RootsTech 2013 – The Nitpicker’s Critique, Part 2

Estimated reading time: 11 minutes, 46 seconds

And to conclude my nitpicking of RootsTech 2013, I have some things to say about the official bloggers.

What’s an Official Blogger?

According to RootsTech, “In addition to providing updates prior to the conference the Official Bloggers will give you all the inside happenings onsite during the conference.” (RootsTech Official Bloggers)

I also caught a great quote from James Tanner, where he says that the bloggers “are an institution and the main method of reporting the events of the Conference.” (Assessment of RootsTech 2013)

So their job is to advertise the conference beforehand and to report more during the conference. I tried not to spend too long analyzing all the official bloggers, so I did not verify that they all advertised leading up the conference, but I did notice that some of them did. The minimal postings were usually one to announce they were official bloggers, one to give away a free registration, and possibly a press release or two. Several of them blogged the press release about the keynote speakers that were first announced, the first three who all spoke on the first day. And there were several blog posts about the official conference app.

Now, as I analyze these bloggers, let it be known that I consider some of them to be my genea-friends. I converse with many of them of Twitter, Facebook, and Google+, and I usually spend some time with them at conferences when I see them. With this analysis, I’m not knocking the bloggers. Everyone blogs what they want, when they want. This is about the choices made by RootsTech to make them the official bloggers.

What was missing?

Once again, there were no Jewish bloggers. And no developers. RootsTech doesn’t seem to find the developers to be very important anymore, limiting the sessions available, not making the Developer’s Challenge more well known, and of course, never having a  developer as an official blogger.

What did I learn?

One thing that became clear was that the search function on Blogger blogs is terrible. Each search only gave four results per page, and was listed above other content. Interestingly enough, sometimes that content fit my search result and didn’t show up in the results. So, for the Blogger blogs, I may have missed some posts. Many blogs did not have a search function at all. Some had categories where I could find RootsTech listed. But some had no categories and no search. Kind of defeats some of the purpose of the blog, if no one will ever find an older entry; might as well just delete them.

And just in case anything here isn’t true anymore, I did all of my blog searching the week before completing this blog post. So if anyone wrote any more about the conference, or I mention a “most recent” post and it isn’t, that would be why. I also didn’t read every post by these bloggers, but I read some of them.

Who made the cut?

Comparing over the three years of RootsTech, the official bloggers list is virtually the same every year with additional names added, and a few removed when they don’t attend. This year, they went especially crazy with adding new people, many of whom are not genealogy bloggers at all, but are just locals.

The usual suspects

Several bloggers do a good job every year. Unless mentioned, everyone in this group has been an official blogger every year. They are all very visible geneablogs.

Jill Ball, Geniaus, uses her media center access for lots of interviews, posting them slowly every couple of days during and following the conference, but admits that she barely went to any sessions. She also had at least one blog post mentioning RootsTech every month in advance of the conference, usually more than one.

Amy Coffin, We Tree, did a little less conference blogging this year. She had a “Day 1, Part 1″ post, and no others like it. A tour of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir followed, and then a wrap-up post.

Dear Myrtle only showed RootsTech in four blog posts in 2013 when I searched. I was sure she had done more than that. However, looking at the all-important 25 March posting, I find that she spent her “blogging” doing video interviews.

The Ancestry Insider, well, he always writes about Ancestry and FamilySearch, so this was common ground for him. His latest post mentions RootsTech in the title, but it doesn’t show up in the search. He’s still kicking out articles derived from and about RootsTech.

Sue Maxwell, Granite Genealogy, just posted a great article about her “pendulum ride” just before and during RootsTech. But besides that post, she only posted pictures from the conference. She did post quite a bit in the months before RootsTech, including a list of tips from other blogs, to prepare for a visit to SLC, the FHL, and RootsTech. She also admitted to barely going to any sessions.

Randy Seaver, Genea-Musings, has a blog I don’t even have to check. He blogs the heck out of everything genealogy. He also admitted to not attending many sessions. A search didn’t show a lot of results, but I know they’re in there somewhere. Not only am I sure he blogged more than is showing, he also read other blogs about RootsTech and posted links to them.

James Tanner, Genealogy’s Star. The search on this site searches Google, and not just his own site. He has a lot of blog posts, and it took searching many pages to get to the bulk of his RootsTech entries. His most recent post from RootsTech is a 22 minute interview with Yuval Ben-Galim of MyHeritage; seems appropriate given that he did most of their keynote.

Renee Zamora, Renee’s Genealogy Blog, has a pretty useless search. It didn’t find me any RootsTech articles in 2013 and I know she’s written some. Using her labels, I found three blog posts since the conference began. Before the conference, I think she blogged every press release they sent out.

Nancy Shively, Gathering Stories, is a second year official blogger. I didn’t even have to search her blog. Every blog post in March is about RootsTech.

More usual suspects

Some other bloggers have been official for either two or three years, but I don’t think they did as well as the first group. I think that some are invited to be official bloggers by some kind of obligation.

Lisa Louise Cooke had a couple of lead-up blog posts, and basically just one about the conference itself. I don’t know how much she may have mentioned RootsTech in her podcast, but the search didn’t show anything.

Dick Eastman, EOGN, did a bit of pre-blogging, but not so much about the conference itself. He basically did one video interview and a long wrap-up blog post. When did MyHeritage start sponsoring his newsletter? I guess he didn’t publicize that very much either. If he put more in his paid newsletter, only his paying subscribers see that, which kind of defeats the purpose of the free advertising the official bloggers are supposed to do.

Holly Hansen, Family History Expos, has been an official blogger for two years. As many others did, one pre-conference post was about the keynote speakers for the first day. Another early post includes a partial list of family history fairs held at LDS Stake Centers in conjunction with RootsTech. I only knew about something in Kansas City. Her one after-conference post begins with being grateful she could attend classes. So was this the only official blogger who made it to more than one session? Of course, this is the blog for another genealogy conference, so making it an official blog seems kind of weird to me anyway.

Thomas MacEntee, head cat herder of the Geneabloggers, was naturally an official blogger. He only has two blog posts that mention RootsTech since the conference, and one is just mentioning a vendor. The other post mentions RootsTech but isn’t about the conference. I expected better from this one. Did I miss something?

[Added note: The following bloggers did not belong in this category, which I only discovered after publishing this blog post.]

Lorine McGinnis Schulze, Olive Tree Genealogy. All of her posts in March are about the live streaming sessions. Wait, was Lorine even at the conference? I don’t remember seeing her, but I didn’t really hang out with the bloggers this year. If she wasn’t there, then she did incredibly well at blogging for the conference. [Note: Lorine clarified that she was not able to attend in person, so she really belongs somewhere else in this blog post. Her own category maybe.]

Julie Cahill Tarr, GenBlog, uses a different search on her Blogger blog, but if it’s to be trusted, she hasn’t mentioned RootsTech since posting tips for attending before the conference and listings about the streaming sessions. [Note: I was wrong about this blog as well. Julie did have a recap post, which did not appear in my previous search of her site, in which she mentioned not attending the conference due to her health. She also had many posts before the conference, but her search results were not sorted by date and I did not realize.]

New additions

A couple new people joined on as official bloggers this year. This group, I think did pretty well. I’m sure, in part, some of these were added for variety.

Sonia Meza, Red de Antepasados, is a new official blogger, from Spain, blogging in Spanish. Her latest blog post is about Day 1. Day 0 was posted after the conference, so maybe there’s more to come from her.

Rosemary Morgan, London Roots Research, is the new London representative. She posted highlights from each day with pictures. Her RootsTech entries basically begin in February when she was chosen as an official blogger.

Drew Smith, half of The Genealogy Guys Podcast, podcasted about RootsTech in most of the latest entries. He also did some interviews, which were included. [Note: Drew notes that he has been an official blogger for all three years, and that he podcasted a lot about RootsTech leading up to it. I must not have seen the "final" list of official bloggers each year when I was researching.]

Dirk Weissleder, Forum FamilienGeschichte, was a late addition official blogger, from what I remember. He writes in German and has five posts that mention RootsTech since the conference began.

And the outliers

They tried something new at RootsTech this year with official bloggers. They found local bloggers who don’t usually write about genealogy. How did they do? Well, basically, it was pitiful. Did any of them even go to the conference? It doesn’t seem that way on their blogs.

Kathy Dalton provides no way to search her blog, but looking through the March entries, she didn’t mention RootsTech at all, unless it was some half-mention in another article. Finally finding her Family History category, there were only two posts that were about RootsTech, from February.

Jenny Eckton has another blog that is not searchable, she has one blog post about RootsTech/Story@Home, which she uses entirely to sell her 365 Days of Story Prompts book.

Emily Hill does not have one single blog entry that mentions RootsTech.

Veronica Johnson appears to blog less often than I do. The only RootsTech post on her main page is from February.

Kim Orlandini, according to her blog, is mainly a photographer. Her blog has no search function. The RootsTech page says she is a “blogger extraordinaire”, but hasn’t blogged since 11 March. Nothing about RootsTech.

Rhonna Designs got a link to her store on the official blogger page. Did they not look at what they were posting? Another blog with no search, blog posts jump from 21 March to 25 March with no mention of RootsTech anywhere.

Summer Rumsey, a scrapbooker, sounded excited for RootsTech in her profile. The search on her blog shows the last mention of RootsTech in February when she gave away a free registration.

Sistas in Zion is another new official blogger, or rather, bloggers. They have only one blog post about RootsTech on 17 March. [Note: Cheri Daniels said that they "rocked it" with their Twitter feed. Good to know at least one of this group showed up to the conference, apparently enjoyed it, and posted about it. I just didn't see the evidence on their blog.]

Conclusion

Clearly, I’m still a little miffed at being passed over for the last two years. I’ve heard some interesting stories from RootsTech, like how they analyze blog readership. Why do they spend the time and how do they even know the traffic I get? You can’t expect my blog, focused more on one ethnic group, to get as much traffic as some of these others. Don’t they want more variety? Don’t they want someone to blog towards those smaller groups? Do they not want anyone to write from a developer’s perspective? Do they want nothing written about the sessions that most of the bloggers keep missing?

They tried some new techniques this year by inviting locals to get different perspectives, but my analysis makes that look like a failure.

I know that they want the bloggers with the most readers to be official, but if every conference keeps promoting the same bloggers, it makes it that much harder for other bloggers to get noticed.

I don’t think of social media and blogging as a popularity contest. Do I want people to read what I write? Of course I do! Do I care that I don’t have as many readers as other bloggers? No. I write for myself. I write because I want to and I write about what I want to write about. And as long as some of the blog posts take me, especially these Nitpicker posts, I have to care about what I’m writing.

What do you think? Think RootsTech should have an official Jewish blogger? A developer blogger? Someone who would rather attend sessions than do interviews all week?

(Think I should change the title of my blog to The Genealogy Nitpicker?)

The URL of the blog post is http://idogenealogy.com/blog/2013/04/16/rootstech-2013-critique-part-2/.

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29 Responses to “RootsTech 2013 – The Nitpicker’s Critique, Part 2”

  1. Drew Smith says:

    Just for the record, I wasn’t a new addition. I was an “official blogger” in both 2011 and 2012, and I conducted podcast interviews at each of those events, too. But because I’m more of a podcaster than a blogger, my RootsTech-related stuff comes primarily in the podcast episodes after the event, where I share my interviews. (I did mention RootsTech a number of times in episodes leading up to the event.)

    • Banai Lynn Feldstein says:

      Thanks for letting me know, Drew. I looked up the list of the bloggers in previous years quite a while back. I think I had to cobble together 2011 from others’ blogs, but maybe I saw an archived version of the page from 2012 before you were listed.

  2. Peggy L. says:

    Banai, you bring up some interesting points that I hope gets forwarded to FamilySearch. In my request to be an official blogger, I was told I needed to have more traffic. Oh, well….

    While at RootsTech, I had the capability to write a lot about RootsTech, but I chose not to. I thought the blogging world would be inundated from all of the official reports.

    I guess not…

    • Banai Lynn Feldstein says:

      So it’s not just me. ;-)

      I was really annoyed about it last year. I only posted pictures and a critique at the end. This year, I think I blogged about my average for attending a genealogy conference. I wonder how much more I would do if I was an official blogger. Two of the regulars already said they can’t be there in 2014, so you never know.

  3. Banai

    Wow. Just wow.

    I think two things are evident from your post: 1) you blog from a “half glass full” perspective constantly it seems, and this post supports that. So why would ANYONE want you as an official blogger? It’s one thing to be critical, it is another thing to be constantly negative; 2) as a courtesy to your colleagues, you might have approached them via email to get their input and to interview them on why they think they were chosen and what being an Official RootsTech Blogger means to them. I would have shared with you that I did quite a bit of social media work for RootsTech (not as a consultant but because I wanted to promote RootsTech and there was quite a bit of “behind the scenes” work that I did – free of charge – to promote RootsTech.

    Maybe this is why we just need to do away with the entire concept of Official Bloggers or Top 40 Genealogy Blogs. Because as a community of bloggers there’s always someone who would rather criticize and be negative than celebrate the success of others and learn from their success.

    • Banai Lynn Feldstein says:

      Thomas, I have two things for you in response.

      1. I was not entirely negative, since I mentioned quite a few bloggers who I thought did a good job this year. Where I didn’t see evidence or investigate enough, I gave them the benefit of the doubt.

      2. I also pointed out that I wasn’t criticizing the bloggers, but rather the people at RootsTech who chose them. Bloggers are free to blog about whatever they want and as often as they want, just like I do. (I know my blog goes hot and cold sometimes.) But considering the reasons given to me about why I have been rejected as an official blogger, it seems like RootsTech can’t make up their minds either. And this year, by their blogs, it looks to me like about a third of the official bloggers did even show up to the conference. Did you see them?

  4. Amy Coffin says:

    Covering a genealogy conference is more than just after-conference re-caps. There are blog posts that share news and developments leading up to the event. There are conversations on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc.

    Your scorecard does not take into consideration the other ways bloggers cover conferences. Many of my updates were via Twitter and included many photographs. I received good feedback, so someone somewhere was appreciative of my efforts.

    Someone asked about the official blogger selection process during the exhibit hall tour. Paul Nauta gave a detailed explanation. It involves an outside party and social media “scores” across platforms, as well as other considerations. That’s what I was told. Perhaps you should address your concerns with FamilySearch.

    • Banai Lynn Feldstein says:

      I thought about analyzing activity on social media, but I also knew it was far more effort than I wanted to put into this.

      I’m sorry I missed the tour, but I really didn’t want to drive downtown at 6am. The explanation might have been interesting, but I had that discussion with Paul last year.

      And I’ve tried contacting FamilySearch directly before, last year when they asked for more official bloggers, and never got a response.

  5. Very good post Banai. Great points! You mentioned me and wondered if I was there in Salt Lake City. I wasn’t as ill health prevented my attending. So I did what I could with the live streaming sessions because to be brutally honest, as a “Virtual blogger” I was not given the “scoop” on events/sessions as promised.

    Thank you for saying I did a good job! It wasn’t easy since my Internet connection, as many know, is less than stellar. I actually cannot get a “normal” connection and am forced to use satellite. It’s not bad but it’s flaky.

    I hope things improve next year at the Conference because it’s a good one

    • Banai Lynn Feldstein says:

      Thanks for clarifying that, Lorine. I only sat in the media center a couple of times when it wasn’t busy with too many bloggers, so I wasn’t sure. But from your posts, it sounded like you were just enjoying the conference virtually.

  6. Banai

    I just posted a response to your article at Olive Tree Genealogy blog

  7. Yes, there was a woeful lack of Jewish, Hispanic, African American (insert any ethnicity) sessions, bloggers (I don’t consider one Hispanic blogger representative of the population) or even attendees. It was a sea of white, mostly LDS faces. Did you read any of the “unofficial” blogs? Many of us attended nearly all the sessions, as well as the Expo hall, interviews and events outside of the RootsTech schedule, as well as blogged, tweeted and posted on Facebook and G+. It is possible to do it all, but it is exhausting, and I don’t know if I would do it again but I’m glad I put in the effort at least once. The experienced bloggers who were chosen as “Official Bloggers” probably knew this, and chose to do the activities they found the most productive to their abilities. While I was there I learned that Sonia Meza (the lone Hispanic blogger) made a concerted effort to bother, push, email and petition her way onto the list- perhaps you should consult with her on her tactics. It seemed to work! I spent a lot of time talking with all the other bloggers in between sessions, and in doing that I learned a lot about what their goals were in coming to RootsTech, their plan of attack in what they activities they participated in while there, and their circle of contacts and aquaintances. I even visited the other hotels where they tended to hang out. As Thomas said, you can learn a lot if you just ask!

    • Banai Lynn Feldstein says:

      Thanks Heather. I did read some of the articles from other blogs, but I admit that I don’t spend all my time reading other blogs. In the first year, I spent a lot of time in the media center, but last year, they decided only official bloggers could even go in. I wasn’t shoved away this year, but just didn’t spend the time there.

      I didn’t mean to imply that the official bloggers didn’t work hard, just that I didn’t see evidence of it for some. Several of them spend a lot of their time on interviews, which regular attendees can’t really do. But which blogs cover the average attendee experience? Maybe that was supposed to be that new group of locals who didn’t write anything.

      I didn’t realize that Sonia had to fight to be listed. They asked for more ethnic bloggers last year, but when I responded, I was completely ignored — no response at all. Someone else submit me for an official blogger this year, but that was ignored too.

      I probably should have asked a few of them about things, but given how long it took me to finish this article, I just wanted it posted so I could move on to other things.

  8. Cheryl Rothwell says:

    Valid points. I suspect “official bloggers” aren’t critical either since they want to be invited back.

    • Banai Lynn Feldstein says:

      Maybe. Maybe they don’t see anything to be critical of and they’re perfectly happy with everything. People don’t see things the same ways.

  9. Carol says:

    Maybe they should be re-named, Official Social Media Whiz.

    Maybe I am simplistic, to me a Blogger is one who writes a blog. They may well love and participate in other social media, but, to be an official blogger to my simplistic outlook, means that my most effort will into reports ON my blog. The Twitter and FB and G+ are not my blog.

    Yep, I am too simplistic.

    • Banai Lynn Feldstein says:

      I agree. The discussion has gone in that direction in these comments and on other blog rebuttals.

  10. DearMYRTLE says:

    I posted my reply in my blog here:
    http://blog.dearmyrtle.com/2013/04/this-rootstech-grousing-is-for-birds.html

    You will note I have some constructive criticism for RootsTech about advance promotion.

    But basically I think this these “nit-picking” posts demonstrate no appreciation for the work bloggers do whether or not “official”. This extends to the multifaceted approach we must now all take in consideration of main-stream social media technology.

    • Banai Lynn Feldstein says:

      Your blog wants me to log in to other web sites, most of which I have no account on, to leave a comment. I’ll skip the blow-by-blow response.

      You think I have no appreciation for the work bloggers do? This blog post took me a week to finish. How long do you spend on any one blog post? I have fewer posts, and probably less traffic, because I spend so much time on each. You think I don’t know how much work can go into a blog?

      Maybe you shouldn’t be called official bloggers. That implies that you are providing the advertising by blog. If every other aspect of social media counts towards your “blogging”, maybe you should be official social media users instead.

  11. Banai, I have a lot of respect for the courage it took to post this one! As much as I admire the work done by “Official Bloggers”, the system is flawed and needs a closer look. I did not think your post was too negative at all. I like to think that the genealogy blogging community is not afraid to look at how we function and reward hard work, even it’s hard to take. I posted a lot more about this subject on my own blog since I have noticed this issue myself, plus, I think it deserves continued dialogue!
    http://www.journeyspast.blogspot.com/2013/04/pandoras-box-official-bloggers.html

    • Banai Lynn Feldstein says:

      Cheri, thank you so much for your response. It was a great relief to read that after some of these other comments and blog posts. You get the point of my blog post, whereas so many others are just trying to defend themselves and their blogging and social media practices — even some that I said did a good job.

  12. Thanks Banai for starting this conversation although I don’t necessarily agree with your approach. http://geneabloggers.com/dear-diary-bad-official-blogger/

    • Banai Lynn Feldstein says:

      Your blog isn’t letting me comment, so I guess I’ll put my response here.

      I don’t dispute what you did behind the scenes or in other social media, but I was critiquing RootsTech’s choices for Official Bloggers, and just the blogs, not the rest of social media. If I had just said that some were good and others weren’t, nobody would care. This is genealogy, where it’s mythology if it isn’t sourced. And I thought the easiest way to get the blog post done was one blog at a time. If I’d tried to analyze Twitter, let alone any other social media, I’d still be writing it.

      I completely agree that the requirements for OBs should be outlined. How can the OBs know if they met expectations if they don’t know the expectations? Was RT happy with them? *All* of them? And the same for the benchmarks used to choose the OBs. Someone new can’t hope to be chosen if they don’t know what is required.

      This post started out about those eight local bloggers, most of whom appear to not have even gone to the conference, but it grew from that. (I think that two did go.) Nobody has tried to defend their blogs specifically. Except that I said that each blogger can do what they want on their own blog. I was looking at RT’s choices. Outlining the requirements was the extra step I didn’t make in my head, but it is exactly what I was writing about.

      And I also agree with your other post about the OB concept. I was a 1940 Blog Ambassador, as many people mentioned in comments on your blog. I never considered analyzing what other people were doing as ambassadors, because nobody was singled out or got extra perks above and beyond the others.

      Why do conferences even need OBs? It seems that most bloggers are more than happy to advertise the conferences they attend, and sometimes the ones they don’t. I blog from IAJGS every year and they’ve never had OBs; just one official blog sometimes, run by the conference staff. And I’ve blogged about RootsTech every year. Yes, even some good stuff. :-)

  13. Stephanie House says:

    Disclaimer: I am in no way a professional genealogist, and am myself a fledgling blogger and a first time attendee to RootsTech… having said that, can I add my 2 cents?

    I understand Banai’s point of view; if RootsTech is having “Official Blogger’ status, shouldn’t there be some sort of requirements in place for those attending as such. How many postings are required? As an Official, does that connotate a certain expectation? I think Thomas just expressed that concept or lack there of (from a RootsTech idea for being a blogger) on his post. I also understand that without these ‘expectations’ clearly outlined, it’s hard to determine what you should be posting and when. Maybe then the compromise is that there are those who are ‘Official Ambassadors’ of the Conference as they have a handle on the internet/media in which most enthusiasts and professional’s follow.

    The other side of that, would be a cadre those folks that report directly on classes that they are attending. There were many-a-class I couldn’t attend due to time conflict and if there is a consortium of folks all reporting on the different classes for a particular site (RootsTech?), then the needs of the many (those not able to attend) can be met by the efforts of the few (those specific ‘reporters’). This in turn would leave those that are more professionally known able to blog on an as needed basis and able to be the ambassadors for the conference. This could also in turn spur those who couldn’t attend be more likely to attend the following year when they see the depth of classes (mind you, you wouldn’t report on every class) that are available, which would then boost numbers and so on and so on.

    The listings of folks above are in general the ‘Rockstars’ of genealogy and probably more than likely find themselves pulled in a variety of directions that only compound ‘blogging’ duties. As for those Official Bloggers who find themselves pulled in those directions by duties, podcasts, classes…maybe not having the Official Blogger as a moniker might be a good idea. It sets up in the mind of the person at home, or elsewhere that you will be constantly posting information about the conference when that isn’t the intent or the expectation, either from the organizers or you. Mind you, this is just a layperson’s thoughts…a newbie if you will and these things may have already been discussed or blogged about for all I know.

    As a matter of common courtesy, while I understand your intent about blog posts actually out there, the better approach could have been prior to posting this would have been contacting those included about their postings in a “hey, what kind of postings did you do for RootsTech?” kind of way just to be friendly about it. Once again, forgive me if I step on your toes, I don’t mean to offend.

    And finally from the standpoint of Church Member, I am sorry you feel as you have been ignored. Recently at the Church’s General Conference, Elder Holland gave what I think is the best quote ever “…Imperfect people are all God has ever had to work with. That must be terribly frustrating to Him, but He deals with it. So should we.” Keep trying to get the attention of those who do the organizing as there should be someone for all faiths, ethnicities, etc represented because your ancestors have walked the Earth too and deserve nothing less than being remembered.

    As I said before, I don’t mean to offend anyone but there should be a way to satisfy the needs of the organizers as well as those attending…it just needs some constructive thinking. After all this conference is only a few years old and is still in the tweaking stage! Thanks for letting me voice my humble opinion…

    • Banai Lynn Feldstein says:

      Good points, some of which have come out in a few other blog posts. Especially about the expectations of the bloggers. They weren’t told what was expected of them, so I can only guess what it might have been. I kind of just wrote about what *I* expected. (And I still left out a lot. I thought it was long enough, but maybe I just wasn’t clear enough for everyone.)

      Oh hey, I think Official Ambassador might be a decent title, to encompass all social media and not just blogs.

      Several people have said I should have contacted the bloggers first. While that is probably true, I was already almost a month past the conference and I wanted to get this post over with. Also, I thought I was clear in defending the bloggers. While everyone points out how I methodically analyzed each blogger, the critique was in RootsTech’s choices of the OBs. I said that everyone is free to blog whatever and however often they want, just as I do. But without guidelines, who is to say if they did what was expected for this one circumstance?

      One person accused me of playing the “religious heritage card”, but I only called attention to that because RootsTech did it first. I would not accuse a genealogy conference of not having enough ethnic diversity in their OBs unless they specifically asked for more and then didn’t add any.

      As I just replied to Thomas’ post, I think bloggers are happy to blog the heck out of these conferences even without the title or the perks. But still having the media center available to any bloggers/ambassadors who sign up for it is not out of the question. Year 1, anyone could hang out in there. Year 2, unofficial bloggers were chased away. This year it was a little more lax. But I think only the OBs could use the special media rooms for interviews. (I don’t know for sure, I never asked.)

  14. John says:

    I’d like to express appreciation for the original analysis, and also to Thomas for mentioning the post on FB.
    I attended RootsTech for the first time this year but being unsure I was going to be able to make it didn’t apply to be an official blogger. I nevertheless found lots to blog about on Anglo-Celtic Connections.
    While the excellent plenary keynotes got the publicity most of the substance was in the parallel sessions. As far as I can tell they didn’t get the blog coverage they deserved. You grow your blog by being a source of information and opinion readers value. Bloggers, official or officially unofficial, could better serve, and serve even those at the conference who lack the skill to be in two or more places at once, by ensuring there is reporting on a variety of those presentations, and vendor news too.
    As a Canadian the unfortunate and understandable lack of an on-site official blogger was noticeable, say compared to Australia where Jill did them proud.

    • Banai Lynn Feldstein says:

      I think it’s because of the treatment that RootsTech gives the OBs (setting them up in the media center) that many of them believe they should spend much of their time doing interviews. While I enjoy watching the interviews, most of them don’t experience the same conference as an average attendee because of it.

      After all this discussion, I’d like to see them do something closer to the 1940 Census Ambassadors next time. (That was FamilySearch too.) Instead of singling out a select few, allow any bloggers or social media users to have access to the media center, receive the press releases, and have sign-ups for any special but limited-in-attendance tours.

  15. Carol Rice says:

    Dear Banai,
    A friend forwarded your RootsTech articles to me, they were very interesting. I’ll mainly reserve my response to your comments about the “outliers” – I know them well. Listing the lifestyle bloggers as official RootsTech bloggers was a rather last minute courtesy to facilitate cooperation between Story@Home and RootsTech. The “outliers” more than did us proud in their blogging and social media efforts. In fact, it is my understanding this group’s collective efforts had much to do with more than doubling the attendance at RootsTech this year. They helped to expand the demographics to a much broader base of people interested in Family History.

    I am not in a position to speak on behalf of RootsTech or FamilySearch, but as a business owner, and as an event producer, I know when looking for someone to represent my organization or brand, I look for someone who is consistently professional and courteous, shows an ability to see the big picture, brings a unique perspective, and can represent more than their own narrow or niche interest. Someone interested in being “hired” by an organization (which in essence is what is happening when someone is extended an “official blogger” status; some form of compensation and perks are traded for representation and PR). My bloggers and social media experts don’t always need a big following, but at least a loyal one. It’s all about authenticity and the relationship – they are like the hostess inviting me to their party. Do they make appropriate introductions, tell specific things about me to their other “guests” or are they unpredictable and likely to talk bad about me behind my back? Any blogger looking to be given that status would have to ask themselves if they are someone a brand or organization could trust.

    One final observation. Given your expertise in the industry Banai, you know an interest in Family History does not exclusively belong to researchers and developers. There’s a movement, and you’ve no doubt felt the rumblings. In traditional researcher and developer circles, I’ve heard the question and challenge posed, “Will we be welcoming to include an expanded demographic and the next generation (aka “the children”)?” I guess I don’t think that’s the question – the real one: Will you come along?

    • Banai Lynn Feldstein says:

      Thanks for your comments, Carol.

      Lifestyle bloggers. Now that’s what I should have called them.

      I’m glad that Story@Home was happy with whatever it was those bloggers did; I didn’t see evidence that they blogged about it. Maybe I should have searched for Story@Home on their blogs? Many didn’t have a search box. Thanks to my comments on this article, I did find out that one pair of them did attend and tweeted the heck out of the conference. But I didn’t try to find everyone’s social media accounts and check up on them.

      Your description here also makes it sound like there are two different standards for official bloggers. The geneabloggers are chosen by the size of their followings, and the Story@Home group are chosen by something else.

      And while genealogy is becoming more mainstream, with popular TV shows and so many records indexed and available online, I still wish that RootsTech had stuck to its own roots and focused on the technology. It seems to me like they’re trying to turn RootsTech into the US version of Who Do You Think You Are Live, drawing in huge crowds, focusing more on storytelling (with the boost from Story@Home), and catering to beginner genealogists. I preferred when it was just tech oriented; there are other genealogy conferences for the other stuff.

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