- Free access to Web Records – Users do not have to subscribe or even register with Ancestry.com to view these records
- Proper attribution of Web Records to content publishers
- Easy access to Web Records – Prominent links in search results and the record page make it easy to get to the source website
1) Collections on Ancestry.com will carry a "Web:" designation on the Card Catalog list and in any search results.
2) The indexes to the "Web" collections are FREE on Ancestry.com. To see the data, you will have to click on a link to go to the hosting web page with the specific information.
3) There are only three databases (as of 2 p.m. on 13 May 2011) with the "Web:" designation. They are:
** Web: Marion County, Indiana Marriages since 1925
** Web: Allen County, Indiana Deaths 1870-1920
** Web: Rootsweb Obituary Index
4) At present, there is no "special" page with all of the "Web:" collections listed - they will appear in the general search results. I would love to see a special page on Ancestry listing all of the freely available index and image collections, whether "Web:" or not.
Readers should note that the actual record collections are not stored on Ancestry.com servers - they are on the web pages controlled by the owners of the database. They have not been "stolen" and hidden behind the Ancestry subscription firewall - they are freely available to anyone searching through Ancestry, Google, or other search engines. They have been indexed by Ancestry.com and the indexes provide links to the original databases found by anyone who searches on Ancestry.com, whether a subscriber, a registered user, or a non-registered user. What Ancestry.com has done is very similar to what Google and other search engines (Yahoo, Bing, Mocavo, etc.) have done to index key words to make online searches easier. You can read the discussion about these issues on the Ancestry Content Publishers Feedback message board here. Brian Edwards and Andy Hatchett did a good job of debating these issues on that board.
I greatly appreciate Ancestry.com's efforts to provide free access to non-Ancestry.com databases and web pages. It's part of their effort to provide as much information as possible to their customers. My opinion is that this enhances the value of an Ancestry.com subscription while adding value to the content providers through links to the source providers. I hope that they add many more freely available online databases and indexes.
What other freely available record collections would you like to see indexed by Ancestry.com and provided free of charge to Ancestry searchers? The USGenWeb Archives come to mind, as do free databases and web pages at http://www.rootsweb.com/, http://www.genealogy.com/ and http://www.familytreemaker.com/. I would love to have my blog included in the search because I post quite a bit about my research results.