Thursday, March 11, 2010

Links That Make Me Grumpy

Visitors to Cyndi's List can submit new links to be added to the site ( Links are automatically added to the "What's New" section on the site ( and sent out to subscribers of the Cyndi's List Mailing List ( In doing so, links are also found to be included in the Google databases quicker because Google regularly spiders both Cyndi's List and the mailing list archives at RootsWeb. And all of this is free.

So, there is a lot of good motivation for people to submit their web site to Cyndi's List. As you might imagine, it also means that a lot of people take this free service for granted and abuse it. The new link submission script has been hacked, so it is bombarded every day with 50+ inappropriate links. Every night I have to "scrub" the page of the unsavory links. It has become very tiresome, but part of the routine.

The thing that bothers me more than the icky links are those that are submitted by fellow genealogists and are in one way or another considered by me to be inappropriate or bothersome. Sometimes I am deluged with requests by one person. Sometimes I am berated for not categorizing someone's link quick enough. And sometimes I am pestered by people who want to know when I will get to their link. There are several reasons that make the categorization process a lengthy one for me, the first being that I am doing this alone. These, in no particular order, are the links that make me grumpy.
  1. Duplicate Submissions
    Why do people think that submitting the link more than once is a good thing to do? Sometimes they assume it will get their link placed in a category faster. Sometimes they assume I won't notice the duplicate, thus giving them additional exposure for their site. Trust me, I notice quite often. And sometimes people just don't pay attention to what they do, so they submit the link over and over again. For me, duplicate submissions mean more work because I just end up revisiting them, then deleting them.
  2. Misleading Link Submissions
    Sometimes I get link submissions that have misleading titles or misleading descriptions. I assume the reason has to do with marketing and making the site sound wonderful to view. I always visit all sites before I categorize a new link, so what is the point in supplying a title or a description that doesn't match what I will find on the site? It is pointless, because I will edit the description to appropriately describe the contents of the web site.
  3. Not Quite Genealogy
    There are a lot of databases online for public records searches that are clearly created for current events and dates. And most of them require a fee. I have a hard time adding these to Cyndi's List. I think about them long and hard before I place any. I understand the need to find living cousins, but I don't want to be in the business of pointing people to current people finding sites, especially when I wonder about the quality of the data and the value for any fee paid.
  4. Sites by Anonymous
    Perhaps I'm suspicious by nature, but I don't understand why people publish a web site and don't publish who they are. Why the anonymity? What is there to hide? In some cases I know that some people remain anonymous because they publish numerous sites with different titles, many times just repeating the same content on each site. The purpose is merely to drive more traffic to their sites. So, when I run across an anonymous link I take extra time to determine what I need to do.
  5. Sites With No Contact Information
    Part of the problem is the anonymity as mentioned above. But to have no way of contacting the owner or author of the site makes me suspicious. At the very least an e-mail address should be supplied.
  6. False Advertising
    This is one of the worst offenses. I don't like any site that claims to be "the premier site..." or "the only site you'll ever need for..." and other such outrageous claims. First, the "premier site" for my German ancestors will not be the "premier site" for you and your Australian ancestors. And there is no one source available—online or offline—that any one of us can use to do all of our research.
  7. Links That Don't Follow My Guidelines
    I have a set of guidelines for link submission, all created in response to a variety of issues I've encountered through the years. I've always got a big SIGH waiting inside me when I find a new link submission that has ignored my guidelines.
  8. Links That Don't Work
    All links should be verified before they are submitted through the new link form. I'm confused as to why people take the time to submit the new link, but don't bother to carefully check them first to be sure that they work. A misplaced slash or hyphen, or a misspelled URL does make a difference in making the link work properly.
  9. Poorly Written Descriptions
    When I'm creating a new link myself I generally look at the web site for a description of the site. Most of the time I can easily find a description within the first few paragraphs on the site. However, many descriptions that are submitted with new links to Cyndi's List aren't well done. There are several problems that I end up editing myself:
    • Not enough description.
    • Too much description.
    • Misleading descriptions.
    • A description that just repeats what is said in the title.
    • No commas or periods.
    • No spaces between words or sentences.
    • Misspelled words.
    • Missing words.
    • No place names included in a description. Too often the site will be for the "Washington Cemetery" but the county/parish/state/province/country names are not included.
  10. Non-Genealogical Links
    Last, but not least. Spammers hit my list every day. Most seem to be non-English speaking, so maybe they don't understand the purpose of Cyndi's List. Nah, most likely they're just spamming for spamming's sake.


Tanya said...

Cyndi I can't believe all the work you do to help all of us find our relatives. Just want to say a big "THANK YOU"

Anonymous said...

Dear Cyndi,

I love your site, use it often and just wanted to say a big Thank You.


Quran said...

Hiiii, cyndi

use it often and just wanted to say a big Thank You.

Anonymous said...

Dear Cyndi

I enjoyed reading this post. Some people are really rude, it looks like you have come across quite a few.
I do not mind helping people but it would be nice if they could say thankyou.
Thankyou Cyndi for all your hard work.