While I was looking around for things to tidy up, I saw that we had a tag . The original questions with this tag were:

After looking at this group, I added the subscription tag to Catch 22: how do you know if a data provider's sub will be valuable to you — before you subscribe?, which was already tagged with .

Since the tag had no usage guidance, I added some:

Research guidance on how to make the most effective use of subscriptions to paid data providers such as Ancestry, findmypast, The Genealogist, My Heritage, etc. Questions should focus on the advantages and disadvantages of using the service rather than asking shopping questions like "which subscription is the best?"

At least one of these questions is also tagged which has the following usage guidance:

Use this tag for questions about websites which assist a researcher with genealogy or family history research or sharing what they've learned. This does not include questions about software (which has a separate tag).

This tag has more info that explains which questions are good and which questions to avoid. As I write this, there are 23 questions with this tag.

The tag information has the following advice:

It would also be helpful if you were explicit in your question about the exact website you're using, as (for example) findmypast.com and findmypast.co.uk have different interfaces and different recordsets available.

At least one of the questions has a tag which (as I write this) has 59 questions with that tag.

After looking at and the guidance there, I feel that my advice on when to use is not sufficient. Do we want to keep the tag , and if so, how should we advise that it be used? What advice should we give in the longer block of tag info that would show the user when to use , and when to use . Should questions have one or the other, or are there cases when they should have both?

As for , I would like to see all the question titles edited to say only "Ancestry" in most cases, unless the question specifically refers to one country's site or another (in which case, I'd rather see "Ancestry US" than "Ancestry.com". However, there's an argument for keeping the tag to make it clear the tag refers to the website rather than the general concept of 'ancestry'.

Your thoughts, please.


6 Answers 6


I've just thought of a new problem with .

Use this tag for questions about websites which assist a researcher with genealogy or family history research or sharing what they've learned. This does not include questions about software (which has a separate tag).

What if someone wants help with building their own family history website? What tag are they supposed to use then? The tag could be ambiguous.

If we keep a tag for sites like findmypast, ancestry, etc. would a tag like like be better?


I think that part of the confusion with these tags is that they are used on questions for which they are not really the subject matter. I know it is a somewhat a matter of personal opinion what is the subject matter, but for example just glancing through the questions many come up that are not really about Ancestry.com; they just happen to mention Ancestry.com or have used Ancestry.com in the research process. I have mentioned this before on other meta posts, but we need to distinguish between tag words vs keywords (i.e. things to group questions by vs things to find via search).

While tag usage guidances are essential, I also think that any tag that has too complex criteria for use will never get used properly. Yes, the moderators and frequent users of the site may know how the tags are to be used, but if it is not obvious from the title of the tag what the tag means then the title should perhaps be changed. I think the more concise a usage guidance is, the more likely it will get used properly.

With these considerations in mind I think that has no useful purpose. If the tag should be used for any online research or online genealogy work, then it would be fine, but we don't (I think) want the tag used in that way because 90% of our questions could then probably have this tag. On the other hand, as @JanMurphy suggested it would definitely be useful to have a tag for certain aspects of websites (e.g. building family history websites). "Website" is a poor tag title for this usage because it is too ambiguous. On the other hand, the tag is sufficiently useful for questions about subscriptions, but should not be used just for questions that happen to mention a subscription service.

The bottom line is we can make tags as sophisticated and specialized as we like, but if we do it is inevitable they won't be used properly. I favour a small number of clearly defined tags over a long list of tags that are just random keywords. Whichever tags we decide to keep and do away with I think the most important thing is that it is as clear and explicit as possible from the title and usage guidance when and when not they should be used. Sadly the reality is most people will not read the tag usage guidances no matter how much work we put into it, but that is not to say it is not worth the effort.


I think that we should leave the tag as it is.

That way confusion with general ancestry is avoided. I actually subscribe to ancestry.com.au and have no trouble calling the tag .


I think we should have but not the individual tags for each different website e.g. nor .

The plethora of tags in this area does nothing to help people find questions they might want to answer, or that might be related to a question they might want to ask.

As @JanMurphy has said in a comment, the search facilities are good enough.

More generally we have a proliferation of tags with non-existence descriptions or anodyne one ("A period of time in the nineteenth century!, "A country in Europe" to paraphrase a few, maybe supplemented with "Use tag to ask questions about evens in a country in Europe".)

We could use this discussion as a basis for refining our overall approach to tagging including our understanding of what it's for and how it can be made more useful.


I think that the tag should be removed from any question that is already tagged with the name of a website.

For example, , , , etc.

I would not expect the tag itself to have much value.

  • 1
    Ah, but do we really need the tags for the separate services? How likely is it that someone is going to want to subscribe to an RSS feed for those tags? If someone is looking for questions about findmypast, can't they just do a search? I've got an open mind on this point -- I want to hear what everyone else thinks.
    – Jan Murphy Mod
    Commented Dec 27, 2016 at 18:25
  • 1
    @JanMurphy I may be the odd one out but I have not subscribed to an RSS feed for years, and never on a Stack Exchange site. I use tags for filtering in my Favorite Tags, and for grouping questions when searching for duplicates. Searching on 'findmypast' is different to using the findmypast tag because the latter is a curated grouping of posts where FindMyPast is important rather than just mentioned.
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Commented Dec 29, 2016 at 10:04
  • I am looking ahead to the day where G&FH.SE has a higher question volume, and the tag filtering may be needed much more than it is now. I don't use RSS either, but I get a weekly email with a summary of what questions have been asked for my favorite tags.
    – Jan Murphy Mod
    Commented Dec 29, 2016 at 16:52

I think that the tag should be removed from most questions that are already tagged with the name of a service that requires a subscription.

For example, , , etc.

I would use the tag for generic questions about the usefulness, availability, etc of subscriptions.

  • 2
    I think this represents a fundamental discrepancy in our understanding of how these tags ought to be used. In my mind, subscription is not a catch-all for if the user doesn't know whether to tag Ancestry.com, FMP etc. Rather, the tag is for questions about subscriptions. There are questions about Ancestry.com that are not about subscriptions, and vice versa.
    – Harry V. Mod
    Commented Dec 29, 2016 at 9:32

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