Complete Idiot’s Guide to Online Genealogy

Complete Idiot’s Guide to Online Genealogy

Submitter: We’re in the midst of a big shifting project, and as I was making my way through the 920s, I came across this gem – Complete Idiot’s Guide to Online Genealogy – year 2000! At some point fairly recently it had been REBOUND, so I don’t have a nice cover to show you. As the librarian in charge of the computer books in the 004s, I was appalled and immediately withdrew it, but we still have a copy in our Genealogy Reference section. Sure, there are some still relevant tips for online genealogy sources, but the information is so out-of-date, this can’t be very useful. Check out the pages that talk about how dial-up works and the handy search engines Alta Vista and Hotbot. Since our Genealogy section will also have to be downsized, I’m hoping to talk them into getting rid of their copy, too.

Holly: Hotbot! I remember that one. Just because a book has *some* useful information in it does not make it a keeper. You have to consider the book as a whole, and this one is too old to be useful. Some patrons would follow a book like this step-by-step, and then call the reference desk, frustrated, saying “the book said to go to Hotbot, but my computer doesn’t have The Hotbot! Should I install it? Can I get it on The Facebook?” I like the Complete Idiot’s Guides, but they’re not helpful to newbies on any subject if they’re this outdated.


Online Genealogy rebound spine


search engines



  1. Nothing like outdated computer and technology sources. They go nicely with sports bios predicting future success of athletes whose careers unfortunately fizzled out by age 20 and career books for jobs that no longer exist.

    My private-school library has, in its reference section, an Internet-linked general-knowledge encyclopedia from that late ’90s. I use it, along with a never-checked-out Michael Phelps bio from 2008, to demonstrate why currency of resources is important. Three years ago when I was hired, we also had a pile of clip art CD-ROMs to go with audiobooks on cassette and ancient versions of the catalog on floppy disc. “Those were the days…”

  2. That’s the problem with technology books; these days they’re obsolete before the ink is dry.

  3. The part recommending a second phone line made me smile as my genealogist mom did exactly that in the late ’90s. 🙂

    1. Altavista redirects to Yahoo, and Infoseek redirects to Disney. But remarkably, the rest are still around. Excite looks little changed from the late 90s.

    2. Your comment reminds me: a professor once recommended (by writing on an acetate sheet on an overhead projector!) a series of search engines, none of which were Google. Or Bing, but MSFT hadn’t gotten into web services in a big way yet.

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