"Please reply privately" #germany


There seems to be a newly increasing popularity among posters to command
"please respond privately."

That does make sense under limited circumstances, e.g. when enquiring about a
professional product or service. Or when it's a topic of truly esoteric
nature with no public interest. It does not make much sense in most other

We are a network. We help each other by spreading our questions and our
responses as widely as possible. I have myself obtained vast amounts of
information, and learned many of the skills and tricks and resources in genealogy, >from
postings by others and >from responses to these by yet others.

Occasionally, for instance, I will see a query that is inherently interesting
but has no relevance to my search. I will keep my eye open for responses,
and what I learn often helps me personally, or informs me in answering other
genners' queries. (I just read a query mentioning a certain first name. The
name happened to be similar to the surname of a friend, so I looked it up. As
requested I sent my response "privately." We might all have been informed about
the name; maybe, if my luck holds, I'll still recall the answer when someone
else asks the same query.

Quite frequently, when someone asks for "personal" help, though I am not
allowed to answer direct, I will think up half a dozen generic ways of obtaining
the information or solving the puzzle that can be applied by others to other
situations--a bonus for everyone.

I can understand that under certain circumstances the information may be
embarrassing to the querist, or highly confidential. In such cases the querist
can add "this is confidential" to the phrase "please respond privately,."

Occasionally the request simply means "I found out about you genealogists (or
"this topic") online somewhere and I probably won't go back there for another
six months" (or "and I've already forgotten the url) so please respond
privately to make sure I, at least, learn the answer." In this case, a much better
request would be "please send me a copy of your responses, at

That way, all of us have the opportunity to benefit >from the questions--and
from the answers.
Michael Bernet, New York

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