Family Research – English, Scottish and Irish Genealogy

11/6/2004

From the “Family Tree Magazine”

Last month we told you about the controversy surrounding Ancestry.com’s new OneWorldTree service(http://trees.ancestry.com/owt/about.aspx)–and roughly 120 of you told us what you think. (Read that article here )

MyFamily.com, the parent company of Ancestry.com, says OneWorldTree “stitches together” family history resources from Ancestry.com and groups them by ancestor for easy searching. Those resources include documents in Ancestry.com databases, as well as user-submitted family trees from Ancestry World Tree. The company says trees from its RootsWeb WorldConnect site eventually will be included in the search. That’s what had most of you up in arms, and others wondering “what’s the big deal?”

“Why should they benefit from the work of others? Where’s my share of the cut, then?” asks one reader. Several of you suggest that people who submitted trees now included in the OneWorldTree search should somehow be compensated. Of course, finding the millions of submitters (and sorting out overlapping, duplicate and incorrect trees) could be a logistical nightmare. And cousin Bob might be less likely to share his GEDCOMs with you if he can get paid for submitting them to a Web site.

Could Ancestry.com have made it clearer that trees submitted to AncestryWorldTree and RootsWeb might be used in a paid service? This reader thinks so: “The submitter should be made aware of the publication(s) in which submitted information may be used. For example, those who submit Quick Tips to Ancestry Daily News are reminded in every issue that tips are [published] with credit given to the submitter.” Ancestry.com’s right to redistribute information in a form of its own choosing was part of the legalese in the Ancestry World Tree user agreement, which was recently updated to include OneWorldTree in user-friendly language:
http://www.ancestry.com/trees/awt/subagreement.htm. (See RootsWeb’s user agreement at http://www.rootsweb.com/rootsweb/aup.html.)

Some who’ve sent in their trees in hopes of aiding others’ researchfeel trapped because they can’t keep their trees out of OneWorldTree without also deleting them from Ancestry World Tree. “If I take my files off of RootsWeb and Ancestry.com, the only other fairly well-known free database would be GenCircles [at http://www.gencircles.com]. Most people, in my experience, utilize RootsWeb or Ancestry.com and if I delete, I lose those contacts,” one researcher says.

Even if you see the advantages of using OneWorldTree, you mightshare this writer’s sense of frustration: “I have to admit that starting out at a site with free participation only to have that site change policy midstream, after [I have] submitted information for others to use, [is] frustrating; however, I understand that there are administrative costs involved in running these sites.”

A minority of you said that online genealogy is a business, and the goal is to make a profit. “What they are doing–and what I feel I am paying for–is a service that brings together information that I would have to spend far more money on traveling to do the research,” writes a genealogist. “It is well worth the fee for the services they provide.”

The concept of including user-submitted trees in a for-fee service isn’t even new, points out another writer. “In case people hadn’t realized it, MyFamily.com (and its predecessors) have been harvesting and selling information from the voluntarily contributed family trees for years. They sold them on CDs as World Family Tree Vol. 1…. I don’t have a problem with them charging forcombining, editing and hosting the newOneWorldTree. After all, many people want an ‘instant’ family tree.”

Accuracy, more than cost, is the main concern for some of you. “Unfortunately, a search engine, no matter how well designed, will never have the capability for true discrimination in terms of the nuances encountered in genealogy,” says a reader. “Quick and easy is one thing, but accuracy and documentation, including original sources, are supposed to be important.”

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Your readers especially might be interested in our Scottish, English, Welsh and Irish Ethnic Toolkits at http://www.familytreemagazine.com/ethnic_intro.asp. These include
general research tips, Web sites, resources and organizations. Please see link on the rhs

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