The key features discussed above already suggest some reasons why the Web has great potential for genealogists, but it may be worth looking at some of the particular things that genealogists can do with the Web, and why the Web helps to solve some of the limitations of traditional publishing in genealogy.
Rather than discuss these at length, I have summarised in the table below the main advantages over traditional genealogical publication.
Advantages of the Web over Print
|For the Web
|Partial research can be published, and filled out later.
||Incomplete material is not easily publishable.
|Web search facilities mean the pages can be found by those interested.
||With a small print run, it may be difficult for potential readers to hear of or find the publication.
|Links facilitate connections between pieces of information; cross references, even to other sites, are easily followed.
||There is no satisfactory way of organizing connected genealogical information in print; cross references are cumbersome.
|Links mean that references to other sources can be kept current, and new ones added.
||Reference information goes out of date; by definition, you cannot refer to subsequently published material.
|Any page can be downloaded in seconds from anywhere in the world.
||Specialist publications can only be read in specialist libraries or by inter-library loan.
|Black & white or colour illustrations are equally easy to include.
||Colour illustrations are prohibitively expensive.
|The content of any Web page can be searched interactively.
||Material must be indexed if readers are to find information selectively.
|World-wide distribution is automatic, publicity is free.
||Distribution and publicity are expensive and/or labour-intensive.
|Information can kept up to date, and corrections of any size made (on a day to day basis, if necessary) at no cost.
||Updating information requires a reprint; minor corrections cannot be made economically.
|Anyone can publish.
||Necessity for a publisher.
|There is no stock to be stored, managed or sold.
||Money is tied up in stock, which requires storage space and management.
All in all, anything you could publish in a book, you can publish on the Web. In addition, the Web has features which make it better than a book for certain genealogical purposes.