Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Results from Myles Proudfoot Online Survey of Genealogists

Myles Proudfoot, who writes the Family History 21ster blog (started as a result of attending the RootsTech Conference in February 2011), has compiled the results of his Genealogy Habits, Attitudes and Origins online survey.

Myles' blog post Results from Family History Survey now available explains the survey:

"The Family History Survey was fielded March 12 to April 5 2011. Respondents were self-selecting, linking to the survey from Twitter feeds, genealogy blogs posts, Facebook pages, LinkedIn and email forwards.
A variety of genealogists responded to the survey from the inexperienced to highly proficient. I make no claim to be have a random representative sample. There is a respondent skew towards those more connected via social media."
The survey results are available in Microsoft Word format on Dropbox - use the link on Myles' post.
Myles also asks the genealogical community to analyze and draw conclusions from this survey.  There are 51 questions, and it is difficult to assess everything immediately. 
The one question with responses confused me was question #20 - " Which of the following websites have you used in the past 3 months?"  The compilation of the results listed a number of websites by order of number of responses, with a percentage number.  For instance, had 244 responses, and a percentage of 89.1%.  I believe this means that 244 respondents indicated they had used an website, and that 89.1% of the persons that answered this question had indicated they visited  If that's the case, then only 274 out of 1,021 respondents to the survey have used any website listed in the past three months.  The other percentages work out to a total of 274 respondents to the question. had a 79.9% rate, was at 70.4%, at 63.4%etc.   The responses that surprised me included at 3.3% and at 8.0%.
Does this mean that only 274 out of 1,021 (26.8%) answered this question, or are one set of the numbers wrong as presented in the table?
Question #21 asked " Do you have any paid subscriptions to genealogy societies or websites?"  74.1% indicated they have a paid subscription to online family history websites, and 42.3% have a current subscription to a family history society.  Those are impressive numbers, but likely reflect the fact that online genealogists were surveyed.  8.9% have never subscribed to either a subscription website or a society.
Question #24 asked "Have you personally taken any DNA testing for genealogy purposes?"  20.8% of respondents said they had.  I think that's pretty impressive.  It also provides more opportunity for DNA Testing companies to publicize their offerings to gain more customers.
Question #29 asked: "What, if any, social networking services do you use?"  Facebook was selected by 76.4%, LinkedIn by 28.5%, and Twitter by 27.8%.  None was picked by 19.9%.  Again, this is probably due to the survey sample being online researchers, and is not representative of the genealogy community.
What questions did you find interesting or confusing?  Please comment here, or directly to Myles on his blog.


  1. Randy,
    You highlight an error I had missed in the survey design. Question 20 re Websites visited has a smaller response set as only respondents selecting "I do the research alone" option from question 18 were asked this question. A very annoying error caused by question order changes in the original questionnaire editing process. Such things happen, unfortunately. I would caution very careful use of Q20, it's almost useless for drawing broad conclusions. Health warning added to the downloadable results.

    Myles Proudfoot

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