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Use vs Abuse

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ProfilePosted byOptionsPost Date


SylviaInCanada Report 10 Oct 2012 21:56

I've sometimes mused on the following ...............

When does USE of the good will of members on here to help find information, break down brick walls, etc, become ABUSE of the good will??

Is it when a member posts 20 or more posts requesting help in a matter of 2 or 3 days?

Is it when a member uses other members to find information that s/he then supplies at a charge to someone else? In other words, a "professional" researcher getting something for nothing, then charging someone else for the work s/h did not do?

We've had both scenarios happen over the years .............. and it is still going on.

I love helping people, and that is why I keep renewing my subscription ...................... but I hate the feeling that I am being "used".


Gwyn in Kent

Gwyn in Kent Report 10 Oct 2012 22:11

I hadn't realised that was happening via this site.

I have willingly looked up information for others and happily trawled films of local parish registers in nearby libraries and archives. I've also photographed ancestral homes and graves in my surrounding area..... because I've wanted to and have also been grateful when others have gone out of their way to help me.

I would be really disappointed to learn that information freely given was later being charged for.



Jonesey Report 10 Oct 2012 22:20


I am sure that the scenarios that you describe are well recognised by the hardcore helpers on these boards.

I am equally sure that once an OP has been recognised as one who does such things they find that they no longer receive any more responses from those hardcore helpers.

Like yourself I get a great deal of satisfaction from helping others but when I spot what I believe to be misuse of mine or anyone else's goodwill then I no longer respond to any of the offending members posts.


GlitterBaby Report 10 Oct 2012 22:30

I no longer do visits to my library, local graveyard or records office because of abuse by members.

Yes some members do abuse the helpers but I am certain they are known to the regular helpers.

Also would be disappointed if help given was then charged by a "professional" as with all research it would need to be checked by the purchase of certs etcs.


Reggie Report 10 Oct 2012 23:28

One current 'seeker' is shown to have 40 posts when one uses advanced search for the surname being researched in conjunction with the member's board name


jax Report 10 Oct 2012 23:58

If thats the one I'm thinking about would think an ancestry sub would be worthwhile? (only because those records are not on GR or FMP)

I prefer to help people who are stuck, not just handing out census's because they dont want to subscribe and pay themselves.

As for a professional researcher...not sure whether I would be able to spot one of those easily


Liam Report 11 Oct 2012 00:15

I'm not so sure I'd spot one either


SylviaInCanada Report 11 Oct 2012 01:12

Thank you for your comments.

It's true, as Jonesy said ............. hardcore helpers on the boards pretty soon recognize these scenarios. But there are still newer helpers who get caught and help, until they get fed up of helping.

I've also wondered, like jax, why some seekers of information don't save up their money and take out a subscription to ancestry .......... surely it is much more satisfying to find out the information for yourself????

There have been a couple of "professional" researchers within the last year or 18 months ............ that I know of. There were several more in earlier years

The first was spotted eventually, and challenged. Admitted it

The second was a new poster within the last few weeks, who was asked how he had got back to the "name", and what his relationship was. Said he thought doing family history research would be a good way to make money ..... he was on benefits, but wanted to earn money. Someone had told him this was a good site to get help :-0

Full marks for honesty. None for using us!

There have also been several in previous years that I have suspected might be "professional". Suspicious activity included 20 or more posts in one day, for several days in succession, each for a very different surname, and no comment as to relationship to the poster, with similar activity repeated at somewhat regular intervals.

I give up helping when I get suspicious .............. even though I know that I could provide a lot of help.

I'm very willing to use my subscriptions and knowledge of other sites to help anyone, but not when I'm being used.


Liam Report 11 Oct 2012 01:51

Thnks for pointing it out Sylvia,I'll keep an eye out for them. The only one I dont get involved in is the living board as I feel your never sure that there genuine or not.
However, just my view !!!


SylviaInCanada Report 11 Oct 2012 03:45

Liam ..............

I've noticed recently that several of the helpers are asking people, both on Ancestors and on Living, "what is your relationship to xxxxx? How did you get back to her/him?"

That's one possible way, if you are unsure.

I don't get involved on the Living board either.

I also think you never know what can of worms could be opened on there.

Is the man looking for his ex-wife genuine? Or the father looking for his children? Why have they lost touch?

There are so many possible scenarios!

Besides which, living overseas, I really don't know what facilities are available in the UK for finding people!



Claire Report 11 Oct 2012 12:04

Sylvia etc....

I have read this thread with interest as I have personal experience of a professional researcher currently using these boards.

I wasn't sure if this was acceptable, but my feelings are that to charge for a service that wasn't carried out 100% by the researcher is unfair, and also allows for errors to creep in.

In my case, although all the 'facts' added up to an interesting family history, it was incorrect, and the research eventually was abandoned - I hope!!



GlitterBaby Report 11 Oct 2012 12:24

Think I know the member with all the requests. As already said the info that is being most requested is not on FMP or GR. Problem is that 40 plus requests that can be found do include some threads with 2 or more requests on it. So the number is probably nearer a hundred.


Susan Report 11 Oct 2012 13:11

I can't pick the professional researchers at all,I would hate to think I have helped any.

Can anyone Pm a few names to steer clear of ;-)


DazedConfused Report 11 Oct 2012 13:16

Morally 'professionals' using this site and getting information for free, and then charing for their services wrong.

But I also get a bit fed up with those who ask for help over and above what I would consider normal. ie over a period of several months. Often when a google search will provide that information for free anyway.

This, always, to me smacks of someone trying to do their family history on the cheap. Using those of us with Subs. to save them money.

Now do not get me wrong, we all need help at some time and I am more than happy to ask for help and also do occassional look-ups, but I pay for my subs to Ancestry, GR and FindmyPast, which is not cheap (which when combined comes to over £200.00 pa). So if I can make some sacrifices to pay my way so should others. These freeloaders are abusing our kindness, we know it an continue to help as we cannot stop ourselve.

I have helped several people in the past and after a week or so I see they are often back and in return helping others themselves. And that is in my opinion how it should work. Not the same people asking for help month after month, year after year on the same subject.

I often see that someone asking for help is given so much information, when in fact if they were guided to sites like FreeBMD and FamilySearch they could do a lot for themselves and learn in the process. Sometimes looks like they do not want to learn just have the information handed to them on a plate. Whereas you get others who do ask where to look and are pointed in the right direction.

It is all very subjective


GlitterBaby Report 11 Oct 2012 13:23

Really all they need to do is make a long list and then take out one of the many free trials that are available.

Ancestry is available in some libraries


lancashireAnn Report 11 Oct 2012 13:23

I know there will be some people who feel that they do not have spare money to save up for a sub to ancestry, but do they realise that many record offices and local libraries provide free access to ancestry and, in the case of Lancashire, FMP as well.

Until recently I have used these facilities regularly for my own research, only asking for help when I was keen to get a particular census quickly. After 10 years of researching I have finally 'bitten the bullet' and subscribed for myself!!!


Suzanne Report 11 Oct 2012 14:24

IVE also helped a lot of people on here,ive spent hrs and hrs in my local archives before work,after work,days off and during my lunch break,i do it because i love it and cant research my own family as we are from england,scotland,and ireland and i live in wales,so anyone who wants research done in my area im willing do do it if i have member who lives abroad did send me money,but it was only for me to buy his certs at the local reg office,my 30hrs of research time and traveling around taking photo"s was all free because its my hobby and i like helping others,but if i did come across someone who i thought proffesional,then of course i would tell them where to get off.

Chris in Sussex

Chris in Sussex Report 11 Oct 2012 16:34

This reminds me of something that happened to me...

Answered a query and mentioned I was connected to the name and area.

Poster contacted me by PM and, I thought, we established a connection.

Handed over all my research, hard won and paid for, and never got anything back in exchange :-(

Fast forward a couple of years and doing a 'Google' for the family name found a website offering paid Genealogy research....And you guessed it, it was the contact with a tree showing just what they could do research wise that proudly proclaimed my research as theirs!!!

A good look around their tree showed errors for my lot, including a biggy that I had passed to them in good faith and had subsequently 'sorted'.....Something they too had could have worked out if they had taken the trouble to look.

When I send info on my line I always state that I am only human and I can make errors so to check my research and let me know if they spot something wrong......I guess this person didn't bother and that is worrying in a 'professional'



MarieCeleste Report 11 Oct 2012 19:38

Some very good comments on here.

One form of "abuse" of goodwill that really irks me are those people who just can't be bothered to look things up on FreeBMD or FamilySearch, etc for themselves when they have been given the links (I'm not talking about people who struggle using new sites, I mean the ones who just find it easier to ask).

I usually point out to them the satisfaction of finding the info themselves. So then the next thing that annoys me is when I've said that and then other helpers go and post all the records for them anyhow!


patchem Report 11 Oct 2012 20:25

Oh, rats.
Just worked out the person with 40 posts.
I was getting a little tired of helping, and wondered whether to suggest a trial subscription to ancestry.
I always forget who I have helped previously.
I think, once I have started on a post, I consider it polite to keep on helping. Or, conversely, rude to stop doing so.