In Which I Piss Off Pretty Much The Entire Genealogy Establishment

In Which I Piss Off Pretty Much The Entire Genealogy Establishment

by Kerry Scott on 20 October 2010

I’m inventing a new drinking game.  It’s called the Clue Wagon Genealogy Drinking Game, because I’m super-original when it comes to naming stuff.  It’s a trait I inherited from my German ancestors, who named all of their children Frank or Viola.

This drinking game is played with Sprite, not alcohol, because a lot of genealogists are LDS, and we don’t want to leave them out.  I get to play with Diet Coke, though, because I’m not LDS, and because dammit, it’s my game.

Don’t even think of trying this with real booze.  Seriously.  You’d be dangerously drunk in, like, 12 minutes.

This is the game:

You get a group of professional genealogists together.  Listservs are ideal for this.  In fact, they’re the perfect place to play.  From there it works like most drinking games (c’mon, I know you know how those work).

Here’s what to watch for:

  • Someone wants help on a source citation—one drink
  • Someone says, “The comma goes HERE, not there.  We haven’t put the comma THERE since 1973.”—one drink
  • Someone says, “What do you mean, a COMMA?  Of COURSE it’s a semicolon.  Duh.  Were you not at the Meeting of the Geneva Convention of Punctuation and Dottery?  Because we all agreed that a semicolon was far superior to a comma.  It’s the extra dot that makes you a Real Genealogist.  Without the dot, no one will take you seriously, and you will die alone in a gutter, and assorted birds will pick at your eyeballs while we all point and laugh, and we’ll also make sure your name is misspelled on your headstone so your descendants don’t have to suffer the shame of being related to a Comma-ist”—two drinks
  • Someone says genealogists should be licensed by the government—one drink
  • Someone says genealogists should be licensed by the government because you need a license to cut hair but not to practice genealogy—no drinks, but we all get to go to that person’s house and give them a perm
  • Someone says genealogists should be licensed by the government when you know from their Facebook page that they’re members of the Tea Party—two drinks
  • Someone bashes Mormons—one drink
  • Someone bashes Mormons days after they announced their great find at their local FHCtwo drinks
  • Someone bashes social media—one drink
  • Someone bashes social media but calls it Tweeter instead of Twitter—two drinks
  • Someone bashes social media but calls it Tweeter instead of Twitter AND they’re doing it from an AOL email address—still only two drinks, because that’s actually kind of adorable
  • Someone complains that Ancestry is too big—one drink
  • Someone asks why the government isn’t looking into the size of Ancestry because they’re totally a monopoly—two drinks, and you have to wink like Sarah Palin
  • Someone starts talking about how all of the people on Ancestry’s Expert Connect are losers who live in a van down by the river—one drink
  • Someone starts talking about how the word “Expert” in “Expert Connect” is misleading—one drink, and you have to brainstorm more apt names for Expert Connect and send them to Ancestry.  Sucky Connect?  Loser Connect?  NotAsGoodAsMe Connect?    YouDON’TGottaStartSomewhereBecauseIWasHereFirst Connect?  IKnowYouSuckEvenThoughWe’veNeverMetOrSpoken Connect?
  • Someone starts talking about how the riff-raff is everywhere, and how those loser un-expert non-perfect people can even, like, send their money to APG and become members, and then consumers will totally confuse them with the Excellent Genealogists, and then poor unsuspecting consumers might get bad information about their grannies, and then they’ll learn that you get what you pay for die alone in the same gutter with the Comma-ist, and won’t someone PLEASE think of the children consumers?—two drinks
  • Someone accidentally sends a nasty message to the whole list instead of the just the one person they meant to snark to—one drink (drunk slowly while you sit and speculate as to who they were meaning to send it to, because I cannot possibly be the only person who wonders who the Unnamed Snarkists are)
  • Someone accidentally sends a nasty message to the whole list and then demands that the list structure be changed so this can never happen again, because clearly that’s where the problem lies—two drinks
  • Someone bashes BCGburp
  • Someone bashes BCG while singing the praises of an unaccredited institution—burp out the lyrics of Alanis Morrisette’s “Isn’t It Ironic”
  • Someone refers to hair-splitting or uses the term “persnickety”—one drink
  • Someone refers to his own circumcision—switch to real alcohol, because ain’t no can of pop that can stand up to that

DISCLAIMER: This is totally meant to be funny.  Any resemblance to real people, living or dead, is entirely mostly a little bit coincidental.  Except for the part about the circumcision, because that totally did happen, and it was funny as hell.  The apology was even funnier.  If that guy had been smart, he would have just claimed someone hacked his account, which is absolutely what I plan to do tomorrow when I realize that I actually hit “publish” on this post.

Photo by jaqian

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{ 88 comments… read them below or add one }

footnoteMaven October 20, 2010 at 5:29 pm

I couldn’t play this game. I was laughing so hard the Sprite zero was coming out of my nose. Gone in 60 seconds!



Elizabeth O'Neal October 20, 2010 at 5:41 pm

Sounds like fun… but when do the bouncing quarters come in?

Dang, how did I miss that circumcision post??


Kerry Scott October 20, 2010 at 5:43 pm

Did you earn those quarters on Expert Connect? DID YOU???

(I tried finding the circumcision post, but I think the guy had it deleted because people complained to the list administrator. Then he apologized, but it was the sort of apology where you know he thinks you’re a ninny. The whole episode was pure comedic gold.)


Elizabeth O'Neal October 22, 2010 at 1:10 pm

Ummm… no ma’am, I promise I’ve earned NO quarters or anything else at Expert Connect.

Gee, I’m so sorry I missed the circumcision post. I’m really feeling short on TMI today. And it took me 3 tries to spell “circumcision” correctly.


Jill October 20, 2010 at 5:45 pm

You forgot the drink for when someone brags about their connections to the DAR. This one goes around in my family – drives me nuts. The funny part is – they are qualified, but no one ever bothered to join the Daughters of the American Revolution… BUT THEY COULD IF THEY WANTED! It just blows my mind.


Thomas MacEntee October 20, 2010 at 6:39 pm

You hit many of my own pet peeves about certain listserv lists! And yes, the use of real alcohol would be way dangerous.

This is why when messages from these message boards arrive in my mailbox, I delete most of them and am very selective as to the ones to which I care to commit my time.


Kerry Scott October 20, 2010 at 6:43 pm

That’s really what I need to do—delete the ones that I know right away will be like this. Otherwise I end up either mad or discouraged.


mitzs October 20, 2010 at 7:06 pm

I am one of the unquailifed riff-raff and well, my poor family is just doomed I tell ya with me doing the searching. Oh and no matter how much I push that connect button thing it has to yet do any tricks for me. And what lists?


Amy October 20, 2010 at 7:23 pm

The Meeting of the Geneva Convention of Punctuation and Dottery where the issue was discussed was 1974, NOT 1973. I remember because I was keynote speaker that year.

Also, you are incorrect in your statement that semicolons are superior. This is such an important issue, that I am compelled to raise it with a 5000-word manifesto published simultaneously on 10 genealogy email lists. Then I will counter replies repeatedly without trimming the original so you must scroll through my words ad nauseum.

And I’m so serious about the comma thing, that I’m going to raise the issue again every 2 months, cuz that’s how professionals roll.


Kerry Scott October 20, 2010 at 7:59 pm



Mike October 22, 2010 at 10:07 pm

Well; there you go, again! (Do I get extra points for a semicolon and comma in the same expression?)


Linda McCauley October 20, 2010 at 7:30 pm

Too funny! Or it could be that I substituted Wild Turkey for the sprite.

Note to self: don’t post comments after drinking Turkey. :)


Tina Lyons October 20, 2010 at 7:32 pm

You nailed it! Of course Amy reminds me that there needs to be drinks for when someone posts to another list when they don’t get the answer that they were looking for on the first list.


laurie ruettimann October 20, 2010 at 7:54 pm

Genealogy. HR. Somehow people are people.


Kerry Scott October 20, 2010 at 7:58 pm

Oh Laurie, you don’t even want to KNOW how much this argument is just like the one in HR. I’m so sick of it. Here I thought I was getting out of it and starting a whole new career…but nope. There’s still exact same cadre of Keep The Newbies Out. The only difference is that now I’m a freshman again instead of a senior, and it sucks.


Greta Koehl October 20, 2010 at 9:05 pm

Uh-oh, I forgot to read the part about not using alcohol. Think I’ll go drunk dial my Kindle….


Nancy Hurley October 20, 2010 at 9:25 pm

Thanks for the laugh. It was hilarious even without having the inside knowledge to all your references. Nice reminder that we need to keep a sense of humor about the imperfections or idiosyncrasies in each of us crazy humans.
Great writing!


Sandra Taliaferro October 20, 2010 at 10:32 pm

Too funny!! Thanks so much for saying so creatively what I’ve been thinking for a some time now. I am still laughing.


Evil HR Lady October 21, 2010 at 1:31 am

That was hilarious. But, as someone who is LDS, I have to say that many female LDS genealogists would join you with the Diet Coke. I don’t drink it (I need something to counteract the evil moniker that comes with my career), but tons of people are addicted–and in complete denial about the state of their addiction.


Kerry Scott October 21, 2010 at 6:52 am

Well, their secret is safe with me. I’m convinced there’s heroin in that stuff.


Chris Staats October 22, 2010 at 8:20 am

I’m not sure who you are talking to, because I can quit anytime I want. Diet-Coke, I mean. Or did I mean genealogy? Or both?? Oh who am I kidding, I can’t quit either. I am in denial about the state of my addiction, though. If you were from Ohio, you’d deny it, too. ;)


Donna - What's Past is Prologue October 21, 2010 at 7:22 am


I think we were separated at birth. LMAO



Rondina October 21, 2010 at 7:58 am

Amy, I read that manifesto and still totally disagree with you. That extra dot definitely matters. OK. Maybe I didn’t read the whole manifesto. The entire argument was really contained in the “Executive Summary.” And you forgot to delete the rest of the thread before you posted. Wait a minute … do these comments remind anyone of … OMG … the listserves?


Kerry Scott October 21, 2010 at 10:05 am

No, because I can’t say “suck” on the listservs. So this is better.


Sheri Fenley October 21, 2010 at 8:00 am

That’s it Scott! You are now officially way more funnier than me. However, I have way bigger cajones than you because I said what you said [in my own special snarky way] ON BOTH LISTS and signed my real name. Ha!

ps. Are you interested in taking the show on the road? I think that it would qualify as having a “niche.”


Kerry Scott October 21, 2010 at 8:39 am

I think, unfortunately, that “mouthy” is my niche whether I like it or not. I’ve always been like this. People I went to high school with read this blog, and then they send me messages on Facebook that say, “Wow, you sound just like you did in high school.” And by that, they mean, “mouthy.” It’s one of my better qualities (for the spectators, at least).

“Kerry Scott” is my real name though. I always sign my work, even when I probably shouldn’t.

I would totally join your road show, anytime, anywhere…just as long as I can wear a Minnesota Historical Society sweatshirt over the genie costume!


Heather Wilkinson Rojo October 21, 2010 at 8:38 am

Cajones and circumcism on the same page? My DAR ancestors would be shocked!


Terri O'Connell October 21, 2010 at 8:44 am

Thanks for the morning laugh! I could just imagine a group of genealogists sitting down with a bottle of something stronger then the sprite/diet coke and what a hoot it would be! I agree with Sheri, take it on the road, you both definitely found the “niche!”


Jasia October 21, 2010 at 8:44 am

Giggles. Giggles and more giggles. Thanks for giving me a humorous start to the day!


Jackie Baker October 21, 2010 at 9:10 am

This is perfect. Thanks for the chuckle to get my day started off right.


Debi October 21, 2010 at 10:51 am

Ha! As I read this all I could think about was a certain HR BB – you know which one I mean :-) Glad to hear it happens in other ‘worlds’ was well.


Whitney October 21, 2010 at 11:13 am

Now I’m sad I don’t subscribe to more listservs! I want to play!!


Adele October 21, 2010 at 2:29 pm

Kerry, I think you are my new favorite genealogist! How did I not know you existed–especially since we’re from the same place? I’m was born/raised in ‘Tosa and Greenflield, but these days I live close to Mecca (aka the Family History Library).

Your post, which I read in my office, made me literally laugh out loud–and keep laughing so hard that when my boss walked by and asked what was going on, my explanation was punctuated by laughter. Thankfully, he is also a genealogist and thought your post warranted such a reaction. Whoo! No pink slip here. :-)


Kerry Scott October 21, 2010 at 3:25 pm

Hey! Secret cheesehead handshake! I’m in the north shore area (near Bayshore)

You must have a cool job your boss is a genealogist AND a person with a sense of humor. Sign me up for that!


HR Deb October 21, 2010 at 3:55 pm

Did you post a link to this on the list you are talking about? I am sort of surprised that no one is mad at you for this.


Kerry Scott October 21, 2010 at 4:00 pm

No—in genealogical circles it’s not really socially acceptable to post links to your own stuff. It’s different than in HR.

I’m sure somebody somewhere is mad though.


Dawn February 9, 2012 at 2:30 pm

On my honor, I’ll post it the very next time this stuff comes up…which should be in about another 3 weeks.

Thanks for the laugh!


Pat October 21, 2010 at 4:46 pm

Absolutely priceless! I laughed til I cried.


Marian Pierre-Louis October 21, 2010 at 8:34 pm

OMG I love it!! Best thing I have read in a long time!


Mavis October 21, 2010 at 8:48 pm

Thanks for the laugh!!! It’s been a long week and lawd knows I needed this.


Kate October 21, 2010 at 8:52 pm

OK, Cathi D. posted this to FB so now you’re sure to get a whole new batch of comments. This is the type of blog post that “LOL” was created for! Love it. And as for that comma – it brought back memories of the time a lister posted “WWESD” to the APG! Took me 3 or 4 days to figure that one out. Good fun!


Kerry Scott October 22, 2010 at 7:21 am

WWESMD would make an AWESOME t-shirt.

At this rate I’m going to have to go to the next NGS conference just so I can wear all of the clever t-shirts you all think up in the comments of my blog.


Cathi Desmarais October 22, 2010 at 7:46 am

The WWED post was one of the better posts ever to make it to the list. I think Harold Henderson gets credit for that, although I can’t cite the source. :0 WWESMD is perhaps even better. I have thought about making T-shirts of that ever since. Thomas McEntee, get on that, will you?

Hope I didn’t get you in trouble by mentioning this blog post on FB! It was just too good not to share.


Kerry Scott October 22, 2010 at 8:19 am

Oh, not at all—if I’m in trouble, nobody’s told me. Plus my tolerance level for trouble is pretty high.


Kate October 22, 2010 at 8:32 am

Cathi, you’re right it was WWED, and I do think it was Harold. I’d buy a t-shirt with that on it! Be a riot at conferences, etc. :-)

Cathi Desmarais October 22, 2010 at 9:20 am

Uh oh – I think you’ve gone viral now on FB! Megan picked it up…

Jenna October 21, 2010 at 9:10 pm

Nice! I absolutely want to use alcohol for this game!! In a drunken state is the only way I could come up with the appropriate “cheers” for each of the Snooty Patooties that your post so eloquently describes!! Three cheers for the Snoots!!! :)


Kerry Scott October 22, 2010 at 7:22 am

As the Snooty Patootie who wrote this entire post mocking people, I thank you.


Daphne Garrison October 21, 2010 at 11:18 pm

We’ve never met, but you’re my new best friend.


Sue October 22, 2010 at 6:58 am

Too funny! Great job! Too many exclamation points in this comment!!!!


Cynthia Shenette October 22, 2010 at 8:23 am

I have so many questions. Was it Diet Coke or decaffeinated? If you drank regular Diet Coke, did the caffeine lead to the late night that resulted in the “Pop Tart” post? Is it a bad perm or a good perm, and how can you tell? Are there meeting minute notes from the punctuation meeting?? If so, where can I get a copy??? More disturbingly, I actually used the word persnickity in a post a couple of weeks ago. Is there help for people like me? As far as the circumcision thing, I don’t want to know. Oversharing. Definately oversharing…

Thanks for the great post!


GrannyPam October 22, 2010 at 9:17 am

I started laughing and can not stop, ever. It is like that little giggle in church that lasts then entire morning, wheneveryone keeps turning around looking at you wondering what is so funny. This is the best post I have read in ages.


Lisa Wallen Logsdon October 22, 2010 at 9:18 am

This is absolutely going out in mass mail to all my non blogging genealogy friends so they can see what they are missing! [and I secretly spiked my Sprite w/Scotch so now I'm gonna go take a nap!]


Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak October 22, 2010 at 10:09 am

Brilliant. Thanks for holding up the mirror to our wacky world. It wouldn’t be so funny if it weren’t so true! And in the spirit of full disclosure, I will cop to throwing a tantrum whenever someone claims their name was changed at Ellis Island.


Kerry Scott October 22, 2010 at 1:08 pm

Oh, listen…even here down by the river we roll our eyes at the the-name-was-changed-by-the-mean-Ellis-Island people.


Kristi October 22, 2010 at 11:03 am

I’d like to nominate a rule for inclusion, but I can’t write it as well as you do. This rule would have to do with a Newbie who joins a list-serve on a specialized genealogy topic, like, I dunno, 19th century Prussian genealogy. And the Newbie asks a question about some town and was it Prussian in 1842 and does anybody know if the records still exist. And then the Old Guard comes down on the Newbie for asking a Stupid Question. So you reply to the Newbie, saying “Ignore the Old Guard, they are just a bunch of mean old coots, and this website may be of help to you in finding answers to your question.” And then the Old Guard comes down on you because “They will never learn if you just spoon feed them the answers.” And then you tell the Old Guard where they can put their list-serve, and the next Genealogy newsletter you get has articles in it written entirely by members of the Old Guard. This has to be worth some drinks to others, as it certainly has been to me in the past!


Kerry Scott October 22, 2010 at 1:09 pm

I think that one applies to listservs on any and every topic since the beginning of time. It’s from the Stone Age of the internet (so, like, 1993).


Elizabeth O'Neal October 22, 2010 at 1:11 pm

Oooh, me likey that one! I’ve been busted by Old Guard one too many times.


Susan Tiner October 22, 2010 at 5:20 pm

Oh wiley one, I have to keep a closer eye on my reader so I don’t miss these posts!

You know, a lot of what you describe is true of bookkeepers and professional organizers. I mean to a T.

Now I’m in trouble.


Joan Miller (Luxegen) October 22, 2010 at 6:40 pm

LOVE IT!! Still chucklin’!


Shirley October 22, 2010 at 9:34 pm

I’m so glad Megan shared this with her FB friends! I’ve been laughing out loud all through this post and my husband probably thinks I’m nuts. Have to send this to fellow genies…it’s the right thing to do…but I’d better stop using the term “persnickety” so much!


George Geder October 22, 2010 at 11:05 pm

What you tryin’ to say?
Besides, I’m a Pepsi man. My siblings and my MOM do Pepsi (except my sister Sonya, Coke Cola head!).
And Sprite is nasty! Reminds me of …. Fresca!
If you’re so into geneology, how come you didn’t mention RC Cola? Huh?
Yea, that’s right, I speled it with a O.
Papa Don’t Take No Mess, either! He hid his port bottle under the bed… took da edge off of da Pepsi.
Yeah, ask me about my Ancestors… I’ll tell ya! Sure! Whatcha want ta know?
Don’t need no APG, BCC or nothin’. Whatsa matter? Too much for da Clue Wagon Genealogy Drinking Game? You think the LDS don’t cotton to my kind?
Well, think again Sister!
“I’m just a soul who’s intentions are good. Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood”.
I hate Pepsi in those pansy plastic bottles. I have to go to da Hispanic grocery store to get Pepsi in GLASS BOTTLES!

Ah, what was the question?


Darlene October 24, 2010 at 10:52 am

ROTF. LMAO. George should join you and Sheri. I would thoroughly enjoy that.



Deborah October 25, 2010 at 1:31 pm

Kerry, BRILLIANT! Thanks for the laughs!


Elizabeth Shown Mills October 25, 2010 at 4:29 pm

Kerry, I now have a new answer when genealogists email to ask why EE 19.27 uses a semicolon where EE 91.72 uses a comma. No longer will I have to admit to a typo that 5 editors and 38 proofreaders missed. I’ll just refer them to KS 10.20.2010, bullets 2 and 3.


Kerry Scott October 25, 2010 at 5:16 pm

Oh snap.

Party at my van down by the river, everyone. BYOP (bring your own pop). CGs drink for free.


Celia Lewis October 25, 2010 at 11:26 pm

I bow down in awe to the two of you – goddesses of the semicolon and other niceties of genealogy. But where’s the single Malt Scotch -? Surely…


Randy Seaver October 26, 2010 at 2:30 pm

Um, there is no 19.27 or 91.72 in EE. I looked.

I wonder where that typo is in EE? Only one? If so, that’s amazing editing! I didn’t look.

Shouldn’t the Reference Note be (from EE 14.25 – I looked!):

Kerry Scott, “In Which I Piss Off Pretty Much the Entire Genealogy Establishment,” Clue Wagon Blog, 20 October 2010 ( : accessed 25 October 2010). [with Clue Wagon in italics]

OTOH, we will all remember this blog post however it is sourced. A keeper!


footnoteMaven October 25, 2010 at 4:37 pm

Leave it to the Queen of Citation to cite this article AND use it as its own standard of proof. We are not worthy. -fM


Caroline Pointer October 25, 2010 at 5:28 pm


I’m SO gonna play this game when I finally get to a conference. Although, I’m thinkin’ with something a wee bit stronger than Sprite. Who’s in?



Paula October 25, 2010 at 10:41 pm

Oh and you can count Compliance People that get their panties in a wad over the dumbest stuff. Seriously this and Google for Dead People totally cracked me up.


Cheryll Holley November 3, 2010 at 6:51 pm

I am late reading this but I laughed right out loud. Exactly what I think when I read certain lists.


Leslie Ann November 17, 2010 at 10:44 am

Dang — sorry I missed out on all of this! I was just catching up on some reading and landed here. I guess I am “he who laughs last”. Now, you’ve got me craving a Sprite! Guess a Squirt will have to do.


Kimberly Powell February 17, 2011 at 12:07 pm

I heard about this awesome post at RootsTech and just had to check it out – not sure where my head was back in October! It was great to meet you in person, Kerry, and I’m looking forward to many more chuckles from you. So how many drinks for the people who insist that all genealogy should be free? How can anyone dare to charge us for our own history?


Kerry Scott February 19, 2011 at 11:26 am

Thanks—it was great meeting you too!

Don’t get me started on the idea that genealogy (and a whole bunch of other stuff) should be free. I don’t get that whole mentality.


mags March 31, 2011 at 7:18 pm

Oh Goodie ! Now I know I do not have to go out to my car in the parking lot to sip a drink while at the LDS !

This is so funny – the posts cycles from this one will go forever !


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