Mar 212012

The community of genealogists and family researchers is a friendly, helpful group of people.  For the most part.  Lately I’ve recognized some undertones of the business world that deserve a cautionary warning.

Remember that genealogy podcasters, bloggers and newletter authors want to earn some extra money, and sometimes it’s their living too.  However many times that means their opinions and reporting are biased in favor of their sponsors, or their professional relationships with others in the genealogy community.

I bought genealogy software based on the seemingly sincere recommendation of podcasters, only to find the software was barely out of its beta testing phase.  It certainly wasn’t the glowingly wonderful product the podcasters mentioned.  Their sponsor?  The software vendor in question, of course.

Some bloggers delete comments about their postings if there’s even a hint of criticism about a product or service they mention, when that company is a sponsor or provides them with free evaluation copies.  That is certainly their right.  It’s their blog and their opinion and they can censor comments as they wish.  However as a consumer, you should be aware that you may not be getting the whole story.  There’s no rule that all sides of an argument should be presented so you can make an informed decision.

As a shareware author myself, I know there are other useful genealogy products and services you will not hear about because they don’t pay the podcaster, blogger or newsletter author to mention them.   By the same token, there are things you will not hear about popular genealogy products and services because it would jeopardize the commentator’s revenue stream.

Be wary.  A glowing review from a popular podcaster or blogger may entice you buy a product.  Did you believe a trusted personality in the genealogy world, or were you manipulated?  Even an innocuous  mention of new online records may get you to sign up for a subscription somewhere else.   Genealogy is unfortunately a business like most others.  Profit motive can skew perceptions.  Don’t think that because genealogy enthusiasts are friendly and helpful, that you are always getting the truth and nothing but the truth.

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