17 July 2009

Paul Allen's apology: GenealogyWise.com

Early this morning, Paul Allen posted a very frank and open apology about the recent GenealogyWise.com incidents. He had attempted to post it on Terry Thornton's blog, but it was too long, so included the entire message at his own site, PaulAllen.net.

Among the issues he addressed was the censorship of Terry's comment, the gimmicky contest (which I have posted about twice), the genealogical inexperience of staff members and other topics. He wrote, "We have made more than one mistake in the 8 days since GenealogyWise debuted."

About the contest, he wrote:

The earlier mistake was creating a contest that was a marketing gimmick that had the potential to spoil the legitimate community experience of GW users. I apologize for that too.
While no one questions Paul's motivation and genealogical community experience (Ancestry, MyFamily, World Vital Records, FamilyLink) - and this in itself was confusing for those of us who know his background - I for one could not understand where some strange actions (like the contest) were coming from. In the apology he wrote:

So, I have a long history in the genealogical community. So does some of our team at FamilyLink. But some of our 60 employees and contractors are very new to the genealogical space. They are gifted entrepreneurs, designers, and product managers. Some have even built online communities before.

But no community, in my experience, is anything like the genealogical community. And everyone on our team needs to learn what is unique about this community, and how to enable it, and never cross it. We aren’t off to a great start at GW, but we learn quickly.

And as everyone can see, we connect in real time via Twitter, Facebook, and blogs like this, so that we can respond immediately to concerns or complaints. We’ll add more personnel very soon so we can cover all the boards and forums, not just some of them.
And, he wrote to Terry the words I was looking for. "For this reason, our missteps in our first 8 days are very painful for all of us that sincerely want to create the best social network for genealogy. Again, I personally apologize for our deleting your comments and for launching that $800 contest."

As of yesterday, Gena Ortega is the full-time community manager for GW.

Paul again addressed the value of the genealogical community:

If the community flees from GW now because of our mistakes (and lack of a clear policy about inappropriate content), I think everyone loses. We can’t build a community site without the community–no matter how feature rich it is.

But we want to invest in building something you and others in the community will love. We’re in a unique position to do this.
In his final comments, Paul writes to Terry and, by extension, the entire genealogical community:

If you’ll accept my apology, and appreciate our sincerity, and if we (everyone at GW) will learn to respect you and all other genealogists for their opinions and the right to express them — then perhaps all of us can pull together and build something remarkable and free that will bring together the genealogists of the world (and their families) in a special way.
Time will tell, and I hope it all works out.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous5:45 PM

    Yes, time will tell and I don't think we'll have wait too long.

    "Guided by the Ancestors"