The Value of Personal Online Genealogy Sites

Genealogy seems to be a way of life for those afflicted with the disease.  Once you touch it, you can’t let it go.  It’s Sherlock Time!

While searching the Internet for a name recently, one of the results looked promising.  The cached snippet even showed the same leap year birth date that I’d found and had summarily defended for years.  “Wow! Someone else out there had found the same source record as me.”  “Gotta look at that page.”

A click on the link brought up the Wayback Machine.  The source of the data was none other than myself on a site I’d written almost twenty years ago.  My data was still being presented when using my search parameters. 

Looking at the captured page, I wish I’d have used an email address that would have withstood the two passing decades. The email host I’d used back then has gone out of business.  AOL was in business, but I didn’t think that they would last, so I didn’t use my AOL address on the site.  Hopefully, the Google email address I use as a link on my current contact info will survive the coming two decades.  Of course, now, I host my own email server and point incoming mail across a spectrum of accounts, both self-hosted and with others like Google.  If I’m diligent, the retirement of an email address should never be a problem again.

I was disturbed seeing the old email address because of the potential loss of contacts from other researchers who may have attempted to contact me and only received failed message notes.. 

There is real value in the contacts I receive from other researchers.  Contacts usually end with me giving them far more information than they have to give me, but that’s ok.  I didn’t create my genealogy sites not to be read.

While the 100,000 plus records I’ve put on line represents years of research, it is only a small portion of my genealogical data.  I posted it with the conscious thought that it is like a “Loss Leader” item in a grocery store advertisement. 

The expense of hosting the data is worth it.  The contacts from it are truly astounding at times.

Contacts, let’s call them “cousins”, frequently send me a key piece of data that I haven’t seen or been able to find.  When I ask for sources for the data, I usually receive an image of the original source in response.  Two minds are better than one.  Two minds in different locations that actively access local resources are better than a dozen minds that don’t do any original research other than cruising the Internet.

My “cousins” are great.  Together, we uncover information that neither of us would have found normally.  We spur each other to think outside our normal field of vision.  We find ‘stuff’.  They are great.

If you haven’t posted at least some of your data online, look in to it.  I personally won’t post data on sites that require a paid subscription.  I don’t want folks to have to pay to see my data.  That doesn’t fit my way of thinking.  It isn’t conducive to “cousins” from anywhere finding my data. 

There are a number of free sites that allow you to post at least some of your data on them.  Before you post it, be sure to carefully read the agreement stipulations so you don’t accidentally agree to something egregious to your way of thinking.

You’ll also want to consider using a blog to post your data.  Thousands of folks have blogs that focus on their genealogy research.  A large percentage of them use free Blogger or WordPress hosted blogs.  Again, read the agreement before you post.

If you opt to host your own genealogy site, I highly recommend The Next Generation (TNG) by Darrin Lythgoe.  Depending on your computer and software skills, you may need a little help setting up your site, but it is the best online software available.  Check on the TNG site for site hosting companies.  Some are TNG friendly and will set up a basic site for you to customize or to enjoy right out the ‘box’. Good Stuff!

The bottom line is to try something and see how it works for you.  Be sure to use key words in your post titles so the search engines index postings with the surname or full name in your posting. 

Try it Mikey.  You’ll like it.

Copyright (c) Lee Drew 2011-04-17 14:44:00
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About lineagekeeper

Family history research is a favored avenue of relaxation. It is a Sherlock-like activity that can continue almost anywhere at any time. By leveraging a lifetime involvement in technology, my research efforts have resulted in terabytes of ancestral data, earning me the moniker of Lineagekeeper. And yes - We are all related to Royalty.