WE MUST ALL SHARE AND SHARE ALIKE
I fully well realize that the last tip was regarding research etiquette as it pertained to asking for "everything" another researcher has.
Shortly after writing it, one researcher contacted me and made a very good point.
Although it is most irritating to have someone demand all of the data that has taken you years to compile; it would be most irritating to not have another researcher to interact with.
Nobody is stating that you simply must give your data to anyone and certainly all of it.
But we as researchers must remember that we exist in a very co-dependent atmosphere.
To simply turn your nose up at another researcher will most definitely hurt genealogical research in the long run. You might make the difference in someone's ability to identify a photograph of someone. That could really be all they are asking
"Do you know this person"
The researcher pointed out that even if we were to send another researcher "all" of our data, we were not truly losing anything; we still have that data ourselves. We are simply passing it along to another in a gesture of goodwill.
I am not certain that I can personally go along with that particular theory, but that is I guess a matter of personal viewpoint.
I find it more of a matter of ethics and principle I think.
I fully know that in passing along my data; I am not really "losing" it; however, something about it just smacks at "cheating" in a way. I know researchers that have compiled items that have been collected since the 1960's. To expect someone to turn that "all" over to me is like expecting the guy who studied for the exam to give me all the answers. I mean in the same respect; that studious guy isn't "losing" the test answers by giving them to me either; however, it lessens the work he invested in the project.
Seriously though I think that we can find a common ground of "sharing".
Sharing is not "turning it all over" to another. The process must exist for research to continue, but it must be a give and take situation. It is not fair for one researcher to constantly be giving to another. We must SHARE or TRADE data.
Without other researchers, most of our data supply would be pretty slim. The whole "mailing list" system is based on the sharing theory. You really can share without giving it all away.
There may be a researcher of the same family or perhaps an extended family for you. They may hold a piece of data that to them is just entirely useless; but it is a gold mine to you in your research. Without their gesture of sharing, you would never find that information.
To return to the core of this message:
We must all share. The amount you share depends on you yourself. If you choose to give another researcher everything you have; that is a choice that you make. Nobody is forcing you to. Many of us have been burned in the past by giving just loads of data with the promise of information in return and then later we receive NOTHING back. This happens all the time.
My own personal solution to this is very simple. It allows me to share, but at the same time, encourages an "interchange" or two-sidedness to the process.
When someone contacts me asking for information and makes promises of data in return; I send them the bare minimum in the first response like for example; Just the immediate spouse/children of the person they are asking about.
Then, I wait.
If I receive a response back with any data, and this doesn't have to be monumental, but at least some show of good faith; I will send some more. If that person either responds again or sends a goodly amount, my database pretty much is open to them.
However, if after sending the initial immediate family data I receive either:
No data whatsoever/ Not even a thank you in reply. Or a nasty email just simply DEMANDING all the data
Then, I send nothing more. I am therefore not involved in a one sided activity and I am also not just being used as a "data port" so to speak.