31 December 2009

Answering Questions: MyHeritage-Beit Hatfutsot project

Since Tracing the Tribe posted the new collaboration between MyHeritage.com and Beit Hatfutsot, readers have asked some good questions.

Here are answers to some. As others come in, Tracing the Tribe will help to get them properly answered.

Visit the FAQ at MyHeritage.com for additional information.

Q1. I've got a couple of questions about Family Tree Builder and MyHeritage, I hope you don't mind me asking.

A1. Of course not. Ask away.

Q2. I've been using Family Tree Maker for over 10 years, I think. Do you think it's worth the hassle for me to transfer all the assets I have in Family Tree Maker over to Family Tree Builder.

A2. I believe that it is a good idea to preserve your years of hard work in various formats in various locations. To start using Family Tree Builder, all you need to do is export a GedCom from Family Tree Maker.

Q3. Regarding the privacy issue, can I make everything completely private that I put online using MyHeritage.com's Family Tree Builder?

A3. Yes. One hallmark of MyHeritage.com is its respect for the type of data privacy its tree creators desire. Information can be made public to all, restricted to those invited or made completely private.

For non-members, all information about living individuals is hidden. You see only “Private + LastName.”

The creator of a family site may invite relatives to the site, but may also choose to not allow others to make changes in the data. In other words, only the tree creator or administrator can add information or make changes. This protects your data.

Q4. If everything is free, how is MyHeritage funded? How do I know that if I start to use their services they won't disappear in a few years and I'll have to move everything over again?

A4. MyHeritage.com is funded through its premium and premium-plus accounts, for which there is a charge (see answer to next question for more information). The site has some 9 million trees and grows every day. The advantage is that your tree, if submitted through the special MyHeritage page will be stored at Beit Hatfutsot forever, as it is a national institution.

Q5. While it all sounds good and I'm all for proliferating family trees, I suspect there's more to it. For example, cost. Many times I saw the word "free," but I suspect there's an opportunity here for me to spend money here. Since my family tree is already scattered on the web and held in disk storage in various locations already, I'm not sure I need to do so again for a cost.

A5. Storing your Jewish family tree at Beit Hatefutsot means that it will be in a central repository for the future. You can always send your tree directly to the Museum via a GedCom and it will be stored at no cost - for free. You can download the MyHeritage Family Tree Builder software for free to use on your own computer, import yourGedCom and then maintain your tree in another format, or establish a nice family site at MyHeritage.

MyHeritage’s basic account is free for up to 250 names, and additional space is nominal (click here for premium site information). Family sites provide space for documents, photos, videos and a way to connect with family around the world.

Sending a GedCom directly to Beit Hatfutsot is free, no matter the size of your tree. It is another place to store your family tree information for the future and for your descendants.

Q6. When the Family Tree of the Jewish People (FTJP) (at JewishGen.org) "merged' data from Dorotree, I thought that was what Beit Hatfutsot was partnering with on its trees. Now it seems not to be so. What is going on?

A6. I don’t believe FTJP merged any data with Dorotree. Over the years, Beit Hatfutsot has used various software, much of which is now obsolete. MyHeritage’s cutting-edge software is free (the others had to be purchased).

While MyHeritage members can search for and see information from others, members can make their data completely private. Trees are not merged as in some other online sites and MyHeritage members do not lose control of their own trees; privacy is respected at MyHeritage.

Beit Hatfutsot will be acting as a storage facility for everyone’s Jewish family trees. While information will also be on MyHeritage (using the special software version) and privacy controls can be set as the tree creator desires (or changed later, if s/he decides to), the tree transferred to the Museum is basically in storage. It can be searched on the museum’s premises, will not be online for open searching, but staff can search for individuals.

Q7. What happens if a tree is already in Beit Hatfutsot's database? How are those who put it there years ago going to know that MyHeritage is now working with Beit Hatfutsot? If they want to update their tree information, must they do it through MyHeritage?

The project with Beit Hatfutsot applies only to new users and new trees on MyHeritage built via this special page http://www.myheritage.com/BeitHatfutsot

If your tree is already at Beit Hatfutsot, ask them for the tree's ID and use that ID as the name of your MyHeritage tree or as your user name. MyHeritage will send periodic updates to the museum, so that specific ID number will tell Beit Hatfutsot to update that specific tree already in its database.

For more information, contact Daniel Horowitz at MyHeritage.com or Haim Ghiuzeli at Beit Hatfutsot.

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