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

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Some Comments on the List of Top 100 Genealogy Websites for 2015

Each year for the past four years, GenealogyInTime Magazine has been publishing a top 100 list of genealogy websites. This year is no exception. Here is a link to the latest list. I am not sure that Internet popularity equates to being the best, but I am fascinated by what the list tells us about genealogy and the direction things are going. Another point is that these rankings are based on a snap-shot view of the statistics that change from hour to hour and from day to day.

First, I might note that the message as to how bloggers are fairing is rather mixed the Top 100. In 2014, there were four blogs ranked:
In the 2015 list, we see the following
Although there were more blogs numerically, the top blog Eastman's Newsletter has dropped overall. 

Although Gould Genealogy and History is a valuable website, it is mainly commercially operated as a sales outlet for genealogy related products. It is unclear the relationship between the commercial website and the blog, Genealogy and History News but they appear to be connected.

This raises the question as to whether this listing includes the blogs for other commercial and large websites. From the list, I can see that almost every website in the top ten sites has its own blog. So are we going to include Ancestry's Blog in the list? I am not arguing that any website should not be included, I just think that as you look at the list, you realize what an accomplishment it is for individual bloggers to compete with large corporations. 

One of my ongoing issues with the list as it is, pertains to the problem that the larger genealogical companies have multiple websites. According to Genealogy and History News, has 23 active related websites. One of the Top 10 websites on the list is, which is owned by and was supposedly discontinued. Upon visiting the website, you get the following message:
Big changes have come to — all content is now read-only, and member subscriptions and the Shop have been discontinued.
I am pretty sure that this illustrates some of the fundamental problems with this type of ranking, if one of the Top 10 websites isn't even operational. This reminds me of a short blog I posted back in February, 2011. The post entitled, "Quick Correction on last post on New FamilySearch" is my all time most popular post with 57,396 views even though the content is outdated and totally inapplicable to anything going on right now. In fact there were 1906 views during the last month. That is one reason why I question measuring Internet activity as somehow equating with "best."

Another issue with counting all of the and other large genealogy company websites as separate websites is that it distorts what people are actually watching. An argument could be made that each of the separate websites has its own constituency, but isn't that like considering each fast food restaurant as a separate business even if they actually are individually owned, which the websites are not? If you did combine all the owned websites into one ranking of the ownership entity, I doubt that the top of the list would change much, but the number of additional websites would certainly increase. makes this point with a chart showing the "Big Three" and color coding the websites they own. owns five of the Top 10. By combining the "owned" websites into one each, you can clearly see the influence of the top four genealogy companies;,, and

These four dominant websites really make up what most people consider to be online genealogy. It would be interesting to know, if it were possible, how all of the genealogy blog activity compares to the rest of the online genealogy programs. 

One of the factors that affects all of these rankings is the fact that the overall traffic on the Web is growing exponentially. Some studies show Internet growth at 741% over the the time period from the year 2000 to 2014. Presently, nearly one half of the total world's population is on the Internet. See Internet Usage Statistics. Like it or don't, it is the biggest thing going. 


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