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Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Saturday, November 26, 2011

What would my ideal online genealogy site look like?

I spend a lot of time looking at online genealogy data sites. Now I don't mean just backing up your data. data storage is data storage, who cares what the site or the data looks like. No one is going to look at my online storage. Where I start with this analysis is with sites like New.FamilySearch.org, Ancestry.com's Family Trees, MyHeritage.com, TribalPages.com and other such sites. To start out, I need to make a disclosure. I like WeRelate.org. That site comes as close to my ideal as any site out there so far. So what are my criteria? Before going too much further, I have to say a subscription site is not a total deal breaker. Having a free site is a plus but not even one of the major considerations. For the record, I have a subscription to Ancestry.com and I have my data on MyHeritage.com.

Disclaimer, I have not looked at all of the dozens (hundreds?) of online database programs. I mention these in this post due to the fact that I have some reason to become acquainted with the programs. If you know of a program that fits my criteria, by all means, let me know.

1. The site has to allow for an integration of the data in a way to avoid duplication. Most of the "Family Tree" type online programs let you put up your file in your own family tree. Good news and bad news. I realize a lot of people use one of these services as their primary data program. I don't. I like my data on my computer with my backup. When I loaded my data into Ancestry.com's Family Trees, there were 8,809 family trees with one of my Great-grandfathers. Having your data in one of these trees is not my idea of convenient. How can I possibly determine if any one of the over 8,000 family trees has some kernel of data I need? Especially since only a vanishingly small percentage of the trees have any sources and this is on Ancestry.com where all you have to do is click a few times to get sources.

I have already talked too much about the duplication in New.FamilySearch.org. That site has hundreds of duplicates of my Great-grandfather and everyone else in my family. How can I possibly tell if someone has valuable information with all those copies?

2. The site can't be overwhelmingly messed up. I could go on for a while about New FamilySearch, but this time I am going to mention MyHeritage.com. According to MyHeritage.com, I am managing three different family websites, two of which I have never heard of before in my life. I have also added 41 photos to a Family Album some of which are of people I do not know and have never seen before. I have no idea how the pictures got onto MyHeritage.com. I must say, however, that the site has sources, it allows for pictures and it does make a lot of suggested links to relatives. Ancestry.com has hundreds of duplicate trees and most are totally without citation to sources. By the way, TribalPages.com and WeRelate.org are not messed up.

3. The site has to have the basic ability to cite a source and attach the source to a specific life event. I admit, some of the larger family tree programs do this quite well some do not do this at all. Ancestry.com does, MyHeritage.com does not and neither does New FamilySearch. Both TribalPages.com and WeRelate.org also allow you to apply source citations to specific events.

4. The site has to allow integration of media, such as scanned or digitized images and allow for sources and citations of the images. Ancestry.com does this automatically to some extent. New FamilySearch doesn't yet have the capability to add images. The only program that gives you a huge ability to source images and add citations is WeRelate.org.

5. The site needs to have some promise of longevity. All of the ones I have mentioned fit into this category, but subscription sites have the potential of either pricing themselves out of the market or disappearing due to acquisition or whatever. WeRelate.org is a non-profit foundation sponsored by the Allen County Public Library in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. FamilySearch would be ideal in this regard, if the New FamilySearch website were modified to eliminate most of the present problems and short falls.

These are the most important criteria. Perhaps you know a site that I can look at? I will review any suggestions in future posts.

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