I was recently told that doing my research, via Ancestry.com, was not doing research or real genealogy/family history. If it weren't for what I find on Ancestry.com, the documents, census' and other things, without the help of the trees which I use only for possible hidden/lost children, I wouldn't be able to do anything. I am home bound, cannot get away from the house for very long, therefore going to the FHC and off to SLC or other places is virtually impossible for me.
I would be interested in your take on this. Am I just doing the "internet thing"? I also use Google and other sites but Ancestry is my main source of documentation. Please, do advise. Thank youIt appears to me that whoever made this statement to you has no idea what they are talking about. I have gotten some very valuable documents from Ancestry.com and many other similar online sources. If I obtain a copy of the U.S. Census from Ancestry.com, MyHeritage.com, FamilySearch.org, Archive.org, HeritageQuestOnline.com, censusrecords.com or some other website while I am sitting at my computer at home, why would that make them any less or more valuable than doing the exact same search on a computer in the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah? The person that made that comment doesn't actually believe that we look at the paper documents when the copies are online? If they do, they must be woefully unfamiliar with how genealogy is done in the 21st Century.
When I first started to become involved in genealogy, I went to the Family History Library and was told to look at the U.S. Census records. At that time, they were all on microfilm and I soon determined that many of them were entirely unreadable. As a result, until the microfilms were digitized, I never really used the U.S. Census much.
The only thing I would recommend to the commentator is to broaden his or her online search efforts and use some of the many, many other fantastically valuable websites. I would suggest using the FamilySearch.org Research Wiki for a good place to find links to other valuable online records. I would also suggest that he or she may wish to give a copy of this post to the "friend" who gave the advice.
The simple answer to the question posed in the title to this post is yes, looking at digitized copies of original documents online is real research.