3. Promote the trust and security of genealogical consumers.
First, what is a “genealogical consumer”? This could be the person who reads genealogy articles and books you wrote, a member of a society who has booked you to present, a client for whom you have done research or other work (heir finding, translating, consulting, etc.). It doesn’t take long for someone who writes untruths to be “revealed” to the genealogy community. The same happens with people to impart incorrect information in presentations or client reports. The “bad stuff” is quickly identified and people soon learn whom they cannot trust. (Bad news travels fast.) But what about the other side of the coin?
We get known for both the good and bad we do, but it takes longer for the positive stuff to be told. That is probably because many expect us to be trustworthy and honest. Besides that, though, many of the recipients of our information are new to genealogy and don’t recognize whether something is right or wrong. Editors often catch the errors in written work, but where are the editors for speakers? Or for the client reports? We have to be our own editors, checking and double checking our information to make sure it is both accurate and up to date (has that website changed? disappeared? Is the book you recommended still being published? The organization you mentioned – does it still exist?). This pertains to the handouts/syllabus material we provide, too. We need to remember to check the sources again (yes, again) to make sure they are still pertinent and available. When we give incorrect information, we lose the trust of the genealogy consumers: if we are wrong with a website URL, what other information we provided is wrong, too?
It is difficult to be pro-active in promoting the trust and security of genealogical consumers, but it is not difficult to avoid the opposite. If we do all we can to be honest and trustworthy, proofreading, editing, and reviewing all our output, then the “trust and security” should be the result. You may never know it, but you sure will know that the consumers don’t trust you if you don’t take the extra time to ensure these simple steps are taken.
Jean Wilcox Hibben, PhD, MA, CG