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How to Create a Genlighten Research Report

Saturday, July 2nd, 2011

So you’ve finished a research project for your first Genlighten client. Congratulations! It’s time to upload your report so you can get paid.

Upload ReportLog into the site and click on the “Provide” tab. You’ll see a list of pending requests. Click on the red title for the request you’re ready to complete. Scroll down the page and you’ll see a button on the left that says “Upload Report.” Click it to go to the report page. (If you don’t see the button, check to make sure you’ve accepted the research request.)

A Genlighten report has three required parts but they don’t have to be completed in one sitting. You are welcome to upload images to the report page for safe-keeping while you’re working on a project and you can edit the report as many times as you’d like as long as you remember to scroll down to the bottom of the page to “Save” every time you do. Your client won’t have access to the report page until you select “found” or “not found.”

Part 1: Tag the results “Found” or “Not Found”
Found/Note Found

Select “Document Found” or “Document Not Found” by clicking the radio button to the left. You can toggle back and forth between the two options but you can’t deselect both once you’ve chosen one.


Once you’ve selected “found” or “not found” your client can view your report and any documents that you’ve uploaded. In many cases, it’s best to leave this step for the very end.

Part 2: Compose Report to Client
Report Box

Your report format will depend on the level of service you choose to provide. Many providers use this box to share an informal summary of the research process and results. If you choose this approach, please make sure to tell your client where you found the document(s) you are uploading and to provide enough information that another person could follow in your footsteps and retrieve the same record.

If you choose to share a more formal report, you can enter it in this box or you can upload it in another format. PDFs work well. So do Word documents. If you choose to upload your report in a file instead of using the report box, just add a note that says something like “Please see the report I’ve uploaded.” You have to type something in the box.


If you have Internet access at the repository you visit, you can use the report box to take notes. Just remember to “Save” each time you leave the page.

It’s sometimes helpful to your client if you include site-related guidance at the end of your report. For example, sometimes clients try to print images from a browser and this usually results in the pages being cut off no matter what they do. Adding a link to our “How To Print Your Lookup Document Images on Genlighten” can help clients avoid frustration. You are also welcome to add a note that reminds clients to contact if they have any trouble using the site—downloading images, printing images, etc.

Feel free to format your report with HTML. You can use code for things like bold and italic and also to add paragraphs.

Part 3: Upload Scanned Document(s)
Upload Images
Please upload digital images of the records that you retrieved for your client. You can upload almost any image format – JPG, GIF, TIF, BMP, PDF – and you can also upload documents in Word format. If you upload jpgs or gifs, the site will create thumbnails to appear on the report page. If you upload a pdfs or a Word document, your client will just see a red link.

You can upload images one at a time or you can upload them as a batch. If you upload them as a batch, they will be in order from the bottom of the page to the top. In other words, the first image that your client sees will be the last one you uploaded.

What if your research didn’t generate any images? Then you’ll have to be creative because you won’t be able to charge your client until you upload something. You could upload a photo of the repository you visited or provide a copy of the report as a PDF or Word document. You could also provide images of an index or page searched to document a negative result.


Please do your best to provide quality images. Create images with high enough resolution that the record can be easily read on a computer screen and/or printed. If it’s a document, a 200 dpi jpg is probably fine. If it’s a photo, you might want to include a higher resolution image.

Consider making small tweaks to the images with a program like Picasa. Quickly rotating and/or cropping images can make a big difference in your presentation.

If you have the ability to create multiple file formats, e.g., jpgs or pdfs, consider offering a choice to your clients.

Finishing the Research Request

Once you’ve completed and saved the three-part report, a “Charge Client” button will appear on the request page. When you’re ready, click it. Your client will receive email notification that the request is complete and your account will be credited with your fee. Even though the request is complete, you can still edit the report if you find you need to made additions or corrections.

If you get an error message when you click the “Charge Client” button, please delete the images you uploaded (so your client can’t see them) and email immediately. Usually, it’s just a matter of the payment authorization having expired (you have about four weeks to complete a request before that happens)–something that can be easily fixed with your client’s help.

If you have questions about how to create a report, just send a quick email to I’m always happy to help.

Nine Questions with Kim Stankiewicz

Monday, May 10th, 2010


On Mondays, I frequently publish brief e-mail interviews with some of our lookup providers. This week’s interview is with Kim Stankiewicz, whose Genlighten username is — you guessed it — kimstankiewicz.

From kimstankiewicz‘s profile

Kim’s been doing genealogy research for herself and others for the last ten years. She’s located in the Chicago area and has access to the Great Lakes Region NARA facility, the Cook County Courthouse, the Wilmette LDS Family History Center and numerous Chicago libraries. She can retrieve Bohemian obituaries, criminal court records, naturalization records, probate records and wills. She participated in ProGen2 and is a member of the Northwest Suburban Council of Genealogists and the Polish Genealogical Society of America. She’s committed to treating your ancestors as if they were her own.

Nine questions with Kim

1)         How did you get started doing genealogy research?

After researching my own family history, friends and acquaintances started asking me to help them with their family histories.  I found that I enjoyed researching others’ ancestors just as much as my own and I learned so much through the process.  I get just as excited when I find good information for others as I do for myself!  Solving a genealogical puzzle is always fun!

2)      Do you have a genealogy “superpower”? If so, what is it?

One of my strengths is my persistence in attempting every avenue I can think of to find elusive ancestors.  Sometimes people just can’t be found, but I will always try every trick in the book to track people’s ancestors down.  I do this through a step by step process of searching different records that are available in the Chicago area.

3)      Describe a tricky research problem you’re particularly proud of having solved?

I recently had a client that wanted to find out what happened to her aunt’s baby after her aunt’s divorce.  This divorce took place many years ago and no one ever talked about it and the aunt had since passed on.  After pulling the divorce records, it was discovered exactly where the child was placed and what the child’s new name was.  It was very exciting as my client was able to reconnect with this new found cousin!

4)      What are the ideal elements you like to see in a well-formulated lookup request?

It is helpful when a client can give as many details or stories that they’ve heard about their ancestors.  Sometimes the littlest details can be the biggest clues for looking for documents in the right place.

5)      What’s the most interesting record source or repository you’ve utilized in your area?

My favorite repository is definitely the Cook County Archives.  I enjoy searching court records for either criminal cases, general lawsuits or divorces.  Many people have very interesting stories and so much can be gleaned through these records.  Their narratives are all documented via court records and their testimony.  It’s almost as you can hear them speaking when you read their 100+ year old testimony word for word!

6)      What technical tools do you use to produce the digital images you provide to clients?

I have a new hp computer and a new scanner so that I can easily upload documents and deliver them digitally to my clients.

7)      Any new lookups you’re considering offering?

I plan to offer wills and probate look ups, divorce, law and chancery case look ups and obituary look ups from newspapers that are not yet on-line.

8)      What advice would you give to someone who wants to get started as a lookup provider?

One needs to first start off by offering their favorite look ups so that they will find it fun, fulfilling and interesting.

9)      What other passions do you pursue when you’re not at the archives doing lookups?

I like running, reading, going to the movies and spending time with my husband and five kids.

Lookups kimstankiewicz Offers

How Citable Public Documents Will Change… Genealogy!

Thursday, April 8th, 2010


I’ve been following with some interest the nascent “Government 2.0″ movement, which aims to “use Information Technology to… commoditize government services, processes and data.” Basically, the goal is to help citizens connect with their governments (and vice-versa) using Web tools like social networking, wikis, and distributed version control. One obvious potential outcome of this effort would be making government documents easier for the public to access, understand, and respond to.

The League of Technical Voters

To this end, a non-partisan group called the League of Technical Voters (LTV) has proposed a software solution called The project is aimed at making it easier to cite government documents hosted online. Here’s how they describe the problem they perceive and the solution they’re trying to build:

Making it possible to create timestamped permalinks at a paragraph level of granularity would be a huge leap forward in increasing government transparency through its online documents. The same principles apply when producing citable government data. When decided to display visual representations of the data coming in about recovery money around the nation, it quickly became clear that some amount of data was erroneous. When the errors were reported and the data was later modified, there wasn’t any way to go back and compare the two versions to see what changes had taken place. A blogger, reporter, statistician or scientist should be able to run a query against any specific collection of government data, as it was published, for a given version or moment in time.


The nonprofit, nonpartisan League of Technical Voters has proposed a simple, easy to build and implement citability solution. Open source software development is underway and a wide range of government institutions are already on board.

OK, So What’s the Genealogy Tie-In?

A number of genealogy organizations public and private, for-profit and non-profit are currently working to build centralized, authoritative yet collaborative online family trees, appropriately sourced with wiki-like conflict-resolution tools built in.

At the same time, some state and county governments are making more and more of their genealogy-relevant records available online, while others are working to restrict public access to records in the name of privacy and identity theft prevention.

It strikes me that the principles behind projects like LTV’s could be explored, adapted and potentially championed by genealogy organizations. After all, for many genealogists, accurate sourcing — particularly of public government documents — is practically an article of faith.

A Helpful Introduction

I found Silona Bonewald’s article Stop Fishing and Start Feasting: How Citable Public Documents Will Change Your Life a helpful introduction to this topic. I’d encourage you to take a look at let me know what you think in the comments section of this blog.

A Non-Genealogy Aside

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

Molex lensed MT in MTP cableI’m in Guadalajara Mexico tonight on a business trip for my day job as an optical design engineer. I opened up my e-mail this evening to learn that a good friend from our Church congregation is to undergo surgery tomorrow. I called her on the phone and sensed she was calm and confident about the procedure. It turns out the surgeon will use a robotic telesurgery system named after a justifiably famous artist.

I couldn’t restrain myself from mentioning that I had played an extremely small part in designing the molded polymer lenses used in the optical connector for the video transmission cable that connects the remote console with the robotic surgery unit in the system my friend’s surgeon will use.

Kinda cool. Now I have one more reason to pray for the surgeon’s success.

Some Results From Our AdWords Experiment

Monday, May 18th, 2009

I mentioned in a previous post that a group of MBA students from Kellogg was helping Genlighten with a Google AdWords experiment. They’re part of an annual competition that’s supposed to help teach participants how Google Ads work. Here’s a snapshot of the results they’ve gotten thus far for their ads aimed at recruiting lookup providers:

Provider Campaign Results

Provider Campaign Results

I’ve only shown three of the most popular variations of the ads they created. The columns to the right summarize some of the key ways of measuring the ads’ impact:

  • “Clicks” is the number of times the ad has been clicked on
  • “Impr.” is the number of times the ad has appeared, either on a search results page or on a website that accepts Google ads.
  • “CTR” is the click-thru rate, basically the the number of clicks divided by the number of impressions. Yup, it’s actually that low.
  • “Cost” is how much we’ve  been charged for the clicks we’ve received. The cost of these ads is running around $0.30-$0.50 per click, sometimes even less. During the early part of the campaign, the team set the maximum amount they were willing to pay per click at $0.50. They’ve since raised that slightly.

These metrics make up one component of the “return on investment” calculation we need to do to decide whether Google AdWords are a good way for Genlighten to recruit providers. The other component is the number of interested providers who sign up to download our Provider “How To” Guide and receive an invitation to our private beta after clicking on one of these ads.

Depending on how we count them, that number is probably about 5. That’s out of 150 total clicks across all variations of the provider-oriented ads. So the “conversion rate” — the percentage of those who come to the site via our ads who express interest in becoming providers — is only about 3%. At $0.50 per click, that means we’ll need to pay about $15 to recruit a single provider.

Is that a good result? It depends on how many lookups that provider is able to get clients to order, obviously. But based on what I know now, I’d be pretty happy if we could reproduce that number consistently. I typically spend several times that to recruit providers at genealogy conferences such as those put on by NGS, NERGC and Family History Expos.

But is the comparison an appropriate one? When someone visits my booth at a genealogy conference and expresses interest in becoming one of our providers, it’s usually pretty clear to me that they’re a) serious and b) qualified. I don’t have any such evidence for those who come to our site via AdWords. And I won’t really know for sure until I see how they perform as providers. That concerns me.

For now, though, I’m pleased with the AdWords experiment and the tremendous amount of data we’ve been able to gain from it. In a subsequent post, I’ll talk about our results in trying to attract lookup clients via AdWords.

I’m curious… what do you think of the ads the Kellogg students composed? Would you have clicked on them had you come across them on a Google search results page or on a genealogy website? Please let me know in the comments. Thanks!

Imaginative Rumor — LDS Church to buy Facebook?

Wednesday, August 20th, 2008

Update:  the Industry Standard has an even more credible take on this one.

Well, we’ve all heard that social networking is the “next big thing” in genealogical research. But is the LDS Church really planning a hostile takeover of Facebook to “help monetize its genealogy business”? I’m going to go out on a limb and say…. no, not a chance. Here’s the story, according to respected private equity website

“Here’s one you don’t hear every day: The Mormon church is reportedly making a hostile bid for Facebook Inc. Brooklyn blogger Zach Klein says an “employee close to the deal” told him the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints wants the social network to help sanctify, meaning monetize, its large genealogy business.

Idle chatter, hipster hucksterism, blasphemy punishable by an eternity of hell-fire? Who knows (and quite possibly all of the above)? The LDS Church does have money to burn. And Facebook prophet Mark Zuckerberg, with his choir boy demeanor, might make a nice addition to those Tabernacle singers.”

Originating as this rumor does from “Brooklyn blogger Zach Klein”, this one sounds pretty easy to dismiss. Only one problem — updates its article on the topic with a comment from Lyman Kirkland, ostensibly from LDS Church Public Affairs, denying the rumor. So far so good… but Kirkland’s comment spells the name of the Church incorrectly!

OK, so there’s still no way this is gonna happen. But what if it did? How exactly would owning Facebook help the LDS Church monetize its vast genealogy resources? How would that help further the Church’s overall objectives? And if Facebook is really worth some $15B, how is the Church going to afford the purchase? That’s a lot of tithing!

A tale of two logos

Saturday, August 16th, 2008

I was as intrigued as anyone when I read on Dick Eastman’s blog and others earlier this month about Ancestry’s new Chinese-language site, In my casual familiarity with Chinese culture I’ve noticed a strong dedication to maintaining and respecting family lineage, so bringing sophisticated online genealogy research tools to China seems like a great move on Ancestry’s part to me.

But it got even more interesting when I actually visited the site. I was greeted by an attractive-looking tree logo (brown tree trunk with red leaves) with accompanying red type that looked faintly familiar — not from Ancestry’s existing sites — but from ours! Take a look and see what you think.

Jiapu Logo

Our logo

OK, so there are plenty of differences:

  • Jiapu’s leaves are two different colors and a slightly different shape than ours.
  • Our tree has a kind of sunburst in the background illuminating it, but Jiapu’s doesn’t.
  • Jiapu’s logo is animated with ‘windblown’ leaves that move off to the right when you mouse over it; ours isn’t animated at all.

But there are also several glaring similarities:

  • The jiapu tree trunk is a nearly identical shade of brown as ours; it also is angled up and to the right as ours is
  • One of jiapu’s two leaf colors looks the same as ours
  • Their name is red with a black tagline; so is ours

So how did this similarity come about? My guess is that it’s random coincidence — yet another example of two sets of talented people working completely independently and coming up with something similar without the benefit of any knowledge of the other’s work. Happens all the time.

I talked in an earlier post about the genesis of our logo. We filed for trademark protection on it in June of this year. I have no idea when and for what countries Ancestry’s logo was trademarked (though I’m definitely curious).

I probably wouldn’t have even bothered to blog about this issue at all if it weren’t for a certain recent lawsuit filed by Ancestry against Millenia and BTH2. The topic of the lawsuit? Similarities in the color, shape, and wording of two different genealogy companies’ tree logos (among other branding-related elements). Hmm…

“I will have to make myself be good”

Friday, July 4th, 2008

I’ve enjoyed today’s Independence Day posts from several of the bloggers I subscribe to via RSS, whether a simple quoting of the Declaration or a video clip of a fictional call to arms from the “President” in the movie Independence Day. I have my own favorite literary reference to the meaning of the Fourth, and I’d like to share it with you, my readers (though I apologize in advance to those who may find it offensive). It’s from Little Town on the Prairie, by Laura Ingalls Wilder. We read the whole “Little House” series to our kids when they were young, and the books continue to have a cherished spot in our family’s shared memories of that time.

The setting is De Smet, South Dakota around 1880. It’s the fourth of July in the tiny town, and a small impromptu celebration has been organized, including horse races and lemonade. A local political type rises to speak, and Laura and her family pay close attention. He begins to read The Declaration of Independence. We’re told:

“Laura and Carrie knew the Declaration by heart, of course, but it gave them a solemn, glorious feeling to hear the words.”

How many of us can say we know it by heart?

The reading of the declaration concludes, and Laura’s narration continues:

“No one cheered. It was more like a moment to say “Amen.” But no one quite knew what to do.

Then Pa began to sing. All at once everyone was singing:

My country, ’tis of thee,
Sweet land of liberty,
Of thee I sing…

Long may our land be bright
With Freedom’s holy light.
Protect us by thy might,
Great God, our King!

The crowd was scattering away by then, but Laura stood stock still. Suddenly she had a completely new thought. The Declaration and the song came together in her mind, and she thought: God is America’s king.

She thought: Americans won’t obey any king on earth. Americans are free. That means they have to obey their own consciences. No king bosses Pa; he has to boss himself. Why (she thought), when I am a little older, Pa and Ma will stop telling me what to do, and there isn’t anyone else who has a right to give me orders. I will have to make myself be good.

Her whole mind seemed to be lighted up by that thought. This is what it means to be free. It means, you have to be good…

Laura had no time to think any further. Carrier was wondering why she stood so still, and Pa was saying, “This way, girls! There’s the free lemonade!”

Hope you enjoyed Laura’s insights as much as I do. Happy Independence Day!