Talk:How to Guess Where to Start

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Revision as of 17:14, 21 December 2011 by DiltsGD (talk | contribs) (well-documented conclusion)

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Wrong word used

This question or concern is currently unresolved.
Requesting additional contributor input before rewording
I greatly deplore the use of the word 'guess' in these articles. A guess, as my dictionary says, is "a judgment or opinion without sufficient evidence or grounds" and it has nothing whatever to do with good genealogical research. Some other word should be found. AnthonyJCamp 18:25, 9 September 2011 (UTC).
I agree with Anthony. A "guess" to me suggests a complete stab in the dark, while the articles in the very least are talking about "educated guesses" or even working out a prediction for a piece of missing information based on the information already found. So would these articles better reflect the skill needed if renamed?
  • How to Decide Where to Start
    • Predict a spelling variation for every name on that family group
    • Predict a place for every event on that family group
    • Predict a date for every event on that family group
    • Predict the easiest (and hardest) person and event to research on that family group
    • Predict the best record types to use for finding information about any person’s event on that family group
This is just a suggestion, I'd be interested to hearing other alternatives or even why "Guess" is the best term to use. --Steve (talk| contribs) 14:36, 10 September 2011 (UTC)
How do we reach the inexperienced, the tentatively interested? Whatever words are used need to be inviting and give confidence to increase skills. I agree that an educated guess is probably better than just guessing.AdkinsWH 20:29, 20 December 2011 (UTC)
Another dictionary definition says guess means "to arrive at a correct conclusion." Reading the articles makes it clear that the "correct conclusion" sense of the word is the way it is used in this series. My reason for using the term "guess" was to teach that a good researcher will use what is already known as the basis for more informed conclusions, but implying luck will sometimes play a part as well. The importance of making informed guesses oozes from every pore of the articles--it is the theme of each. To change the titles would spoil the whole point of the series.
Moreover, there is no better phrase for the point I'm trying to make. The alternatives are much too stuffy and even less elegant than "guess." Sorry, "predict" sounds too much like foretelling the future to me. Look at:
  • How to hypothesize where to start
  • How to make an educated guess about where to start
  • How to deduce where to start
  • speculate
  • suppose
  • estimate
  • surmise
  • infer
The word "hypothesize" is slightly more precise than "guess," but this set of articles is for rank beginners, not scientists. Please do not spoil the whole purpose of these articles by changing the wording of the titles and pretending guess cannot mean "correct conclusion" or pretending that chance has no role in genealogy. Substituting a different word for guess throughout these articles would ruin them. If you cannot abide the way I have used the word "guess" in these articles, please write your own better articles using the words of your choice. DiltsGD 23:25, 20 December 2011 (UTC)

I am sorry to say that I would rather the articles be deleted than that any more encouragement be given to guessing anything in this field, particularly where beginners are concerned. Why cannot the first article be called "Where to start" and the others use the word "find" - "Find a spelling variation ...", "Find a place ...", "Find a date" ... "able to locate some additional" etc. That is not off-putting; 'enticement' does not come into it. Once they have found the Wiki they are looking for information expressed in a simple and direct manner. AnthonyJCamp 09:44, 21 December 2011 (UTC).

Guessing final genealogical conclusions would be stupid. But using guesses (conjecture) as part of the evidence gathering process is wise indeed. One of the most valuable skills a genealogist has is good guessing. Guessing is important because it is one of the steps on the way to verifying. If you cannot guess where and for what to search, genealogical progress would be stymied. A failed search for a document is evidence of poor guessing skills. A genealogist guesses these things and then he goes out searching for evidence to establish whether the guess was right or wrong. In my opinion it is nearly impossible to "find" anything without a "guess" where to look for it first. The more you know, the better you can guess. But you don't stop with the guess, a good genealogist uses evidence to build on and transform the initial guess into a well-documented conclusion. How do you "find" a spelling variation unless you guess what it might be in order to start the search? How do you "find" the place unless you guess where to look for it first? How do you "find" a date unless you first guess approximately when to search? Making thoughtful guesses guided by what you already know in order to find further evidence is an important genealogical skill to be learned and respected, not some shameful trick to be suppressed. DiltsGD 16:59, 21 December 2011 (UTC)