Genealogy Do-Over – Week 11, Cycle 4: 11-17 December 2015

The Genealogy Do-Over - Week 11 Topics: 1) Reviewing Social Media Options and 2) Building a Research Network

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Previous topics in the Genealogy Do-Over:

[Editor’s note: Much of the text below is unchanged from the original Week 11 posting on March 13, 2015, except for my personal updates.]

Topics: 1) Reviewing Social Media Options and 2) Building a Research Network

As we enter Week 11 of the Genealogy Do-Over, I want to say “thank you” to everyone who has participated in some manner or is preparing to participate starting with the next cycle. Never in my wildest dreams did I believe this topic of “redoing” your genealogy research would be so popular. Social media – one of our topics this week – has been a key factor in the success. My hope is that this week you’ll be able to learn more about social media and leverage those skills to assist in your genealogy research.

NOTE: Starting January 1, 2016, the Genealogy Do-Over will move to a monthly topic format!  Stay tuned for details!

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Reviewing Social Media Options

Recently I had a conversation with a group of genealogists, of varying ages and levels of experience. One person made the following statement: You really can’t succeed with your genealogy research these days without some use of social media.

And the reaction? Most of the heads nodded yes. I think that five years ago such a statement would have caused quite a debate. But in the past five years we’ve seen social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest take over for the tools we may have used 10 or 20 years ago: queries posted in newsletters, lookup requests posted in online groups or online bulletin boards (remember those?), and even items posted in periodicals like Everton’s Genealogical Helper.


Here are some social media resources that you may not have considered as a way to assist in your genealogical research:

  • Technology for Genealogy ( – got a technical question related to genealogy software or even what type of scanner to buy? Here’s a group of over 13,000 helpful genealogists who will gladly answer any type of question.
  • The Organized Genealogist ( – over 19,000 people sharing ideas about getting their genealogy materials and digital files organized. Covers filing systems, file naming conventions, archival practices and more. Again, another group where you post a question and other helpful genealogists provide answers and options.
  • Genealogy – Cite Your Sources ( – have a question about the proper way to cite a specific record? Not sure how to get started on citing your sources? This group will point you in the right direction and show you how easy it is to get your sources cited.
  • Pinterest – while some people think Pinterest is purely a bunch of BSOs (“bright and shiny objects”), others have been able to build research toolboxes and even ancestor timelines to share with others. Keep in mind that Pinterest is currently the #3 source for website traffic (after Google and Facebook). See the GeneaBloggers boards on Pinterest ( for examples.
  • Twitter – did you know you can search Twitter without having a Twitter account? Use this link to search the #genealogy “hashtag” ( Remember that a hashtag is simply a label or a way to tell people what the posted message is about.

Review your options and don’t be afraid to sign up for a social media account, even if you have to delete it later.

  • What I Plan to Do: As you can imagine, I have a pretty solid social media presence after spending the past few years incorporating Facebook and Pinterest as well as other platforms into my research toolbox. My challenge is to find better ways of managing social media. Right now it can too easily become a BSO; I prefer to treat it like a television that is on in the corner of the room while I work. If something catches my attention, I may take a quick minute to take a look. Otherwise, I don’t let it consume my day.
  • New to Social Media: If you have not used social media in any form, you may want to go slow and start with one platform, such as Facebook. Also, get help from someone who knows Facebook and can help you get set up. And my best advice: only use it for genealogy. No games, no drama, no nonsense. I’ve found that with a very narrow use of Facebook (mainly connecting with other genealogists), I’ve had a much better experience on the site.
  • Currently Using Social Media: Challenge yourself to look at other platforms besides the ones you are currently using.

Building a Research Network

You might be wondering, “What does he mean by research network?” Well, by participating in the Genealogy Do-Over, you’re already part of one.

“No genealogist is an island.” While pursuing one’s roots may seem like a solitary obsession, the truth is that as researchers we soon realize that we can’t “go it alone.” Whether it is joining a local genealogical society or engaging with a regular group of researchers at a local library or even joining a genealogy-focused Facebook group, you’ll get more out of the entire experience if you slowly build a network

Research Network = Research Toolbox

Remember back in Week 5 when one of the topics for the Genealogy Do-Over was Building a Research Toolbox? Well approach building your genealogy network the same way.

This doesn’t mean that you only engage with other genealogists who can offer you some knowledge or help you with your research. It is a two way street. In fact, my approach has been more of a one way street: give your knowledge freely and you’ll attract others who can help you in the future.

If you have a hard time remembering a person’s name, face and genealogy focus area, consider using a contact program or even Evernote to “keep tabs” on your network. Another great platform, believe it or not, is LinkedIn ( With LinkedIn, you can create your own profile and then seek out other genealogists and people with similar interests. Check out my profile at to see how you can add skills, publications and even articles and then make connections with other users.

  • What I Plan to Do: I’m always looking to expand my genealogy network and here is how I do it: 1) In-person at genealogy conferences, I don’t attend all sessions. I will sit in a lunch area or a hallway and talk with other attendees. I always have a business card handy and I always end the conversation with “Let me know how I can help;” and 2) On-line I try to welcome new members to Facebook groups and ask them what they are researching or what they need help with. I’m going to simply “keep on keepin’ on” since this strategy has served me very well over the past five years. Not only have I been able to build a network I can rely on for resources and information, but I’ve made some great friends as well.

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And that’s all I have for this week’s topic of the Genealogy Do-Over. Get ready for next week when we’ll discuss the best ways to share your genealogy research and also, how to prepare for a genealogy research trip!

Next Week: Week 12, Cycle 4 – 18-24 December 2015

  • Sharing Research
  • Reviewing Research Travel Options

Thanks for being a part of the Genealogy Do-Over and your feedback is always appreciated. You can leave a comment on the blog post at GeneaBloggers, email me at or post at the Genealogy Do-Over Facebook Group.

©2015, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved.

Blame the Millennials: The End of Family Tree Maker Genealogy Software

Genealogy expert Thomas MacEntee weighs in on the end of Family Tree Maker - can we blame the millenials and the subscription economy?

Genealogy Is All About Change . . . .

By now, many genealogists and family historians have learned of the bombshell announcement from yesterday in their blog post Ancestry to Retire Family Tree Maker Software. There will be no more sales of the most popular genealogy software after the end of 2015 and will only support existing versions of Family Tree Maker through the end of 2016.

And while the mob with its torches, pitchforks and rakes gather at the castle out for revenge and making demands or starting online petitions to keep a dying (and some would say already dead) program alive, let’s look at one of the main reasons for Ancestry’s decision.

It’s the Subscription Economy, Stupid.

Over the past few years, if you’ve taken a close look at products and services, you’ve noticed a shift from “ownership” to “rental.” Examples:

  • The rise of Netflix and other streaming, monthly subscription services at the demise of brick-and-mortar stores like Blockbuster.
  • An increase in “share” services, especially for large price items such as cars: services such as Zipcar are very popular in many cities.
  • In addition, cities like Chicago where I live, have seen the increasing use of “bike sharing systems” such as Divvy with its $75 yearly fee or $9.95 a day pass.

So what is driving this new subscription economy? The Millennials and their purchasing power. In The Subscription Economy: A Business Transformation, we see a move towards monthly or yearly subscription based products such as software which have traditionally been a “one time purchase so I own it” product.

The truth is that the Millennials don’t see the value in ownership of certain items. Some of it is related to limited economic resources and being judicious in how they spend their money. In addition, Millennials appreciate the freedom that comes with not being tied down to a product: if they want to move from QuickBooks to FreshBooks, they can just cancel their monthly subscription and do so.

Take a look at this infographic, Millennials Coming of Age, by Goldman Sachs, for a better understanding of how this dynamic group of consumers is turning the purchase of products and services upside-down in the 21st century.

Why Do Businesses Love the Subscription Model?

From a business perspective, there are many benefits to dropping the traditional product ownership model, such as buying Family Tree Maker and installing it on your computer and moving towards a web-only subscription model:

  • Lower costs having to support older versions of a product.
  • Lower costs in having to program new updates.
  • Lower costs in having to push out new versions.
  • All customers are now on the same version of a program.
  • Businesses can more easily build customer loyalty and leverage the “tribe” concept.

The Future: Genealogy Un-tethered

Personally, I think the move is a smart one. It allows them to focus more on their website and core customer base. In monitoring various online conversation including Facebook (where there has been much gnashing of teeth and pulling of hair), here are some predictions for the future of genealogy software:

  • The demise of Family Tree Maker is just the start of the trend in the genealogy market. However, I predict that programs such as RootsMagic and Legacy Family Tree will be on the market for at least another five years.
  • For the genealogy professional who are not fans of keeping client data online, Ancestry and other platforms will act as a “relay” system to access data stored on your computer. While the marketing staff want you to “share” as much as possible, doing so just is not feasible for those business owners who perform genealogy research for clients.
  • Eventually even the operating system for your computer will be “online;” most, if not all, of the current genealogy software programs will have to embrace the subscription model in order to be relevant and to survive.

The death of Family Tree Maker for me is like the death of an old friend: I first purchased the product from Banner Blue software in the 1990s. But it has served its purpose and I’m looking forward to what we’ll see in the future when it comes to storing and managing genealogy research data.

©2015, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved.

FREE Collection of Digitized Books Now at MyHeritage

MyHeritage announces a new FREE resource: over 15,000 digital books with over 37 million pages available for genealogy and family history research!

MyHeritage Digital Book Collection

Have you heard the big news?  MyHeritage now has a new collection of over 37 million pages from 15,000 books digitized and available for FREE!  Click here to start searching for your surnames and place names!

According to Daniel Horowitz, Chief Genealogist Officer, “The books span the last four centuries and include family, local and military histories, city and county directories, school and university yearbooks, church and congregational minutes and much more. The new collection includes actual images of the books’ pages, and all their text extracted using Optical Character Recognition. We’ve added this collection using a new process that adds approximately 250 million pages to SuperSearch™ per year.

Record Matching has been unleashed on this large collection, and users will be alerted when record matches are found for their family tree.

A vast amount of rich data from diverse publications makes this collection a fantastic source of rare genealogical gems, providing insight into the lives of our ancestors and relatives.”

For more information, read the MyHeritage blog post Huge Free Collection of Digitized Books Now Available on MyHeritage!

©2015, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved.