Back in the early 1990s – can it really be 20 years ago? – I took part in some genealogical e-lists: readers could submit queries or compile local obituaries or whatever, and send them to a central address which would distribute them to everybody who subscribed to the service. I used to submit short pieces on topics like how to save money in genealogical research, or the genealogical clues to be found in the bonds that many jurisdictions required for marriage licenses, land sales, and other legal transactions. In addition to pleasant comments on the e-list, editors of genealogical societies around the country sometimes asked to reprint my pieces. I’d get paper newsletters from places I never heard of, with my name in print. Great fun, and some of my earliest experience in getting feedback from readers.
One member of the e-list, though, frequently exasperated me. She would take my pieces, strip my name off, add some asinine paragraph (no, S–, no civil government anywhere in the U.S. ever required a marriage bond “to guarantee the virginity of the bride”!), and then send them out under her own name as a feature on the e-list called “S– H–’s Tips & Tricks.” When I’d protest, her response was always, “Well, how do I know you wrote that?” And my response was always, “even if you don’t know that I wrote it, you know that you didn’t write it, so why have you put your name on it?”