Tuesday, 28 May 2013


Genealogy in Time (genealogyintime.com), the fifth largest free family history website in the world, is an online Canadian genealogy magazine that provides advice, news of new records and some clever custom Google searches that allow access to, it claims, 2.2 billion free online ancestral records and 3.8 billion records in online family trees.

What really catches the attention are two lists the site publishes, showing the top 100 genealogy websites worldwide in 2012 and 2013. Now, ordered lists are a well-worn staple of journalism, politics, marketing, even religion, simply because they are instantly noticeable – "Ireland's Top Ten Love Cheats", "The Seven Deadly Sins", and so on. So the idea of ranking top genealogy sites is not new. But trying to do it objectively and for the whole world, by basing the ranks on independently measured internet traffic, is indeed new.

On a global scale, one trend is absolutely stark: a third of the top 100 are now owned by the three biggest commercial players, Ancestry, MyHeritage and brightsolid (owners of FindMyPast). They outnumber free record sites by four to one and their share is growing. The global future of genealogy is corporate.

From Ireland, four sites are listed in 2012, rootsireland.ie at No. 64, irishgenealogy.ie at 72, igp-web.com at 79 and FindMyPast.ie at 91. In 2013, only rootsireland is still in the top 100, dropping to 83. Why such a drop, especially at a time when the Gathering should be driving traffic to these sites? I suspect it is because measured traffic to non-Irish sites has mushroomed. Norwegians, in particular, seem to have suddenly gone mad for genealogy. But that's no more than a guess.

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