Sunday, July 3, 2016

Some Call Me Rude

When I was young and had to speak in class, it became a joke among my classmates and even a teacher that I'd say too much, go into too much detail.

Years later, I had a boss who criticized me more than once for "writing telegraphically." He'd tell me that the people for whom I was writing - often the Board of Directors - didn't understand the background as well as I thought and I have to spell it out for them in greater detail.

Finding the middle ground has always been an issue for me, both in speaking and in writing.

This morning, I posted the following on my Facebook timeline and in several genealogy groups of which I am a member.
Dear Fellow Researchers,

When you write to me that you match fourteen of my project kits at GEDmatch, but it only takes me sixty seconds to see that you match thirty, forty, fifty or more, you are being fundamentally unserious. I will respond, but it will be a response fitting for a beginner. If you are insulted, I am sorry - which is not the same as "I apologize."

I got quite a few likes and words of encouragement, both in the comments and privately. Apparently I am not the only person who is occasionally faced with this phenomenon.

I also received responses from more than a few people - a minority, to be sure - who called me rude, mean-spirited or worse, from people who thought I was discouraging new researchers and from people who hoped never to match any of my kits and promised not to contact me if they did.

As anyone who follows political journalism knows, when you have to explain yourself, you are already in trouble. But here goes anyway.

I am used to this kind of inquiry. I get several every week, though usually not adoptions. Most of them tell me whom they match in my families, but some, like this one, send me to look them up myself. (Truth is, many an inquirer has given me a list of matches and only after responding in detail do I learn that actually there are many more matches, making my reply meaningless.)

So here is the essence of my response, edited for privacy. With comments in blue.
Before I forget, I wrote about a [Father's name] in my blog maybe a year ago. You should be able to find it there easily enough. I do not recall all the details but maybe there is something useful.
Should I have taken the trouble to cite the specific blog post from last year rather than sending her to look it up? Maybe, but I thought she might benefit from seeing other things on my blog. 
First, to do this, you must be thorough. Saying you have twelve matches with my project when in fact I see thirty - two dozen of which are Pikholz descendants - is not productive.

It's more than "not productive." It's a waste of time. Mine and hers. I can spend an hour responding to her twelve matches, explaining who is connected to whom and who is just a cousin of my mother-in-law. I can point out that there are close relatives of those twelve whom she does not match, perhaps drawing some conclusions, when in fact she does match them. She simply didn't mention them. This is not always a question of sorting. There were more than twelve matches even with the default results.

Perhaps I should have made her a list of the thirty matches. And the ancestors on their "other sides."
Second, GEDmatch shows [you have] no matches closer than 4.5 generations and as we know, Jewish matches are never as close as they appear in aggregate numbers. So we are talking about fourth-fifth cousins at best and likely further. Considering that we rarely know surnames back that far, this is a low probability inquiry. Not where I'd invest my time and resources, if it were me.
Just telling it like it is.
Third, you have has to be able to do a chromosome browser on your matches, usually in family groups - which is relatively easy in this case. That chromosome browser will clarify if there are matches with groups. Without that, those 12 or 24 or 30 are all individuals with no connection to one another.
At this point, sometimes I will say "if you do not know how to do this..." and some of those retort "of course I know how to do a chromosome browser." Sometimes ya just can't win. But usually this is where I find out if the person wants some direction or wants someone to do their work.

And by way of clarification, I added:
On the other hand, if you matched me and my four sisters (which you don't) that group of five would not mean more than any one of us alone.
I suppose I could have explained this in more detail.

I concluded with:
Come back to me if you want some direction.  My GEDmatch codes are at
That will chase her away for sure! 
Or she will ask for direction.
Or she will reply "But how are we related?"

And let me conclude with this word of support, from someone on Facebook whom I do not know:

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