27 December 2012

They Don't Answer

Despite the limitations of the "trees" at Ancestry.com.  many genealogists use them, particularly to try and contact other researchers. While I have heard from some submitters that I have contacted, a significant proportion have not responded. By "not responded," I mean no response after several months. I'm not expecting people to reply back two seconds after I send them a message. That is unrealistic.

Of those that have responded, few have any other information beyond what is in their tree. Cannot blame those people because I'm probably stuck on the same line myself. 

Often those who do respond have not (in their words) "really researched" the person, but instead have imported information from someone else's tree into their own tree. Responses of this type usually fall into the category of the "person's sibling's second husband's first cousin's step-father" is my ancestor. Occasionally respondents indicate they do not even know how the person got into their tree. A very small minority of those who have bothered to take the time to respond have actually researched the person about whom I was inquiring. An even smaller proportion of those were still actively interested in research--interested enough to keep up communication.

Some submitters apparently are inactive and have not responded after several months. 

The issue for me here is time--which I'm certain it is for many researchers. For the amount of responses I receive, I'm wondering if it is worth the researcher's time to send out large numbers of inquiries to those who share people in your Ancestry.com. tree. I'm not saying that sometimes connections are not made, but I'm wondering that researchers may make better use of their time by creating blog posts on their own websites, setting up Google alerts, etc. 

I use Ancestry.com. every day-don't get me wrong. But, I'm wondering if the actual records and finding aids are where the real value in Ancestry.com. is.


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