05 Oct

Someone asked me, what is considered to be crediting a source on the internet such as in forums, message boards, groups, facebook, twitter, etc.

I’m likely -almost certainly- guilty of not properly citing sources when I first began certain aspects of research, such as using ancestry .com for example. I’ve learned better. I still make mistakes.  There are many instances I could not possibly cover. There are other excellent articles and blogs that can give far more detailed information regarding thorough examples of properly quoting sources.
I’m going to answer that question with my idea of what is NOT citing a source.

Example: posting  a photo with “source, ancestry”
More accurate: photo used with/by permission of John Q Public, as found/shared/seen on ancestry. com. Shown in photo , Jane Doe, John Doe, little girl Doe and baby doe.
Same goes for articles, documents etc.

Ancestry. com is not a source. It is a repository for sources such as the 1820 Federal Census of Jefferson County GA.

Example: J.D. Smith was the father of D.J. Smith, who was born in 1830. He married Jane Jones in 1854 they had 10 children, etc etc etc. source: rootsweb.

Rootsweb is an internet message board,  the source is the person who posted that information there.

Example: (fill in the blanks with some quote about somebody that did something in 1829) source: google.
The publication that google shared with the public, is the source. Not google.

Speaking of google, just because something shows up in google images doesn’t necessarily mean the owner of the item/photo knows it’s there or wants it there,  or has given permission for it to be used. Google has bots that scour and scrub the internet for ‘hidden’ sources. Coming across something on the internet does not equal it being public domain for everyone’s use.

Family lists a citation you may use at the bottom of the document or info that you are reviewing. Repositories such as state archives, national archives and the library of congress  also list citations at the bottom of the document-or somewhere on the page easily noticed. (There will also be notice on the page if you cannot use an item without permission).

If  a person is computer and internet savvy enough to download a document or photo and then upload it to another website, then one is certainly computer and internet savvy enough to copy and paste a citation.

In the case of a citation not being available , then try posting a link to the item/page. Facebook as well as other websites, will automatically post a preview of the page you are linking to for the convenience of others.

It’s always best to cite your source, use a citation pre-written for your convenience or post a link to the source instead of adding some slapdash vague mention of  where you came across the item you’ve chosen to share.

Remember that someone who so willingly shares information has likely spent  countless hours working to find it. Treat them kindly, gently and with the same respect as if you were the person behind that source. Because one day, it might just BE you.

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