Blogging for family historians


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Presentation given at Society of Genealogists on 18th January 2013

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  • A family history blog or website is all about letting people know about who you are and who your family is, while still protecting their privacy. It’s an open door to the history that created you. While you may hide “you” in a genealogy blog, you can’t hide your grandparents, great grandparents, or their ancestors. That’s the purpose of a genealogy blog.
  • Citations: Often highlighted on a specific page or in a foot note, citations credit and may link to the source of the information as verification and proof. Footnotes: Used as citation and bibliography references 1 , or notes to help the context. Credits: Credits must be given, not just for citation and in footnotes, but also credit for sources, permissions, and research assistance. Credits need to be linked and referenced from within the post as well as to credit and source pages within the blog. Captions: Genealogy blogs use a lot of photographs and images in various forms and these need more than a title in the image link. They need captions to identify the image and credit the source and permission for use of the image. The captions may also include links, dates and more information about the image than just a title and brief description. Name Lists: A genealogy website is all about the names . People search for names of their relatives and ancestors. Most genealogy blogs and websites feature name lists. The list of names are often put inside of links which generate search results based upon that name, similar to site search tags. Name lists can be generated as test or web pages from some genealogy programs, but to work on your blog, the link must be able to work within your blog and its content. Scanned Documents: Part of the record of a family’s history is their legal documents. These include immigration papers, birth and death certificates, marriage licenses and certificates, baptism records, court records, property records, and more. Permission to use these documents must be provided, and privacy protection rights must be considered. And publishing these records requires some technical ability for scanning and preparing the images for display on a web page, as well as using thumbnails with links to the full image size, and the web design process of displaying such images within a blog’s format. Strong Inter-linking and Relationships With Outside Resources and Content: Most blog content is featured on the blog itself. Many genealogists publish their family trees and information on or other genealogy-based websites. Articles and posts about ancestors, and where and how they lived, would be contained within the blog, with all references to the family tree directed to the off-site location. Integration of Non-Blog Format Web Pages: Most all genealogy software programs today feature export-to-web-pages technology. Family trees, family charts, source lists, ancestry and descendant lists are just a few web publishing formats. The pages come out “web-ready”, but they don’t arrive “WordPress Theme friendly” or ready for inclusion in any blogging program. They have to be cleaned up and integrated into the Pages of WordPress or on independent static web pages that look like the rest of the blog’s web page design, and are strongly inter-linked to from within the blog. Integration of non-WordPress Tools and Utilities: Genealogy programs are now available for displaying family history information, photographs, and references within PHP or other programming languages, often database-driven, that require integration within WordPress or your blogging software program. Sometimes they can’t be integrated fully and must run along side-by-side with your blog. Other programs can be closely knit in enough to resemble your blog’s overall design, structure, and layout. Privacy Statements: While many blogs offer legal statements stating how information collected during a visitors visit is to be used (or not used), hold harmless statements that protect the author from actions against the content they publish, and so on, a genealogy blog is about the lives of people, living and dead. The owners and authors of a genealogy blog have to work within the laws of their country and community to protect the rights of the living. This includes publishing information about the dead that might harm the living. Some genealogy blogs decide to never publish anything about anyone still alive in the family. Others will publish information about the living, but carefully and only those who are age 72 or older. Some won’t even publish information about the dead unless they have been dead at least 25 years. Each genealogy blog must make their own decisions and publish that information. Permissions: Just as privacy rights must be protected, so should copyrights. Permission must be granted for publishing anything about, belonging to, or owned by the living, or a recently deceased family member without permission from a direct relative or the family estate or executor. This includes permissions for publishing written or legal documents, recorded sound and/or video, photographic images and artwork. These rules, guidelines, and legal documents must be written up and published on the blog to establish the ground rules and protections for the blog owners and authors.
  • A Globally Recognized Avatar Your Gravatar is an image that follows you from site to site appearing beside your name when you do things like comment or post on a blog. Avatars help identify your posts on blogs and web forums, so why not on any site? Popularity Contest keeps a count of your post, category and archive views, comments, trackbacks, etc. and uses them to determine which of your posts are most popular. There are numerical values assigned to each type of view and feedback; these are used to create a 'popularity score' for each post. Podpress adds a lot of features designed to make WordPress the ideal platform for hosting a podcast. Family History Plugins Problem is that all (apart from TNG) either create a page/post per person from a Gedcom or you have to fill in the information online
  • Anybody working at your organization You’ll discover most blog ideas among the people you work with, especially among those who have direct contact with customers. Therefore, it’s your job to talk to them regularly, if you prefer have regular informal meetings. How you approach this, depends on how big your company is. In today’s global village there’s no excuse for no communication. If you can’t meet in person, you can talk via or Skype or email or any other app and social media. Listen carefully what they have to say about customers, their questions, about developments within the company… Everything is a great potential for the next blog post 2. Read your organization’s documents Any document that is not top secret is a fair game, whether it’s an annual report, marketing strategy, CEO’s letters to employees, etc. Scan them for potential great blog post ideas. 3. Read comments on your blog All comments, including those what-a-great-post types, can be great source for your next blog post. Maybe there’s a topic that gets more comments than it’s usual for your blog. It means this topic stroke a chord with your audience. Do a follow-up of some sort. Also, write posts to address the concerns your readers leave in their comments. Read comments on other blogs Don’t pay attention only to comments on your blog. Read carefully comments on blogs in your niche. Take part in discussions and you’ll get additional ideas for your future posts. Be active on social media Social media are a tremendous source of ideas for potential blog posts; not only Twitter, or Facebook or even LinkedIn. Don’t ignore online social networks like Storify, even crazy videos on YouTube can spark ideas for your future posts. Not all conferences are great, some are quite expensive. But, oh boy, are they a terrific source for your future posts. Just when you think you may have really run out of ideas, attending a conference gives you an unbelievable boost. It’s like all 5 sources above in one! Whatever the topic of your blog is, don’t focus on it too narrowly. Anything can inspire you. Think of analogies; how a problem from a different field that isn’t even closely related to yours can nevertheless be similar to what you’re writing about. Subscribe to as many email newsletters in your niche as you can digest. You can get a great deal of valuable information, inspiration and quotes from these. The rule, however, is to write down whatever you hear, observe, read… Write down immediately. An observation or a customer question/complaint, a fact may not evolve into a blog post idea or even into a blog post right away, but one day it may. And you’ll be ready.
  • Blogging for family historians

    1. 1. Wordpress Training training Password = learning Cpanel
    2. 2.  Displaying your family tree. Sharing family stories. Bringing together family members, news, and information under one resource. Working with other family members to preserve our family history. Sharing our research with others. Providing an avenue for teaching and writing. Helping others learn from our family history research techniques. Provide resources on genealogy research and studies.
    3. 3.  comments informational and educational content feeds podcasts video tables graphics photographic images thumbnail and full size image links static Pages blogroll/link lists
    4. 4.  forums wiki live chats email subscriptions newsletter registration site registration multiple users and contributors multiple administrators and editors Stream audio
    5. 5.  Citations Footnotes Credits Captions Name Lists Scanned documents Interlinking with other resources Integration of non-blog format web pages Privacy & Permissions
    6. 6.  Actually nothing – many free blog hosting platforms ◦ Limited use – usually unable to use plugins ◦ Not own domain name ◦ Can be taken down if the host doesn’t like what you are doing Better to have complete control
    7. 7.  Hosting Company ◦ Unlimited bandwidth ◦ Unlimited diskspace ◦ Use of cpanel ◦ Sql database Domain Name ◦ May come free with hosting – but could also be a problem if you decide to change later ◦ Use Blogging Platform ◦ Wordpress ◦ Blogger
    8. 8.  Hostgator – Hatchling Plan @$3.96 per month Justhost – unlimited domains @ £2.95 Bluehost – unlimited domains @ $6.95
    9. 9.  (IPSTAG = FUBRA) £2.58 + VAT for uk domain per year Others Namecheap Godaddy
    10. 10.  Use Fantastico from cpanel ◦
    11. 11. Use Wordpress famous 5 minute install Search Google for “setting up a blog using wordpress 5 minute install” ◦
    12. 12. Theme Header Layout & Colours
    13. 13.  Header – suggest use 960 x 200 pixels no idea/no graphics skills? Go to and search for “blog header” – Not bad for $5!!
    14. 14.  Access the plugin directory from your blog Add as a minimum AddThis Social Bookmarking Widget All in One SEO Pack Bad Behavior Broken Link Checker Contact Form 7 Dagon Design Sitemap Generator Easy Privacy Policy Zemanta
    15. 15.  Exclude Pages from Navigation Google XML Sitemaps Login LockDown Really Simple CAPTCHA SEO Friendly Images WP-SpamFree Wordpress Duplicate Content Cure Wordpress Video Plugin A backup plugin ( I use WordPress Backup to Dropbox but have paid $19 for zip option)
    16. 16.  Gravatars Popularity Contest Podpress Genealogy plugins ◦ TNG Wordpress Integration ◦ WPPGV – embeds PHPGedView ◦ rootsPersona ◦ WP Family Tree ◦ And many more just type “genealogy” in the wordpress plugins
    17. 17.  There are lots of ways to set up the blog/sidebar(s)/menus/headers/footers In the end it comes down to personal choice Some times I use a static page and sometimes the posts are the front page
    18. 18.  Anybody working at your organization Read your organization’s documents or family history magazines/FHS magazines Read comments on your blog Read comments on other blogs Be active on social media Attend conferences Be open-minded Subscribe To E-Mail Newsletters
    19. 19.  Through your dashboard Firefox Blogging Plugin Windows Live Writer Wordpress on yourtablet