Volunteers: The Lifeblood of the Genealogical Community
April 30, 2013 ByI’ve been leading FamilySearch for just over a year, and I still can’t get over what our volunteers are accomplishing. I always knew FamilySearch was a volunteer-supported, nonprofit organization, but the magnitude of giving continues to impress me. And at the heart of our volunteer program is indexing.
Volunteer indexers and arbitrators—hundreds of thousands of you—have produced over one billion free, searchable records on FamilySearch.org just since 2006. There’s nothing in the history of genealogy that can compare in magnitude with this ongoing act of selfless giving.
Volunteers really matter to FamilySearch, as well as to every person out there who is trying to find his or her ancestors. You are the lifeblood, not just of FamilySearch, but of the entire genealogical community. If not for you, the world of genealogical possibilities we all enjoy would not exist. That’s why doing all we can to help you succeed is so critically important.
Now, I have also become aware of concerns within our indexing community. Indexers and arbitrators working together can produce amazing results, but when conflicts arise between them, the quality of the work suffers, feelings are hurt, and dedicated volunteers may go looking for other ways to give. I am now keenly aware of improvements that we need to make, whether in our data, software tools, or volunteer programs, and I want to assure each of you that we are taking steps to address these shortcomings in appropriate ways.
As most of you know, we have been working to improve the experience for users of FamilySearch.org. This monumental task has consumed nearly all of our resources for many months. We believe our efforts will result in making family history more appealing to more people, which, in turn, will spur demand for more records and more ways to discover and share them.
Our chief consideration in all of this is to help patrons more easily discover their ancestors and their stories. Your satisfaction as a volunteer is key to meeting that objective. There is much to consider in this process, and occasionally there will be trade-offs, but we believe our efforts will result in the greatest possible good for all.
As we move forward, we will continue to balance our efforts between attracting new family historians and supporting the ever-growing demand to find and index new records. Part of that effort will be to make the experience for our volunteers more delightful and productive. I would like to offer my sincere thanks for your willingness to overlook the shortcomings of the program so that others can continue to have the joy of discovering their ancestors.