'Irish Roots' archive



Irish Roots


February 2 2015

The top 100 genealogy websites?

A recently published list of the top 100 genealogy websites in the world (in the online Canadian magazine GenealogyInTime - see bit.ly/1AMsxIu) makes slightly depressing reading. Our inexorable slide towards corporate control continues apace - the three biggest companies, Ancestry, D.C. Thomson and MyHeritage now control 51 per cent of all genealogy traffic, with Ancestry the real behemoth at more than three times the size of its nearest rival. Inevitably, they all imitate each other's services and search practices: diversity and precision take second place to commercial monoculture. Sorry, to "search engine optimisation".

Ancestry now has an effective monopoly on North American genealogy - there is no way to do online family history research in the US or Canada without using its records. It's hard to see a similar situation arising here, but "hard to see" is just one synonym for "the future".

On the bright side, the top 100 continues to include a substantial number of free sites. One of genealogy's most attractive features, its communitarian ethos, is still strong. FamilySearch.org, the Mormon church's free records site, has risen to second on the list, but there are also many more, from the vast links site CyndisList.com to the UK's self-explanatory FreeBMD.org.uk.

Four Irish sites make it onto the list. Rootsireland.ie, FindMyPast.ie and IrishGenealogy.ie are all well established and essential for anyone researching Irish ancestors. The newcomer is Claire Santry's IrishGenealogyNews.com, one of only six global blogs in the top 100. The recognition is well deserved. Claire has turned her site into the de facto primary source for Irish family history news.

A surprising omission is the National Archive's genealogy site, genealogy.nationalarchives.ie, incorporating 1901 and 1911 censuses, Tithe Books, Will Calendars and more. I suspect there may be a flaw in the measurement technique. It appears to count only visits to top-level domains. The numbers visiting "www.nationalarchives.ie" is many orders of magnitude smaller than visits to the genealogy subsite. So, fun though it is, maybe the whole list needs a pinch of salt.

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