On RAOGK

Update (June 2012):

As indicated in the recent comment below, efforts have begun to resurrect Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness. A RAOGK Wiki has some basic information. There are also two Facebook pages, one for USA-based requests and one for international requests.

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An unwelcome piece of genealogy news this week, via Dick Eastman: Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness is going offline for an unspecified time in the wake of computer issues and its administrator’s health problems.

Read the full announcement here. I myself have yet to utilize RAOGK — I’m lucky to live close to my ancestral stomping grounds. But it’s a sad shock for the many, many fans of the groundbreaking volunteer referral network, which in 2010 was named one of the year’s Best Big Genealogy Sites by Family Tree Magazine.

It was also a bit of a shock to realize that this was the first I’d heard the name of an actual individual behind RAOGK, although I’m sure it’s not a big state secret. It’s just interesting that something like RAOGK can be out there as a dependable genealogy livesaver, and still be sort of anonymous. (I went back and checked the Family Tree mention from 2010, and there weren’t any names there, either.)

What also strikes me is the fragility of these labors of love. We refer to them, and rely on them, and assume they’re rocks. But ultimately a lot of networking efforts are the product of just a very few hearts, minds and wills. The idea of being the actual heart and mind of an institution like that is a bit frightening. Many recognize this, even if they don’t ‘fess up to it.

All you have to do is read the commentary following an announcement such as last week’s – many, many pleas for somebody somewhere to take over the work; maybe one or two actual offers to do so.

But I don’t want to make too much hay of a case where there aren’t a lot of particulars available. Maybe it’s just a temporary shutdown and the worries are premature. Maybe the logistics of getting a temporary administrator up to speed are just one more thing the RAOGK folks do not need right now.

In any event, I wish Bridgett Schneider all the best.  And thank you.

Note: There is a Facebook page where RAOGK volunteers are posting information about their expertise and availability.


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