Keep it simple and we are all happy. The most frequent complaint I hear in genealogy groups I belong to is that people do not respond back to inquires online. I try to respond when someone contacts me. This week that was challenged, the correspondence I received was a hot mess. It hit all the high points of things that were drilled into my head not to do when contacting someone online, bless his heart.
The Overly Long Contact or Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That
I may have been able to read the Odyssey in less time. How many people will take the time to read long emails or messages? Almost none. They are not invested in your story. Most people have very busy lives and can’t take the time to read a short story, rather asking a simple question with a carrot for the recipient in an opening email or message is the best way to get a response. Let the person you are contacting be able to answer you. You want a dialog.
The Overly Complex
I am going to be gentle with my contact, I don’t want to steamroll someone with my enthusiasm. I tend to forget that not everyone has spent hours pouring over genetic genealogy textbooks and attending classes. Many people do not understand their results beyond the basics. So starting out with initial contact asking about centimorgans and mutual matches is probably going to lose someone. Rather ask about family names and locations, this is information most people know.
Suggesting an NPE
Suggesting an NPE (Non-Parental Event) within the first couple of emails is beyond a bad idea, trust me-even if you are certain. There are so many relationship factors that you might not be aware of that suggesting this within the first couple of emails is just plain bad form. Don’t do it-ever. You are not the NPE police so it’s not your job. Yes, this has happened. Let’s just say collateral family lines with at least 93 matches in the tree in question. Be exhaustive on this front and try to disprove your theory. When I solved my own this is what I did.
Carrots to Carrot Cake
If I believe I know where the person I am contacting fits into my tree I mention that I have been researching the family and would be willing to share the information with them. I can easily change out the family name for a region or town if I have information on that area that I believe they may be interested in.
Keep it simple, see what becomes of the contact. Understand that not everyone is at the same level, you can help but try not to harm.