This is Part 2 of How To Budget Your Genealogy Money. Part 1 is here.
With your genealogy research plan(s) in hand, and with the realistic total of your overall genealogy budget in mind, now look to see what other genealogists recommend.
Those already savvy in genealogical 'social networking', on-line or off, will have a definite advantage, I'm sure, so you might want to work on those skills - join your local genealogy group! Or if there isn't a group near enough, look into sites like Facebook and Twitter. (Don't forget to include society memberships and any internet expenses in your budget.)
#3. For the geographical area you're interested in or the record types or services, etc., you believe you need and/or want, what do other genealogists recommend? What do they think is the best value for your money (or, in some cases, your time).
Don't enter that credit card number just yet.
Start by using your favourite search engines to look for 'best genealogy' lists and reviews. You might want to create a Google Alert to keep you posted on new on-line articles or comments on something you're looking for. For example: 'online backup reviews'
Look for fuller reviews – especially on genealogy websites and blogs and in magazines and journals, or, if you are looking for a broader service, for backup, for example, look in ‘techy’ websites and publications.
If you're interested in a British or North American genealogy, look in relevant British or North American magazines, but remember genealogists all over the world can have similar interests. Don't restrict yourself to just one area. Your Family Tree, one of the British magazines I read, just published "Computing For Family Historians", a special packaged with Issue 87 which has reviews and great information. (There used to be another British computing and genealogy magazine I liked, so I hope we see this new one again.)
Always check Dick Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter for technology related to genealogy (the free version is good!) and I recommend subscribing to Tara Calishain's Research Buzz e-mail update too. All free!
When you find a review or on-line information about a product or service – ask yourself some hard questions:
- is it written by someone with an affiliate (paying advertisements) or other relationship with the company? Have they declared an interest in the company? Or does the information seem to be written from a press release? (This happens even on otherwise well regarded websites.) Has the reviewer obviously tried out the product or service? Is the review current or is it very dated?
- does the review cover the features that you feel matter most to you at this time?
Read recent blog posts or e-mail lists written by people researching your areas. If it's software or a service you're interested in, is there a users' group or specifications or manuals on-line? Check to see if you can participate or read these before purchase.
**Remember to browse or search the Archives of e-mail lists and forums first. Your question may not be as new or as unusual as you think.
Then ask specific questions if you don’t see information. Twitter and Facebook are good for this on-line. Offline, ask in the genealogy and family history groups you meet with. You may find there's an expert in the group, or your questions may spark an invigorating session on 'the best of...' websites or publications. Ask if an expert in your group would hold a session on how to use a website they recommend too. Our BC Genealogical Society just had a well illustrated talk on using the New England Historic Genealogical Society's on-line databases which our Library subscribes to, for instance.
On-line, here are some sites to start out your 'genealogical consumer research' with:
Family Tree Magazine, 101 Best Web Sites 2009: www.familytreemagazine.com/article/101best2009
50 Most Popular Genealogy Websites for 2009. Kory L. Meyerink, MLS, AG, FUGA, ProGenealogists: www.progenealogists.com/top50genealogy2009.htm
40 Best Genealogy Blogs, Family Tree Magazine: www.familytreemagazine.com/article/Fab-Forty
25 Most Popular Genealogy Blogs. Heather Henderson, ProGenealogists: www.progenealogists.com/top25blogs2009.htm
Family History, The 50 best websites The Guardian, 2007: www.guardian.co.uk/news/2007/apr/14/guardianspecial4.guardianspecial226
Digital Librarian: www.digital-librarian.com/genealogy.html
Don't forget Cyndi's List: www.cyndislist.com
Sources of news, reviews –
Geneabloggers.com (not only for bloggers): http://geneabloggers.com
Geneablogger's List of genealogy blogs – with a technology theme:
One of my most reads - Modern Software Experience, Tamura Jones, GeneAwards 2009 – Best, worst, dishonourable, not-so-special: http://tamurajones.net
GeneaMusings, Randy Seaver – for hands-on genealogy website reviews: www.geneamusings.com
Top Ten Reviews, Genealogy Software: http://genealogy-software-review.toptenreviews.com
Digital Inspiration (personal technology): www.labnol.org
And these sites with information on evaluating websites, etc. on the ‘Net –
Criteria for Evaluating Internet Resources by Aleteia Greenwood and Professor Douw Steyn, UBC Library, University of British Columbia: www.library.ubc.ca/home/evaluating
Evaluating Web Pages: Techniques to Apply & Questions to Ask, UC Berkeley Library, University of California: www.lib.berkeley.edu/TeachingLib/Guides/Internet/Evaluate.html
And for good measure:
Dick Eastman's posts on various scams related to genealogy: http://blog.eogn.com/eastmans_online_genealogy/scams
Kimberly Powell, About.com, How to Identify & Avoid Genealogy Scams: http://genealogy.about.com/od/basics/tp/scams.htm
Domain Tools, domain lookups: http://whois.domaintools.com/
Better Business Bureau of Mainland BC (look for tips, alerts, BBBOnLine): http://mbc.bbb.org/consumers (Look for your own local BBB.)
Guide to Online Security, Consumer Reports: www.consumerreports.org/cro/electronics-computers/resource-center/cyber-insecurity/cyber-insecurity-hub.htm
This is Part 2 of 3. Part 3 - 'before you pay' - is coming very soon. I'll be very interested in your comments and ideas about genealogy budgeting.
This post was written for the 93rd Carnival of Genealogy! Hosted by Jasia at Creative Gene.