8. Give proper credit to those who supply information and provide assistance; refrain from (or avoid) knowingly soliciting established clients of another researcher; encourage applicable education, accreditation, and certification; and refrain from public behavior, oral remarks or written communications that defame the profession, individual genealogists, or the Association of Professional Genealogists.
Do you see some overlap here? I know I do. For example, isn’t “Give proper credit to those who supply information and provide assistance” a close cousin of “. . . fully and accurately cite references; and refrain from withholding, suppressing, or knowingly misquoting or misinterpreting sources or data” (#2)? And isn’t “. . . refrain from (or avoid) knowingly soliciting established clients of another researcher . . .” an element of #7: “Promote the welfare of the genealogical community”? And the last part of the sentence – “. . . refrain from public behavior, oral remarks or written communications that defame the profession, individual genealogists, or the Association of Professional Genealogists” also seems to be part of #7 (see previous blog post on this topic).
Maybe this falls under the category of repetition being an excellent teacher. Maybe we don’t need to say it again, but perhaps saying it with these different words can help in bringing home a point: we have a responsibility to be honest, trustworthy, competent, kind (call us the APG Scouts).
Then there is the phrase “encourage applicable education, accreditation, and certification . . .” What does that mean? We are often heard at the APG booth saying, “No, you don’t need to be Certified to be a member of APG”; “No, you do not need a college degree to be a member . . .”; etc. So why is it in the Code of Ethics that we should “encourage” such things? I certainly would agree that we should not discourage anyone from getting an advanced degree or pursue accreditation, etc., but is encouraging this (presumably among our members, but that’s not clear here) actually an issue of ethics? I had a friend who read voraciously. He also flunked out of college three times. But, before cancer took over his body and brain, he was one of the smartest men I knew – he had knowledge in a variety of fields and a wife who had a doctorate. At no point did he feel inferior to her because of his lack of degree and he could hold his own in almost any academic-level conversation. For some, a formal education just is not practical or even possible (price, time, and distance often being roadblocks); yet furthering knowledge is far more affordable and feasible. While I don’t see this as an ethical issue, I do believe that to attempt to discourage someone from adding to his/her education or certification areas would be unethical.
So there you have it: my perspective on the Code of Ethics. I have had many revelations while putting this together and the biggest is that we need to revamp this cornerstone of our organization. So that is the project for the next few months: with some of my APG colleagues (we have already connected, had a preliminary meeting, and hope to have a workable document before RootsTech in March 2013), we are going to update this document (written back in the 1970s and re-written in the 1980s, as I understand it) and bring it into the 21st Century.