Talk:Robert Abell

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Genealogical trivia[edit]

The lineage of every Great-Migration immigrant has been studied extensively. There is nothing about Robert that thereby makes him special among these >10,000 immigrants. That he has appeared in various books is likewise a pointless exercise in bibliographic trivia. Listing a random collection of six kings from whom he descends ignores the others among the >100 monarchs that are his ancestors. He descends from Sancho III of Castile, Affonso I of Portugal, Ramiro II of Leon, Fortune the One-Eyed of Pamplona, Brian Boru of Dublin, Robert I of France, Berenger II of Italy, Vladimir I of Kiev, Boleslaw of Bohemia, and I could go on and on. He also descends from non-royals, Onneca, Rebel of Sanguesa, from Marot of Bihar, Adelbert of Friuli, Hermengildo Osoriz and Trojan of Bulgaria. He descents from the relatively obscure Fulbert the Tanner, Ralph de Vernon, Sancha of Aybar, Hugh de Massey, Liulf of Stanley, Humphrey with the Beard, Jimena Munoz, and on and on and on. Any random selection from among his millions of ancestors tells us nothing useful about the man. (Tell me, in what important way does a man with a descent from Alfred the Great differ from a descendant of Inigo Arista, or of Alexios Comnenos, or of Diarmaid mac Murchadah?) Same with a list of societies. How do we know more about Robert Abell, an immigrant, by listing a bunch on non-notable boutique societies that treat him and about 700 other immigrants as potential avenues for membership. All of this, the kings and nobodies, the genealogical societies, etc., could just as well be said of immigrant Oliver Manwaring, or Richard More, or Edmund Hawes, or Richard Palgrave, and do we really understand them better knowing that they descended from a king 12 generations earlier, a fact of which they themselves would have been unaware, than we understand, say, John Baldwin of Norwich or Francis Cooke or Samuel Symonds? Finally with the President - just about every New England immigrant with descendants has some President that descends from them. It is nothing but a statistical quirk that tells you something about American society but nothing about Abell as a man. Likewise, there are probably at least several hundred thousand other people, notable and non-notable alike, who descend from Abell (it took me all of about 30 seconds to come up with a Michigan legislator, a Montana cattleman, a California '49er, a university professor, a published genealogist, a Boston robotics engineer, a USDA geneticist, . . . I could go on and on). Wikipedia has a policy against peacock words - words that look pretty but convey no useful information, well this is all just peacock genealogy. For that matter, what is notable about this person, that he would even merit his own page? He held no prominent position, no important role in society, and as a man, rather than simply as a conduit for genealogical connection to royalty, there has been little written of him. Should he have a page at all or is he just another of the tens of thousands of Great-Migration migrants, no more notable than any other? Agricolae (talk) 00:37, 22 January 2011 (UTC)

The commentator is obviously very intelligent, knowledgeable and skillful with words. But his/her argument here reads more like diatribe than constructive criticism. Using peacock phrases like “genealogical trivia” demonstrates the editor’s personal bias. Given his/her choice of words, it appears that the editor has a problem with genealogical research, per se. Phrases like “listing a random collection of six kings” is also non-objective criticism. It would be impossible to list all of any person’s ancestors. What is wrong with mentioning some of the more notable ones? Selection must be made in the writing of any biographical article. Whether they are the “correct” selections is a matter of opinion. Characterizations in the editor’s commentary like “a bunch on non-notable boutique societies” also bear witness to the editor’s personal agenda. Genealogical societies do exist and, as far as such societies go, these particular ones are among the more “notable.” Thousands of articles in Wikipedia could be deemed “trivial” by people who are not interested in or impressed by the relative “import” or “relevance” of a given subject. I maintain that there are thousands of people to whom the content of this article (as originally composed) is useful and enlightening. At the very least it is a thoroughly researched, well-documented and encyclopedic treatment of the subject. Jean Tisserand (talk) 02:29, 23 January 2011 (UTC)

Umm, I am not sure speculating about my personal biases is a productive avenue for addressing the appropriate content for an article on Robert Abell. I could likewise speculate about your mindset, but that likely wouldn't be persuasive either. Rather than take that approach, how about answering the root issues. How does knowing that a red-linked Society of Colonial Dames Descended from Charlemagne's Uncle, or the Society of Royal Bastards, or whatever, tell you anything illuminating about Robert Abell as a person (rather than as a genealogical conduit). If the status of genealogical conduit is so noteworthy in and of itself, then why doesn't it say the same on the pages of Edward III of England or Franklin Delano Roosevelt or Queen Elizabeth or pirate Palgrave Williams? All of them descend from Charlemagne and any descendant of any of them would be eligible for membership in such a society, but do we put that on those pages? We don't, do we? So what about Robert Abell makes his role as conduit more relevant than the millions of other people with royal descent? How does knowing that Robert Abell descends from Alfred the Great tell you anything illuminating about Robert Abell as a person? Did he get a better cabin on the ship he crossed in because of it? Did his neighbors use the honorific "Mister" for him because of this descent? He didn't even know he descended from Alfred the Great any more than that he descended from Sancha de Ayala or Diarmait mac Mail na mBo, and his life was in no manner different because of it. The number of Wikipedia pages on people descended from Alfred the Great is legion, but we don't mention it on the vast majority of those pages, because it doesn't provide the least useful context. "But I like it" doesn't cut it, nor "some people might find it interesting" - a thousand people might find his astrological sign interesting, but that doesn't mean it belongs in an encyclopedia entry. There are whole sites dedicated to genealogy, but Wikipedia is not one of them. To bloat an article with an arbitrary list of your favorites among his ancestors gives undue weight to this irrelevancy in his life, but then without it he is just another of the tens of thousands of guys that took a boat ride in the 1630s, isn't he? Agricolae (talk) 07:22, 23 January 2011 (UTC)

I am not “speculating” about your bias against genealogy. In my response to your unjustified editing of the article in question, I cited a number of your own remarks, all of which testify to fact that you obviously ARE biased (none of which you have refuted). Also, when one looks at your Talk page, one sees that a number of people have called you on the same thing over the years. All we all paranoid? Editing and reviewing is one thing, but carrying out a personal crusade to rid Wikipedia of what you call “genealogical trivia” is another matter. ALL the information in the original Robert Abell article is referenced to respected outside sources. This is not a fluff piece as your sarcastic and arrogant tirade implies. I will match my motives and credibility with yours any day. You may be well-connected enough within the Wikipedia organization to shoot down a thoroughly researched and well-documented article, but that is a very small and destructive accomplishment for a person of your obvious erudition. Why don’t you go after the myriad articles on Wikipedia that have not been researched or referenced at all? As far as your snide "boat ride" remark, you thereby trivialize the relevance of such "boat rides" and the people who made them. Was that just another "boat ride" that the people of the Mayflower took? Jean Tisserand (talk) 08:09, 23 January 2011 (UTC)

Another attack on my motivations rather than addressing the points at issue. Wikipedia is not indiscriminate. Just because a datum has been published doesn't make it necessary that it appear in an article. The Mayflower is obviously notable, but this does not automatically make all of its passengers notable. William Bradford, yes; Peter Browne, certainly not (not that that has stopped someone from creating a page for him anyhow). You would seem to stretch this further and say that because one specific act of immigration is important, all 17th century immigrants are, but there were tens of thousands of immigrants who arrived during that period, and what makes Abell special. Has anyone ever written a monograph on Robert Abell? Has an entry on Robert Abell ever appeared in a biographical source (e.g. the Dictionary of American Biography, Who was Who, etc.)? What distinguishes him from his daughter, such that he merits a page and she doesn't - he and 20,000 or so other people went from one place to another. That's it. That is not notability. The Great Migration was a notable event worthy of mention, each individual Great Migrant, not so much. An arbitrary list of 10-generations-before ancestors for each of them, just because someone might be interested, not at all. Agricolae (talk) 20:29, 24 January 2011 (UTC)

“Notability” and “worthiness to have a page on Wikipedia” are debatable. You are a smart and principled guy: Do you think Paris Hilton deserves to have her own page on Wikipedia? I doubt it. Why don’t you delete her page? I suspect because of the s—t storm you would unleash from her defenders. My point is, one of your pet peeves seems to be “genealogical trivia,’ and you have made it your personal business to purge that type of matter from the pages of Wikipedia. Why? Are you familiar with the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography? As you probably know, this is an eminent and well-respected research resource. But, it includes 55,000 entries, many of which are about people no more “notable” (by your definition) that Robert Abell. In many cases, the only thing they are notable for is that they happen to descend from someone who happens to descend from someone, etc. As far as Wikipedia goes, I think any discerning person could find thousands of entries about people, places and things that are far less relevant and less noteworthy than Robert Abell. Does every soldier in an army “deserve” a page on Wikipedia? Probably not. At the same time, they do deserve to be remembered and respected for the small part they played in history. George Washington is a slam dunk when it comes to “notability.” But, how about the other thousands of people who stood and fought in the same battles he did? Who were they? Did their lives matter? Do they ALL deserve a page in Wikipedia? Maybe not. But, are we (as people who love Wikipedia) so niggardly with our attention as to deny ALL of them a place in the sun? When I wrote the article on Robert Abell, it was done in the spirit of microhistory. I think that there should be a place in Wikipedia for this kind of article. If Robert Abell is an unworthy subject of inquiry, what the h--l is Charo doing in Wikipedia? Jean Tisserand (talk) 21:54, 24 January 2011 (UTC)

I am not sure why Paris Hilton is relevant to Robert Abell, but I will play along. Paris Hilton was a socialite, has been the star of a TV reality show, and had a broadly reported imprisonment and a (again broadly reported) sex tape. When her iPhone was hacked, that was reported on the CNN web site. Whatever you think of how she and her contribution to society should be viewed, she certainly has the notability/notoriety to merit a Wikipedia page. None of the above are true of Robert Abell. As to the ODNB, correct me if I am wrong, but I don't think it names Robert Abell. Now, this may be because its coverage of Americans in general is minimal, but I suspect an American equivalent wouldn't name him either. The people that it names are more notable than Robert Abell, by the very fact that they are included in such a scholarly compendium, the type of source from which Wikipedia takes its lead. (And I doubt you can find many people in it that have an article just because they descend from someone, or are ancestor to someone.) Every one of GW's soldiers? Of course not. They get a place in the sun commensurate with their notability. A Colonist who was Governor (Bradford), Deputy Governor (say, Samuel Symonds), military leader (John Mason or Benjamin Church), Minister (John Norton), etc. would seem to pass that bar easily, but why? Because these people, by nature of their actions, were recorded regularly by their contemporaries and by subsequent historians. Someone who is only named as part of a group, or receives a few sentences among a prosopographical compendium of 10,000 individuals, or as part of a lineage tracing back to the Duke of Earl, no. Maybe there should be a place where the average guy gets this type of coverage but that place isn't Wikipedia, which has clear standards for notability. Otherwise, you and I would merit pages, as would the most lowly Inuit, Ibo, or Italian. There have to be some minimum criteria, and there are, and I don't see how 'just another 17th century New Englander who happens to be one of my favorite ancestors' meets it. Agricolae (talk) 02:34, 25 January 2011 (UTC)

So, you truly believe in your heart that Paris Hilton deserves a page on Wikipedia and Robert Abell doesn’t? We will have to agree to disagree about that. But, please at least acknowledge that the issue of Wikipedia’s notability criteria is far from a closed subject:

From the Wikipedia article entitled “Notability in Wikipedia:” “Attempts to apply notability consistently across Wikipedia have led to frequent controversy, especially on topics of relatively minor interest which a paper encyclopedia would not cover. Two differing perspectives on notability are commonly known as "inclusionism" and "deletionism". In one instance, a group of editors agreed that many articles on web comics should be deleted on the grounds that the various topics lacked notability. Some of the comic artists concerned reacted negatively, accusing editors of being "wannabe tin-pot dictators masquerading as humble editors."[6] In 2007, notability disputes spread into other topics, including companies, places, websites, and people.[citation needed] As Nicholson Baker put it, "There are quires, reams, bales of controversy over what constitutes notability in Wikipedia: nobody will ever sort it out."[6]

Again, as stated in the part of the Abell article that you axed, “Robert Abell’s lineage has long been subject to intense scrutiny by historians and genealogists. Details about his heritage and legacy have been recorded in at least a dozen books (see Bibliography for complete details).” Objectively speaking, this constitutes notoriety. No, Robert Abell was not a socialite, did not have a reality TV show and was not mentioned on the CNN website. Heaven help us all if this is all it takes today to become encyclopedically validated and enshrined. Jean Tisserand (talk) 03:50, 25 January 2011 (UTC)

It is not required for notability, but it does serve to demonstrate notability. While Google numbers can be deceptive, Paris Hilton gets 1000 times more hits than Robert Abell. Objectively speaking, you tell me which is more notable. In an encyclopedia of royal descents of New England 17th century immigrants, the royal ancestry of Robert Abell would certainly be notable, but that doesn't mean that in the real world Robert himself is. (And of course I haven't raised the possibility that the Robert Abell of Stapenhill and the Robert Abell of Rehoboth are not proven to be the same man, just assumed to be, but that is a discussion for a genealogical forum.) Agricolae (talk) 07:25, 25 January 2011 (UTC)