Sunday, July 02, 2017

No, You DON'T Need a Paid Subscription to Do Genealogy Research

If you subscribe to one of the paid genealogy services, or if you are thinking of doing so, please read this. No, You DON'T Need a Paid Subscription to Do Genealogy Research:
If you have been doing family history research for a while, you are probably fully aware of the fact that there are many free genealogy sites available to you. But for those that are just starting out, it can be very hard to see past the well-promoted paid subscription sites and many people become frustrated when trying to locate records and resources that are actually free.
If you are just starting out, it is in fact better not to use one of the paid services. Many of them will lead you astray, and encourage you to create a completely false genealogy. They offer "hints" and suggestions and "Smartmatches" which can be (and often are) completely false and misleading, and inexperienced users don't know enough to sift the good from the bad.

Begin your research using free resources, and perhaps paying for things like birth, marriage and death certificates, and then, when you've gone as far as you can and perhaps got stuck, join one of the paid services that has records for the area where you are researching.But until you've done some of the basic initial research you won't be able to tell which area you are looking at -- you need to find where your recent ancestors lived first.

And until you've done the basic research, you won't be able to discriminate between good genealogy and bad. Just as there's a lot of fake news out there in the Internet, so there is also a lot of fake genealogy.

In addition, once you subscribe to a paid genealogy site, they will try to lock you in, and keep you as a prisoner. If you add your genealogy to such a site, other members of your family won't be able to see it unless they also subscribe. So make sure that if you do subscribe to a paid site, you don't only keep your fasmily tree there. Keep it on your computer at home, and preferably contact other family members by e-mail, and exchange information that way.

If a distant cousin contacts you and says you may have some relations in common, don't refer them to your tree on Rather communicate with them directly to exchange information.

I once put my family tree on a free web site. A commercial firm bought it, incorporated all the data, and now they want me to pay to access the data I put there. What is more, they keep telling others that they have links to information on my tree, but they can only communicate with me through that site, and can't do so unless I pay their unaffordable fee. I've added to my family tree and corrected a lot of errors since then, but their clients can't see that, nor can they communicate with me, because they are "locked in" to only communicate with other paid subscribers.

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