Footnote.com: You Are in Control
NOTE: This is the third and final part of an article that looks at the many services available at www.footnote.com.
If you have read the two earlier articles in this series, you already know that Footnote.com contains images of millions of historical documents, as well as thousands of member-contributed web pages of text, images, ideas, opinions, and discoveries. Most of the site is now available to you free of charge; the only fees are those required to view the images of original documents placed online by Footnote.com. Even user-contributed images can be viewed at no charge.
In this, the final article, I will describe how your privacy is protected and some of the methods used to keep all pages focused on history.
You can upload content while simultaneously protecting your own privacy, should you wish to do so. Other users can contact you through a "brokered e-mail" system within Footnote.com. That is, another user who wishes to contact you will click on CONTACT AUTHOR in a page that you created. He or she will never see your real name or e-mail address.
A text box will appear, and that user may compose a message to you. Once the message is written, the user clicks on SEND, and the message is sent to you by Footnote.com's mail server without the other person ever seeing your real name or e-mail address. You will receive the message as a standard e-mail message, and you then decide whether or not you wish to reply. Your privacy is always protected, if you wish.
Footnote.com has announced a "zero tolerance" policy when it comes to spam, pornography, advertising, or other inappropriate content. All such pages are quickly removed.
Footnote.com relies on peer review to identify inappropriate pages. If you ever encounter a web page on Footnote.com that is inappropriate, you can "flag" the page. Within hours, a Footnote.com employee will review the page. If the reviewer agrees that the page is inappropriate, the page is immediately removed from public view.
I recently spent a day at Footnote.com corporate headquarters. While I was there, a Footnote.com user flagged a particular page as containing inappropriate information. While I watched, an employee checked the page and found that it contained an advertisement for a pornographic web site. Within one minute, the page was removed, and the user who created it was locked out. The thing that impressed me most is that all of this was done within fifteen minutes after the creation of the original page!
Spammers and others have attempted to create pages on this free service but soon gave up and went away. Their "creations" are visible for such a short period of time that creating such pages is a waste of their time. Why create a spam page when it will be removed within minutes? The spammers and others soon learn that this is not the place for their ads.
While sitting at home and browsing through hundreds and hundreds of web pages on Footnote.com, I have never seen an inappropriate page. My only such experience was the one when I was looking over the shoulder of a Footnote.com employee in his office.
As mentioned in the previous article, Footnote.com is not limited to serving genealogists. It is a history web site and provides information to many people with a wide variety of interests in historical topics. Of course, that includes genealogists, but the site also appeals to historians, re-enactors, teachers, students, members of historical societies, ethnic organizations, class reunions, railroad buffs, anyone interested in house history, and more. You will find that many different "communities" of historical interests also use Footnote.com's Story Pages.
Private individuals and family societies alike have found that Footnote.com provides an excellent, free publishing platform to record and make available genealogy and historical information. All information uploaded is available to others at no charge. The web site encourages you to add photographs and scanned images of documents. Whether you are interested in adding information about your ancestor or about the historical mill that operated in your town 200 years ago, or about a high school class of 1927, Footnote.com is the place to preserve and publish that information. There is no charge to the person who uploads the information and no charge to others to view your text and images. Everything is indexed and easily visible to others. Even Google and the other search engines are adding Footnote.com's data to their search databases. Your data will soon be visible to millions of people on the World Wide Web at no charge.
At this time, the content on Footnote.com is all U.S.-based. However, the site's managers promise to expand in the near future to add international documents of interest.
As you can imagine, a web site of this size and with this amount of growth always has something new. You can monitor the addition of new content as well as software enhancements being made to the site if you occasionally read the Footnote.com blog at http://blog.footnote.com.
I must say that I am delighted that owners of Footnote.com decided to sponsor this newsletter. The company's concern for delivering high-quality historical information at very reasonable prices, their concern for privacy, and their strong commitment to keep all pages focused on historical topics all contribute to what I would call "a class act." I wish that all web sites would have similar standards.
You can see all of this and more by visiting the site yourself at http://www.footnote.com.