Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Now For My More Rational Side

I have had many hours to think this whole situation regarding Ancestry and the rapid demise of Expert Connect in favor of promoting its acquisition of ProGenealogist as its research base, not all of them good I have to admit, but its time to look at what this change can offer.

I spent some time connecting with family and friends, connected with Thomas MacEntee of Geneabloggers and  High -Definition Genealogy  among his many other activities, and read the blogs of Marian Pierre- Louis (Roots and Branches), Kerry Scott (Clue Wagon), and Amy Coffin (We Tree). I also went to several of my message boards to read the opinions of other researchers (those who used Expert Connect and those who did not), which I must admit was at times insightful and at others quite frustrating.

The very last move I made was to go to the ProGenealogist site and look at it from a professional perspective and as a prospective client. One of the areas I always prided myself on as a strength in my life was the ability to look at an issue from every single angle.This served me very, very well as a Masters Level Social Worker who worked with very traumatic children/teenagers that the world considered were going to be the next serial killers (I'm not kidding. Some of my kids were the ones that have would have been on TV shows today. Working with them and seeing their angle, connecting with their parents, getting along with judges, etc. helped increase that strength.)

Anyway, I have looked at all the angles and now believe I am at a better place with the whole situation, but not completely. Researchers and clients were not treated respectfully or professionally by Ancestry by the way the program was shut down.

 I believe that researchers who worked with and for Expert Connect should have received a more professionally written letter prior to the information being sent to our clients. Would the word have leaked out? Absolutely, but I suspect a great percentage of our clients would have received the word personally from their professional researchers FIRST instead of becoming alarmed or dismayed. 

The more I look at various items from Ancestry it is clear they knew this was coming before Monday afternoon. Further warning instead of 8 days would have been more professional. I know that the bidding situation on Expert Connect probably played a role in how they needed to shut the program down, but I also think they could have simply put up some information for potential clients to let them know that they needed to  look at a shorter time frame.

I do appreciate the fact that Ancestry is allowing professionals the opportunity to make private arrangements with clients if projects cannot be completed within a certain time frame, or even if we choose to do so immediately. That I consider the one positive for researchers.

Expert Connect was not a perfect system, nor is the professional genealogy field itself, and I am sure that allowing a subsidiary to conduct all the procedures, deal with the customer service, etc. is better for Ancestry.  For as many successful stories and situations there were on Expert Connect there were some problems (the Ask a Question to a Professional section comes to mind here).

The Pro Genealogist site still contains reference materials for all of us to access, a newsletter to subscribe to, and the most detailed description of the the research procedures for potential clients that I have ever seen. Costs may be a concern in the future, and I will be interested to see what effect this has on the research profession. For all they can do, unless they hire hundreds (at least) of professionals, not all research can be completed by them nor at Utah. We all know that there are many items that are not microfilmed, or if so, still may need to be viewed in person for many reasons.

What will I do?

Continue with my Pro-Gen class (and catch up with all my assignments)
Complete the work I am currently assigned and do a bang-up job in the process
Continue to do all I can to increase my knowledge of all things Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois, especially in my geographic area given that this region plays such a huge migration role for so many families
Get may face out there in a variety of means
Attend more conferences

In the meantime, consider this:

         There are two ways of meeting difficulties: you alter the difficulties, or you alter yourself to meet them.
                                   - Phyllis Battome 

This is my final word on this issue. Now its time to move on and ahead.


Randy Seaver said...


Good summary looking at it from all sides.

If I look at it from Ancestry's side, the person paying the price for the service needed to be advised of the change ASAP, as did the providers of the service. I think that the date to wrap up the service was too soon - 6 weeks, something like that.

Kim said...

You are probably right, maybe giving me about 8 hours head start to forewarn would have been nice though. I feel setting the stage could have given me the chance to investigate potential answers to questions when the emails came would have helped. Thanks for the input.

Amy Coffin, MLIS said...

If I ever need research in your area, I'll let you know. I have some KY history, but a lot of it is a mystery and I need to sort it out. In due time...

Kim said...

Support for one another and to one another is what it's all about, isn't it? We will all be fine and grow through our experiences.

Jo said...

I agree that it could have been handled better, but I am enjoying the support that the genealogy community is showing - there's been a "wartime spirit" feeling. I'll keep a note of the areas you research in - I research Scottish records. Onwards and upwards! Jo