names and naming conventions
revised Jun 2008
Genealogy is most often reactionary and pietistic, which is unfortunate. It is more interesting as real history.

Most personally annoying: the many people who ask questions, get my data, and promise to send their genealogy info but never follow up.

I transcribed many pages of Wellfleet vital records from the page images on a CD/fiche set, sold by a company, and I referenced the company on each HTML page and in my database. The company owner threatened to sue me for copyright infringement, even though these are public records, and I was adding real value, and publishing in a different format. So I removed all references to the company in all my published files and database, and haven't been further threatened. Seems like a poor business model to me, to threaten your customers for working with public records, and remove all mention of your company's existence.

The hundreds of shill sites and links for are annoying.
I finally deleted my files on - its problems were never addressed, and it began to charge for its SmartMatch function.

Much of Rootsweb's WorldConnect is repetitive crap with no places, dates or references. Even as stamp collecting that's pretty useless.  I'm happy to have my data used and credited, but sites use my name without asking, with no contact info. There are lots of abandoned or orphan sites, with invalid contact information. Data sets in "all caps' are virtually unreadable, and I use them only as last resorts., the LDS site, is worse. An awful site is

It says something about the quality of genealogy research and/or the school systems (from the "good old days") that so many many people detailed on Rootweb are said to have been born in New England before 1620, yet were not "Indian." I can't take those databases seriously, even when the rest seems to make sense, and I run across that stupid error often.

Far too many people don't distinguish correctly between postal codes MA and ME. This gets to be a problem, since so many New England town names are duplicated, and so many people went back and forth among them. I think it's an excellent habit to use full state names instead of the postal codes. Unless you live there, it's hard to keep straight which are MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT.  The autofill functions of most software amplifies this confusion. (Trivia: the only town name used in all 6 New England states is Warren.)
I mostly copy the British places as given, since I know so little about them, and there are so many peculiar ones.

HeritageQuest has lots of interesting things, but it is poorly organized and nearly unexplained. The census images are so low quality that virtually nothing can be made out on many. The B/W microfilms of the census were made long ago, lately turned into even lower resolution digital images. Search features for the census often give "no hits", when actually the census pages haven't been indexed at all. Where are the census pages for Boston in 1800 and 1790? And all of 1880?  Examples  - 1840, 1850 and 1930 aren't indexed, but you can still go through them page by page for a given location.

Library microfilm readers produce poor quality prints - expensive and frustrating to get images  - more so for big original pages, like the census. I want to save the images to electronic files - anything will do - to work on at home, but these are rare. Ideally all docs would be re-scanned as high-res color digital images, with good OCR for the printed docs (I have little hope for decent OCR of script for several years, particularly when the OCR would have to work with the crappy available microfilms.) My OCR notes.
This applies to my other historical research projects as well.

Will genealogy software make a marriage index with dates and places? It is annoying in books to cross-correlate names, and really hard when only a given or surname are known.

Any site with automatically opened sound files is annoying.

Most genealogists with their own sites, or on Rootsweb, claim to welcome corrections and information, but most never reply to my emails.

NEHGS, the New England Historical and Genealogical Society, is an ancient and important institution for genealogy. But its online search functions are just outright primitive, notably for its journal, NEHGR. How about an INDEX? You don't get to specify a time frame for the person, just for an article! A genealogy search function should always account for locations and connected names, and NEHGR could easily give an article title. And I haven't found its "facts" to be particularly accurate, anyway. The resolution of the NEHGR pages online is so low that it's often hard to distinguish 3 from 8, etc.  Browsers other than Internet Explorer are poorly supported.

The Great Migration Begins is a valuable NEHGS project, looking at the first waves of immigrants to New England. But there are obvious errors in it, it's on-line version is poorly formatted, and there's no easy way to inquire or complain. [eg Thomas Lombard family] GMB seems to take a most skeptical approach to linkages. I appreciate that, but it should also include more of the suspect material on the side.

My genealogy software is Legacy 5.0. I'm used to it, but it could be a lot better. It's buggy, it crashes, many features are hard to find and use, its Search capacity is poor. Tech support usually answers, promising the next version will fix things, or misunderstanding my question, or pointing out some hidden features..

Wish List
I want a portable scanner that would work with ambient light, big enough for most books and magazines, conformable to non-flat books. A new version of the obsolete type that one ran down a page, perhaps, maybe as a wand, with software to rectify the scan, or a transparent/translucent thin plate to insert/lay on a book. Something that wouldn't damage the books mechanically or with bright light, something librarians could live with.

Some of my documents of interest have many pages written in ink that is faded to near or actual invisibility. Seems like modern photo and forensic techniques could recover some of these.

Many scans have bleed-through from the other side of the paper. It would seem relatively easy for imaging software to subtract out that (requiring a scan of both sides of course.) Haven't tried, but I assume it could be done manually with major difficulty, with the major problem being to align the images. Color images to work with would make this much easier, I think.