European Nobility

Started by Elizabeth-Gaye Jeans on Friday, May 27, 2011

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5/27/2011 at 7:13 PM

Finding European nobility in my family tree is not fun at all. I don't read but one language. I can't read Occidental, Fresien or Latvian. All I can do is look, not touch. Finding my ancestors just means looking at other people's work, to which my contributions, if any, are locked out.

Which leads to the larger question. Who is geni for? If academics want to display their prowess, there are plenty of forums. What about a very ordinary curious person with no pedigree or papers?

I am at the point that once my ancestors got across the Atlantic to the Americas, I have no interest in them.

Just my 5 cents worth.

5/28/2011 at 6:42 AM

Elizabeth, thanks for posting this. I have a couple thoughts and suggestions:

- Have you found that most of your ancestors have profiles in other languages? If so, there are plenty of people on Geni who would be willing to help translate them into English. Maybe if you posted direct links here to the profiles in question, we could point you in the right direction.

- The way to gain editing access to profiles of your ancestors is to collaborate. This means working together with other Geni users on the same profiles. You can click on the "Request to Edit Profile" link on any profile in order to request collaboration. Most of us have found that the more we collaborate, the better our experience is on Geni. Collaboration allows you to look *and* touch.

- Geni is very much geared to the general public. Although there are some of us here who can read/write multiple languages, we're very much in the minority. Most users aren't trained genealogists or historians and, like you, are just interested in their family history and discovering what they can.

I think you've run into an unusual situation that's not typical of Geni at all, especially since nearly all Geni profiles are in English. I think if you can point us to the profiles in question, we can probably help clear this up for you rather quickly. Don't give up yet! :)

5/28/2011 at 9:57 AM

Elizabeth-Gaye Jeans Can you post a profile or two? I understand your concern, but without a concrete example, I don't know for sure what the problem is.

Also, your European nobility ancestors are shared by thousands if not tens of thousands of other people. I wonder how many of them speak French or Spanish or the European language that the profile's name is written in? Geni is international.

Normally we try to provide several versions of the name - one will be the form that English speakers would find in a pedigree book and one will be the name as it was in the native language of the historical person. We make names searchable by putting as many alternative ways of spelling / writing them in "nicknames".

I would love to help ensure that you can find your ancestors and learn about them, if you can provide examples of profiles that are of concern.

5/29/2011 at 3:13 PM

Got this today about a Scottish Laird:

Subj: Pyyntösi tehdä yhteistyötä käyttäjän Susanna Ånäs kanssa on hyväksytty!
Date: 5/29/2011 4:04:28 PM Central Daylight Time
From: no-reply@geni.com
To: gayethomas5000@aol.com
Sent from the Internet (Details)

Hyvä Elizabeth,

Susanna Ånäs on hyväksynyt pyyntösi tehdä yhteistyötä.

Voit nyt muokata henkilön John Erskine, 1st Laird of Dun profiilia:
http://www.geni.com/c/12a52ed05414a3a532cccc8911c3b46cbef6fc82?u=ht...

You can also now view and edit each other's public profiles.

Yhteistyöpyynnössä on seuraava viesti:

Katso hänen profiiliansa:
http://www.geni.com/c/12a52ed05414a3a532cccc8911c3b46cbef6fc82

- Geni-tiimi

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5/29/2011 at 3:14 PM

And then there is Victar: Subj: Victar te ha enviado un mensaje en Geni.
Date: 4/16/2011 3:09:49 AM Central Daylight Time
From: no-reply@geni.com
To: gayethomas5000@aol.com
Sent from the Internet (Details)

Estimada Elizabeth,

Victar ha enviado un mensaje:

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Asunto: Kings of Spain and Portugal

Elizabeth,

I noticed you've been adding duplicate profiles of the Kings of Spain and Portugal. We're working really hard to merge all duplicates in that area so you're actually creating more work for us. We'd love your help in cleaning up and maintaining that part of the tree if you're interested though.

Cheers,
Victar

That sounds like a big buzz off to me.

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Responde a este mensaje aquí:
http://www.geni.com/c/73480e8a155e156d0903abe4fcc5ec1abe7edac8

- El equipo de Geni

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5/29/2011 at 3:17 PM

And then there is my section on revisions, looks like an upper class course in European history:


Terry Jackson updated profiles for Robert the Magnificent, Duke of Normandy, Eadgyth Matilda of Scotland, Queen of England and Henry I Beauclerc, King of England. 2 hours ago
Elizabeth Gaye Thomas added Miles Priest, Frances Fanny Priest and NN Priest to the tree. 2 hours ago
Lars Christian Nordby updated profiles for Valdemar II Sejr, Konge af Danmark and Sophie Vladimorovna of Polotsk. 2 hours ago


Jason Wills updated profiles for Mathilda / Lady of the English, Empress of England and Germany and Geoffroy V le Bel, comte d'Anjou. 3 hours ago
Elizabeth Gaye Thomas updated profiles for John Folger, Jr. (1595-1660) and Cornelius Priest. 4 hours ago
Added to this album: Sir John Seymour, III, Martha Hayward (1621-1693), John Seymour, II and Sir John Seymour of Wolf Hall


Maria Edmonds-Zediker updated Elizabeth Hutchins's profile. 5 hours ago
Anne M Berge updated Matilda of Flanders's profile. 6 hours ago
J. Ashley Odell added John Harrington, Sir Knight to the "About" Cleanup project. 7 hours ago
Justin Swanström updated profiles for Hilderic, King of the Franks, Bartherus, King of the Franks, Sunno, King of the Franks, Farabert, King of the Franks and 2 others, Chlodimir III (V) (210-298), King of the Franks and Walter (Gautier) I, King of the East Franks « less. 8 hours ago
Jessica Davis updated Thomas Massey, Sr's profile. 9 hours ago
Eero Ignatius and Janice Helen Greenlees replied to the public discussion Louis the Pious is marked as his own son in the Master Profile. 10 hours ago

Eero
...in addition to being the son of Charlemagne. Profile managers, please correct this mistake.

Bjørn P. Brox updated Clovis I, Roi des Francs's profile. 5:06 AM
Alexander M Bishop updated profiles for Childéric I, King of the Franks, Bartherus, King of the Franks and Hilderic, King of the Franks. 4:53 AM
Ann Vermeulen (Ramsey), Erica Howton, IX and Ofir Friedman replied to the public discussion Zombies please. 4:24 AM

Ann
Hi guys & gals ;-) Edward III of England`` There are several clusters of private or private zombie nodes around Edward III of England. Can they be turned into viewable h...
read more

Victar » Horacio Muñoz Larreta: Gracias a usted también! 2:33 AM
Victar updated Henry I Beauclerc, King of England's profile. 2:27 AM
Victar joined the Cathar Credentes project. 2:21 AM
Yesterday
Victar is now following Valerie Ann (Stark) Newsome and Henry I Beauclerc, King of England.

Valerie
Henry I

Randy Stebbing added Andrew Pickens, Colonial Militia General to the "About" Cleanup project.
Horacio Muñoz Larreta » Victar: Gracias Victar a vos y a Kristi por sus aportes a la genealigía...!
Elizabeth Gaye Thomas added Margaret Sacie to the tree.

Margaret

5/29/2011 at 3:38 PM

@ Elizabeth-Gaye Jeans - I understand your reactions. I would like to figure out how to help you feel more involved in our shared European ancestors' profiles and trees. One way might be to join some of the projects and contribute to the discussions. Or pick a branch or family and research it or even start a project on it. I can introduce you to people who do this and do it well and enjoy researching their ancestors. Believe me, there is plenty of work to go around!

I guess there are several things that bother you:

1) the naming conventions for Anglo-Norman and Norman profiles of our European noble ancestors are hard to follow if you don't know French or the rules of names in the Middle Ages

2) the emails you get about duplicates and in general the Big Tree goal of Geni - one person, one profile - which is a great advantage to all of us because we can benefit from others' work but it is hard because you don't know you are creating duplicates

3) the use of other languages in email and/or in profiles - Geni is an international genealogy site and there are American and Canadian AND French or Spanish or German or Dutch or Flemish members who also want to be able to communicate and to read the profiles of our shared European noble ancestors so there are things written in bilingual form in English and in another language sometimes.

Our goal is to have the names as they were in the original language, such as Norman French, but to ALSO have nicknames and display names that make it easy for speaker of English or others to find them and recognize them. Take a look at Charlemagne for example. There is a nice tutorial on the Medieval naming conventions that I can send you a link to and it's fun to learn about names, and not that difficult. I'm still learning myself.

Duplicates is a hard issue because you don't know when you are creating a duplicate unless you search using a lot of different variations of the name. One thing you can do is type the name into Google and add "Wikipedia" since if the person is famous and there is an article, it will often give the variations of the name. Or just email some of us or post in Help Curator thread and ask us if the person you are trying to add already exists.

Believe it or not, the European members find it hard too, because so much of Geni is in English! And many Europeans speak more languages than Americans do.

Hatte

5/29/2011 at 3:46 PM

Okay, I can explain part of this:

- When you're getting messages in other languages, that's because those are the default language settings the other Geni users have. Susanna Ånäs appears to be using Finnish or maybe Estonian for her default language settings, but it appears that all her message is saying (based on context; I don't read either language) is that you two are now collaborating on the profile for John Erskine, 1st Laird of Dun.

Victar actually wrote his message to you in English, so that shouldn't be hard to decipher, but the system information is coming through in Spanish because he uses Spanish on the site. He's definitely not telling you to buzz off -- he's just pointing out that you've added profiles that already exist, so you can just merge into the tree and save yourself some hassle. He's trying to help and encourage, not push you away. :) If you contact him, he'll probably be able to give you some helpful advice on tracing your ancestors from that time/region.

I agree that it can be a little confusing at first to get a message that looks like someone wrote to you in a foreign language, but my experience is that it happens very infrequently and that you can usually figure it out without much hassle. If you're ever completely lost, you can always reply asking if the other user can communicate in English, or you can try a free service like Babelfish or Google Translate.

- Regarding the revisions...that's just showing you a list of edits made on Geni by people you're following or on profiles you're following/managing. You're collaborating with 30 people and following 1,261 profiles, so that's a lot of updates to see! :) And because you've chosen to follow all of those profiles, you've actually in a sense asked to see all those updates. If there are profiles you don't really care about, it might make sense to click on them and unfollow them when they pop up.

The farther back you go in time, the more people there are editing the profiles, so it makes sense that the bulk of them are going to be nobility or royals. (Since I follow mainly American profiles, I guess my homepage looks like an upper-level course in the American Revolution at times. :)) But there's never a trace of expectation that you're actually supposed to know all of those profiles intimately, or even pay attention to them.

One of the best things about Geni is that you have the freedom to participate at the level that works for you. If you don't want to follow that many profiles or learn about that many ancestors, you don't have to. If you don't want to collaborate, you're not required to -- though you will, as Victar noted, keep running into duplication issues that way. Don't feel pushed out at all based on a couple of (completely well-intentioned) e-mails or a seemingly overwhelming list of revisions to follow. Do what works for you and don't worry about the rest. :)

5/29/2011 at 3:48 PM

Whoops, Hatte had already replied by the time I finished writing my book above. Sorry! But at least it looks like we touched on different things, so hopefully we've covered the big concerns. :)

5/29/2011 at 3:51 PM

I have turned off ALL Geni email notifications. I only see notifications on my Geni homepage. I would go crazy otherwise.

I get collaboration requests in Estonian which I ignore or decline unless I know the person and have a reason to collaborate with them.

I wonder if there are settings, as Ashley said, that you can turn off so you don't get so much and such overwhelming information?

5/29/2011 at 3:55 PM

Okay, last comment for now, I promise!

I just took a peek at your activity history to see if I could figure out any issues. I noticed that you added a profile for yesterday. There appear to already be profiles for her on Geni (Baroness Margaret de Massey (de Sacie) and ).

So rather than going through all the personal hassle of manually inputting entirely new profiles, this might be a good point to merge into the big tree instead, saving yourself a lot of additional work and time. That's pretty much the point Victar was making in his message -- no need to trouble yourself reinventing the wheel. :) Are you familiar with merging into the Big Tree, or would it help for us to explain that?

Personally, merging into the tree instead of adding new profiles has made my Geni experience SO much better and left me a lot of extra time to do more in-depth research on individual profiles. Plus, it's helped me find literally thousands of ancestors I wouldn't have located on my own.

5/30/2011 at 10:23 AM

I don't mind that you looked. I am asking for help. I thought that if I made an entry that was already a duplicate, the geni would alert me. Obviously, that is not the case.

Someone once told me that I am already in the Big Tree, whatever that it. A guide to the software would be more than useful.

Lastly, when I have been aware of some duplicates and gone and looked at those trees, they are a mess; fathers and sons all mixed up, marriages in the wrong order or with the wrong kids (check out the Scottish Massey-Dunham line back to Normandy, frex). I am using a single source with a series of double checks -- it is at least coherent. The other Masseys are a frightful mess that I don't want to go near because I can't clean them up and I can't change them. I would rather re-invent the wheel.

I spent a lot of time putting together a Lawson/Lawesson/Lawrence line, only to discover it merged and moved beyond comprehension by somebody who did not know what they were doing and who had clearly not looked at my documention.. THAT is a waste of my time

The biggest weakness of geni is that people do not reference their sources in any way and then lock up a profile. That is awful. I can find some pretty good sources (not a PhD but a lawyer) and they contradict what is in the profile.

So, when I get to the European nobility, my eyes glaze over. If I want to do some research, I am locked out. I also have no way of evaluating someone's work. That is boring and I am not interested in boring

Lastly, the French king, Pharamond, is about a real as Paul Bunyon. But he is still in the tree. Why is that?

5/30/2011 at 10:26 AM

Naming conventions.

Yes, I know they vary. But the main geni data entry box is First Name, Middle Name and Surname.

Is Elizabeth de Beaumont (English) -- Elizabeth.de.Beaumont? -- first middle and last? or is she Elizabeth. de Beaumont -- first and last. Or, since she does not take her husband's surname, is she Elizabeth de Beaumont all one first name or all one last name.

5/30/2011 at 10:39 AM

Okay, I can comment on naming conventions and point you to the link for Medieval names. Surnames did not exist in the Middle Ages for the most part. "de Beaumont" means "from Beaumont" and is known as a toponymic (big word!) or location-derived appelation. Not a surname. "de" is not capitalized since it is a preposition, not a place name (proper noun). It's a phrase that goes together. It is a Norman French name. The Anglo-Normans in England spoke French and continued with French naming practices for a long time. So the family name would be "de Beaumont" in Normandy and come to England as "de Beaumont" and continue like that until at some point a couple of centuries later, they gradually stopped speaking French and also dropped the "de" and the toponymic turned into a surname.

Women did not take their husband's surnames most of history. It is a recent, mostly Anglo-American-Canadian-Commonwealth phenomenon, starting around 1500 or 1600. When I curate or create profiles of women in the Medieval period, I do put their father's name as surname and maiden name. When I do it for Colonial Americans, I DO put their husband's surname as their surname, because we have written evidence that they were known by their husband's surname.

5/30/2011 at 11:10 AM

Elizabeth-Gaye Jeans on the other issue - duplicates - the best way to get the tree to be a clean tree is to work with other users who work on those lines and to work with one or more curators. The best vehicle is a project. Ashley will have more to add, I'm sure about this. I'm going to have one of the more experienced curators who works on some British aristocratic families chime in here soon. She'll have some good ideas. This is an important topic. Geni should be enjoyed and beneficial and accessible to everyone. It should also be correct historically and as complete as possible because it's the "Big Tree" that makes it so we can find our ancestors quickly and find out about them and find many distant cousins.

Private User
5/30/2011 at 12:02 PM

Elizabeth -

I am SO glad you started this discussion and have raised the questions you have. They echo observations and feelings I have experienced, as well.

Geni is an amazing platform with exciting possibilities. They have a receptive, involved and well intentioned staff. The greater world geni community has allowed me to make meaningful relationships, benefit from the research of others and learn from the varied strengths of new colleagues.

The positives have made it possible for me to invest myself here. In the cost of membership, in absurdly enormous amounts of volunteered hours, intellectually, creatively, and most of all, emotionally. I love this site, its people and its potential.

That said!
- Not all are friendly. Many are condescending, possessive, stubbornly set in their ways.
- One size will never fit all. Standards, records, customs, cultures, etc. have and will continue to change.
- Language will always be a barrier. Even in english, the difference between my grandmother's elegant hand written letters, my cousins emails and my daughter's texts all seem to be in different languages! The opportunities for miscommunication abound.
- The Geni platform is confusing. Even for the tech savy.
- It isn't well explained anywhere in any consistant manner.
- Roll-outs/changes are made without any advanced warning.
- Many features just aren't well functioning/intuitive.
- Lay people/hobbyists (me!) and scholars/"professionals" (or those who like to think they are!) will be looking for different things, using in different ways
- It's family. When is that ever easy?

I could ramble on and on... These are things we as users, and curators, and staff need to keep in mind. Remember what it's like to be new. Be kind to one another.

For those who know me my constant mantra here is:

"Educate, Engage, Empower. All through clear communication."

Easier said than done!

Please. Please, be encouraged. Keep speaking up. Ask questions. Remind us to view things from different perspectives.

And, as you grow in comfort and experience, encourage others! We *are* all connected. -- We are all needed. -- Each person brings unique strengths and we need to facilitate ways for all to feel safe to display them.

(As for me, I'm going to hit "Post Reply" without my paranoid proofing, spell checking, editing, anxiety over clarity and articulation, sure to be scrutinized and dissected ... My thoughts *are* valid even if my words aren't perfect. So there!)

5/30/2011 at 12:47 PM

And you can see why I adore Private User!

She understands and she knows the value of always keeping the users' perspective in mind and listening. The discussion threads are great for that. And she is so right - we all contribute and we each have our own strength.

Private User
5/30/2011 at 12:59 PM

Elizabeth - I was just looking through this thread again to see if I could identify other points you've raised that we ramblers haven't addressed and something else stuck out.

When you mentioned a message you received, "That sounds like a big buzz off to me." I can see where getting a message in your inbox may feel off-putting. However, I know Victar and feel comfortable in saying that he wouldn't mean it to be. I think he would genuinely appreciate your contributions.

That's true of all Curators. We're here to help!

5/30/2011 at 3:07 PM

I like your list a lot, Jenna. :)

I especially like your point that "Lay people/hobbyists (me!) and scholars/"professionals" (or those who like to think they are!) will be looking for different things, using in different ways."

That's always an interesting one for me because, while I do work as a historian, I'm in no way a professional genealogist. From being on the outside and looking into some of the debates on Geni about "the professional way" to do genealogy, I admit that I've sometimes found myself shaking my head at some of the seemingly more minor debates that break out between people trying to get into credential fights. There's no reason for anyone with professional training to ever automatically assume that they have more knowledge or experience than a "hobbyist" does. Likewise, people without training shouldn't be made to feel inferior.

I think that sharing our experiences and backgrounds can be really helpful for learning how to work together best and what skills we have that can complement each other. I've shared my background with some and have enjoyed learning about the backgrounds of other Geni users. However, when people are prefacing all of their interactions with "I am a professional...," that can be counterproductive and off-putting to both new and established members. Fortunately, it's a very rare occurrence.

Also, I have to say...I kinda wonder about people who are trying to use Geni as a professional academic resource. Maybe the mission and purpose need to be made clearer, so that people aren't under the assumption that this is really meant to be a formal, professional resource or a genealogical LinkedIn.

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