Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Silly comment

  • For many years the West Gauteng Branch invited people to its monthly meetings. It usually advertises “Entrance Fee: R5,00 for refreshments”. This was the case again with our latest meeting, the subject being: My Biggest Genealogy Breakthrough. Eight Speakers. Eight stories. Five minutes each.
  • Francois Greeff commented on Rootsweb: “Please note that the West Gauteng Branch of the GSSA will 'sell' the right to hear eight speakers to you for R5,00. This in spite of the fact that the speakers 'donate' their speeches”.
  • Stella Smuts replied appropriately: “R5.00 for refreshments is not much to ask! Considering what a cup of coffee costs in a restaurant these days - and that without a slice of cake!
  • Silly comment, Francois. -- Japie Bosch, vice-chairman, West Gauteng Branch.


  1. Here, below, is the context of what I said:

    From: "Leanne Starkey"
    Subject: Re: [SOUTH-AFRICA] Passenger lists late 1800's
    Date: Mon, 11 Feb 2008 17:46:44 +0100
    “If anybody is looking for passenger lists - Ancestry24 is always looking for volunteers
    Is ancestry24 looking for volunteers (ie not to be paid) to transcribe lists that will only be made available to paying customers? Or will this information be made freely available?
    cheers Leanne

  2. From:
    Subject: [SOUTH-AFRICA] Leanne Starkey - Paid and not paid.
    Date: Tue, 12 Feb 2008 00:35:04 -0000
    Dear Leanne,
    Does it really matter that the information donated by unpaid volunteers is old to genealogists? Condemnation of a project on these grounds is very short sighted because it does not take into consideration the costs that organisations incur, the benefits they alone can pass on, and the loss to genealogy in general if these projects are not supported.
    The problem with all genealogy projects is that they grow. While they are relatively small the costs involved in them are largely absorbed by an individual. That means that someone actually pays for the information that you recieve "free". The fact that you, personally, do not pay for information does not make it free. I run a small web site for the Greeff family and related families, and I pay its costs out of my own pocket. I do it without complaint - in fact, with pleasure. There are already ten researchers involved with Greeff research, and the information we are gathering is coming in so fast that we need to employ several people to work full time, just to transcribe information to electronic format. In other words, to enter it into a computer. We cannot afford this, so the work remains undone, and everyone loses.
    As we, at, grow to have a bigger and better web site, we are faced with increasing demands on our time. Sooner or later organisations like ours become a full time job that one does all day, every day. Are you saying that someone who works all day, every day, at genealogy, should not be paid? Genealogy can never be a profession? Do you know that people who work for charities are faced with exactly the same argument that you put forward? People who donate to charity often expect that their donations should be given to the beneficiaries of the charity in full, without any deduction. The consequence of this thinking means that many people who work for charities are either unpaid, or recieve a lower salary than they would in another sector
    A few things need to be made absolutely clear in this regard:
    1. Administration of organisations costs money.
    2. Administration and organisation allows people to work together and achieve results that are not possible for individuals.
    3. Paid organisations also work for the benefit of other people. The Royal National Institute for Blind People in Britain turns over a Hundred Million Pounds each year - that is a Hundred and Sixty Millions of Rands per year, and they SELL the work of sighted (and blind) volunteers to blind people.


  3. .... Continued from above:

    The view that some people do things "only" for the money is fallacious. People do not do things for money. IT JUST TAKES MONEY TO DO THINGS. It takes money to travel from A to B. It takes money for you to invite a friend to dinner, or to have a braai. It takes money for each and every one of us to practice genealogy. Without money we cannot do it. Money pays for paper and pencil, for photocopies, for computers and money pays the rent for the space for the computer to stand on a desk.
    The people who achieve most for genealogy are the people who are organised into organisations, with salaries and rents. They need money to do things, and they do not do things "just for the money". The archives are not free. You pay for "free" archival services every time you buy something, because VAT, and other taxes, go to pay for "free" archives. In fact, the archives do not pay for information that they recieve, but you pay to get it from them.
    My own family tree would be nowhere without the benefit of organisations who receive free information and pass it on at a fee, and that applies almost without exception to everyone's family tree. We need Archives, museums, and organisations like who bring the census records to us.
    In short, we need to put something into the system that brings us big databases that are rich in information and quick and easy to use. We need to put two things into such systems to make them work:
    1. We need to volunteer skills, labour and research to their databases.
    2. We need to donate (give, pay) money to their organisational structures.
    Francois Greeff
    Personally, I think it short-sighted, mean and churlish to refuse to volunteer or donate, just because some other person needs money to achieve the aims that are common to all of us.

    Subject: [SOUTH-AFRICA] My Biggest Genealogy Breakthrough - Leanne Starkey.
    Date: Tue, 12 Feb 2008 00:55:03 -0000
    Please note that the West Gauteng Branch of the GSSA will 'sell' the right to hear eight speakers to you for R5,00. This in spite of the fact that the speakers 'donate' their speeches.
    It just takes money to get things done.
    Francois Greeff


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