Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Some Ancestry ExpertConnect Examples

While browsing the blogs today, I happened across the post Procrastinator’s Present Perfected by Jeanie Croasman on the Ancestry.com Blog. That linked to a promo for an Ancestry Magazine article (November-December 2009) titled All We Want for Christmas... which is provided in PDF format.

The article documented several samples of ExpertConnect requests made by Ancestry Magazine researchers that were intended to test the cost, response times, and response quality of typical requests.

The Ancestry ExpertConnect service is at http://expertconnect.ancestry.com/Home.aspx. There are seven service areas -

* Custom Research: Outsource an entire section of your family tree, or recruit a seasoned genealogist for a project that's beyond your experience or time availability. Learn more.

* Ask an Expert: Pose a research question to a panel of experts, but only pay for the most useful answer. Then proceed with your research on your own. Learn more.

* Record Lookup: Hire an expert to verify a hunch you have about an ancestor. Rely on an expert to identify the document you need and track it down for you. Learn more.

* Record Pickup: Save yourself a cross-country trip. Hire a researcher in another state to visit a specific archive, collect the record you need and mail it to you. Learn more.

* Language Translation: You’ve found a critical document on your ancestor, but cannot read the language. Find an experienced translator to interpret the document for you. Learn more.

* Local Photo: Get a picture of your grandmother's headstone without leaving your living room. Pay a researcher who lives near her old hometown to snap the photo for you. Learn more.

* Sponsored ServicePersonal History: Hire a professional to create a high quality Life Story biography book for a loved one or yourself. Learn more.

From a user's standpoint, this seems to be a good way to obtain distant research at a reasonable price.

I looked at the Find an Expert page, which has two tabs - one for "Find by Specialty" and "Find by Person and Location."

Two of my problem ancestors are John Richman and Ann Marshman who married in the early 1800's in Wiltshire in England. I don't anticipate going there anytime soon, so I looked for an "expert" in Wiltshire using the "Find by Person and Location." There was one researcher listed for Wiltshire, and she has done five jobs in the past seven weeks, and the comments are all positive. I may decide to ask her questions to help me decide what to pursue next.

My second try was to determine if there was somebody who could search for newspaper and church records in Dodge County, Wisconsin. I put in United States, Wisconsin and Dodge with no results, then Juneau with no results, and Watertown with no results. It appears that the experts have classified themselves by state but not by county. With just US and Wisconsin, there is a list of 28 "experts," some of whom live within two counties of Dodge County. But only two of them have any satisfaction ratings. There are four "experts" listed in Madison WI, but only two have listed services. I didn't see anyone living in or near Dodge County WI, but I may be wrong since I'm not all that familiar with the geography.

There are several other "Hire an Expert" genealogy services, including Genealogy Freelancers at www.GenealogyFreelancers.com and Expert Genealogy at www.ExpertGenealogy.com. I haven't used them, but have looked for people living in Wisconsin and found none that live there.

It's good that there are several competitive websites for these services. Using services like this may be the only way that researchers can obtain genealogy results from distant places.


Harold Henderson said...

Randy --

Regarding Dodge County, Ancestry doesn't offer the option for us "experts" to specify US geographical specialties below the state level. However, we *can* specify libraries or archives that we frequent. Searching that way might net you someone with nearby experience. In your shoes I might go with someone in Madison, since the State Historical Society's an easy place to read newspapers from all over the state (and beyond) -- and Dodge County is immediately NW of Madison anyway.

Your sample squares with my experience: there are quite a few "experts" who are signed up on AEC but who have not completed any projects there. Not sure what's up with that.

BTW, if you get to the point of wanting to offer a project for bid and can't decide whether it belongs in the "record lookup" or "custom research" category, go with "custom research," as Ancestry's cut on those projects is 15% as opposed to 25% for the other. And typically, many of the so-called "record lookups" really are custom research anyway. As you know as an experienced researcher, one doesn't always find the desired information in the form of a single record.

Harold Henderson

Heather Wilkinson Rojo said...

Some of these things can be done by volunteers for Random Acts of Genealogical Kindess. I am a RAOGK volunteer and I often snap digital photos of gravesites, houses, historical places, as well as looking up obituaries and things at the historical society and library. Try a volunteer first before paying a researcher! And if you like the service, try volunteering in return for another stranger.

Deborah Irwin said...

Randy, Thanks so much for your acknowledgement of our service ( Genealogy Freelancers ). We appreciate the kindness !!

We do believe that our service is concerned with both sides of the street - the seeker and the specialist. It's a unique relationship that should be given equal consideration. It's in everyone's interest, including ours to be aware of the ever evolving requirements of both the client of genealogy and the professional. It's been our main commitment to keep the focus on the needs of both.

We'll be making some site changes shortly based on our member suggestions and you'll certainly be among the first to be notified!

Again, we thank you for the mention!!!!

Deborah Irwin
Genealogy Freelancers