Sunday, 8 April 2012

RootsIreland protests continue

Irish genealogist John Grenham has written a piece for the Irish Times blog slating the RootsIreland ( website's recent extraordinary changes to its payment system. The title of the piece - "Oh no. Not Again" - instantly tells you where he is heading with it. The full story is at

Two comments by John in particular are worthy of attention - describing the reaction to the changes by the public, he notes "The gist of most of these comments is that the site already forced researchers to work hobbled and blinkered, and to pay for the hobbles and blinkers. Now they want to handcuff us as well. And have us pay for the handcuffs".  With regard to the reaction to the criticism by RootsIreland he adds "The IFHF frequently complain that nobody loves them. When their customer service appears to come straight from the Kim Jong Un handbook of public relations, they really shouldn’t be surprised."

Just to give some more coverage on comments appearing online, here's a few more from this blog (, Rootschat (,588877.0.html), the Belfast Forum ( and Now Ye're Talking (

  • So 10 free credits for new and existing users to get used to the new system....mmm three words come to mind...disposable email address (Rootschat)
  • I would much rather use a subscription option rather than the 'open ended' PPV - in my case too easy to get sucked in and spend far more than intended - or is that the cunning plan? (Rootschat)
  • RootsIreland have changed their fee structure - not sure if it's better or worse! (Now Ye're Talking)
  • I didn't mind the pay per view at all, I know a lot of people were complaining that they had to buy too many records to get one positive result, I can understand how annoying and expensive that would be, but I enjoyed doing lots of searches and making that make or break decision to buy or not... I'm not keen on subscription sites, I'm always worried I'll pay up the money only to find the site has nothing to offer but even subscription would be better that this new system (Rootschat)
  • This is indeed a sadly regressive step..what are they thinking! I have used this site a lot since it started, with mixed success but it has been one of my "go to" sites. The T&C are equally appaling and it seems couldn't use any info even in a published family history. (British GENES)
  • Up to now IrishGenealogy has only been covering areas outside those covered by RootsIreland and IFHF resisted plans for further digitization of the NLI films. Digitizing these could have been a step towards making these available online as images at least. Possibly not transcribed initially if costs did not allow, but I think plenty of people, in Ireland & worldwide, would volunteer to transcribe images. bottom line in my view - this should not be a business, it's a resource to share (Now Ye're Talking)
  • From free to pay = bad. And they don't in any way, shape or form compare to Scotland's People, which I've used extensively. Scotland's People has more complete records, and you get actual records, not transcripts which may or may not be accurate (I've found inaccuracies, which means I then have to pay again to get original records). (Belfast Forum)
  • There is an important point made in the statement of the Irish Genealogical Research Society quoted by mod9maple above about the terms and conditions imposed on users about sharing information. There is an implication that IFHF owns the data, and has a right to limit its use. No, it bloody doesn't own the content of parish registers and the like. They own a database that more-or-less correctly contains the same data; they own a search facility linked to that database; they have copyright on the format in which they present data. (Now Ye're Talking)
  • Surely they can't have failed to notice the completely negative response from users? I can't believe that this change is not going to hit their wallets pretty quickly, so hopefully then they'll sing a different tune soon.(British GENES)
  • I still don't understand why they can't offer a subscription service instead of (or as well as) this cumbersome, overly complicated pay-per-view basis. It would be far, far simpler and would probably generate more income. The KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) principal comes to mind. (British GENES)
  • I also received the email about their 'changes'. To say I was confused is an understatement. I couldn't even be bothered re-reading it. Although it was dressed up to appear as though the changes would be of some benefit to joe public, it's plainly not.(British GENES)


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  1. Have you seen the July offer? Unnecessarily complicated I think! Cathy

  2. Thanks Cathy, I have, but as I don't want to promote anything I wouldn't use myself, I haven't bothered to blog about it. The site certainly never ceases to amaze...! :)


  3. Thanks, was wondering!! Does that mean you'll be in Ireland more often then or have you found an alternative source?

  4. I do regularly go to Ireland, as my wife and I are both from there, but Irish research has not been a priority as I have plenty to get on with on my Scottish side. Ireland will catch up with the rest of the British Isles in due course - FMP and Ancestry are already either there or setting up shop there, and the GRO in Belfast will be launching a website next year similar to ScotlandsPeople, with all northern civil registration records digitised back to 1845 going online. The Republic's GRO is already doing a good job with cheap access to photocopies of civil records at 4 Euros each.

    As I see it, there are three options - travel to Ireland from Scotland regularly to do research (expensive) and content myself in the meantime with limited progress that can be made from here; be held hostage to some online records by those who think they can fleece customers at high costs for little return - or wait for market forces and demand in Ireland to reshape things, as they are currently doing.

    I've been very patient with my Irish side, and am happy to continue to be. I'm happy to wait for changes. If they do, then I'll pick up when the offending vendors wise up a bit or are replaced. If not, the records will still be there in 10 years - and I can just pick up then. But I'm willing to wait it out for a bit. :)