What do you mean it isn't free? How do we as a community deal with the perception that everything is free for the taking when it comes to genealogy. From commercial databases, to freely stealing content from a blog or website, to being incensed when a genealogist charges for a webinar or syllabus. This is a no-holds barred look at why certain perceptions exist in the genealogy community and how they must change in order for the industry to move forward in the 21st century.
Thomas MaEntee wrote a great post on this subject today: Genealogy - What Do You Mean It Isn't Free?
I'm going to turn the topic at a different angle and dissect the word FREE.
Why should I pay for (insert name of genealogy product here) when I can get it for free?
FamilySearch isn't free. Someone is paying for that information be acquired, stored, preserved, digitized, and more. You may use it with no financial burden to you, but someone else is paying for your privilege.
Find-a-Grave isn't free. Someone is paying for the domain, servers and all that maintaining a massive website entails. That FREE picture you just got? A volunteer paid for that with time, gas money, and camera equipment.
Facebook isn't free. You pay for your use of this site by sharing your profile including your location, marital status, education, and all those countless "Likes" of pages with advertisers.
Blogger isn't free. You pay by having .blogspot.com in your URL and Powered by Blogger at the bottom of the page.
When you view a "free" webinar, someone somewhere (likely the speaker) has paid for your access through the creation of a presentation and all the countless non-billable hours it took to perfect.
Even your own volunteer time is given at a cost of whatever else you could be doing. This is a constant challenge with professionals who have to measure everything in billable hours.
Sorry to be a downer and put a price tag on everything, but genealogy isn't free. Someone always has to pay.
The good news is that genealogy is a marketplace and your wallet is a driving force. Because you have to pay for quality research, speakers, books and memberships, you can expect and demand good products. The genealogy market will respond to that and adjust to bring us only quality stuff.
When you get something for "free," be thankful and pay it forward. It is a gift, not a birthright. When asked to pay for a genealogy service, treat it like any other toy you may purchase.
Genealogy products, books, webinars and information are just like other items on the store shelf. You can choose to put them in your shopping cart (or not), but don't expect the cashier to give them to you for free.