Blogging, Rules and Mom’s Motto

I know that everyone is awaiting a follow-up article on how to utilize ethnicity results more fully for genealogy, and obviously, this article isn’t it. You know that saying, “Life is what happens when you’re making other plans?” Well, that’s last week, this week and maybe next week, so please, just bear with me.

However, I’d like to take this opportunity to have a bit of a fireside chat about blogging, how it works, my blog rules, and civility.

Judy Russell, The Legal Genealogist, once said, “my turf, my rules,” in her Rules of my Road series, and she was right.

People follow blogs because the content resonates with them for any number of reasons.

Genetic genealogy is the intersection of my two great loves, science and genealogy. It’s my passion, but I’m guessing I didn’t need to tell you that. Why else would someone spent thousands of hours writing and educating others, on a paid platform, as a volunteer effort?


Blogging can be lots of fun. In many cases, I “take you along with me” as I try out new methodologies, or I share my successes…and failures. In my 52 Ancestors series that runs every weekend (ok, most weekends when I can,) I share my research methodologies with everyone with the secret hope that someday, somehow, new cousins will find me, and those articles, even after I’m gone.

I hope you’ll find inspiration and new ways through genetics to find your ancestors too. I love to hear your success stories and to have participated or encouraged you in some small way. You inspire me!

Blogging is also exhausting. I didn’t realize when I started that it’s a 24X7X365 commitment – and I’ve passed my 6th blogiversary.

Why is blogging exhausting?

Aside from researching and writing articles, questions and comments arrive all the time. With 1057 articles and over 35,000 comments posted on those articles, I’m sure you can imagine the scope of the commitment required. I read and authorized every single one of those comments.

Why do I read every comment? I only allow accurate, civil, non-spam comments to post.

Now for the shocker.

The number of spam comments in that same time is…are you ready…1,253,012, with another 1300+ in the spam queue waiting for review. And no, I’m not going to review all 1300 of those. Not to mention, the spam queue doesn’t catch all of them. That’s up to me. That also doesn’t count the number of comments that aren’t actually spam, but that I haven’t allowed to post for any one of several reasons.

Let that soak in for a minute.

One and a quarter million spam messages tried to take advantage of my blog and your readership. The gateway or filter between them and you is the WordPress spam filter, and me. That’s 208,000 per year, or 570 nasty spammy things per day. Needless to say, I hate spam.

So, I monitor the blog on my PC, on my laptop, on my phone, and I do my best wherever I am. It takes a huge, huge amount of time and level of commitment. More than I ever imagined – and I don’t have a staff. I’m it.

Dollars and Cents

Blogging isn’t free, at least not for me.

WordPress does offer a free platform, but the requirements for this blog far surpasses what they provide to hobbyists for free. I love WordPress and would recommend it for anyone who is interested. In fact, I wrote about how to blog here.

Many bloggers and free web sites monetize their sites. The ads you see are a way for the blogger or site creator to recoup some of the money being spent as well as their time and effort. I don’t do that and I actually pay WordPress so no ads will appear.

Bloggers create new content for consumers. Some blogs and newsletters require subscriptions. I’ve never embraced that model although that is not a criticism of anyone who does. In fact, I subscribe to several.

Everyone has to eat, and if a someone values an expert opinion, it’s entirely valid for the person who has educated themselves, and maintains that education, to expect some form of compensation for their expertise.

In my case, I wanted education for every genealogist about how to utilize DNA effectively to remain free in order to reach the maximum amount of people possible. Education about the genetic aspects of genealogy benefits all genealogists.

I may in the future add a donation button for those who wish to contribute, although many of you have gifted me in numerous ways, for which I’m exceedingly grateful.

I do have an affiliate relationship with a few companies, which is disclosed at the bottom of each article that has any links to those companies. I’ve included the standard disclosure at the bottom of this article for reference.

I am also occasionally under non-disclosure agreements with some companies when they discuss future development of products. I’m glad to be able to (hopefully) influence future development of products for genealogists from time to time.

For those who are wondering, blogging and affiliate links, at least for me, is not a “living.” It’s more like Starbucks and dinner on a good month. Other months, it’s a big goose egg.

The Rules

To state the obvious, I work more than full time, providing Y and mitochondrial DNA reports for customers. I also provide Quick Consults, speak at conferences and consult in this field. I write, I quilt, I do my own genealogy, and I have a family.

I don’t have any time nor desire to deal with conflict or drama of any nature.

Having written for public consumption, on my blog and in my professional career, I realize that sometimes what one writes and intends to convey is not exactly what the other person reads. For example, humor sometimes, often, doesn’t come across as humor in the written word. I’ve penned numerous things that I’ve been taken to task for without intending what was perceived. I’ve learned to be more careful.

What I’m saying is that I know how easily that can unintentionally happen.

Having said that, my number one rule for this blog is civility.


  • Don’t be rude.
  • No name calling.
  • No flaming.
  • No trolling.
  • No drama.
  • No politics.
  • No racism.
  • No discrimination of any sort.
  • No disparaging comments.
  • No religion unless there is a genetic or genealogical aspect to the discussion, such as Jewish DNA or endogamy among the Mennonite, etc.
  • Do not attempt to bait people. I will not allow it to post whether it’s focused towards me or others – whether I agree with the comment or not.
  • Do not make sweeping generalizations.
  • Do not say, even in gest, something akin to “all XXX are stupid,” whether you are speaking of consumers, vendors, etc.
  • That doesn’t mean a comment can’t be critical of a vendor’s product. Just stick with non-emotional facts and discussion.
  • That doesn’t mean a commenter can’t disagree with me or another commenter. However, if the words are personally denigrating, condescending, offensive, hurtful or patronizing, the comment won’t be approved.

I have a limited time when reading each comment to decide thumbs up or thumbs down and if I have to ponder if it’s appropriate, the answer is thumbs down.

I may also not be approving on a computer at home. I could be on a phone laying in bed, in the airport, or in the hospital. Yes, I’ve done that.

And while you may think I’m too restrictive, remember, it may be you that I’ve protected, and you’ll never know because the offending comment was not allowed to post.

Conversely, anyone who has strong opinions and wants to voice them can do the same thing I have. Start a blog, write, educate, provide valuable content.

Genetic genealogy is intended to be fun and this blog is intended to be educational in nature – not a platform for conflict. The bottom line, like Judy said, my blog, my rules.

Mother’s Motto

When I was a teenager and was perfecting the fine art of being sassy and learning how to debate, which Mother accurately perceived as arguing – she taped something to the bathroom mirror, which I absolutely hated at the time. But she was right.

And did I ever need to hear it.  When I edit my own articles for the blog, I often have to consider her directive, especially if I’m upset about something. In fact, don’t laugh, but I can hear her say this, even yet today.

I often struggle with word choices, meaning exactly how to convey what I’m intending to convey – and not something else. I also have an “anger rule.” If I’m angry when I write something, I have to wait at least 24 hours to publish it. If I’m still angry, another 24. Needless to say, after cooling down, the word choices tend to change.

In this challenging time, the last thing we need is harshness. Please do comment on articles, but write with caring and consideration in your heart. I would ask you to think about how you would feel if you were on the receiving end of the words you wrote.

Words are powerful tools. They can teach, they can be thought provoking, or that can intentionally or unintentionally declare war. People won’t listen if they feel they are being attacked or challenged, whether that was the intention or not, so the best way to get a point across is to make the other person feel good about listening to what you have to say.

Here’s a wonderful little vignette that I love about the power of word choices.

Thanks for subscribing and engaging. I value each and every one of you.

Have a great day, check your DNA matches, find some ancestors and I’ll be back with you soon.



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41 thoughts on “Blogging, Rules and Mom’s Motto

  1. I loved you blog posting about blogging and your selection of the touching video “Not what you say but how you say it”. I’m with you 100% —

  2. I concur with you a lot. Also I am not one to read a lot of comments, as I consider the blogger as the subject of my attention and scientific affection. Not the readers. So, I for one, would not be greatly affected if you invested less or little time considering and filtering comments. And if that action allowed you to focus more on the Blog content area than the comments area, fantastic. Sincerely, a rapt subscriber. Also, no need to reply to this humble comment.

  3. Thanks for sharing this beautifully written blog post. And thanks for all your hard work. I learn so much from you! P.S. The video is perfect.

  4. A poignant video. Thank you for sharing.

    Rudyard Kipling said, “Words are the most powerful drug used by mankind.” And, sometimes, I have to stop and remember that the most powerful thing I can say in a situation is…….nothing.

  5. It saddens me to know there are people that have abused your blog with their comments. What you provide to us is priceless, in so many ways. Sharing your knowledge as well as much of your personal life in such a sefless manner is greatly appreciated. Thank you.

  6. Roberta, I guess you can imagine that my last year was sometimes difficult. But why you may think that I helped you with some of your German ancestry, let me turn this around – and it is true: Your blog, wonderfully written and heartfelt helped me through some of MY days last year. So who helped whom here…?

    We are not alone on this world and you just never know, which marks you leave in others’ lives, even if you do not notice at the time!

    Please keep up your wonderful work!
    Your friend Chris in Germany

  7. “It’s not what you say, but how you say it” was also a phrase I grew up with. I hated it in my teen years, but came to realize as a writer, editor and teacher just how true it is. And, yes, I said it more than once when my own daughter was growing up. Thank you for your contributions.

  8. Will you drop the disclaimer? We love you, disclaimed or not. Or whether you’re wearing a derby hat and plaid sport jacket in front of a tray dealing three card monte. I weep at all those electrons sacrificed across the ether to proclaim your virtue.

    Seriously, they are long, clutter the site, and certainly I don’t need them. Maybe a one line: “These guys sometimes pay me.” at the most.

  9. Roberta,
    Thanks for that 🙂 I’ve seen the video before and nice to see it again as a reminder. My mother always said “If you can’t something nice, don’t say anything at all.” I try to remember that.

  10. Thank you for writing your blog.
    In reading between the lines, it seems your writing of the previous blog may have stirred up more than you intended. I am sorry if that is so. It is hard to tell the truth and exercise freedom of speech, even if it involves the science of DNA and genealogy. You are braver than I.

    The spammers bother everyone!

  11. You are making an amazing contribution to the education of anyone who wants to know about genetic genealogy; and equally amazing is the fact that it is free to all. Thank you

  12. I thought you’d be interested that after many years of searching for my maternal grandmother’s line, and finding a likely mother (I had her name from Granny’s birth certificate — Mary Riley, common enough that there were a few choices), I have, through DNA, proved that that Mary Riley was indeed my great grandmother. I had already followed her line to Ireland. One of granny’s half-brother’s granddaughters matched with my DNA (on 23andMe).

    I’m in western Canada, Granny was born in Yorkshire, England (1882), and my new DNA relative is Ecuadorian or her ancestry is she has not responded to my message as yet. Such a thrill to find that the Mary I chose through other methods (and a lot of wishful thinking) was the right one.

    It would be nice to finally find Granny’s birth father, but that’s another search. Granny was the 2nd of a possible six children and the only one adopted out.

    Anyway, YAY for DNA. (I also found, through DNA, a previously unknown and unexpected first cousin, but that’s yet another story.)

  13. I appreciate you stating your policy. Being civil goes a long way in this world. I am fairly sure that if I was to post a comment that disagreed with something you wrote I could do so in a fashion that would be clear, precise and not rude, disruptive or uncivil. It is important to be aware of the choice of words one uses and how things are phrased. I believe in lively discussion, which certainly can be had without name calling, crude or rude remarks or the host of other unpleasant things we see in some comments (I police my comments as well).
    I have learned so much here on your blog and I appreciate the effort you put into it. I also like knowing that if you use a product you are as honest as you can be about it.

  14. Roberta, I feel your spam pain, and I’m only an occasional blogger. I can’t even begin to imagine how much spam you must deal with on a daily basis. Take care of yourself. -geo

  15. First of all I’m also not one that always reads comments left after blogs. But from my previous life (teaching) I’ve felt your pain when using some blogs in the classroom. I had to discontinue the use very quickly as I found I was exposing my students to the very dark world of spam. Many of the photography blogs I frequent have turned off commenting for the very reasons you enumerate. Thank you for your great effort on this blog. I find many times it illuminates my day and motivates me to continue looking for dead people that have made my life possible. Thank you!

    • I have considered turning comments off, but I hate to do that because often the comments are very valuable. I never thought about classroom usage and spam. Glad I’m so careful.

  16. Roberta, I am a retired 69 year old woman  but very active in and outside of my home. Genealogy is a passion of mine, as well as working out, old truck/car shows and cruises, travel, my 2 grand and 1 great grandchild’s activities and in August hosting my son’s wedding at my home. I find it difficult to read all your columns let alone write and  manage a blog, travel around the world for genealogy seminars and all the other things one needs to survive with a family. I admire your ability to do all you do and do it well. Kudos to you and keep up the good work. Would love to hear you if you ever speak in Michigan. I live in Lansing.                                                                                                                        P.S. I loved the pictures you shared while in Ireland! My most heartwrenching brickwall because growing up because my dad’s maternal family always identified with being Irish and I can’t get my Irish ancestors back to Ireland!! Someday….

    Thank you,Ruby Sooy Robart

    • Hang in there Ruby and I hope DNA gets you there eventually. We’ve just knocked down a NPE brickwall from over a century ago and it leads back to Ireland. The first thing I noticed when my parent and aunt tested was that many of the matches had Irish connections. It took a few more years before we narrowed down this ancestor to one of two brothers, and their mother was born in Ireland.

      She was born before registration of births began in Ireland so I’m exceptionally fortunate in that I’ve found her in BOTH Church of Ireland AND Irish Catholic records, firstly with her CoI baptism as an infant and then as an adult convert in her early twenties, which was a year before she emigrated alone and is recorded as a servant on the manifest. Perhaps she left Ireland with a broken heart.

      Now that I know exactly who she was, where she was from (which has excellent CoI records, so either they weren’t sent to Dublin and burnt in 1922, or they were sent but a transcript was kept by the parish) more of the matches are making sense.

      Tonight I’ve e-mailed a Gedmatch match who is a mutual match with some others up this line. He has a James S in is tree born about 1815 in Ireland (according to census records) to say that he’s matching several of us with ancestors from the same town in Ireland (quite a small town – these days fewer than 500 reside there), there’s quite a few people with the surname S in the parish records and there was a James S baptised in 1815. I have no idea how we’re related yet, but I hope this information will help him. As more people test and work out their matches maybe you’ll get a similar hint sometime soon.

  17. The note on my mirror, put there by my mum said, “If you can’t say something kind, don’t say anything at all.” And my mum always said, “I choose to praise loudly and publicly, and criticize softly and in private.” My first boss used to say, “Dana, we would never want to embarrass anyone.”

  18. Thank you for all that you do, and for the inspiration given to others through your work, Roberta! I loved the short video.

  19. I just want to take this opportunity to thank you for all the time that you put into your writing and your blog. Reading it is something that I always look forward to! You have taught me so much. I can’t thank you enough. Catherine

  20. Thank you for all that you do – in sharing your blog and for the genealogical community at large.

    Please know that your blog is one of my favorites – I’ve grown particularly attached to your 52 Ancestors series. What an inspiration!

    I hope that one day I may leave my family a collection of history that they may enjoy for generations – and your work is one of my prime inspirations. That is to say that you are one of my heroes (heroines), and I have very few. Your family is so blessed to have you chronicling their history with such diligence and sensitivity.

    Your gifts to the genealogical community do not go unnoticed. Thank you again for sharing with us and for your candor.

  21. I love reading your blog as it is so honest and interesting. Many thanks for all that you do on our behalf. Hugs,

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