I Pledge

Over the past while, I have had many who have been involved in some of the very public posts, which have flown through the genetic genealogy community, contact me to air frustrations. I have been having discussions with so many and I want to continue those discussions with anyone who wants to share their views on specific ideas on how we as a community work to lift and build our fledgling profession and community. I am not interested in rehashing old problems. I am interested only in moving forward.

I want to community build and I have an idea I am working on which I hope, and I think, will help with this. If you have input on positive ways to move forward please feel free to post here.  This is not a secret. It has grown organically out of the desire told to me by so many, who have shared their hurt, their pain, and their frustration, from all parts and every viewpoint (and those yet discover). There are a lot of “I’s” up to this point but this is about “we”.

It is very simple. As a community, we need to make a pledge to each other that we will, in the very simplest of ways, and this is something I will repeat from one of those discussions I had over the weekend, “pledge to behave in a professional manner and to treat my colleagues in a civil and respectful way.”

Let’s move on and forward. Let’s build together. Let’s be positive. Let’s be professional. Hobbyist, Amateur and professional alike, let’s build up our genetic genealogy community.

I am not asking you to make a pledge here, but you can. We will work to help others in our community to “stop, drop, and roll” when things start to get heated and to give ourselves the time we need to carry on conversations, even about controversial subjects, in a professional manner.

I will tell you now, I pledge.

10 thoughts on “I Pledge”

  1. First and foremost, I believe that NO ONE, and especially genetic genealogists, should snipe or cut down other genetic genealogists. I believe in individual choices. I believe that our political system’s attitudes are dividing us and that is carrying over to our field. I believe we should work together and leave personal opinions out of it all.

  2. Well said. <3
    I believe in treating all humans in a civil and respectful manner, always. Strong emotion and conflicting beliefs do not entitle anyone to be disrespectful, rude or abusive to anyone else in any circumstance.

  3. I’m with you on this one Mags. “I pledge to behave in a professional manner and to treat my colleagues in a civil and respectful way.”

  4. By posting this, I’m actually going against my own advice, making me feel awkward. I’ll explain, in the hope you may find my comments useful anyway.

    I’ve been involved in numerous online discussions, some of which turned heated. After attempting to cool down those heated debates by adding more explanations or excuses, which often failed, about 15 years ago I began using a different tactic: Drop out. No response. Total silence. In my view, that was about as rude a rsponse I could give, completely dismissing the other party’s labour in composing what may have been a well-intentioned but still hopelessly confused question or remark. But it was necessary, in order to discourage any further comments in what may had become an off-topic thread.

    In my reasoning, I try to apply Immanuel Kant’s categorical imperative: Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law.

    That means, if I believe society as a whole will benefit if everybody did at least some genealogical research, I will myself do some genealogical research. On the other hand, if I think everybody commenting on anything they object to on the Internet would lead to collective information overload and utter chaos, I will myself refrain from making such comments, regardless of how important I consider my own opinion to be.

    And, that goes as well for lecturing others about Kant’s categorical imperative, or taking part in meta-discussions about discussions like this one. This is what I feel awkward about. I’m here to discuss genealogy, not the tone of our genealogy discussions.

    As an example of this method, I can refer to a genealogy questions-and-answers forum long ago where I and others tried, in our spare time, to answer open-ended questions like “My grandfather NN was born in the 1800’s; any information wanted”. After reading a number of such questions, sometimes trying to find out exactly what was known and what wasn’t, plus seeing a complaint about the lack of responses, I made a posting giving some advice for those who had questions telling them what was likely to elicit a response, such as always stating what facts you have, preferrably with sources, and specifically what you want to know (like parents, children, birth or death date), you know the stuff. To which I got the response: Why object to the way questions are asked? Maybe you are the one who doesn’t know how to answer?

    And that was the end of that discussion. My advice remained, and I had nothing more to add, thus I could ignore that final remark. Responding to it in any tone whatsoever, even a most polite one, would have been a waste of time for everybody involved. Kant always wins.

    To me, that also means not taking a pledge, if only to make this silent statement: The fact that I don’t make my voice heard in no way means that I don’t agree with you; I just don’t want to add to the off-topic noise obscuring the subject at hand, genealogy. Polite noise or rude noise, it’s still noise, and I believe we can do with less, which however should not be construed as criticism of anybody else’s statement on the matter. And if you happen to agree with me, please don’t say it, just move along!

  5. “Polite” and “civility” are perceived in the eye of the beholder. Times of change have tumultuous discussions. Curiously, when we speak of the “good ol’ days” they are usually intervals in which we changed. People vary widely in their interest in and tolerance for change. Some of us welcome disruptions and reordering of norms. Others don’t. Most are in the middle.

    Efraim Racker, a famous biochemist, espoused the TAGFY philosophy: troubles are good for you. I’ve found it quite agreeable. Science is full of “troubles” meaning things that don’t add up or results that experts some must be a mistake. Good scientists seek out troubles. They are the seeds of change, new insights and creativity.

    As a pediatric neurologist, I used to get dragged into litigation (as a witness, not a plaintiff) about my patients with “birth injuries” … which most were not. I was always impressed by the lawyers who argue and chew each other up in the heat of nasty discourse and then go to the bar and happily unwind together.

    So … I’m a little put off by trying to keep things uncontentious and polite. Having troubles will be the best stimulus to help us change and get to the next epoch in methods, strategies and world views. Genealogy needs this and should, in my opinion, embrace TAGFY … and a trip to the bar. We’re going to look back at these times as the good ol’ days. Cheers!

    1. Thanks for your perspective David. We are building a profession from the ground up. Having a professional presence is important to the profession moving forward. TAGFY, sure we should discuss and be heated in our discussions and in this learn from each other. It’s the devolving of those discussions into something akin to schoolyard antics that it is not constructive.

  6. I pledge. Civility will bring it’s own reward because our purpose is to help one another. Any contention however right or wrong will not move a family tree one step. Which is why we are all here.

  7. I would love this. I “pledge to behave in a professional manner and to treat my colleagues in a civil and respectful way.”

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