I had the privilege last night of presenting to a large audience composed of mainly Family History Consultants and Priesthood Leaders from 26 Stakes in the Phoenix area. At the beginning of the presentation, I asked for a show of hands of how many of the over 100 people in attendance had used or knew about MyHeritage.com. The reason for asking this question is evident. MyHeritage.com is one of the three major online subscription genealogical database programs that are being made available to Church members for free beginning in the summer of 2014. The positive response was slightly more than I expected; there were probably 10 people that raised their hands and knew about the program.
Why is this a challenge? Mainly because the people at this presentation were nominally interested in genealogy and because free access to all three of these programs is a huge benefit to researchers. The challenge lies in educating 15 million members of the Church to the benefits of using these three programs when only a microscopically small number use the already available FamilySearch program. It is also a challenge to support and train those who find out about the "free" access and can't figure out what to do with the programs. Think about it. Do you know how to explain to someone how to make a GEDCOM file from the information in FamilySearch.org Family Tree? Do you know why this would or would not be a good idea? Do you know how to upload that GEDCOM file, assuming you could make one, to any one of the three online database programs? Do you know how long it takes to explain to someone how to use Ancestry.com or MyHeritage.com or findmypast.com? Can you answer questions about why any one of the three programs might not work with your own particular database? Do you know where to go to get help?
The director of the meeting last night had a Beta version of access to all three programs up and running. He said there were a few "minor" problems, but he is an expert online genealogist. If he had any trouble, what is the average "never heard of the programs before" type person going to do? How are the rest of us going to help them? Do you see a challenge here?
Because of my visibility after RootsTech 2013 with the MyHeritage.com program, I have spent a whole lot of time answering questions and supporting the program. If I were to rank the difficulty of MyHeritage.com on a scale of 1 to 10 with Adobe Photoshop being 10, the most complicated, I would rate it, at most, 2. It has over 70 million users world-wide. But members of the Church generally will never have heard of the program and will have a huge spread of different levels of computer knowledge and sophistication. Are you ready to handle all this? How much frustration can you take before you check out of the system?
I will do what I can to help. I am still hoping to find a collaborator for making instructional videos when I am in Utah Valley. I will be glad to help anyone with the transition and I will keep posting to both blogs as much as I can of helps as I find out about them and make them available. Good Luck.