Monday, October 8, 2012

What is the Best Family History Software?

That is a question we are often asked, but there is no easy answer because every genealogist has different needs and preferences. It is much easier to determine the "Best" in things like Olympic track and field races, where the best is the person who wins the most gold medals.

So, you can imagine how excited we were when a representative from the FindTheBest project contacted us about working together* on developing an unbiased, data-driven software comparison guide for genealogists.

This new guide will give genealogists the tools they have always wanted to evaluate dozens of family tree software solutions based on the criteria they feel is most important. The software packages are given a smart rating (based on a variety of collected data), and you will be able to sort and screen by different attributes (e.g. price, platform, operating system, languages supported). Existing software owners are encouraged to review the package(s) they are familiar with, which will help other genealogists who are exploring their options. And every product also includes a fact sheet with details about the software and the company that produces it.

FindTheBest, the startup led by DoubleClick founder Kevin O’Connor, gathers ratings from experts in each category, and then assigns a normalized score to each review, presenting users with ONE overall rating that is color-coded so you can instantly compare: green scores for favorable reviews, yellow scores for mixed reviews, and red scores for unfavorable reviews.

One of the most interesting aspects of this new genealogy software comparison is that bloggers can include a customized version in their posts. It's very simple to do... just hit the “embed” button (in the upper right section of the guide), then customize the size of the widget, as well as the specific columns and options that you would like to have displayed. Here's an example:



I'm looking forward to seeing how the ratings compare with actual user input as more reviews are added to the software guide. Are you an evangelist for one of the packages? If so, please take the time to share your insights by contributing a review. And if we somehow missed a package, you are welcome to add a listing for it to the guide.

Genealogy Today has also partnered with FindTheBest to develop a database comparison guide. Are there other genealogy resources that you would like to see compared in this type of unbiased approach?

*Genealogy Today was/is not involved in the collection of the independent data used in the creation of the Smart Ratings, nor the calculations that derived them. Likewise, any personal information collected by FindTheBest during the course of maintaining this guide is NOT shared with Genealogy Today.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Angie's List isn't just for finding Plumbers

Read Unbiased Consumer Reviews Online at AngiesList.com
Angie's List
Check our Genealogy Reviews
on Angie's List
When I saw a TV commercial for Angie's List the other night, it sounded like a useful service; but I really wasn't expecting to find genealogists reviewed. Well, surprise! There are plenty of them.

If you've been considering hiring a professional to assist with your family history research, now there's a web site you can visit first to see if any researchers in your area have been reviewed.

There is a slight down-side to Angie's List (well, sort of). Consumers are required to pay a membership fee to join. It's not a lot of money ($26/year), but might pose a barrier for many genealogists (who have a limited budget). According to their web site, "membership fees help ensure reliable data, provide actual staff support and enable publication of [their] award-winning monthly magazine, among other things." They do offer a 110% money-back guarantee, so you can always give it a try and then cancel if you don't find enough value for researchers (and/or other contractors) in your area.

While you might not be pleased to see that there is a fee, it hopefully reduces the fake (i.e. posted by company employees posing as consumers) and vulgar posts you often find on free sites that encourage customers to review the services they receive. Plus, Angie's List is not a complaint board, as members are encouraged to review any/all services rendered -- good and bad!

I have registered Genealogy Today with Angie's List, and encourage anyone who has subscribed to our database service to post a review. Also, as an added benefit for Angie's List members, I plan to offer a subscription discount (however, this option is not available until Genealogy Today receives some reviews).