You, dear Reader

For years I wondered how much interest there is for our website.  Occasionally someone would use the ‘contact us’ facility but how many others were/are there?  Recently I became aware that Google Analytics provide amazingly detailed statistics of visitors to the site.  Please be reassured that your privacy is safe – the analyses contain only numbers.  I will only know who you are if you contact me.

For example during the month of August 2013,  77 people visited the site for a total of 101 visits.  There were 258 page views and an average duration of almost 3 minutes (2:50).   There are inevitably short casual visits with quick departure.  There are also those that stayed to read, and who remained with the site quite a bit longer than the average.  The level of interest is also reflected in the ‘bounce rate’ where a value of 100% are for persons who do not proceed further than the home page.  45% of visitors were from South Africa with a bounce rate of 53%, an average of 2.4 pages and an average time of 3:25 minutes per visit.  The next group, 19%, were from Australia with bounce rate of 21%, 3.05 pages and 3:37 minutes per visit.  My own visits to work on the website would be in the latter group, but there were also other visitors.

Over the years several people have contacted me for more information or pointing out errors and I welcome this interest.  However, there is also a strange, and for me, a somewhat unsettling pattern, along the following lines.  I respond to the initial contact in which I try to provide information as best I can (usually it is about the ancestral line of the inquirer).  I also ask whether he or she would be willing to provide current information about their family – parents, grandparents, brother and sisters, uncles and aunts and, where possible, dates.  I often get a warm response with a promise to come back soon – and then silence.  I follow up with reassurance that it need not be exhaustive – just send what you know, after all we usually know the names of our relatives, even if dates are lacking.  But so often the line then goes dead.  Sadly, the value of the website would be enhanced so much if people were willing to provide information.  But it is not to be.

In the SA Genealogie chatroom several members have commented how hard it is to get relatives to respond and provide information, and I have long ago decided not to even attempt constructing a full genealogy of the family.  It is simply too hard.  However, even those who are interested and initiate contact, seem to find it hard to respond with the names of their family, and will stop answering my emails.  Do I intimidate them? – I sincerely try not to, and I try to reassure just give what you know – even if dates are missing, but to no avail.  Do they feel the information is private and should not be on the website? – names, dates, births, weddings and deaths are public knowledge – published in newspapers, well known among family and friends and are available from the relevant government departments, so I find that hard to understand. The best explanation I have found so far is that people are reluctant to ask dates and details from family – it is not always easy to explain that you want to pass it on for a website.  But there are also those who are happy to share information, or someone who writes in to say they enjoyed reading the stories.  This makes it all worthwhile.  For those, thanks so much – it helps to continue with the task.




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