An easy to understand explanation here from Mark Howell
Another here from the RootsWeb Help Desk
Why do they do it ? don't know !
I know why I do it ...
I started genealogy nearly three years ago .. from one day to the next .. got "hooked" ... as they say ..
And if you can't imagine someone can get hooked then believe me .. I'm not the only one
.. read a couple of
these pages :-)
ONE TWO THREE
and there are millions more like me out there.
RAOGK Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness
and the LDS who provide information freely ..
collected as result of their religious beliefs ..
What I liked were the mailing lists .. people
freely exchanging data and names and personal stories ..
I loved it when I could help someone "find" a rellie ... nearly as good as finding one myself . nearly :-)
I received so much help from the members of the
mailing lists I belong to that I wanted to give
something back ..
I became a supporter, (donating a small amount for a year) and when that wasn't needed anymore
I adopted a few surname lists .. not much to do there :-) but it's better than nothing.
I'm a firm believer in "free" information ..
why should someone have to pay for something that I or others did voluntarily
e.g. extracting marriages from parish registers .. scanning (and converting to text) old books ..
spending millions of hours .. ( not me alone you understand ? ..
all of the ROOTSWEB listers .. )
FreeBMD stands for Free Births, Marriages, and Deaths.
The FreeBMD Project's objective is to provide
free Internet access to the Civil Registration
index information for England and Wales.
RootsWeb Surname list
The RootsWeb Surname List (RSL) is a list or registry of
"surnames that have been submitted by more than 194,000 genealogists,
with additional names arriving at the rate of more 700 a day."
more details here
Hosted Volunteer Genealogy Projects
I believe lists are there to help people get
started .... to show them where to look for themselves ...
and to keep everything in archives for our grand-children to find ... and not to give someone a family tree
on a plate, or worse .. collect information from them that they later sell to someone else.
There is even a mailing list for Newbies
Then we have a second group of people who spend literally 100s
of hours scanning
old, out of print and out of copy-write books ....
after also spending a lot of money to buy the book in the first place.
That these people charge a few pounds for the CDs to cover their expenses is understandable.
Colin Hinson's Rare books on CD
ARCHIVE CD BOOKS
After saying that: of course I must mention the
fact that there are commercial sites
with enormous amounts of information.
Ancestry.com , for example, has information on more than one billion surnames !!
A lot of the information free and the rest for a few dollars
HOW TO SEARCH ROOTSWEB'S ARCHIVES