In today’s world, Google has replaced many things. Instead of turning to a dictionary or encyclopedia, we often first turn on our computer and hop on a search engine (most frequently Google). While this can be helpful, it isn’t always necessarily the best and easiest way to find what we are seeking quickly. For genealogical purposes, Cyndi’s List is always at the top of my list (even higher than Google). Here are five reasons why.
1. The Google Algorithm
Google and other search engines base your results on specific search algorithms. These include information from your previous searches to that Google can determine what you are searching for. Anyone who has seen strange search results appear (or bizarre advertisements show up on your Facebook page) knows how inaccurate these algorithms can often be. You never have to worry about that with Cyndi’s List.
2. Which Would You Rather Navigate?
I did a Google search for the term “Massachusetts genealogy” which returned more than 662,000 hits. With ten hits per page, that is more than 66,000 pages of results that need to be sifted through. There is no apparent order to the results. The top ten results were:
- the Family Search wiki page for Massachusetts
- the Massachusetts State Archives genealogy page
- a Massachusetts research guide on the NEHGS website
- links to Massachusetts resources on AccessGenealogy
- Massachusetts GenWeb,
- Massachusetts records on interment.net
- a search page on Ancestry.com for Massachusetts
- the Massachusetts Genealogical Council
- an outdated Massachusetts vital records website
- Research guide on Massachusetts vital records at the University of Massachusetts library
On Cyndi’s List, however, I navigated to the Massachusetts page in two clicks and had results grouped in more than 30 categories, making it easy for me to look for resources that would be helpful to me for a specific question. And if you don’t want to navigate through the easily-browsed pages, you can also search Cyndi’s entire list.
3. Cyndi’s Results are Already Vetted
When you are faced with the results on Google, you must look at each one to determine if it is a real resource, or a fake site looking to troll you. If it is not a real website, Cyndi won’t link to it in the first place. And if a website starts providing false or plagiarized information or other less than ethical materials, it will quickly be barred. Will Google do that for you?
4. Actual Support
Cyndi’s List has a very detailed FAQ; a number of them actually. These will well you with virtually any problem or question you might have. And, these FAQs are available from a link at the top of every page. In the rare event that you have a problem or question not addressed by the FAQs, you can send an email (although with the volume of messages she gets, it may take her awhile to get back to you.
5. Cyndi Ingle
The final reason Cyndi’s List is better than Google: Cyndi herself. Behind this list is a single individual. For more than twenty years she has worked to make this comprehensive resource available for free to everyone. She is incredibly knowledgeable, not only in genealogy, but in technology, and business as well. For any opportunity you have to use her list, or see her in a webinar or a live speaking engagement, you should run to be the first one registered for a seat and learn from her.
A couple of final notes. First, as you know, Cyndi provides access to her site free of charge, and has done so for more than twenty years. It costs a great deal of money to keep that going. Please consider supporting the list financially. You can make purchases from websites such as Abe Books, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and eBay by clicking on her affiliate links, and she will get a small remuneration for your purchase. Or you can make a donation directly. Any amount will help keep this valuable resource available for free to all.
Second, I want to acknowledge that Cyndi and I have been good friends for many, many years. This friendship has no bearing on what I wrote above. If I didn’t think it was one of the best resources around, I wouldn’t write about it. I believe in providing valuable resources to genealogists, and this is one of the best ones available anywhere.