Friday, September 5, 2008

More on Public Indexing

I, and others, wrote about Ancestry's Public Indexing announcement yesterday at the Federation of Genealogical Societies conference.

The Ancestry Insider, who was the first to publicly announce the World Archives Project several months ago, has more details on what it will mean to the users and to the volunteer indexers in his post Details revealed about's Indexing Initiative.

For researchers who do not volunteer to index, the benefits of the project include:

"* All indexes will remain free to the public on
* will donate copies of record indexes and images from the project to partnering government archives and genealogy societies.
* Images and indexes from the project will be available for free to patrons at thousands of subscribing libraries across the U.S.
* will provide free advertising to partnering genealogy societies."

For volunteer indexers, the benefits include:

"* Vote on which records to index in the future.
* Have free access to original images in the project's databases.
* Receive a 10% discount off an annual U.S. Deluxe subscription renewal or
* Receive a 15% discount off an annual World Deluxe subscription renewal.

"To be classified as an active contributor one must index a minimum of 900 records per quarter."

Some people will say "why invest over 20 hours a quarter (assuming an indexer can index about 50 records per hour) for a $15 reduction in a US Deluxe subscription?" It's a good point - it doesn't seem like a significant incentive, does it? Why would anyone index more than the 900 records per quarter? Where's the payoff? Would it be worth it if an indexer did, say 2,000 records in a quarter (perhaps 40 hours of work - about 20 minutes a day on average), for a 50% reduction in the Ancestry subscription cost? Or 6,000 records a quarter (about 1 hour a day) for a 100% reduction in an Ancestry subscription? All of the above assumes that the 900 records is actual records - a line on a census page, for example, rather than 900 batches of records.

For researchers, the real benefit for any online genealogy database is the INDEX itself. We can find more records pertinent to our search if there is an accurate index. The image can be obtained in many ways - subscribe to the service, go to the holding repository, go to a repository with the subscription service available, or have someone find it for them at a repository. The key part is the INDEX, not the image. The subscription service just makes it easy to access the image for a price. The subscriber determines if the service is cost effective for them.

Thanks to The Ancestry Insider for adding significant information to the knowledge base of genealogy researchers. Since I started this post, The AI has adding a Comment to his previous post here which corrects an error in the initial post submission and adds more commentary. Read it all!

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