Monday, April 6, 2009

Expert Connect Service from Ancestry.com

The cat is out of the bag over on the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG) mailing list about one of www.Ancestry.com's newest endeavors - called ExpertConnect. DeeDee King started the discussion on the APG mailing list, in a post titled "Ancestry and professional genealogist project" last Saturday, noting:

"Well, Ancestry announces new pilot partnership with professional genealogists.Ancestry sends out lovely invitation: 'You're one of the nation's top genealogists.' Go to expert.ancestry.com"

So I did ... and read the services offered (Record Pickup, Local Photo, Ask an Expert, Record Lookup and Custom Research), the FAQs, and the Terms and Conditions. It's an interesting concept - and has potential benefits for both clients and providers, and for Ancestry.com (since they will take a percentage of the gross).

Now there are many posts by professional genealogists discussing the service offered by Ancestry.com to help connect people who might need professional services with professionals who might be able to provide the services. Some of the most interesting are:

* An example of how the money exchange might work, by Dee Dee King

* Is the professional genealogist profession a ripe goose for the plucking? by Mary Petty

* wisdom about how this might affect different levels of professional genealogists by Elizabeth Shown Mills.

* there are similar client-provider services available by Jeanette Daniels

* Todd Godfrey of ExpertConnect commented on discussion

* Comments about how T&Cs affect professionals by Dee Dee King

What do I think? I was not asked to participate in this, so this is my first exposure to the issue and the web site.

* The service might be useful for Ancestry subscribers who need records, lookups, and photos in distant places, and could be provided by a "one-stop" shop like this.

* The service could be helpful for genealogists who want to work as part-time contractors rather than start and maintain their own small business.

* Established professionals that sign up would probably increase their gross fees in order to achieve their current net fees. There is no real incentive for a professional with a thriving practice to sign up.

* There may be problems with withholding fees to providers until the client is satisfied. and with resolving client-provider disagreements.

* Many of the records found and much of the work that would be performed by the providers of this service would probably be in records that Ancestry.com does not have in its' databases - the original source material in courthouses, town halls, genealogical and historical societies, local libraries, cemeteries, family homes, photo albums, etc.

The APGers are doing a great job of dissecting this issue - raising issues, asking questions, providing examples, etc. in a civil manner. Read all of the APG mailing list threads and the web site too for the entire context.

What do you think? Would you use this service as a client? Would you sign up to be a provider?

2 comments:

Elaine said...

As this forum reported on September 23rd 2008 this idea was first introduced by GenealogyFreelancers.com and so it seems our idea was good enough to be snatched up by the big guys. GenealogyFreelancers is a much smaller organization, is run by genealogists and we have the interests of both the seeker and the professional at its heart. Our comission rates are also a fraction of what Ancestry is offering. We ask that others take a look at what we have to offer before being swayed by branding. Small companies have been the back bone of any society and it appears that people are beginning to to demand their return. We will listen to any suggestion and implement if it's for the good of what we're trying to do. We believe in our idea. Check us out and contact us if you have even the slightest question.
Elaine Bostwick
www.genealogyfreelancers.com

Geolover said...

At present the client does not have to pay for the research service if they say they are not satisfied with it. If the researcher makes a fuss, the client can give them a bad rating. If I were dishonest this would be to my advantage.

If I were mainly a non-researching Tree Person, having little or no idea of the scope and depth of work required to develop genealogical evidence, I could act in ignorance to the disadvantage of the researcher.

The mailing list items you pointed to, Randy, discuss various aspects of such issues and more. The present Ancestry scheme is not sufficiently detailed to protect the interests of both client and researcher.