In the case of the StackExchange beta, "Code Review" there are defined faqs and it appears crazy popular (over 5,000 visits per day).

Most of us don't descend of famous ancestors and for other reasons, the opportunities for our work to appear in peer reviewed journals are limited.

Other than limiting submissions to the writers own work, I'm not suggesting a faq scenerio nor that such task would be simple. My question is whether the spirit of CodeReview.SE that genealogy.SE might now or in the future consider allowing peer review questions.

  • 4
    Drawing a parallel between a programmer's "code review" and Genealogy will be lost on many (especially non-programmers). It would be great if you could re-work your question/discussion to describe specifically what type of activity you are suggesting be considered... and consider omitting the Code Review analogy; that was an odd one-off site that was never intended as a model for future Stack Exchange Sites. Your suggestion will fare better on its own merits. Oct 12 '12 at 20:55
  • 1
    I'm a programmer, and I'm not sure I see the correlation. Could you give an example that relates more to Genealogy?
    – jmort253
    Oct 13 '12 at 3:08

I would find it useful to have somewhere where I could post details of

  1. the research I've done
  2. the conclusions I've reached

and get some healthy and constructive feedback on how robust a case I've made. I'm not thinking here of posting a complete family tree, more "I think X was born in 1754 in Cilrhedyn to parents Y and Z, and here's why".

However, I'm not sure it fits well within a Q&A site -- after all, the 'question' being posed is: "How well did I do?"!

Update: With the caveat that GeneJ made in comments,

that [the] question "How well did I do," is not intended to elicit "opinions" but expert critique

I think this could be a good fit.

  • 2
    I think this is a great interpretation of the question about peer review
    – Jeni
    Oct 13 '12 at 11:17
  • TY, ColeValleyGirl ... With the caveat that question "How well did I do," is not intended to elicit "opinions" but expert critique.
    – GeneJ
    Oct 13 '12 at 14:09
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    @GeneJ, absolutely -- expert critique, not cookies!
    – user104
    Oct 13 '12 at 14:11
  • But if cookies, may I have mine with milk.
    – GeneJ
    Oct 13 '12 at 14:12
  • @Duncan, IMO, we should use this site. However, I was willing to be contradicted, so I noted my lingering doubt (which GeneJ addressed).
    – user104
    Nov 25 '12 at 13:09

I see the 'peer review' aspect of your question and I understand the peer review aspect of codereview.se. However there is a difference. Codereview.se is about alternate solutions to a problem and the pros/cons of each. Taking this question as an example, the answers show the OP different ways to accomplish the same thing - some are 'more pythonic', some have better performance, some just use alternate methods to achieve the same goal. A genealogy question is a different kind of problem. The 'who/what/where/when' questions should only have one answer (eg you only have one birth date). However, as the commenters note, you may have many sources for that one answer, they may disagree, or you may need to infer from indirect sources; all of which lead to reviewing the 'how' for those facts would we useful and constructive.

Most of our 'how' questions are already like codereview.se (ie answers give alternatives on 'how' to find the 'who/what/where/when' you are looking for). And I think the 'how' questions give you your forum for 'who/what/where/when' (ie the background for the 'how do I find the next fact' highlight the previous work done). So we may already be closer than you think.

One issue that may arise is the scope of the question. There appears to be sentiment to keep the scope of a question very narrow (ie about an individual fact like a person's birth place) instead of broad (everything about an individual). This could be relaxed for these kinds of questions if the intent is to have the equivalent to 'peer-reviewed articles' mentioned in the question since they tend to be about an individual. For example the four articles in the most recent (as of this writing) articles in The New England Historic and Genealogical Register are:

  • Henry Sherman the Elder and His Wives
  • The Ancestry of Mary Whitten (Whiting), Wife of Ichabod Crippen
  • Rediscovering Matthew Fuller (Died 1752–53) of Colchester and Salisbury, Connecticut,
  • Sampson1 Dunbar and His Family

All of these articles contain alot more that a typical genealogy.se question at the moment. If on the other hand, this intent is just the logic/evidence for a single fact (eg an individual's birth place and date as in the example in the question) then the current narrow scope could be used.

The best way to find out is to try. Why don't you craft some questions along the lines you are thinking? Put a reference in to this question so people know what you are trying to accomplish.

  • 1
    Rarely do we have direct evidence--one document that contains enough uncontested information so that all by itself, it answers the question. A person may have only one birth/death date, but, for example, we may have located many representations of that/those date(s). These and similar circumstance give rise to the notion of a genealogical proof. Only some of us have opportunities to publish our proof so that it can be peer reviewed. Although there seem more pressing faq issues right now, "peer review" is something we could consider down the road.
    – GeneJ
    Nov 25 '12 at 6:18
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    Very many genealogy problems don't have a incontrovertible 'correct' answer -- they're answered by a process of deduction from evidence, and that process is prone to error, hence the value of a peer review process. Two examples that would benefit from this peer review approach (once I complete the work to develop the proof statements) are: genealogy.stackexchange.com/q/296/104 (Identifying a marriage event) and genealogy.stackexchange.com/a/1620/104 (Determining parentage). However, as @GeneJ says, there are more pressing faq issues right now.
    – user104
    Nov 25 '12 at 12:08
  • @GeneJ and ColeValleyGirl make valid points but I think we are all saying it would be good to do. However I might disagree with 'more pressing faq issues right now'. One of purposes of beta is to tease out the scope of the site. Is this 'peer review' within scope? I think yes. If yes, we should have questions. I personally think these type of questions are more likely to contain surnames, places, sources and therefore more likely to get hits from people who haven't found this site yet. This would be a good. The best way to determine how to do it is to do have some of these.
    – Duncan
    Nov 25 '12 at 12:55
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    @Duncan, putting together a robust proof argument is a whole lot of work (except for trivial examples). And if it isn't done properly the critique is inevitably going to be negative. I for one am not going to rush this, or fabricate a question for the sake of it. Incidentally, I don't think these type of questions are any more likely to contain the elements you list than a well-constructed question about researching a specific ancestor.
    – user104
    Nov 25 '12 at 13:13
  • I disagree completely with your point about scope -- a proof argument is by its very nature narrow. You're making an argument to support an assertion about a single fact about an individual -- their birth date, for example. In some cases, you might end up making an assertion about a few related facts -- birth place and date perhaps -- but only because the same pieces of evidence have relevance to those few facts. What you're not doing is setting out the whole life-story for an individual.
    – user104
    Nov 25 '12 at 13:18
  • @Duncan, I think it's good to have it on the table and work it through. See the excellant comments made by ColeValleyGirl.
    – GeneJ
    Nov 25 '12 at 19:44
  • Duncan, I'm not so ambitious as to want to get into peer-reviewed articles :) which wouldn't IMO be a fit here at all.
    – user104
    Nov 26 '12 at 9:04
  • The beautiful genealogical articles published in scholarly journals are only possible "after" the research cycle has been completed, the proof has been written and reviewed. P.S. And then one or more highly skilled editors work on the biographical material.
    – GeneJ
    Nov 27 '12 at 2:17

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