How “New” Is that Database, Really?

There’s always something “new” in genealogyland–at least according to the number of times the word “new” appears within my line of site with either the word “website” or “database” attached to it. The emails, Facebook posts, twitter updates, etc. fly across my computer screen like so many gnats. The problem is that what’s “new” may not be as “new” as someone would like you to think.

Many times what is “new” is new the person mentioning it. I understand that when it’s “new” to you, it seems like it should be “new” to everyone else. Sometimes the word “new” is relative. When I mention a site that I think is “new,” I generally try and add the caveat “to me” after it. I may even mention that it’s possible I’ve been asleep for a few years and overlooked something. I hate to call something new when it’s not.

It may be that the database is new to that website (often fee-based) but it is something that has been around for quite some time elsewhere. I’ve seen databases and datasets advertised and promoted as “new” when in fact I’ve used them elsewhere for years. Some blogs may indicate something is “new” simply to get more clicks, likes, follows, or whatever nouns are currently used to indicate popularity on a given social network.

I can’t stop people and advertising departments from using the word “new” when it really does not apply. People are excited about something and want to share it. I understand that. Some people want to generate web traffic for their page or blog. I understand that. Websites need to market themselves and make money. I understand that.

But if someone tells you something is “new” and you wonder if it really is, google it. Search for that same database elsewhere, you may find that it has been around for years (FamilySearch is often a good place to start).

And never subscribe to a website just because they have a “new” database until you make certain it is really, truly “new” or the website offers some advantage to using or interacting with the data in a way that other websites do not.

Don’t pay for “new” unless you know it’s actually new.



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