Why You Should Use Cyndi’s List: You don’t know what you don’t know

There’s two ways you can use Cyndi’s List (ok, maybe there’s more than two, but I’m going to demonstrate two in the next couple of posts). This week let’s talk about how you can use Cyndi’s List if you don’t have a plan, or a Costco shopping list if we stick with that metaphor.

When you walk into the big warehouse store with no list, what do you do? You start walking up and down the aisles and see the items with no plan. This is a fine way to do things on Cyndi’s list and a very viable way to learn about what you don’t know. Let’s walk down the “aisles” of Cyndi’s List.

To find the “aisles,” go to the Categories tab at the top of the screen, or the first purple button on the left:

Showing the Categories tab and button on Cyndi’s List

What you will first see is probably an ad. Remember from last post, all you have to do is click the close button to move on. (Also remember that this is a completely free resource and Cyndi funds it through ads and donations. Running a website of this size is not cheap.)

Once you’ve found the “aisles” (the categories), you can start browsing. Along the top is an alphabet so you can jump to that letter in the categories list. Or you can just scroll down the page to see what you find. Again, you don’t know what you don’t know. So this kind of browsing reveals some of those things to you.

Alphabet across the top to jump to a topic or scroll the categories.

You can see from the list above, it is two columns. and from these you can see some of the categories: “Acadian, Cajun & Creole,” “Adoption,” “Africa,” “African-American,” etc. There is a number in parentheses after the title of the category that indicates how many links are in each. So, Adoption, for example, has 195 links in the category at the time of this blog post. Below each category, there is a date that the category was last updated So, adoption was updated in May of this year, whereas, Novelties & Gifts (on the right hand column) has not been updated since November 2020. As I said last time, Cyndi’s List is a one-woman operation. She fixes broken links nearly every day (I asked).

Let’s look at the African-American category. It was last updated very recently, on 12 August 2022. It contains 916 links. When you click on the African-American category, you will find all of the subcategories and related topics.

African-American category on Cyndi’s List

The sub-categories in each is listed in alphabetical order. She is constantly working on these categories and massaging them to keep them updated. Some of the sub-categories in this section include: “Birth, Marriage, Death,” “Blogs, Podcasts, and Video,” “Cemeteries & Funeral Homes,” “Freedmens’ Bureau,” “Laws & Statutes,” “Occupations,” “Slavery,” “Social Networking,” “Societies & Groups,” and “Wills & Probate,” to name several (but not all).

Let’s look at the “Birth, Marriage, Death” category.

Birth, Marriage, Death sub-category

There is a link count at the top that tells you that there are 14 links in this sub-category. Each recently added link gets a “New!” icon so you can see some of the newest resources added.

As I was browsing the items in this category, I found that the first link, that to an article by Ruby Coleman at American Ancestors, is broken. It points to this:

Broken link at American Ancestors

Should you immediately think “Aw, Cyndi’s List is so out of date. All of these broken links makes the site unusable!”? NO! The answer is no. And in case you tend to do that, please don’t. And here’s why. If there is an item on Cyndi’s List that you really want to see, that means it exists somewhere. And do you know who can and will help you find it (especially if you are polite and patient, and maybe send brownies)? Cyndi. She is a WHIZ at finding things that have moved online. So there is at least one thing you should do next when you encounter this: Report a Broken Link!

Reporting a Broken Link
Click on the broken link graphic next to the link you’re reporting.
Report a broken link page at Cyndi’s List

Ok, so the above is the page you get when you report a broken link. At minimum, put your email address in there. If Cyndi finds a replacement link, she will let you know. She will! It’s happened to me! Seriously. She tries to help everyone and keep the site up-to-date. IF you can find the new home of that broken item, let her know. It will save her a bit of time. I did a quick search for that article at AmericanAncestors and didn’t find it (to be fair, I didn’t put a ton of time into it). So I just submitted it without comment. At some point, when Cyndi finds where they put it, she’ll send me an email telling me that the link has been updated.

So, that was us walking up and down the African-American aisle of Cyndi’s List. There are 229 categories (aisles) at Cyndi’s List. Get walking! We will discuss “shopping” at Cyndi’s List WITH a plan (shopping list) next time.

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