Sunday, July 29, 2007

Link backlog is shrinking

I just finished all the new link submissions from 2003. And Michele and I are putting a big dent in 2004 right now. The backlog has shrunk from over 10,400 to less than 9,400 links now. Going through the backlog we first weed out the broken links and sites that no longer exist. Those, along with duplicate submissions sent by visitors, account for approximately 10 to 15% of the backlog that is currently on the What's New pages.

Server problems today

Well, the server was down for a while today. Why does it always happen when I'm away from my computer? A girl has to sleep, eat, or play with the kid and the dogs sometimes too. Only one friend e-mailed to tell me the site was down. I can only assume the rest of you have a life away from the computer during the summer. Good for you! Some days I feel like this laptop is a ball and chain. I have about 50 e-mails waiting for me to reply (I get about 200 each day), with at least two of them being e-mails I should have answered a week ago. Sigh.

Back to the links...Cyndi

Saturday, July 28, 2007

I Should Be a Rocket Surgeon

I just noticed that my Your Research Workbook post on July 10th had no comments. I looked into it and found that the options for comments on that post were turned off. So, despite the fact that I asked you all for your comments about what you use for a research workbook, I didn't allow any of you to respond. I'm brilliant! Sorry about that. It is fixed now, so comment away.

Spelling Conundrum

I'm working on new links today (duh). Once again I have run across a web site with "geneaology" in the title. I often find misspellings in the title of a web site, or within the description. Obviously, those are the two spots I focus on most when I'm setting up a new link. When I find "geneology" or "geneaology" or "ancestory" I find myself with a conundrum.

Do I e-mail the owner and tell them that they've misspelled the word? That would be the nice and polite thing to do. But the next question that I ask myself is this: if they misspell the name of our hobby what other errors might appear within the information on their site? It seems logical to me that someone who makes that spelling error would also make other errors. They may not be careful with details. They might not be as thorough in the research as they should be. So, if I don't tell them about the spelling error and I set up the link as they titled their own site or with the description as they wrote it—spelling errors and all—I leave a clue in the link to people who will visit the web site.

When you visit a site with these misspellings in place you should think twice about the data you find on the site. Use the information as a clue, but don't rely on it to be 100% accurate. Of course, you really shouldn't rely on any information as 100% accurate until you get to the original source of the material, whether there are spelling errors or not.

So, if you find a link with misspelled words on Cyndi's List, don't immediately think that it was an error on my part. First, follow the link and visit the site to see if maybe the misspellings were found there originally. If the errors aren't on the site, then be sure to let me know and I'll fix my links.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Your Research Workbook

(Hi all - I started writing this one in May....then somehow lost track of June and half of July. Better late than never?)

When you visit the library, a courthouse, your local Family History Center, or any other research repository you take your research workbook with you, right? If you don't take it, you should. And if you don't have one it is time to create one for both your real-world offline research and your virtual research on the Internet.


A research workbook is a place for you to keep track of the work you do, the notes you take, the goals you have, and the ideas you have for future research paths to follow. It keeps you organized and helps you visualize the research puzzle you are the midst of solving. The workbook is the best way to make sure you don't duplicate research you've done in the past. It helps you to stop spinning your wheels and move forward because it gives you a direction, a plan, and a clear vision of what to do next.


If you are lucky enough to have a laptop computer your research workbook can be a virtual one that lives entirely on the computer. Be sure you make backup copies on a regular basis so that you don't lose this important research tool! If you don't have a laptop you will most likely develop two versions of your workbook: one on paper, in a binder, that goes with you on research trips, and one on your computer at home for online research. The online research pages can easily be printed and inserted into your physical binder so that all your notes are in one place when you leave home.

My research workbook has tabbed sections for each surname I'm working on. On your computer you can create folders for each surname, the folders being the "tabbed sections" in your workbook. You can also create sub-folders under the surnames for each couple or family group. Whatever make sense to you, because it all depends on where you are going in your research and how you organize yourself and your files.

Your research notes can be free-flowing text that you write or type as you work. Or your notes can be confined to pre-defined formats on charts or forms, or in software programs. Many people use the Notes field in their genealogy database program to type their notes on individuals. Some genealogy programs allow for large text entry and some have limited notes fields, so you will have to decide if this works for you or not. In the end you might find that a combination of free-flowing text, forms, or notes in genealogy software programs works best.


Whether your research notes are in pre-defined forms or free-flowing text, be sure to include these important bits as you find your ancestors in records:
  • Date you are doing the research
  • Copyright date of the material and/or "updated" date of any web site data (when the data was published)
  • Full title of source material
  • Call numbers, URLs, page numbers, etc.
  • Your comments, notes to yourself for the future, goals
  • For database or search engine searches list all the keywords and various combinations of keywords you used in the searches

I don't have the research time I used to have (gee, something else seems to occupy my time). So, my research workbook is a combination of everything I've described above. My old notebook goes with me to the library and so does my laptop. At some point I need to combine them and coordinate the old with the new. I'll be doing that in my spare time. So, what do you do for research workbooks and note-taking?