AfriGeneas Discuss! Forum Archive 2
Mission Vision Goal ~ The Challenge
This message was sent to me privately. I share it here without identifying the poster.
Thank you for the opportunity to express my feelings regarding the value of the Discuss Forum and how I believe some of the participants on that forum have impacted my ability to contribute fully to the mission of the Afrigeneas Community.
My first visit to Afrigeneas was during the spring of 2000. We had not yet acquired a computer of our own so my access was limited to my research visits to our public library.
I had read about Afrigeneas in an early issue of Family Tree Magazine and was "over the moon" about the prospects and potential this website offered persons, such as myself, who were dedicated researchers of African American genealogy. It was truly "a dream come true." I don't have to tell you that genealogy in general, but African American genealogy in particular, can be a lonely and frustrating endeavor at times.
Like an answer to a prayer, here was this wonderful website devoted to the study and preservation of African and African American family history with the ability to connect almost instantaneously with others sharing the same questions, problems and joys inherent to this research! I viewed it as nothing less than a blessed gift, not only for what I could receive, but especially for what I could give.
Afrigeneas was a touchstone to me. A way to connect with others sharing the same interest in family research and possibly the same slave ancestry as my husband and sons. I have gained valuable information and insight during the last sixteen years of my research and I wanted nothing more than to share that information with others in hopes that it may benefit them in some way, large or small, on their own research journey.
I felt from the beginning that yours was an open community, welcoming of anyone with the above stated goals and values. I also held much loftier visions of what Afrigeneas could ultimately accomplish with the dedicated support and contributions of it's researching family.
My forums of choice when logging on to Afrigeneas were and continue to be the following: 1) Slavery 2) Main Forum 3) Beginners 4) Writer's Forum and finally the Discuss Board. I always viewed the Discuss Board exactly as how you described it -- a respite or break from the research grind, but it ultimately became a place to avoid.
News of interest, meaningful debate and polite conversation became passe and a much different hostile environment took over. I began to notice that the most frequent posters and offenders to Discuss were also the least likely to contribute anything worthwhile to the genealogy forums. "Discuss" was their domain and woe to anyone that disagreed with their viewpoints or called them on their open hostility. What was once welcoming became unwelcoming. What was once community, became divided. What should have been a genealogist's break-room of sorts became a hang-out for persons who seemingly didn't even share an interest in the purpose of the website per se, but rather in pontificating on the topic du jour with the express desire of "stirring things up."
My contributions to the genealogy forums became the target of hostile, private emails from persons frequenting the Discuss Board who advised me that they did not need "advice or suggestions" from what can only politely be reprinted as an "outsider."
I was hurt ~ but not dissuaded. I have continued to help others posting questions via private emails with the full knowledge that I'm not reaching many others who may also benefit from the information I've shared, but I decided I have no time to devote to the petty opinions of the few who find entertainment in harassing me privately. My research is too important to waste time with such nonsense. I have also continued to privately maintain contact with many of the other serious researchers who are devoted to the original mission statement set forth by Afrigeneas, however the atmosphere at Afrigeneas is not what it once was, nor everything that it could be.
I abhor censorship but I seriously question how the Discuss Board, as it exists today, fulfills a need set forth in the original Afrigeneas mission statement. In my opinion, it detracts from an otherwise classy website and seems to attract statements and opinions from uncomplimentary contributors. How does this best serve the community as a whole and how does it further the mission of Afrigeneas?
A restructuring or elimination of the Discuss Board won't necessarily totally eliminate the abuses or prevent anyone from bullying or harassing others who use the website for it's designed purpose, but it may refocus the energies needed to keep Afrigeneas on course with it's mission and return it to a more user-friendly environment.
I continue to look forward to watching Afrigeneas fulfill all it's potential and promise as the premiere site for African and African American Ancestored Genealogy and not only on the sidelines, but as a contributor as well.
Thank you again for the opportunity to express my views on this subject. Whatever your decision regarding the Discuss Forum, know that I have found my niche within the Afrigeneas Community and will continue to offer assistance to the members and users whenever I am able.
I will continue to pray that all your efforts and hard work on behalf of this most noble project called Afrigeneas are blessed and rewarded for generations to come.
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