Thursday, September 16, 2010

Ancestry Expert Connect Success, School Stalling

Well, I haven't had much to write lately, because I've had to limit the number of classes I'm taking due to financial concerns. However, I am currently in the Analysis & Skills Mentoring Program (Part 1) at NIGS. It has been wonderful to get one-on-one feedback from the teachers there. You have at least two private consultations to discuss your overall progress as well as specific assignments related to the ASM class, and you can schedule more for a fee. There are also, as with the other classes, chats with other students and at least one teacher. The assignments are essentially simple case studies, as well as one which asks you to analyze a scholarly genealogy article (which you then discuss in one of the chat sessions). Overall, an excellent checkpoint after you've completed the first two methodology classes.

I have also been very busy with some small projects through Ancestry's Expert Connect. I have had much luck in obtaining interesting projects, and working with great clients. My one complaint is that I spend a great deal of time rejecting projects that are out of my area. I wish there were a way to help clients pick the right professionals to invite to their projects, to save their time and ours. I don't want to ignore these clients and not respond to them, but sometimes it is just too overwhelming to go through all of the invitations, only to find I can't help many of those clients at all.

Which brings me to my (second-to) last point: Any researchers out there in the Philadelphia area interested in trying out Expert Connect? I have to turn away a great deal of people who need records around Philadelphia, or elsewhere in eastern PA. While I have access to a limited number of these records through the Carnegie Library in Pittsburgh, these clients need someone who has easier access to more eastern PA records (and many, many people don't realize that it takes about 6 hours to get from one end of PA to the other).

A quick plug for a genealogy program I've been using a lot lately - RootsMagic 4. The interface isn't fancy, but it does have templates to help you cite your sources correctly (very important!!), and the GenSmarts plug-in has helped me kick-start some research with specific suggestions of collections to search. Very cool new toy (and GenSmarts works with some other genealogy programs as well). 

Hopefully I can get back into the habit of posting more often.


  1. Oh Sarah, I am so with you about the Ancestry Connect thing. It is such a waste of the clients time and frustrating for me when I get invitations to bid on their projects and I just can not help them. Like today for example, I was asked to bid on translating some Russian church documents. WTF? I thought maybe I wasn't clear enough in my profile so I went and reviewed my profile. It is pretty clear but I am going to write it up to specifically state what I will do and what I won't do. I must get at least 25 to 30 invitations per week and maybe 2 or 3 are ones that I can help. Well I am off to go put a bug in's ear!

  2. Thanks for the mention of RootsMagic and the thumbs-up. I've been trying to decide whether to buy it or not. Does GenSmarts come with it or is that a completely different program and is compatible with RootsMagic?

  3. Sheri - I thought I was pretty clear also. It's understandable that people just see "PA" in my profile and invite me, not knowing I'm WAY too far away to help them. But, for (fake) example, "I need records from Poland"? Can't help you there, and I'm not sure why you thought I could. Hmm. The Expert Connect staff seems to be pretty responsive to feedback though, so I sent my comments to them as well. The system is still evolving, and they seem genuinely interested in getting the problems smoothed out. *crosses fingers*

    Nancy -
    GenSmarts doesn't come with RootsMagic, unfortunately. It's its own stand-alone program that works with RM and some other programs. It costs almost as much as RM (exactly as much, if you get the APG discount on RM). You can try out GenSmarts and RootsMagic for free, although you don't get to see/use the best features in the trial:
    GenSmarts trial version

    RM4 Essentials (a free, limited version of the program)

    Hope that helps!