep 21 '12 at 13:22
  • @RobertCartaino Not an objection to Jeni's wording, only seeking an acknowledgement that the word "professional genealogist" means different things, especially internationally. – GeneJ Sep 21 '12 at 13:32
  • @RobertCartaino As an aside, the discussions about the description seem a little like noise right now--something best addressed in that pre-beta town meeting environment. Meanwhile, I'm reminded constantly that Area 51 seems to think we're doing too well to receive re-start notifications of the sort provided Mathematica. (Mathematica received the support a few days into Definition. We're more than 60% through Commitment. – GeneJ Sep 21 '12 at 14:24
4

The description was originally:

Proposed Q&A site for genealogy enthusiasts, family historians, professional genealogists, and serious amateurs.

The description was changed to:

Proposed Q&A site for genealogists who study families by the tracing of their lineages and history.

Robert gave these reasons for changing the description:

During our 45% evaluation, we tighten up and finalize the description readying it for the FAQ and final launch. We often pull out these enumerations to lose the redundancy and wordiness (useful early on; not so much later). That list of audiences pretty much said "all genealogists". It's like saying "Programmers: A site for beginning programmers, expert programmers, hobbyist programmers, and anyone interested in programming." We typically tighten that all up for the opening FAQ.

I do appreciate that Robert and the other moderators are encouraged by our genealogical community's initiative in getting this Q&A site going, and have taken an interest to help us.

However, as I noted earlier in my comments, I feel this description change is in the wrong direction.

I looked through all the Stack Exchange descriptions, the launched descriptions and the Beta descriptions

The descriptions are either

  1. Who it is for listing 1 to 6 groups of people. These are 85% of the descriptions

  2. What it is for listing 1 to 3 different topics. These are 5% of the descriptions

  3. A combination of who and what These are the remaining 10%.

Our old description was a (1) Who it is for.

Robert has created something new. He has made for us, a Who it is for combined with a How it is done

So what's wrong with this?

First, the who in Robert's description is "genealogists who study families". That's wrong because the site is for genealogists and family historians. It should not be restricted to genealogists. It should not then be further restricted to genealogists who study families. Genealogists do much more than study families. And family historians do much more than genealogists.

And there's no need to state that it is for genealogists and family historians because the site name is "Genealogy & Family History" and that tells you the "what it is for".

Second, the "how" in Robert's description is not only a rare thing to see in any Stack Exchange description, but it is restrictive and even wrong in its implication that genealogists do their genealogy "by the tracing of their lineages and their history".

The worst part of the new description is that there is nothing there that would attract me to the site or tell me it's the right site for me.

I much preferred our original. It stated explicitly that we want "genealogy enthusiasts" (hey, that's exciting!), family historians (important to make the point again, because this is a more inclusive category than just genealogists), professional genealogists (I really like this because the pros won't come unless they know they're welcome and invited and wanted), and serious amateurs (we want the amateurs to come as well. The word "serious" was debated in another discussion).

This was the description used on the original Genealogy proposal that didn't make it. When Justin created this new proposal, he used it (dropping the confusing words: "transitional" genealogists)

I think it's good. "Genealogy and Family History" says what the site's for, and I feel the description needs to say who it's for. It fits in with the descriptions of the other sites on Stack Exchange.

Originally, I didn't mind Tom's suggestion:

Q&A site for anyone interested in Genealogy or Family History.

but under this further analysis, it just says "For anyone interested" and repeats the title of the site. I do now think it is better to specify the wide range of people we want to include.

With no offence (and actual thanks to Robert for trying to help), I recommend we switch back to the original description.

I now don't really mind the "serious amateurs", but that's still open to debate.

2

Proposed Q&A site for professionals, amateurs and enthusiasts interested in genealogy and family history.

0

I prefer short and sweet. Worrying over words like "expert" or "amateur" or how many things to stick together with "ands" and commas misses the point for me. You can't avoid some circularity if the description is going to be anything other than the name of the topic itself.

If it is really so important not to use the word "genealogy" in the description, then how about:

Q & A Site for Anyone Interested in Tracing Their Ancestry or Discovering Their Family History.

(Which of course just sneaks in the definition of genealogy!)

There is no reason to subdivide "anyone" into subcategories like "expert" etc.

We don't have to capture every nuance in a short description. You could argue that what I just wrote excludes professional genealogists working on other persons' ancestries. But you can't seriously believe that if a pro read this description, she would decide she were not allowed to use it!

  • What about the genetic, one-name, one-place, heraldic, peerage, clan studies and numerous others that are not Tracing Their Ancestry or Discovering Their Family History. A friend of mine even used his Family Tree research knowledge to trace the occupants of an 1830 house, from construction to current. Surely not covered by the Ancestry term. – Those Legs Sep 21 '12 at 23:09
  • I believe that anyone doing genetic, one-name, one-place, heraldic, peerage or clan studies, would know that any Q&A area serving persons interested in ancestry and family history, could be of great help to them. No need to spell it out. – Tom Wetmore Sep 22 '12 at 0:04
  • @TomWetmore I'll go so far as to suggest that trying to dress up or otherwise limit the scope in the description is the wrong tactic. Some nice ideas in the approach taken by Mathematics. See their welcome message (first link that follows) and their FAQ (second link). math.stackexchange.com math.stackexchange.com/faq – GeneJ Sep 22 '12 at 4:26
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    New to this thing, so hope this is OK. What about something like: For people interested in Family History and related research. – April Sep 22 '12 at 11:01
-1

Keep in mind that the goal of Stack Exchange Area 51 is to build a high quality Q&A site that will attract experts. A description that says it's for professionals who research family histories will still attract a lot of people who are merely interested in the subject, whereas a site that is for everyone may not quite attract the experts we would need to form a community capable of forming authoritative answers to questions.

Also, as Robert Cartaino points out, the suggested proposal doesn't say anything about the purpose of the site. Instead, consider something along these lines:

Proposed Q&A site for family historians, such as those who research and compile family histories, databases, birth records, marriage records, death records, and other identifying information. This site is for those who wish to increase their knowledge of these processes.

However, note that the proposal is in the Committment phase, so the proposal definition can't be edited (at least not without a Stack Exchange community manager).

My suggestion would be to bring the issue of audience up in the per-site meta, when the site begins its private beta.

  • 1
    Excellent description! but it doesn't quite fit a proposal description at this stage. The topics you described would typically be enumerated through the example questions describing its scope. But it's an excellent opening to introduce the site... and it should be added to the FAQ during the sites early early beta. – Robert Cartaino Sep 20 '12 at 1:34
  • Sounds great, @RobertCartaino. We'll definitely learn more about the site scope and who it's for once we have people asking real questions and have a community forming. – jmort253 Sep 20 '12 at 2:00
  • @RobertCartaino Much here to think about. In many respects, the field of genealogy is multi-disciplined. Common circumstance requires interpretation of law, science, art, etc. Even the term "professional" takes on different meaning culturally/internationally. I've been following the thread on Libraries and Information Science (beta) wiki, "What are your “wishes” for the site?"* Would matters related to the site description be a good topic for a pre-beta town hall? Is that even allowed? *meta.libraries.stackexchange.com/questions/162/… – GeneJ Sep 20 '12 at 14:01
  • The best thing to do, IMHO @GeneJ, is to discuss these issues in the private beta. You won't really know anything for sure until people actually participate and ask questions, which leads to issues the community needs to solve. – jmort253 Sep 20 '12 at 14:18
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    @GeneJ Yes, the private beta is akin to a pre-beta town hall. You don't need a pre-pre- meeting. – Robert Cartaino Sep 20 '12 at 14:23
  • I am new to stack exchange, so unacculturated to the proper way of doing things. But I find the idea of worrying about wordage in descriptions that is designed specifically to attract experts or not rather esoteric. I must leave it to the experienced to know whether it is necessary to word craft to this extent. – Tom Wetmore Sep 22 '12 at 0:11
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    Hi @TomWetmore, there have been sites that went into private and public beta that didn't make it. This was largely due to the lack of a core community. Forming a community of experts is perhaps the single most important thing for a new Stack Exchange site in order for it to be successful. Hope this helps! :) – jmort253 Sep 22 '12 at 1:26
  • @jmort253 As time permits, I've been reviewing using the Area 51 console for the different beta sites (also launched sites). It is disheartening to see sites that failed after only 30 days in beta. You wrote, "Forming a community of experts is perhaps the single most important thing." I don't think anyone here is disagreeing with you. I suspect there is some challenge to whether (a) a long drawn out commitment phase actually maintains the interest of experts and (b) StackExchange administration's ability to evaluate the expertise in our currently committed base. – GeneJ Sep 22 '12 at 14:34
  • @GeneJ - Long, drawn out committment phases I believe does impact the initial level of activity; however, that's just not a problem on this proposal. This one's been in committment phase for less than 2 weeks and is already at 64%. Be patient. We'll get there. :) As for the community, it's up to the committers and followers to form this by asking really great questions in beta. I see too many betas get filled up with so many basic beginner questions that don't attract the experts. If we focus on high quality questions in the beta, then we'll be fine. – jmort253 Sep 22 '12 at 20:31
  • Many sites that were closed were closed mainly because of lack of growth. See When a Site Goes Quiet for more helpful information. A good thing to do in the beta is to identify people who are important in the field, like bloggers, public speakers, and others who can evangelize the site and help it grow. – jmort253 Sep 22 '12 at 20:32
  • @jmort253 (a) This was a restart--so it only appears we've made this much progress in a short time. (Just think the progress we would have made IF Area 51 proved us with notification support.) Some of us just want off the commitment treadmill. (b) You wrote, "A good thing to do in the beta is to identify people who are important in the field, like bloggers, public speakers, and others who can evangelize the site and help it grow..." Bit of a disconnect there. See my comment above referring to expertise in the currently committed base. – GeneJ Sep 22 '12 at 21:15
  • @GeneJ - No disconnect. It's just not Stack Exchange's job to identify the experts. Why? It doesn't scale. It's also why they appoint moderators instead of doing the moderation themselves. This is the job of the members of the community. Sorry for not being clearer. – jmort253 Sep 22 '12 at 21:25
  • @jmort253 Oh, goodness, no. I'm saying it is unlikely that SE/Area 51 administrators are able to evaluate the expertise that is already committed. Said another way, already committed to the project are some top commercial and open source developers, power users, bloggers, community leaders. At this point, it is a bit unsettling that Area 51 still won't assist by sending out the restart notification. That would help us reach folks we haven't been able to otherwise contact. – GeneJ Sep 22 '12 at 21:33

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