The video advises a three step process for starting genealogy research at ancestry.com
- "Enter what you know" into a family tree
- "Click on leaf hints" to see what ancestry has discovered
- "Review the records you find"
So, Ancestry's instructions are really all about using their family trees to facilitate research. This is in no way a bad research strategy, but neither is it a complete research strategy. I believe this video represents an idealistic and simplistic version of genealogy research on Ancestry.com.
I do recognize that this is a "getting started" and very basic research strategy for novice researchers. However, I believe this presents an entirely too simplistic view of genealogy research. It makes it seem as if no hard work is needed to create a family tree. Although the video points out the "search records" feature in the family tree, the video implies that most of the research will be done automatically by Ancestry's family trees. The video never shows a screenshot of the actual search form - old or new. Perhaps that's intentional? A newbie viewing the new search form might be overwhelmed. Such a screenshot might completely negate the simplistic tone of the video.
I also find it interesting that Ancestry.com is pushing their family tree feature so much, while self professed longtime, "real" users thoroughly dislike and disparage these same trees. I've seen countless comments on Ancestry.com's blog and message boards in which such researchers complain that the family trees are nothing but trash. Personally, I disagree with this blanket statement, though I believe it does have merit. There are a great many trees on Ancestry that are nothing but copy/paste clones that contain impossible lineages. Many novice researchers may not be aware of this, nor of good research practices. I worry that these new researchers will accept other family trees at face value, viewing all trees as "true."
So, although I know that this video is a very simplistic advice for getting started on Ancestry.com, I feel that it presents an overly simplified view of research on the site. This view may lead to the spread of misinformation and bad research habits. I hope that Ancestry.com follows up this video with more indepth information on how to use their site. Some ideas include, adding a link at the end of the video to their many free webinars, creating a short video that sums up some basic search techniques, a video about documenting sources or about cross-referencing difference sources. There's a lot that Ancestry.com could do to follow up this video, but I hope that whatever they come up with isn't as simplistic as this video.