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Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Genealogy Rules to Be Enforced

A Genealogue News Flash [What's That?]
The same consortium that sets standards for the World Wide Web will soon begin enforcing genealogical standards on the Internet.

The W3C has empowered the National Academy of Genealogists to police genealogy websites starting next week, and to remove any sites that fail to meet minimum standards.
NAG president Jasper Hodgdon cautions website owners to double-check their online data by this weekend or risk the consequences.

"We'll be looking for inconsistent dates, improbable marriages, implausible births—all the things that signal sloppy research and detract from the genealogical authority of the Web." His face darkening, Hodgdon adds, "Of course, our main target will be unsourced data. Anyone found skimping on primary sources may well be banned from the Internet for life."

News of the coming crackdown has sparked a panic among online genealogists, who have long enjoyed lower expectations than their counterparts in print. A surge of activity at RootsWeb.com's WorldConnect Project caused the site to shut down briefly on Wednesday evening. The number of queries posted to online message boards has skyrocketed, but there is no one to answer them: volunteers are busy shoring up their own family trees.

Hodgdon sympathizes with his fellow genealogists, but is quick to point out that those who break the rules of sound research are not really his fellows.

"They are—for want of a better term—genealogical terrorists."

Asked if there really is no better term, Hodgdon replies, "No. There isn't."

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