Safety rule #3 for the internet genealogy playground: Don’t throw sand in other people’s eyes.
Remember, remember, remember that you aren’t just talking to a computer screen, or even a database, you are talking to people. And you are talking to people about one of the most emotional topics around—their roots. Often you are even talking to people about family members that they knew and loved.
In some cases we can’t ever come to a knowledge of exactly what happened in a historical situation because we weren’t there. The best we can do is collect quality sources and learn how to interpret them the best we can. Sometimes that leaves a lot of disparity between opinions. Care must be taken to be diplomatic in all cases. Especially in dealing with people you don’t know very well.
Sometimes a discussion in a collaborative environment results not so much in the person with the most knowledge coming out victor, but the person with the most time to devote to the cause. Just double check yourself before you hit the enter key. Would you say that to a person in real life?
Play nicely and be safe on the internet playground. The internet is a fantastic boon to family history researchers. It creates an exciting gathering place where we can find distant cousins and fast friends to help us research our family tree. And remember, as any internet genealogist will tell you—Share, Share, Share is the name of the game. If you cast your bread upon the waters it may come back to you an hundred fold. It’s never too late to play by the rules and have fun. Be sure to follow these three basic safety rules and you’ll have a great time.