Ancestry.com’s Expert Connect Bites the Dust

The following announcement came today. It was expected. Ancestry.com has their own research company now that they own ProGenealogists. The move makes sense to me.

The following was received from Anastasia Harman at Ancestry.com:

Over a year ago Ancestry.com created Expert Connect as a way to expand its service offerings and provide additional assistance for members through an elite group of professional genealogists and researchers. Through this service, customers were given the opportunity to hire genealogists to retrieve records, perform research or simply acquire expert advice.

Though this service has been a positive experience, Ancestry.com has decided to focus on other business priorities, so as of March 18, 2011, Expert Connect will no longer be a service that Ancestry.com will offer to its members.

Both experts and members currently involved in Expert Connect have been notified of this update. We encourage members to finish out existing projects with experts they have located through the Expert Connect service and if needed, continue relationships for future projects they may have.

Author: Leland Meitzler

Leland K. Meitzler founded Heritage Quest in 1985, and has worked as Managing Editor of both Heritage Quest Magazine and The Genealogical Helper. He currently operates Family Roots Publishing Company (www.FamilyRootsPublishing.com), writes daily at GenealogyBlog.com, writes the weekly Genealogy Newsline, conducts the annual Salt Lake Christmas Tour to the Family History Library, and speaks nationally, having given over 2000 lectures since 1983.

5 thoughts on “Ancestry.com’s Expert Connect Bites the Dust”

  1. Hi Leland,
    You state the announcement was expected, but it definitely came as a shock to many of us providers. It feels like being fired on the spot for no reason; it feels like losing “Everton’s” and you. Do you know of another source that would like to pick up the program that filled a niche I don’t think will be duplicated by ProGenealogists and their high prices? A lot of providers are feeling very much adrift. Check out their blog at Ancestry.
    Tricia

  2. Tricia,
    My guess is that it feels a lot worse than losing Everton’s (with me included). As much as we’d rather not admit it, there’s often a downside to tying one’s success to a large corporation. What’s good for the individual contractor or small company may not be seen the same way by the corporate giant. As for another company that could pick up the program, there are none currently that has Ancestry.com’s reach, and that’s what made the “Expert Connect” program successful. After getting laid off from Everton’s, I swore that the Everton gig was the last time I would place my family’s financial security in someone else’s hands. So I’m back to operating my own company again, complete with my own marketing efforts. Sure – I’d rather just research and write, but without marketing, all my writing is in vein.

  3. Having been fired, with no notice, I will no longer be recommending Ancestry or any of their services to my many friends, clients and family members.

    I can however be found associated with a company which provided this same service longer and better than Ancestry. That is Genealogy Freelancers. I see that I’m being joined by alot of the experts and clients that were cut off as well.

    http://www.genealogyfreelancers.com/index.php?aff_id=1889

    In addition, I’ve started a facebook page to try and connect experts and clients to share information and services, free or paid. Search for Professional Genealogy Services or :
    http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/home.php?sk=group_192648434079948&ap=1

  4. I also was very upset and angered by the very short notice that my livelihood was being snatched out from under my feet with less than a two week notice.

    I like Tammy, will never again recommend Ancestry.com’s services. I was supporting AncestryDNA and AncestryPress. I will no longer be doing that.

    I also have joined the ranks of Genealogy Freelancer’s. They were around first and Ancestry.com actually copied their set-up. You can find me there now.

    I too have a Facebook page and will do anything I can to support my fellow researchers that Ancestry.com decided not to support any longer!

    http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_180520281988660&ap=1

  5. While I am not as dependent upon Expert Connect as many of my colleagues for my livelihood, having been around long enough (35+ years) to have a reputation that has clients seeking me out, sometimes even after first finding me at Expert Connect, and having quite a few institutional clients, it does hurt to lose Expert Connect–a dear friend has been working 2 jobs just to make ends meet and recently had her hours cut back. With a presumption that I would continue to get the volume of work I was and could get more simply by becoming more pro-active in pursuing the same, I was planning to hire her on a part-time basis to start because I could have afforded to pay her a higher salary for fewer hours than one of her two jobs, allowing her to quit one of the jobs (and if we also got to spend more time together as a result, so much the better!).

    I have NEVER recommended Ancestry and it amazes me that anyone who considers himself/herself an “expert” would do so without a number of warnings about determining the original source of any information found and going to the same to confirm what was found on Ancestry is an accurate presentation of the same (and even then, the original records can also be wrong).

    In my opinion, quality control at Ancestry is almost none existent. I cannot begin to tell you of the number of times that I have found census in particular misindexed where the individual’s name or birthplace is concerned. I can understand when the writing is difficult to discern the actual name or birthplace, but it happens even with the same quite legible in my opinion. One colleague has responded to that observation that “it means more business” for those of us capable of recognizing the errors. But how many of them will actually seek out the help of a professional when the errors are in records of their own parents or grandparents???? They are more likely to give up in frustration.

    Back in 1999 Ancestry announced it would be adding the “Virginia Pilot and Ledger Star, published in Hertford, NC” from that point forward to its list of newspaper abstracts. Anyone familiar with Tidewater Virginia will recognize no fewer than THREE errors in this announcement: #1 The Ledger Star no longer existed in 1999; #2 The proper name of the remaining paper is VIRGINIAN Pilot; and #3 The newspaper is published in Norfolk (not only would it make no sense for a daily newspaper catering to a Virginia city to be published in North Carolina, but I recall from when I would travel between my home and college in the early 1970s that I had to transfer busses directly across the street from the newspaper’s offices)!

    I would encourage all former experts for Ancestry to register with http://www.GenealogyFreeLancers.com as I have done. I even proposed a new feature which I suggested be called “Collaboration” where persons can seek out others to pool resources to underwrite research either on a specific family or in a specific location/time/class of records. In showing interest in the idea, it reveals itself as more responsive to the concerns and input of its experts than Ancestry has been or would ever be if Expert Connect continued.

    Some have speculated that Ancestry’s move is calculated to capture a larger piece of the pie by funneling the work that had been going to Expert Connect to ProGenealogists and I think it is no coincidence that the season premiere of Who Do You Think You Are is the day after Expert Connect ends, since WDYTYA has been the force driving much of the work to Expert Connect. I have very real concerns that as a corporate Giant, Ancestry will either be slow to hire the additional staff needed by ProGenealogists to meet the initial demand of its services or if it does respond quickly, will not hire competent people, ultimately resulting is dissatisfied customers that will be inclined to paint other professional genealogists as “snake oil salespeople”. It would be an extreme disservice to everyone to return to the attitude towards genealogist that prevailed when I first got started in the business, best illustrated by the response of most people who contacted me about doing their genealogy after seeing ROOTS on TV, namely that I was ripping them off if I could not produce their own version of ROOTS for $29.95 (what I recall as the price of the paperback edition of the book).

    By the way, I will be refusing to watch WDYTYA and would encourage everyone who sees this not just to do so themselves, but recommend their friends and family do so.

    Michael E. Pollock
    Anquestory Genealogical Services

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