Friday, January 13, 2017

Source Citation Standards Online

I just posted a piece I wrote on my main blog, and found the formatting to be a real pain.

I want to follow source citation standards. I really do.

I understand full well that links are not permanent, no matter if they say, "permalink." That responsible genealogists take the time to really cite where they found what they found, and if they don't, it almost might as well be fiction!

But I think there is a big discrepancy between the medium of print and blogging.

When you write online, you often don't have access to full-fledged word processor tools that allow you to write subscripts and superscripts etc.

But you have this really marvelous amazing tool called LINKS. Whereas in print, you see an underlined word, online you have this really awesome power to be able to click and be redirected elsewhere. It is really fantastic.

It is also really frustrating to me, as a genealogist who wants to do "what is right." I want to follow the standards set by the leaders in the field. I want to be more than a good genealogist; I want to be a great one!

I also don't want to drive myself crazy being a slave to details such as, "when do I capitalize and italicize Ibid and when do I write it simply ibid?

My two great non-human loves are languages and genealogy. Not editing. I have an abnormally high tolerance for nitpicking, but let's not get too carried away. I think I would go completely crazy parsing through texts like some of my best friends, including my college roommate Cindy who is now an editor. It just. makes. me. want. to. cry. "Why am I wasting my time with these formatting things when I could be reading Czech fairy tales for vocab acquisition?"

I think attention to source citations is like most things: a balance issue. You can be an extremist in either direction. It's probably better to lean towards slightly too much attention to source citation than too little, but if it completely stifles you and prevents you from sharing your research and writing, then what good is it really doing?

Because my medium is primarily blogging, I lean heavily towards the, "I'll link you to my source, and assume you can figure it out from there." I know that's sloppy, and there are flaws with that thinking. But there are also opportunity costs involved in writing an NGSQ-quality piece every time you sit down to write a casual blog post. They are different formats with different goals, and I like to think that even though I'm totally imperfect in my attempts at source citation, my contributions to the niche subsector of Czech Genealogy are useful, and I should continue to post, imperfect as my citations be!

1 comment:

  1. It is definately possible to go overboard with source citation details. It's a good example of "don't let perfection be the enemy of the good."

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