Friday, July 4, 2008

Blogging at FamilySearch

Happy Independence Day, everyone!

There's so much I want to explain about my change in employment and there's so little time to write, at least for today I'll start by answering a question asked in response to Thursday's announcement.

Dean wrote,

From what you've been able to sense so far, do you anticipate any differences in FamilySearch's corporate attitude towards employee blogs vs. the one you experienced at Ancestry?

Dear Dean,

Thanks for reading my blog and thanks for your comment. Best wishes on your new blog!

If you've not read my posts on the topic of employee bloggers, the series is called Don't Miss the Train. In short, employee bloggers should never violate non-disclosure agreements or any other contractual terms they have agreed to. And they should never speak evil of their employer or fellow employees. These are principals that are just as sound at FamilySearch as at Ancestry.

Church magazine coverstory encourages Church member participation onlineIf I find any difference in attitude, I expect to find greater encouragement to blog at FamilySearch than at Ancestry. Just this month, blogging was encouraged by FamilySearch's sponsor, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Church). The cover story of the July 2008 issue of the Ensign, a Church published magazine, is Sharing the Gospel Using the Internet. This article is written by Elder M. Russell Ballard, one of the Church's Twelve Apostles.

Ballard states that,

We all have interesting stories that have influenced our identity. Sharing those stories is a nonthreatening way to talk to others [about the Church]. Telling those stories can help demystify the Church. You could help overcome misperceptions through your own sphere of influence, which ought to include the Internet.

My understanding is that FamilySearch takes very seriously any counsel given by the Church's leadership, so the timing of this article couldn't be better for employee bloggers at FamilySearch.

Since my target audience is users of and, I assume my audience comes to me for information about these websites, not about religion. I hope members of all churches and any religious belief are comfortable reading my blog. If not, please let me know (privately, preferably).

I assume my audience appreciates "insider" information that "demystifies" the actions of Ancestry and FamilySearch. I have experience as an executive at a former company and I've spent 5+ years inside The Generations Network. What appears absolutely lunatic from the outside (such as the Internet Biographical Collection), has some pretty logical and benign explanations from the inside.

Likewise, I am a long-time Church "insider" (member) and will be able to report on the FamilySearch organization from the inside out. I try to keep in mind that some FamilySearch actions are better understood if I share brief, necessary insider information about the Church.

There have been more questions, and more answers are coming. Stay tuned...

What Do You Think?

How am I doing? This very posting required some information about the Church to explain why employee blogging at FamilySearch might be encouraged more than at Leave me a comment and tell me what you think. Did I go too far? I was uncertain if I included enough information for someone unfamiliar with the Church to understand that Mr. Ballard's statement would have a large bearing on policy at FamilySearch. Was that apparent?


  1. "What appears absolutely lunatic from the outside (such as the Internet Biographical Collection), has some pretty logical and benign explanations from the inside."

    Another attempt to rewrite history and silence well-deserved criticism?
    Either give the "explanation" or accept the fact that your (former) employer is criminal. Congratulations on leaving them.

  2. AI:

    Thanks for replying in such detail, and for doing it in such a personal way!

    I'll admit, I didn't have Elder Ballard's remarks in mind as I wondered to myself whether FamilySearch would welcome an insider publicly acknowledging the possibility of strategic missteps, as you have done in the past with regard to your previous employer.

    But now that you mention it, the FamilySearchLabs blog has been around for a while, and I seem to recall a fair amount of candor there about the way certain features and functionality have been received.

    From what I've learned of your thinking processes from your blog, I for one think FamilySearch is fortunate to have you. From my experience with NFS thus far (and that of certain of our FHC's patrons), I suspect there will be plenty for you and others to "demystify" as the transition progresses. I look forward to your ongoing insights and observations.

  3. Your comments and editorials have always been enlightening. You have the ability to explain in lay terms what us techno plebians do not understand.
    Your comments about the LDS church are appropriate to explaining LDS policies in relation to family history and specifically to FamilySearch. You are doing a terrific job. Thank you for your insights.
    I think you ought to not limit your comments to only and FamilySearch. I like the mini lessons on Indexing and the serendipity stories lift my spirits. This is my favorite family history blog and I think you are probably very informed about a lot of other things about family history. So keep up the good work.

  4. I also want to thank you for trying to explain things in a way that help us understand Family History research a bit better. Your articles have been both interesting and inlightening. I have used your blog (more than once)to jump start my brain when I've searched for a topic for training at our Family History Center. Thanks for taking your time to explain things in detail so we get the whole story. Many of us are in the dark, and thank you for the light.


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