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Genealogy & Family History SE needs a bit more notice by genealogists.

Today, I got notice of the RootsTech 2016 Call For Presentations. I was at RootsTech in its 2nd year (2012), in its 4th year (2014) and I plan to go again next year (2016). I've been on a panel in 2012 and gave a presentation in 2014 (Windows Phone for Genealogists). I was thinking of topics to submit for 2016, and immediately, our Genealogy & Family History Stack Exchange site came to mind. We had talked about publicizing our site at RootsTech in the past, but AFAIK nobody had ever taken that on.

So unless there are any objections, that is what I'm going to do. Proposal submissions will be accepted between June 12 and June 30.

There's plenty to talk about. What our site is about. Some examples of the questions. Some examples of the answers. How the site works. How to sign up. What upvoting and downvoting is. Searching and finding questions you're interested in, and plenty more. Well more than enough to fill up an hour talk.

I could offer this as a computer lab as well, if they accept it.

Hopefully, a presentation or lab at RootsTech will generate some publicity and interest. If we're lucky, they'll select this talk as one of recorded sessions that will be viewed by many others, either live-stream or afterwards from the Rootstech site.


June 30, 2015 update. Hey gang, I'm really sorry.

I've decided to change my plans and I'm not going this February to RootsTech 2016, so I didn't submit G&FH SE to them this year.

But I am going on the 11th Unlock the Past Cruise in February with Judy Russell and others where I'm scheduled to make at least 7 talks. I'm going to arrange to add or switch one of them with a talk/workshop on G&FH SE.

I do expect to go to RootsTech in 2017, and I promise then to make it one of the proposals I submit.

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  • I think that is a fantastic thing to do. I am sure you could put this together without any assistance, but would you perhaps like people to provide some quick thought inputs as answers here?
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Apr 8 '15 at 7:21
  • @PolyGeo - Any and all input would be appreciated.
    – lkessler
    Apr 8 '15 at 13:30
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    I think it's a great idea. Should we do some house-cleaning before June?
    – Jan Murphy Mod
    Apr 8 '15 at 14:28
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    Oh, excellent -- fingers crossed Rootstech like the idea as much as we do.
    – user104
    Apr 9 '15 at 12:38
  • If you plan to do any handouts, I would be happy to proofread.
    – Jan Murphy Mod
    Jul 1 '15 at 3:21
  • Your reasons for not going are pretty good... it's a pity but we all have to prioritise.
    – user104
    Jul 1 '15 at 10:56
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An observation I think that is a challenge to our marketing and we should try to refine if it is going to part of our your presentation is.. "How is G&FH SE different than other discussion boards." We need to not be just selling and explaining the SE discussion board model, but focus on its strengths over other formats of and other sites of G&FH forums. So it is not just taken as another 'fly by night' discussion board. We basically need to ensure they see it as applicable. If we market ourselves incorrectly to such a large forum we could get over whelmed by "Who were the parents of John Doe?" questions with little detail which could result in "oh they couldn't help me so I won't go back" or other reactions so it is important to also manage expectations (which explaining the SE model hopefully does) and also show the value the forum.

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    Good point. Is there a succinct description of this difference somewhere that I could summarize?
    – lkessler
    Apr 10 '15 at 14:01
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    Maybe a few examples of the kinds of questions where we excel would illustrate this point - a brickwall problem, lots of collaboration, a resulting insight that drives research forward. And include where G&FH SE is not the right place - if looking for cousin connections and for simple queries that could be answered by Google search. And we should acknowledge our current membership, while willing and competent researchers, don't have a lot of depth in (non-English-speaking) world-coverage.
    – bgwiehle
    Apr 10 '15 at 14:23
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    @lkessler If you want a succinct description, that rules out any of my Meta posts! How to sell strength of Stack Exchange platform to larger genealogy community? . TL;DR "Stack Exchange facilitates peer review of your tough cases and allows others to benefit from your experience by offering them as case studies." Feel free to mine my long-winded post for bullet points.
    – Jan Murphy Mod
    Apr 10 '15 at 17:44
  • Just wanted to drop a note here to say that I have edited my meta question meta.genealogy.stackexchange.com/q/1939/1006 to take out the reference to "other discussion forums". We have discussions here on Meta but not on the main site.
    – Jan Murphy Mod
    Jul 1 '15 at 3:24
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If you have not seen it I think this video called Good Stack Overflow Citizen by Jeff Atwood captures many parts of our underlying culture and may trigger some thoughts.

Perhaps using a "typical" (but deliberately exaggerated) thread from a genealogy discussion forum could be used to highlight how the same question can be answered using that versus the focussed Q&A we do here.

Demonstrating how someone with the same question later gets the same answer using the two sites should help highlight how our focus on answering questions instantly for future visitors is the benefit that we bring.

The paragraph headed You gotta get this to get us at We're working on a new stat to help convey the reach of your posts here puts this into perspective as eloquently as I have seen written anywhere.

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  • I could probably include a 3 minute video in the presentation. And one of Jeff Atwood talking about the underlying culture might be a good one. But the one you pointed to is an hour, which is a mite bit long. Any suggestions for a 3 minute video? Also, I love the second link you point to which I hadn't seen before. Reading about the user who died made me think again about Gene Golovchinsky.
    – lkessler
    Apr 9 '15 at 13:08

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