. . . that is the current burning question among genealogy blog authors this week. In case you've missed out, a discussion has cropped up as to the very legitimacy of genealogy blogs and their role in helping people search for their roots. While I won't delve into the details of such a discussion, I do want to dicuss how I handle source citations here at Destination: Austin Family and my opinions on how using endnotes can affect the readibility of blog posts.
The idea of including footnotes/endnotes in genealogy blog posts is not new, nor is the discussion among geneabloggers as to whether or not to include such source information. Many of us opt not to cite our sources in the blog post and this is not because we are "intellectually lazy" and just don't want to do the work. The fact is that many of our posts are created based on our research.
In my series Two Roads: Do McEntee and MacEntee Converge or Fork?, many of my posts had up to 52 endnotes all citing sources used in my research. Most of my posts, even those for Tombstone Tuesday, have research to back them up. During last summer's Geneablogger Games, one of the events was Go Back And Cite Your Sources which awarded various medals based on the number of source citations created in one's genealogy database.
I admit I am not consistent when including source citations in my blog posts. Mostly I worry that it will affect the readibility of my posts. This has been discussed at length among geneabloggers in the past including some great comments on a post by Sheri Fenley of The Educated Genealogist.
Here is my current take on the source citation situation: my blog posts are not the same as articles submitted to a genealogical society for publication. What I write on my genealogy blog is intended to "bring to life" the stories of my family and my ancestors and to make the field of genealogy attractive to my readers. This doesn't mean I have a "low brow" readership that can't handle endnotes and source citations. It doesn't mean that I don't have said citations to back up what I say or write here. It doesn't mean that my genealogy blog - or any genealogy blog for that matter - is not a legitimate source of information about a particular topic or family line.
What it does mean is this: just like any source of information you encounter in your daily routine - be it television, The Internets, newspapers, etc. - you are expected to exercise your own judgment and critical thinking as to whether the information merits your attention and possible use as a source for whatever you do including genealogy research. Anyone who does not go through life this way probably believes everything they read in the paper, is certain that they have $33 million waiting for them in an overseas bank account because some Nigerian man said so, and has it on good authority that they are the 5th cousin 10 times removed to Queen Victoria all because some man named Gustave Anjou did the research and charged them for it.