We are in the process of cleaning up and restructuring data already
in the "All Lithuania" database, and we need your help.
For those who have submitted databases, please complete an
introduction and send it to <Litvaks@...> For those who have
completed and sent introductions, please read them over, and see
if they fit the following criteria:
To paraphrase Warren Blatt:
<<Please follow the database documentation requirements, as
outlined below. There needs to be enough information in the
database description to enable users to understand the results and
proceed without further intervention >from LitvakSIG. All
abbreviations and cryptic notations must be explained. Things that
are obvious to you are likely not obvious to novice researchers from
around the world.
Requirements for database contributors:
For each database we need a database description, which should
WHAT data is included? :
What is/are the SOURCE(s) of the data?
In what language(s) does the original data appear?
What FIELDS are in the database?
What additional data might be in the original source but is not part of
the database (i.e., why should they follow up)?
HOW can the original source(s) be accessed?
WHO created the original data?
WHOM did the extraction?
WHEN (what time period is covered by the data)?
WHERE (what geographic locations are covered by the data)?
HOW MANY records are in the database?
Anything else that you can think of the might be useful to users of the
The objective of this description is to eliminate the hundreds of "what
does this mean?" and "what do I do now?" questions that arise after
users get a hit in the database. The introduction should be a full
explanation that allows the user to follow up on their finds
Here's the test:
At the next genealogical meeting, go up to an average Yossel/Yentl
genealogist, in Litvak terms), and show him/her the results of a
database search, and your explanatory matter. Ask him/her to follow
up on that find. You aren't allowed to say another word -- that's
simulating the Internet environment, which users will be dealing
within our reality. If that person can follow up without asking you
any questions, you've succeeded. If they can't, you've failed.
Remember, we're talking average Yossel/Yentl genealogists here,
not a Judaic scholar steeped in rabbinic works and Litvak traditions.
Our target audience will be, for the most part, newcomers to
genealogical research. Many have no connection with their Jewish
roots; many do not have English as their first language.
Abbreviations and terms that are familiar or common knowledge to
you are NOT to them. "Who's 'Vsia Rossia' and what's his email
address?" "Where's 'Duma'?"
You could provide a one or two-sentence explanation of each source,
with a full bibliographic citation, and a reference to further
explanations. For example, for 'Vsia Rossia', you could refer people
to relevant articles (Avotaynu or other) for more information.
You've got to keep this test in mind -- and you have to remain silent
while they puzzle over it. The explanations need to be
self-contained, or give pointers to other sources with additional
Thanks Warren, I think you've hit every contingency.
Davida Noyek Handler