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Archiver > APG > 2009-04 > 1239027276

From: "Dee Dee King,Certified Genealogist" <>
Subject: Re: [APG] Ancestry.com Expert Connect
Date: Mon, 6 Apr 2009 07:14:36 -0700 (PDT)
In-Reply-To: <0B5A433957BA31498833AA82D29A90CA01015A0099@ex01.myfamily.int>

Had a few minutes computer time this morning. Ancestry today is much like AT&T was 30 or so years ago. AT&T was the giant of the telephone industry. There were a few smaller independents, but AT&T was the undisputed king. It owned the transmission lines from the customer's point through the switching stations to the terminals. AT&T manufactured and sold the phones, published the directories, owned the marketing company that sold ads in the directories, and sold operating equipment to phone companies in other countries. Ancestry has a similar stable of products and services, from the online subscriptions to the publishing arm to the DNA component, and the list goes on.

The AT&T workers had a union, the mission of which was to work for better benefits for its members. Communication Workers of America, CWA, continually bargained (still does) for more pay, better working conditions, better health care and retirement benefits for its members. These benefits were felt by everyone, including non-dues-paying members and management. Because, when the low guy on the totem pole got better benefits, it trickled up all the way to the top, regardless of union affiliation.

Professional genealogy does not have a "union" continually looking forward, addressing the needs of its membership. If it did, the bargaining committee would be telling Ancestry that the terms of Expert.Ancestry were not favorable to its members, and the terms established an **unhealthy precedent** that was contra to our business best practices. The bargaining committee would work to resolve those issues. If the issues could not be resolved, the members would vote whether or not to strike.

Since we do not have a bargaining unit, let's pretend for a moment that we did.

Todd, with all due respect to you and Ancestry, the current terms are not favorable to our profession.

Bargaining point #1, Ancestry's proposed fees are too high. 25% commission places an unrealistic burden on the service provider and the client. How can Ancestry do better for both?

Bargaining point #2, Ancestry's terms to collect all the professional fees upfront, but not release any of those fees to the professional until after the work is given to the client, then only if the client agrees, is not only unreasonable, but against the tenets of good business. __It sets a bad precedent for our profession.__

Ancestry simply does not allow some third-party to collect its fees and hold them until after the client receives Ancestry's products, and then agrees (if) to pay Ancestry. Why should Ancestry expect other businesses to agree to that bad business practice? How can Ancestry do better for the professional? Release 1/2 the collected fee upfront? Release the other 1/2 simultaneously with the receipt of the work? Let the professional handle their own fee collecting arrangements?

Bargaining point #3, Ancestry does not appear to have enough safeguards in place for either the client or the professional. How can Ancestry do better for both? What mediation services will Ancestry offer? How will EXPERIENCED PRACTISING PROFESSIONAL GENEALOGISTS review the client claim and the professional work to determine if the goals were met? Especially since many of the service providers will not be professionals?

Bargaining point #4, in order for the professional to cover the added expense of conducting business through Ancestry, how will Ancestry help the client to understand why they are paying more in research fees, costs of copies and related expenses? Full disclosure?

Bargaining point #5, Ancestry owning all future professional-client business for one year is totally unreasonable. How can Ancestry do better for the professional?

Bargaining point #6, it is contra the best business practices of this profession to guaranty to the client that we can predict how many records we will find and what the total costs will be. How can Ancestry do better for both the client and the professional than the current terms?

Gotta get on the road.

Best regards,

----- Original Message -----
From: "Todd Godfrey" <>
Sent: Sunday, April 5, 2009 3:11:57 PM (GMT-0600) America/Chicago
Subject: [APG] Ancestry.com Expert Connect

My name is Todd Godfrey and I am leading the development of the Expert Connect service for Ancestry.com. Reviewing the comments made so far it is clear that the right questions are being asked – questions we have worked hard to have the right answers for in the service we are building. I will speak to a few of those questions here, but invite all to go to expert.ancestry.com where more details are available.

Initial Invitations: We sent an initial batch of invitations this weekend with more to be distributed in coming days and weeks. We recognize that despite our efforts there are many wonderful, qualified professionals missing from our list and we invite you to consider the service. We have set aside the next two months specifically to work with professionals to understand the service we are developing, provide feedback, and ensure we are as well prepared as possible before opening the service to clients in June.

Fees: Our approach to fees has been simple “Only when you succeed do we succeed.” As such we do not charge a monthly listing fee. Our fee for the Custom Research service is 15% which includes the cost of payment processing, marketing, and administration.

Professionals vs. Non-professionals: We will be reviewing the qualifications of those seeking to provide “professional” services on Expert Connect and have established acceptance criteria developed with the input of APG, BCG, ICAPGEN, and a number of independent professionals. We will verify credentials with BCG and ICAPGEN before accepting them as one of the potential qualifiers or making them public. However, not all of the initial services require the same level of qualifications (i.e. taking photos). Clients will hold Ancestry.com equally accountable for results from this service – quality professionals are critical to our success.

As the many individuals and organizations whom I have spoken with over the past several months know I am not shy about feedback. We need to hear all we can so that we create the best service possible for clients that need your help. Please email me directly (<mailto:>) anytime and I will be happy to call you. I also encourage you to follow our blog at expert.ancestry.com where we will be frequently posting additional information and answers to these questions and others as they come in.

Todd Godfrey
Ancestry.com Expert Connect


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Dee Dee King, Certified Genealogist (sm), Certificate 903
PO Box 1085
Manvel TX 77578

Forensic Genealogy Services is the Service Mark of Forensic Genealogy Services, LLC. Certified Genealogist (CG) is a service mark (sm) of the board for Certification of Genealogists® conferred to associates who consistently meet ethical and competency standards in accord with peer-reviewed evaluations every five years.

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