Wednesday, May 19, 2010

MyHeritage Goal to "Democratize Genealogy". Huh?

I really don't want to keep beating a dead horse but sometimes you just have to write a follow-up. On Friday, May 14th, I posted "Is An Award Always An Award?" regarding my take on being named to MyHeritige's list of Top 100 Genealogy Sites. Yesterday, Sebastien from MyHeritage made a comment to that post. The following is the text of his statement (you can also read his statement in the comments section of that post):

"Hi Everyone,

Thanks for the lively debate on the Blog Awards.

As you may realize there is no such thing as a perfect list. Are intention was to bring so much deserved attention to many of the genealogy outside of the limelight.

Any situation can be manipulated to see a corporate guise, but an overarching goal of MyHeritage is democratize genealogy. Take a look at the list and one can find a very broad document outlining some great avenues to information available online. There are many more out there, and we'll continue to cover these and others that are doing outstanding work to the best of our ability.

If you have any direct questions concerning the award campaign please feel free to contact me :

Again, we truly appreciate your feedback and your insights, so keep it up so we can get better at our selections and dialogue in the future!


So now not only is their list of Top 100 Genealogy Sites not really the TOP sites but the "overarching goal of MyHeritage is democratize genealogy". Does anyone even know what that means? I thought the blogosphere was already open to anyone with a computer and an opinion. As someone with less than six months of blogging experience, I can attest to the welcoming atmosphere of the genealogy blogging community.

Sebastien did not actually address my issue with their award in his comment to me but he did ask that any questions concerning the award campaign be e-mailed to him. Below is my response. 


I have published your comments below to my blog post "Is An Award Always An Award?" but since you ask for an e-mail regarding any direct questions about the award campaign I'm also responding to you by e-mail (although I will probably post this information to my blog as well). I thought my post explained my issue with your award but, since you did not address that in your response to me, I'll try to explain my problem with the award again

When you gave your award the title "Top 100 Genealogy Sites" and then defined the criteria for choosing who received the award to actually say that these aren't really the TOP genealogy sites, but instead are some nice lesser known sites then your motives seemed questionable to me (and at least a few others based on some of the comments floating around). I have yet to read that your company understands that the "award" was, at best, poorly named but instead you continue to promote it (like with your response to me). You now say your goal is to "democratize genealogy". I'm sorry but I have no idea what that even means but again, that doesn't sound like criteria for determining the top sites.

When I received your company's e-mail on 1/24/2010 offering to send me text to post on my blog regarding your site, I was offended. The text of that e-mail is included below in red in case you aren't aware of that mailing. Any blogger who would accept an offer like this would lose all credibility with me and I would hope with many others.

"Dear Linda
First and foremost, please accept my compliments on your beautiful blog.

My name is Silvio and I work as content editor for My Heritage ( With over 30 million users worldwide and is one of the most popular free Genealogy sites in the world.

I would like to know if you would be interested in writing a post about My Heritage. Here are some of the many free features offered:

1 – Free Family Tree Builder:
2 – Genealogy Research Center:
3 – Family Sites:

If time is an issue for you, I could provide you with a text written by me, and if it finds your approval, feel free to post it.

In any case, we at My Heritage would truly like to hear your feedback on our site and free services. By receiving the feedback from expert genealogist like you, we can continue our on-going improvements.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Best regards,
Silvio Branco"

Below in blue is my response which was sent on 1/25.

"I have no interest in promoting your site - most especially with your own words. This is beyond belief! Please do not contact me again.

Linda McCauley
Documenting The Details"

Your award just doesn't pass the smell test for me so I won't be displaying your lovely icon.

Linda McCauley
Documenting the Details

In my opinion, MyHeritage would have looked better if they had just admitted they messed up with this award because the more they try to explain it, the deeper the hole gets.


  1. I wondered about that phrase, I saw it on Luckie's blog as well, in her on going conversation with the powers that be at MyHeritage. Let us know if they tell you what it means.

  2. They just don't get it, do they? Unreal.

  3. Linda,

    What can I say?! WoW!!!

    Although I addressed the problem I had with My Heritage's seemingly omission of African-American contributors, I was in full agreement with the issues raised by the community as a whole regarding the award naming conventions, selection process and earlier solicitations to genea-bloggers (of which I was not aware).

    I merely didn't feel the need to cover ground already traveled, but given Sebastien's repeated defense of MH's methodology -- maybe I should have?!

    MH, simply put -- you've messed-up! Maybe not intentionally -- maybe -- but still there have been several fumbles both with the 100 Top Genealogy Site list compilation, and from all appearances, prior to it.

    Hear what the genea-community of supporters is saying. If YOU (meaning MH) are the only ones understanding your reasoning, as a company you've failed your consumers.

    If by chance Sebastien was referencing our discussion by saying "Any situation can be manipulated to see a corporate guise" well, I'd invite him back over to Our Georgia Roots, where I can address this fully. I'm playing nice in Linda's sandbox but have no such constraints in mine!:-)

    When we all start living the democracy we tout, the community will be in a much, much better place.

    Thanks for posting this L! Geez, who knew?


    P.S. And what the heck does Democratize mean? What were before?

  4. Thanks Carol, Brenda and Luckie for the comments.

    Luckie - I believe the "any situation can be manipulated" statement by MH was directed at my comment in my 1st post about hoping the award was just poorly named and not " simply another ploy to use the genealogy blogging community to promote their site". I have been a little tied up the past couple of days and am behind on reading so I am just this morning reading your conversation. Seems it further validates my last statement above that the more they explain, the deeper the hole gets.

  5. Democratizing genealogy? What does that even mean?? All I can say is - wow. If it was democracy MH wanted they could have put the awards up for an open and fair voting process.

  6. democratizing - to make or become democratic, representing or appealing to or adapted for the benefit of the people at large

  7. LOL. MyHeritage sent me a "badge" with the so-called small problem - my blog isn't on their list!

    Democratize mean like nominating your favorite blogs and then voting (like Family Tree Magazine). I am surprised they want you to actually promote their site. Good for you for not doing it.

  8. Thanks Linda.

    Donna - That is too funny. I doubt I'll make any future lists from MH and that's just fine with me.

  9. Ok...should I be insulted? MH also sent me a letter to promote their site, I declined. I didn't even get nominated to the democratizing of genealogy! Now I see that Luckie had a conversation of them not recognizing AA sites. I wasn't even nominated to integrate this list.

    That's it....I'm want to democratize something. Once someone defines it for me! Thanks guys for taking this on.