FamilySearch Wiki talk:WikiProject Professional Genealogists
Why this project?
In early 2008, Don Anderson, Director of the Patron Services Division at FamilySearch, (the division that developed the wiki, still supports it, and contributes half of its content) directed me to invite professional genealogists to the wiki to promote their services there.
Two objectives drove this decision. First, we wanted professional researchers to add content to the wiki, and one way to incentivate them to discover how easy it is to edit wiki pages would be to invite them to create pages that would help patrons find them.
The second objective was to satisfy our patrons' need to find professional help. Many FamilySearch patrons need professional help solving tough research problems, and they often ask us who to hire. Today there's no clear answer: APG, BCG, ICAPGen, various international organizations, various members-only Websites, a constellation of research firms and mom-and-pop shops, and a veritable universe of individual freelancers. The choices are myriad, and this is confusing to patrons. They would like to have one place that will show them everyone they could hire, all on a level playing field.
Alternatives in the market
Many directories of professional genealogists exist, but most charge fees for a listing, so none of them really approach comprehensiveness. A directory on FamilySearch Wiki, where researchers can write their own listings for free, has the potential of becoming comprehensive. To patrons who need professional help, the wiki could become the best place to find a complete listing of professional researchers.
What will the pages look like?
The idea is to have researchers post their genealogical education, professional and volunteer experience, credentials, report samples, specialties, services, contact information, and links to their business Websites on their wiki user pages and subpages. There would be other pages on the wiki like "Professional Genealogists Serving Ohio" or "Professional Genealogists Who Do Ohio Research" that would list all the professionals for the area in a table and link to their user pages.
Types of wiki pages to use
Part of the thinking around having this information on user pages is that user pages are not included by default on the wiki's search engine. When you do a search on the wiki, the search engine ignores user pages by default. So user pages are a great place to "hide in plain sight." When wiki users add information to their user pages, they are not spamming the wiki's search engine.
Besides these resume items on a professional genealogist's user page, there would be directory pages like Professional Genealogists Who Specialize in Ohio Research which would contain a table listing professionals and linking to their user pages for more information. These directory pages would be normal wiki pages in the main namespace, and would therefore appear by default on a wiki search. This is ideal because it would help patrons find professionals when they need help.
Links from other pages to directories
To make it even easier for patrons to find professional help, links to these directory pages would be created from other existing wiki pages. So a page like Ohio Vital Records would contain a link to Professional Genealogists Who Specialize in Ohio Research. The link's wording might be something like "For a list of professional genealogists who can procure vital records, see Professional Genealogists Who Specialize in Ohio Research."
Isn't this awfully commercial for a wiki?
Some folks worry about linking wiki pages to professional genealogists. But the wiki already has thousands of links to commercial offerings -- most of them digitized records available for a fee. Professional genealogists provide the same kinds of information these fee-based digital record sites do -- they just do it in a more customized way. If genealogy were the food industry, the big companies that offer digital records might be likened to a McDonald's or a Stauffer's, whereas the professional researcher might be a mom-and-pop restaurant. If the wiki's Ohio Vital Records page can link to a Website of a company offering digitized records for a fee, why should it not also link to Websites of professionals offering to find similar records for a fee?
Your input is welcome below
As FamilySearch embarks on this project, we welcome your input as to how we might do it best. Please leave your comments below, thanks for sharing, and remember to "sign" your comments with four tildes [nowiki] RitcheyMT 12:10, 19 July 2012 (UTC)[/nowiki]! RitcheyMT 12:10, 19 July 2012 (UTC)
- My major concern is how you will distance FamilySearch from poor performing individuals. By listing the names of people, you are implying endorcement of them and their services. Therefore poor service will reflect negatively on FamilySearch.
- Second, why did Ancestry.com discontinue listing professional genealogists? Has FamilySearch addressed these reasons? Klk3 16:54, 19 July 2012 (UTC)
- Thanks, Klk3. Question: When the wiki links to a fee-based data set or digitized record by a commercial company, does that imply a FamilySearch endorsement? When our printed Research Outlines list a reference book, are we endorsing the publisher, or saying there are no mistakes in the work? We've been pointing to research resources for decades. How is pointing to commercial genealogy services significantly different from pointing to commercial genealogy products?
- Regarding the reason why Ancestry discontinued Expert Connect, we did have meetings with them in which they communicated the reasons. We're not at liberty to share those reasons, but we have thought through the issues. The key driving factor that will determine how we'll do this is whether and how much it helps our patrons. RitcheyMT 15:28, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
- From the start of my involvement with the wiki, there have been concerns that relate to the fact that steering readers to the best possible resources may mean directing them to a "for pay" site. In a way, steering them to a professional isn't all that different, but I am concerned about muddling wiki contributor mechanisms for sharing and communicating, with pages for people that have no connection at all to the wiki. User pages should be strictly limited to those who contribute to the wiki, for example. It seems to me that a listing of professionals with fairly minimal information about them would be a better way to remain neutral and "arm's-length" from appearing to endorse researchers. Lise 18:45, 19 July 2012 (UTC)
- Thanks for the feedback, Lise. Can you try something for me? I want to see what happens if you switch hats for a moment and approach the issue from a different perspective. I've had to take off my "wiki defender" hat and my "FamilySearch defender" hat and put on a "seeker of professionals" hat, and I'd like you to try that too, and re-approach this from that customer's perspective.
- Imagine you're someone who wants to find a pro to help you find your family. Would you be seeking a site with more information about each researcher, or less? For instance, would you want to use a site that only lists researchers and then have to go to each researcher's Website and/or send them an email to see whether they offer the value you seek? Or would you rather use a site where each researcher's professional and volunteer experience, education, credentials, publications, classes taught, services offered, rates, work samples, and customers testimonials were all in one place so you could compare them right there and narrow down the field quickly? RitcheyMT 15:28, 25 July 2012 (UTC)