RootsTech 2014

Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Ancestry.com LLC Acquires Find A Grave, Inc.

I must admit that my heart sunk when I read this headline. FindAGrave.com has turned into one of the most successful all-volunteer projects on the Web with over 105 million graves located and indexed with photos and descriptions. The links to other related grave sites are extremely valuable. Now I do appreciate the resources of Ancestry.com, but I am very concerned that the volunteer effort of FindAGrave.com will falter if the volunteers think they are simply enhancing Ancestry.com's holdings. 

The press release from Ancesty.com, which I will forego copying in its entirety, is dated September 30, 2013. But quoting from the release:
"Find A Grave is an amazing phenomenon supported by a passionate and engaged community of volunteers around the world," said Tim Sullivan, CEO of Ancestry.com. "We at Ancestry.com are so excited...honored really...to take on the responsibility of supporting this community. We will maintain Find A Grave as a free website, will retain its existing policies and mode of operation, and look forward to working with Jim Tipton and the entire Find A Grave team to accelerate the development of tools designed to make it even easier for the Find A Grave community to fulfill its original mission to capture every tombstone on Earth."  
Ancestry.com plans to bolster the resources dedicated to Find A Grave to launch a new mobile app, improve customer support, introduce an enhanced edit system for submitting updates to memorials, foreign-language support, and other site improvements.
I have recently been discussing the monetization of genealogical records. I have also recently predicted that the large commercial genealogical companies would continue to expand by acquisitions. It looks like my predictions are being further vindicated.  All I can say at this point, without seeing any of the effects of the acquisition, is to encourage those who are involved in FindAGrave.com to continue their great work. Other than the usual ad for Ancestry.com, the site has not changed as of today.

9 comments:

  1. The conundrum is, of course, how can a volunteer based organisation without any visible significant income, continue to provide IT facilities for a growing amount of data. Where do those free servers come from? The free comms lines? The free electricity? The free server room?

    What's possible for a small amount of data rapidly becomes more difficult as success breeds more data. *Assuming* Ancestry keep their word, I can't see any valid issue for volunteers - what they contribute will remain freely visible for all.

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    1. Exactly on point. That is the challenge and the most pressing reason why when a company grows like FindAGrave.com they become a target for purchase or takeover.

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  2. We have links now going on to Find May Past from what used to be free records at the UK PRO. The Irish census is also referred to Find My Past from the search feature on Family Search where the idea of monetization used to be a "red line". It seems that as long as the link is to another concern (who must have a paying relationship to Family Search for referrals) then it's ok to hide behind the pay outfits pages.

    "We will maintain Find A Grave as a free website" .. except where we grab the information from ancestry.com and serve it up as an ancestry.com product?

    We shall see but I won't hold my breath on the idea that Ancestry.com won't be looking fro ways to mine the Find A Grave data to serve it up as an Ancestry,com product. I await to be proven wrong.

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    1. I suggest you likely will be proven wrong.

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    2. Please tell me what the records are that "used to be free records at the UK PRO". I keep challenging people to do this and they can't. The only instance that I know of, are the records from the Cheshire Collection where FS were breaking their agreement with Chester by (temporarily) putting the images online.

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  3. My heart sunk also. As a family history director in a small multi-stake center, I find it very difficult to motivate church members. Whenever a "big box" company comes in, it gets a bit harder. I guess nobody wants to anything anymore without making money at it. Love your blog.

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  4. I don't know if its always been this way, but I was looking at the 1910 census on FamilySearch and to see the image, my only choice was to go to Ancestry, where, fortunately, I have a subscription.

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    1. You are partially correct. You can view the image on Ancestry.com, or view the record at a FamilySearch Center, or be a signed-in member of supporting organizations. When I sign in with an LDS account, I can view the image. It is not unusual to have viewing options for records.

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  5. Search out AOL and Volunteer Law Suit. Ancestry may be putting themselves in a bad situation with FaG volunteers if they are not careful. Hopefully they have explored the volunteer and for profit relationships that got AOL in trouble.

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