As someone on a severely limited income - raising a son on Social Security disability without child support - I can certainly understand concerns about spending a big chunk of money. However, most Americans have cable TV. But a basic monthly cable subscription costs almost as much as a year of Geni or MH.
Frankly, I spend the little discretionary money I have on genealogy, where my son and I can learn about our ancestors, and about history in general. It's a much healthier choice for us - and it gives me a different perspective about what's important in life.
If you can afford cable, you can afford SEVERAL annual genealogical subscriptions. As with people who say they have no time but waste 3-4 hours a night in front of the TV, we almost always have choices, we just aren't always honest with ourselves about our priorities...
Bruce, my analogy with the New York Times was to point out how paywalls are a good business strategy, not to say that their billing systems are comparable. If a user sees a paywall enough times *and* has a vested interest in the resource *and* has expendable income, they'll typically buy in. That was all I was saying.
The reality is that serious genealogy is recognized as one of the most expensive hobbies out there for a reason. I just paid $55, including mandatory secure shipping/delivery, for a single vital record. A National Archives request can cost into the hundreds, especially pension files and others that have a lot of photocopying involved. An annual membership in Ancestry's World Explorer costs only cents below $300 USD -- certainly far more than MyHeritage/Geni ask for for records access. (It's just under $420 USD in total if you pay monthly.) Society memberships pile up quickly. Gas mileage. Postage. Conferences, if you attend them. On and on. It's not cheap.
So every genealogist has to be aware of these costs and set their budget. If you can work MyHeritage/Geni into your budget, great. If you can't, that's okay, too. But the cost MyHeritage/Geni has set is absolutely within the range of other databases, and in fact, it's actually cheaper than many of them.
Like Jennifer, I have next to nothing in terms of expendable income and put most of my "fun money" towards genealogy. I usually sit down twice a year and do a comparison of all of the major databases to figure out which ones will combine to give me the most bang for my buck. In looking at the new Record Match and Smart Match service, and especially considering all of the new collections they plan to add in the very near future, I can easily see how MyHeritage is going to wind up at or near the very top of my "bargain" list. But again, if that's not the case for you, no one's going to fault you for it, and you're entitled to make your own spending choices however you'd like to.
I have an Ancestry.com subscription and started off paying for it monthly. When I discovered it's wealth of information, I certainly didn't mind paying the annual subscription rate. Perhaps if MH offered a monthly subscription , people would be more inclined to subscribe, knowing they weren't locked in for a whole year. This way they could determine it's value , and decide after viewing it , if they wanted to take advantage of a yearly subscription. Keep in mind that those of us who have Ancestry have no need to purchase MH also.
the entire series of US census have just been added to record matching
Genealogy is once again pricing itself out of reach of all but the Rich Elite - just as it used to be when only the Rich Elite could pay for the services of a professional genealogical researcher (and some of them were ripped off by frauds and charlatans like Gustave Anjou).
If that's the way Geni/MH wants to go, they can whistle for a renewal of my subscription when the time comes.
Jennifer: Some of us DON'T have cable, BECAUSE we can't afford it.
And as for the blue dots, I'm finding them a royal pain. You can neither accept NOR REJECT the matches without paying MyHeritage through the nose, you can't get rid of the blue dots, and so far they have told me absolutely NOTHING I really wanted to know - or didn't already know.
Seems to me you should be able to do a Reject without having to cough up, because Reject means DO NOT WANT. DUH!
Maven, Geni has not raised the price! They offered additional service at an additional cost. What is being priced out? They just gave you several additional services for free (FindAGrave, 1940 census, WikiTree matches). How can a company not raise the price, offer you additional free services, then some more great value services (cost 3x less then Ancestry) at additional cost, and you complain about not being happy about it? You're not being "priced out". If you don't have the money, don't buy the extra service. And yes... places will still advertise even if you never buy it or can't afford to buy it.. that's life.
"Geni has not raised the price! They offered additional service at an additional cost."
That isn't raising the price? In what universe?
The "additional services for free" are available for free *with or without* a Geni subscription - and any smart researcher already knows about them. So Geni is just using convenience as a come-on to con people into paying for additional PAY services.
My biggest complaint is I can't just turn the Stupid Matches off - and yes, some of them are STUPID - like links to garbage records that jumble up Josephus W. Waters with Josephus Burton Waters, when I jumped through I don't know how many Geni hoops to SEPARATE THEM AND KEEP THEM SEPARATED!
Now Geni has thrown the door open to GIGO (Garbage In, Garbage Out) up the wazoo - and they expect us to buy an additional subscription to MH for the GIGO.
And if they don't give us the ability to refuse Stupid Matches WITHOUT having to pay MH, I *will not renew*. Period end of sentence.
I see it as being a little like cable TV. I subscribe to cable. I get the cable programming, but there are also ads. It has never occurred to me to stand in the family room and scream at the TV that I can't afford all the things being advertised.
Data costs money. MH is offering a data subscription on top of Geni's services. Buy, don't buy, whatever. Some users will think it's worth it; some won't. Some users will be able to afford it; some won't. That's life.
(But you know, CNN doesn't stop the ads just because I think something isn't worth the price, or just because I can't afford it.)
Sorry, Maven. That doesn't follow. The price of services, products, data isn't set soley by interactivity.
In any event, you're the only one who can say if something is worth it to you personally.
For me, Geni is saving me enough money over what I normally spend on genealogy that I'm thinking I might get that 2013 Mustang I have my eye on. I haven't had a new one since 2006. Talk about interactive!
Justin, I don't think either you or Bjørn "get it". My problem is that I find the StupidMatches worse than useless - since they link back to bad information that I have already rejected and done my best to keep out - extremely frustrating, since they cannot be accepted OR rejected without PAYING MORE MONEY - and frightfully annoying, since they cannot be turned off.
I. want. to. be. able. to. turn. them. OFF!
If Geni will not allow me to turn them off, Geni is no longer worth it to me.
Justin Swanström - you are clearly in a different financial ballpark from some of us. I do not have cable, I do not have a car, I only have the free subscription to Ancestry, I use public institutions for internet connection.
What Geni is doing is way more annoying and intrusive than advertisements on the TV or on my e-mail page. Yes, they are offering extra service for extra money -- but repeatedly screaming the offer in someone's face is obnoxious.
Maven, actually I do understand that some of the matches are worthless if you think every record will be perfect. But, where you see worthless matches that must be rejected, I see matches that give me an opening to further clarify my data on Geni.
That is, if I find immigrant Henry, and I know he's son of John and Mary, but someone on MH has him as son of William and Alice, I want to confirm the match (because he's the right guy), then take the opportunity on Geni to explain how I know he's not the son of William and Alice. It's that explanation on Geni that will make Geni the hub for accurate information.
I did one like that this afternoon, where descendants of a particular immigrant have a fantasy that their ancestor was the son of a baron. The matches to the immigrant are great, but on about half the matches the parents are wrong.
One of my big concerns with the new system is that people who hate the matches will go in and reject good matches wholesale just because they can't handle the discrepancies. So, from my standpoint, it's better than people who think they're worthless NOT be able to reject them. I would only reject a match if it is truly not the right person.
Ultimately, of course, I expect that rejecting good matches will probably be defined as vandalism, and so a violation of Geni's TOS.
Maven, take a closer look the next time: In a match you have three options, - a gray, a beige and a blue box with a number.
The gray one is the good old Geni mathces, the beige is Record Matches and the Blue is SmartMatches,
Simply don't click on beige and blue match counters and you will never see the MyHeritage paywall.
In your merge center you have similar lists to select to view.
I am finding the "screaming in your face" analogy a little OTT for cute little well behaved icons to be honest.
Let me take the GIGO argument first. I've been testing records from MH for quite a while. The FindAGrave collection has been available through record match on Geni for what, a couple of years? Same thing - two clicks through, instead of search, filter, search. MH matching IS smarter and better. There's a presentation from Rootstech that walks through it. And yes, I'm lazy, I'd rather have the data come to me. But I don't have to as long as it's not a task "to do" and anyway i don't source and tree build that way, I work on an area or family group - and source as I go.
So sourcing as I go. In near time (1790 and later USA) the tree data has been pretty good. A lot I already have, but of course I haven't built out all my collateral lines; nor had I sourced as well as I should have back a couple of years ago (mea culpa). So here's a few clicks to rectify that error.
Prior to 1790, Colonial America and England. I "trust" Geni data much more because of the Wiki process here. But there's still a lot of sourcing and untangling to do of the original GEDCOM uploads. This is where curators and managers work together. Master Profiles are not going to change based on a confirmed / rejected SmartMatch, they are just going to enrich.
They have already enriched. And I've seen NO bad merges for instance of the MPs I curate because of SmartMatches. Trust me, after the bad merges i've "had" to fix, I'd be screaming if that were happening.
Lois, I think you couldn't be more mistaken. What Geni is doing is putting little blue dots on the Pedigree View and a "matches" box on the Profile view. It's not like they're interrupting data entry every seven minutes with a 60-second video urging everyone to buy a subscription!
I don't see Geni or MH screaming anything. The way I see it, I'm an adult; I can exercise self-control. After the first time, I know not to click on the things that are going to launch ads I don't want to see.
In fact, I manage thousands of profiles where I'll probably never click on the matches, even though I'm a subscriber -- I don't feel obligated to work on everything Geni points out. Instead, I work where I want to work, otherwise it wouldn't be much of a hobby ;)
Finally, I can't resist adding that the financial arguments just don't sway me. I've been dirt poor in the past, and I"m not going to complain if I'm dirt poor again someday. I remember the days when I had to go without eating for three days so I could afford the $12 to renew my annual subscription to The Genealogical Helper. (Remember them?)
Jaak I have the same colors as you.
In profile view, blue rectangles for Geni tree merges; ochre for record matches (that particularly makes sense); green for SmartMatches (MyHeritage tree collections).
In tree view the blue dots bounce in when updated and I think you can mouse hover for details.
Obviously I pay most attention to blue (used to be green) Geni tree matches.
I find the MH matches to Find A Grave faster and way easier than trying to fight with Find A Grave's matching - which, frankly, sucks. I have sometimes tried many, many firstname/lastname/birthdate/deathdate/location combos to find someone, to no avail . MH matches it for me effortlessly and for free - what a delight!
As far as the paywalls being irritating because they continue to repeat the subscription offers, I have to note again that we all run into ads / targeted offers / attempts to upsell us everywhere nowadays. I can't remember the last time I threw a hissy fit at McDonalds when they asked me if I wanted to supersize my order. I exercise my right to selectively ignore the ads I'm not interested in - even those that I have to ignore time and time again. If it means training my brain to ignore a blue dot, so what?
And if a company's attempt to upsell me irritates me that much, I walk away. If I choose to complain about it, I exercise good manners and do so by asking for a manager. I generally don't stand in line at McDonald's and berate all those standing around me... I'm just imagining now, but it seems to me that if I were in McDonalds, going on and on and on about how angry I was about their continued attempts to get me to spend more money, and I happened to threaten to never come back, it's just possible that the other customers might be glad to hear it.
Someone else's mileage, of course, may vary.
Erica, you said: " And yes, I'm lazy, I'd rather have the data come to me."
I love that. It captures my feeling for the matches. When I want to work in an area, they're there. Maybe they've been accepted and I just need to poke around. Maybe they're waiting for review. It doesn't really matter.
What amazes me is how highly accurate they are. I'm seeing matches on MH that could (ahem) use a bit more work, but the fundamental matches are (for me) 98% accurate.
The one place they need work is with newspapers. It looks to me like the algorithm grabs any article anywhere in the US that has a similar name and is dated within maybe a week of when someone died. The rest of the system is so good that I get a little exasperated once in awhile -- c'mon, he lived in Wyoming -- why does the system look at newspapers in Washington, Texas, Maine??
But then, there's that occasional Eureka! My great grandfather's first wife was from Big Piney, Wyoming. She lived in San Francisco but was visiting Big Piney when she died. Who'd have thought that the best bio I've ever found would be an obituary published in the Salt Lake Tribune? Go figure.
I've had much the same experience, Justin. The only two "matches" I've had to reject so far have been newspaper articles where the name was matched but everything else was incorrect. Other than that, the matching has been so accurate, and the whole system is so easy, that I find myself zoning out while I'm approving matches. Whoops, gotta watch that, lol!