Sunday, July 8, 2012

Overdoing the Kindness

Because I like to have resources at my fingertips I have for several years had a World subscription to Ancestry.co.uk and and a subscription to Findmypast.co.uk.  I may have done one or two lookups for cousins but the personal subscription I pay for is basically for my use.

Do you know what annoys me?  I am irritated when I see, on various lists and forums, offers from genealogists to perform free lookups of these and similar subscription sites for others. While RAOGK are to be commended this practice of offering free lookups and the subsequent sharing of resources from subscription sites must surely have a negative impact on those who subscribe. 

Does the availability of free lookups deter wouldbe subscribers? Does the availability of free lookups have an impact on the cost of subscriptions?

I wonder what the subscriptions sites think of this growing practice?  Does it violate their terms of service?

Am I being mean-spirited?  




7 comments:

Sue McCormick said...

Jill, my personal take is that it would be OK for me to go to such a site and say that they have certain information available; I would not actually provide the information.

For instance, I might inquire about the availabilility of a newspaper for an Indiana town of interest to me, and ask for the years if any are available. I WOULD NOT ask for information from this paper. If the site carries a paper I need, a subscription is valuable, but if it doesn't have information, I have wasted my money in subscribing.

My sort of look up would encourage subscriptions, but other sort seems to me to be unfair. In my opionion we have no right to expect genealogy be to free and to subvert profit from those sites who sell their services.

Jennifer Trahan said...

I agree. I thought the point of RAOGK was to do lookups for those who don't otherwise have access to the research repository. Just about everyone in the free world has access to Ancestry.com and can pay for their own subscription. It seems silly to ask a non-relative volunteer to do a lookup online (kind of rude, actually).

Linda said...

Hi Jill,
Like you I subscribe to Ancestry.com and FindMyPast.co.uk, it is my understanding that Ancestry don't mind Look-Up's being done, but FindMyPast has a clause forbidding such practices. They have a subscription for professional genealogists which is more expensive which allows look ups.
I think whilst people do this out of kindness they don't realise that they are taking revenue from the companies which in turn use that revenue to buy the right to acquire new data. So we all lose out.
Linda www.madaboutgenealogy.com

Audrey Collins said...

In the UK the moderators on the Rootschat forum step in and firmly put a stop to requests like this. Like you I might occasionally retrieve a piece of information for someone as a favour, but doing 'look-ups' for people who want to freeload off subscriptions that you or I have paid for is definitely out.

Rosemary said...

I'm of 2 minds about this. I've done look-ups but when I see the same person asking over-and-over again I get a mite peeved. Here in the US a lot of city and county libraries have a subscription to Ancestry Library Edition which is US-centric. However people living in small towns in both Austraia and the US may not have access. I know of people who have a month-by-month subscription. They make a decision every month as to whether they can afford it. That, to me, is sensible.

These days FamilySearch has more and more databases available and I find it surprising that some people asking for look-ups don't use this free resource and don't even bother to Google their names.

Well, I'm climbing down off my stump.

Rosemary

Jill Ball said...

Thanks for all those comments - I love it when a blog post elicits opinions and informaton.

NoOceanInKansas said...

Jill, while I am a huge fan of "paying it forward" when it comes to sharing genealogy information, I'm not sure I would offer to share my very expensive world membership to ancestry.com with anyone. Speaking of memberships, I get really steamed when I see these sites offering free periods and then not extending our paid memberships and equal amount of time. I've been a world member at ancestry for years, and have never seen them do this.

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