The Burgenland Bunch
Persona Non Grata
Voluntarily helping others with Burgenland family history is a labor of love. We do it to advance family history
knowledge and to honor and memorialize our immigrant ancestors. We get nothing for our efforts beyond some personal
satisfaction; rarely something to add to our history. All too often, those we try to help can be rude, discourteous
and unwilling to help themselves. When this happens, we begin to wonder why we should continue. One of our most
frequent and informative contributors recently wrote:
I agree and I've been very selective about answering queries. In addition to those who pay no attention to answers and repeat queries, I also get discouraged by not receiving a reply. I've often spent much time preparing answers and receiving no acknowledgement makes you wonder if the effort was worthwhile. Then there are those queries whose answers should be obvious to anyone with even a little education. I no longer answer queries like the following:
When I was asked to host the WGW Austria-Burgenland query board, I was very concerned that we would attract the flotsam and jetsam of internet queries. Everyone has to start somewhere, but it is very disheartening to those of us who try to answer questions in a serious vein when we run into those who are discourteous, haven't done any homework or feel they deserve our attention merely because they are on the internet.
We send out about twice as many Burgenland Bunch invitation letters as we do welcome letters. New members are thus about 50% of those who contact us. To join the BB, someone has to do something positive (send us their data). If someone won't do that, they are not really interested and thus we avoid wasting our time with a casual cypher. At least in this way, we can assume most BB members are serious, focused on family history and good folk. Let me assure you that helping others with family history can be a very time consuming business.
We realize there are some correspondents who require special consideration - those with disabilities (attention disorders, etc.). I find most mention their disability. The net is one source of outlet for these people and probably good therapy as well. Terse e-mail or queries can also give the wrong impression. After writing yours, ask yourself, would its style put you off? A little explanation or a "please" or "thanks" can make all the difference.
Don't be the cause of our respondents stopping their good work.
We've accomplished a lot in a short time. We have a large following, but from now on, I for one will be even more selective and ignore queries like those illustrated, super selective about replying to queries with obvious answers, starting threads or answering more than once. If you want my help, I expect to be approached properly. Obscene, non-focused, commercial and repetitive entries will, of course, be deleted without comment.
Gerald J. (Gerry) Berghold
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Last Update: 24 March 2006