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April 21, 2013

RootsTech Official Bloggers Get Critiqued

 RootsTech Official Bloggers Get Critiqued
The Genealogy Nit-Picker (aka The Ginger Jewish Genealogist) has written an article on her blog called RootsTech 2013 – The Nitpicker’s Critique, Part 2.

In it Banai critiques the Official Bloggers and calls for changes both in the method of choosing  the Official Bloggers and in the duties each blogger might be expected to fulfill. As you will see from the comments, her post evoked some ire from a few of the Official Bloggers.

Now, first let me state that I was an Official Blogger (and have been for every Conference every year) but I could not attend this year due to health issues. So I did what I could virtually to carry out what I consider my obligations at having the title "Official Blogger". Although I was unsure of any added value, I tweeted during the live streaming sessions. Why do I say I was unsure of any added value? Because almost anyone who wanted to, could watch the live-stream on their own and didn't need to read tweets about it. My hope was that by tweeting, perhaps I would catch the attention of those who weren't aware the session was live. 

Banai mentions me but is not as critical as she is for many of the other bloggers. And yes, she is critical. But is that necessarily a bad thing? She makes some good points - for example she points out that the search features on many of the blogs do not work well. Some blogs apparently do not use topics (keywords) so finding specific posts is next to impossible. That's a valid concern and I agree that those who are chosen to be Official Bloggers need to make it easy for readers to find their posts about RootsTech. In fact all bloggers should be using keywords, labels and topics to make it easier for their readers to find what they want.

One thing Banai mentioned was that most of the Official Bloggers did not make it to many sessions. That implies that they were just sitting around goofing off when nothing could be further from the truth. The first year I attended I (like everyone else) was run off my feet preparing to interview various individuals.

That prep included scheduling a mutual time with  the individual, booking time slots in the interview rooms, doing research on the individual or company then writing up interview questions, conducting the interview then taking the tape of that interview and writing up what I hoped was a good blog post. That is a very time-consuming and labourious endeavour. I had planned to attend several sessions daily but that did not happen. I was too busy with interviews and visiting the vendors to see what was new in the world of genealogy and other official blogger duties. So I ended up only getting to four sessions total.

Banai also expressed her concern over the same bloggers being invited each year. But as she herself points out, FamilySearch (the organizers of RootsTech) have a criteria for choosing genealogy bloggers - and that criteria is based on traffic. Those blogs that are the most popular and have the most traffic are chosen. It's pretty simple and it's the usual way of doing things. 

So while I understand her frustration at not being chosen, I would approach this a different way if it were me. Anyone can attend the Conference and blog and tweet about it. They don't have to be an Official Blogger. So what I would do is attend the next Conference and blog about the sessions and the vendors like crazy. I'd arrange my own interviews with different companies and vendors. In short I'd do the most comprehensive blogging about RootsTech I could possibly do.  And I'd use social media to tweet, post on Google+ and Facebook and pin on Pinterest etc.  

And then I'd write to FamilySearch organizers with links to my amazing and numerous blog posts, as well as stats showing how my traffic rose from x to y visitors/readers during the Conference. And of course I'd end with the suggestion that I'd make a pretty darn good candidate for Official Blogger at the next Conference. 

So Banai while I think you wrote a courageous and well researched article with some good points (maybe it will shake us Official Bloggers up a bit and we'll step back and do our own assessment of the jobs we did at the Conference) I challenge you in a friendly, not confrontational way, to do it better. You have some valid points so let's see you put them in action yourself.  I would love to see you there as an Official Blogger!  But you're obviously going to have to make that happen by doing things better than you think most of the Official Bloggers did.

And perhaps we Official Bloggers need to step back and say "Can I claim this day? Did I do a good job? Am I proud of what I accomplished and did I fulfill what I believe are my obligations to RootsTech and my readers?" If the answer is "yes" then be happy and don't worry about any criticism. If that answer is "well, I guess I could have done such and such a little better..." then make a note to change things next year. Then do it. 

So thanks Banai for a thought-provoking article. It might be critical but it does make us think.


Anonymous said...

I think you handled the "critique" very we'll, Lorine!

I agree with you, if Banai "Nitpicker" wants to be an official blogger at RootsTech then she needs to prove to them that she would do a great job at it. And in my opinion, nitpicking about other official bloggers is NOT the way of doing that.

I find one of her statements in her post very interesting - "You can’t expect my blog, focused more on one ethnic group, to get as much traffic as some of these others. " I have never read her blog before so I may be wrong, but it appears she recently changed the name of her blog from "The Ginger Jewish Genealogist" to "The Genealogy Nitpicker." In my opinion, if she is wanting to gain a larger crowd of people reading her blog, nitpicking and complaining about of genealogists, societies, companies, etc. is not the best way of getting more people to read her blog.

The entire time I was reading her blog critique posts I kept thinking to myself, I don't want to keep reading! I don't want to spend my time reading about someone nitpicking every little thing that they don't like and saying how they think they are better than others. That is not what an official blogger should be doing.

She also made such a large emphasis on search tools on people's blogs. I read her blog on my iPad, and the entire right-hand sidebar where her search box is located was at the very bottom of the blog page. One suggestion for her is to make her blog mobile friendly so the large group of people who use mobile devices can easily navigate her blog...

Again, I think you handled this situation very well, Lorine. I think you fulfilled your role as an official blogger wonderfully, especially since it was not your fault you couldn't make it due to health problems.

Diane Scannell said...

I have read the Nitpicker's critique of the Roots Tech Official Bloggers. It got me started thinking back to all the blogs I have read leading up to, during, and after Roots Tech and I read a lot of genealogy blogs. I feel the event was well publicized and news well reported by all the Official Bloggers I read.

Your suggestions that Nitpicker try a different approach to get invited to be an O.B. was well presented, as was DearMyrtle's take on the issue.

Not being a blogger, I can only comment from the other side of the page and I think Banai has more issues than can be handled here. Her new blog title just about says it all. I won't be reading any more "nitpicking".

Mariann Regan said...

I like the tone of your comments, Lorine. You hear the suggestions and give some suggestions back!

Your most salient point is that anyone can blog or tweet about a conference, any time. Just announce yourself on Twitter and you'll have a ready-made audience.

There's an old saying, "Everybody's a critic." And it's true. Very true.

Unknown said...

Great post about this! I think you handled a difficult issue VERY well and I thank you for not just dismissing her concerns. I think part of her frustration was the selection of non-genealogy bloggers chosen this year, and then who failed to write anything about RootsTech - that was a poor choice on the conference's part. I do agree about the name change - not a great or welcoming title - she should really re-think that!

Jana Iverson Last said...

I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at

Have a great weekend!