09 April 2009

Expert Connect at Ancestry.com

There has been much discussion on the APG (Association of Professional Genealogists) mailing list and others regarding the upcoming "ExpertConnect" site at Ancestry.com (http://expertconnect.ancestry.com/). In a nutshell, researchers and providers can use the site to connect. Ancestry.com takes a significant part of the research fee for providing the service. Whether or not this bidding process will work in the genealogical field remains to be seen. Individual fee-based researchers will have to decide if using the service is something they need to do to increase their business and if they can afford Ancestry.com's fee. Their bids will have to reflect the fact that Ancestry.com is charging them for "connecting" the researcher and client. One question the provider needs to decide is how much it is worth to them for Ancestry.com to do their "marketing" for them.

Obviously Ancestry.com is looking at this as a revenue stream. Are there enough "providers" hoping to make a living at "providing" that it positively imacts Ancestry.com's bottom line? I am not certain. Is there an "unmet" market for lookup and research services that is not being met elsewhere? Again, I am not certain.

Five services are being offered:
  • record pickup
  • local photo
  • ask an expert
  • record lookup
  • custom research

Personally, I won't be using the service, for the time being either as a provider or a client. There are still a variety of ways to make contact with quality researchers and not have to pay a "bounty" to do it. But I do have one question:

"If Ancestry.com continues to promote and expand this service, how will that impact the mailing lists and message boards where requests for help (particularly record lookups, local photos, and record pickups) are common?"

If that issue has been discussed somewhere I have not seen it. Such requests are common on several Ancestry.com sponsored mailing lists and message boards that I am on.

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