Today’s Tip is borrowed from the title of one of author Harvey Mackay’s books: “Beware the naked man offering you his shirt”. I worked with Harvey for several years and came to know him as a friend. Quite a guy. I like his writing, by the way. Pus anybody who builds their home with the center of it being a regulation basketball half-court can’t be all bad!
Lately I have been reading more and more reviews, articles, and suggestions by ‘experts’ on what we all should do, use, buy, etc. in our genealogy work. I read several of these closely and I have come to realize that on way too many occasions the author had not even used the product, service, software, company, etc. personally! They were simply shilling it to us without any actual or real experience with the product or service.
I am also fast tiring of supposed ‘classes’ or ‘webinars’ that are really just sales events. These smack of the old ‘bait and switch’ of the carnival midway!
I am saddened more and more each day by ‘experts’ who care more about making a sale, a buck, or a name for themselves, than promoting HIGH QUALITY AND EDUCATION IN GENEALOGY! I am disturbed by those who continually suggest we give up our research to some universal repository that will include W-A-Y too much unresearched, undocumented junk. (Do I collaborate? Certainly! Do I share? Absolutely! But I also care deeply about what becomes of the quality work I have done! That is why my personal family tree is secured and private for members only.)
This all reminds me of Harvey’s book title and frankly, in genealogy it makes my skin crawl! It also reminds me of those TV ads for something where this very believable person is marketing something, but then down in the corner of the screen is a little note stating “not a real customer” or “these are not normal outcomes”. This type of marketing makes it very easy for the unwary reader to imply success, useage, or endorsment that does not really exist.
Well, to me any expert who lends their name to a product/concept/service endorsement, but has not even used the product is doing the same thing. How many folks will read that article and say “well it must be good. So-and-So said so.” It is a tacit endorsement. And it is like the naked man offering you his shirt. When you really look, there is nothing there. Only empty hype and slippery salemanship.
So read those articles carefully. See if Quality is central. See if it is education or just smarmy marketing. Decide for yourself.
I donot begrudge anyone making a buck out there, but I think they ought to be open enough to stand up and say ‘I am selling this product’, not do so under some marketing con game.
And just so you know: if you read a tip, suggestion, review, etc. written by me it will either be for something I use myself, have tried and quit using, or in big, bold letters I will say right up front “I HAVE NOT TRIED THIS, BUT here is something I heard or read about about. And you have my word that whatever I suggest will have, at its core, the precept of putting quality in genealogy!
Is there lots of great stuff going on in Genealogy? Sure there is, but as they say ‘caveat emptor’, especially when it comes to that naked man and his shirt!
Onward To Our Past,