Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Annual Fine Print

Caution: Fine Print AheadIt’s about time for me to publish my somewhat annual fine print.

The Ancestry Insider is the unofficial, unauthorized view of and FamilySearch. The opinions expressed herein are my own, and do not necessarily reflect those of or FamilySearch. I try to be fair and unbiased, honest and forthright. I call it the way I see it. But there are things that unavoidably bias my subjectivity and I want you to know what they are.


I am employed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sponsor of FamilySearch. I am an ardent adherent to the Church, its doctrines, and its practices (which is a good thing because it is a requirement for my continued employment :-). I feel I have a responsibility to represent the values of the Church and I try to do so, including being kind to those I write about. I try not to write anything that would be damaging to the Church or its interests. I try to keep this column about genealogy, not religion (although I allow myself a small exception at Christmas).

I have legal obligations to my employer. I cannot write anything that violates my non-disclosure agreement. (Yet being an insider makes it easier to find publicly available information that I can write about.) I cannot write anything that is a conflict of interest. (Fortunately for my forthright nature, I feel it is in FamilySearch’s best interests to have an independent, critical voice. Still, I don’t want to get fired! My bosses’ ideas of what is in FamilySearch’s best interests trump my own.:-)


FamilySearch does not pay me to write the Ancestry Insider. I write entirely on my own time, almost exclusively on weekends when my employer has less claim on my time. FamilySearch has been exceptionally tolerant of my rantings and ravings. They have not dictated what I write about nor what I say about it. They don’t review or edit my work. Rarely, rarely do they see what I publish before I publish it. Like other journalists, I regularly receive press releases from FamilySearch, most of which I ignore.

There is one situation in which I write the Ancestry Insider during business hours: national genealogical conferences. FamilySearch sends me to FGS, NGS, and RootsTech for several reasons. One is the desire to have the Ancestry Insider present and writing about FamilySearch. They don’t tell me what to write about, but I feel an expectation that some be about FamilySearch. (In practice, these conferences are the best sources I’ve found for gathering new, interesting, and publicly available news about FamilySearch.)

There is one area in which I tread lightly: FamilySearch partnerships. A couple of FamilySearch partners have taken exception to things I have written. They contacted FamilySearch and raised big stinks. Since then, I regularly pass up opportunities to talk about FamilySearch partnerships.

I am not a spokesperson for I do not work for Ancestry. The name “Ancestry Insider” does not refer to Ancestry. My editorial policy is to be generally supportive of both Ancestry and FamilySearch. I attempt to give equal time between the two, but that’s difficult for a couple of reasons that I may cover in a future article.

I accept complimentary products and services from Ancestry. They are personally useful beyond being subjects for review. Yet it would not be proper to review them if I weren’t using them for real life research. 

I try to maintain a healthy relationship with Ancestry so that I am accorded the privileges they extend to other journalists, and so that I can expect responses to queries I make of them.


I sometimes accept complimentary products, services, and conference registrations from other vendors for review purposes. I am an active volunteer for the National Genealogical Society.

Trademarks used herein are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

E-mails and posted messages may be republished and may be edited for content, length, and editorial style.

All content is copyrighted by the author unless designated otherwise. For content copyrighted by the author, permission is granted for non-commercial republication as long as you give credit and you link back to the original.

Thank you for reading my articles. And kudos for hanging in there to the bitter end of this one. Five points for Gryffindor.


  1. Gryffindor??? No way. They don't have the attention span. They have to be actively out doing things, not sitting and reading. Ravenclaw!

  2. Thank you for your efforts and clarity about who you are

  3. Can anyone tell me why a tree I have at ancestry does not come up in a search for any of the names in it or even when I include the specific name of the tree in the box. I have much more documentation in my tree than any of the ones that are coming up. Is it because I'm not paid up?


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