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I was asked to provide my detailed answers from last night's Basics Q&A. So
here is one.
I would like to know if the pay-per-view websites are considered good value
for the money and what, if any problems may be encountered using these
sites? Im concerned regarding credit card misuse, identity theft and
retailing of e-mail addresses resulting in Spam overload.
It depends upon the website.
1. One way to bypass Ancestry.com fees, spam, etc. at least to see if
there is any data relevant to use is to use it at the FHC for FREE! Try
before you buy. Then you will be able to assess if it is good value for the
2. Other pay per view services may be available from the university or
3. For other sites talk to people to determine if they have used the
specific ones of interest to you.
4. Email dist-gen to ask for others experiences with a particular website.
AFHS has a Computer SIG with knowledgeable members.
5. You can also search on the web to see if it has been listed as a "user
beware" site. Even if you cannot find a warning about the site be sure you
can find some independent comments that it is a valid/valuable site.
6. There are other ways to protect yourself from spam, credit card misuse,
identity theft and so on. E.g.
a. Look for the vendors privacy guarantee and check off NO to use of your
email address for other purposes. Also use a spam filter. Talk to your
b. Look for the Verisign logo and guarantee for credit card security. Also
check credit card statement frequently (either online or by telephone). The
sooner you catch a problem the more likely you are to resolve it quickly -
even if that means reporting misuse to the card company and having your
c. When using any online systems that require security or passwords be sure
to first run an adware (ad detection and removal) program to remove any
spyware or adware and then delete your cookies, temporary Internet files and
History these can be found under Tools from your Internet browser (e.g.
Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator are browser). ID theft results more
from spyware placed on your desktop than from credit card use on valid
7. Dont forget to have current virus protection running as well. You can
pick up viruses directly from websites not just via email. There are many
spoof or mock sites e.g. when looking for the Canadian Metis Councils
website, I found many people (including Cyndis List and Gail Morin) who
used the Red Rival url rather than the direct source. Red Rival at first
blush appears to have the CMC material but actually is set up to mine your
computer through spyware, pop-up/under advertising and even sometimes
downloads a virus directly to your computer harddrive.
8. But the most important thing is to evaluate the contents before you buy?
Where and how did they obtain the data? Is the data primary (recorded at the
time of the actual event - e.g. the actual census film), secondary (an index
or a transcription based on the primary source) or other?
Other (tertiary sources) can be the opinion of someone from the worst fool
to the greatest guru. E.g. if it is a source based on compiled submissions,
such as World Family Tree you would be paying for someone elses opinion
without any means of verification. Do they provide you with an actual
primary record or at least give you dates and locations so you can access
the primary source and validate the information. Ensure they cite their
Is it directly related to what you want or is it a useless bogus source? You
can pay money for a Halberts book and obtain a list of locations of people
with a certain surname but there is no way to find out if these people are
related to you or even if the names and locations are real. In that case you
would be better off using telephone directories. My cousin purchased a
Halbert's book on our family name and when I wrote to some of the people
listed in the location of the family's origins, I did not receive any
I wouldnt pay for any site that does not offer actual primary source
material unless you have exhausted every possibility and need a clue! E.g. I
have used Ancestry.com at the FHC and found clues to use to locate the
actual records but wouldnt have felt it worth the subscription price for
the amount of data I needed. However, they do have U.S. census records but
check it out at FHC first or sign up on their free trial (be sure to notify
them if you do not wish your credit card to be charged at the end of the
free trial period) to check it out.
Xenia Stanford (president@...
A.G.E. Ancestree Genealogical Enterprises
Local genealogy book sales, professional research & writing:
Column: "Nos Racines Francaise" http://globalgenealogy.com/globalgazette
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Phone: (403) 295-3490; Fax: (403) 274-0564