Help, Support and FAQ: Tracking Orders

Wondering when you should decline a client's request? Looking for advice on scanning paper documents to produce readable digital images? Puzzled by the feedback you've received from a client? We answer some common questions asked by lookup providers below.

What do the various status codes such as "Submitted" and "In Process" mean?

Here's a brief key to each of the status codes and their meanings:

  • Submitted: Submitted lookups are ones for which the client has provided data and authorized payment through the site, but that you have yet to formally review and accept.
  • In-Process: When you accept the client's request, the status code displayed will change from Submitted to In-Process, which signals to the client that you will soon be visiting your local archive to search for the record.
  • Found: Once you have successfully obtained a copy of the record the client requested, you'll post in on the site in digital form. This code indicates that you've completed the upload process, and that the client can view and download their document on the status detail page.
  • Not Found: If you're unable to locate the document requested by the client, you'll go to the "Detailed View" page for the lookup, click on the "Not Found" button, upload a brief research report, and attach a note explaining the negative result. This code indicates that you've completed that process.
  • Cancelled: If the client cancels a lookup (using the "Cancel" button on the "Client Detailed View" page) before you have accepted it and begun work, this status code is displayed.
  • Declined: After reviewing a client's request, you may decide that you can’t complete the lookup in a timely fashion given the data provided by the client, or that their request falls outside the scope of the records you have access to. If so, you should promptly decline the request and attach a note to the lookup explaining why. The client can then view this note on the Lookup Status Detail page by clicking on the description text.
  • Contact Us: This status indicates that we encountered an error while processing the client's PayPal or credit card payment. The client will not be able to view or download the documents you've uploaded until payment is received. The "Contact Us" alert is aimed at the client, but you may also contact us via phone at (302) 566-5871 between 8 am and 8 pm Central time or e-mail us at support(at)genlighten(dot)com if you have questions or concerns.

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How can I filter the Order Status List to show only the most recent orders I've received?

You can use the filter links above and to the left of the Status List to limit which entries are visible. Click on the "Pending" filter to display just the orders with status Submitted, In Progress or Contact Us. Use the "Completed" link to display just the Found and Not Found orders.

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How do I view the Lookup Status Detail page for a lookup on my order status list?

Click on the Client's Unique Descriptive Title for a specific lookup request (highlighted in bold, red type) to be taken to the Lookup Status Detail page corresponding to that request.

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How can I print out a list of the lookups I need to complete on my next trip to the nearby repository?

From the Order Status page, use your browser's "Print" functionality (usually accessible by holding down the Ctrl key and pressing the "P" key, or Apple-P on an Apple computer) to send the page to your printer.

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Under what circumstances should I decline a lookup request?

Providers should review each lookup request they receive in order to verify that the client has followed the instructions given them and that they have provided the data needed to perform the lookup. If the lookup request:

  • falls outside the year range specified by the provider
  • involves a city in a different county than the lookup is intended for
  • tries to group multiple lookups into a single request
  • is better suited for a different lookup or a different provider
  • requires the use of a records repository that is temporarily inaccessible

Then the provider should decline it. The site will prompt the provider to post a note explaining their reasons for not accepting the request. This note should be thorough and polite, and should include suggestions for how the request could be rephrased and/or redirected to a different lookup or a different provider.

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Can I delete or edit a message I’ve posted to a lookup’s status detail page?

You can delete messages you've posted, but we haven't yet implemented the ability to edit them. To delete, just click on the stylized X to the right of the message.

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Is there a way my client can attach an image to a note they post to me?

We haven't yet added that capability, no. If you're interested in this feature, please let us know at support(at)genlighten(dot)com.

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Where can I get advice about successfully retrieving documents from my local repository?

We suggest you begin by attending meetings and conferences held by your local genealogical or historical society. You can also try visiting their websites or those hosted by the USGenWeb Project. We also encourage you to simply call or visit your local repository and talk with with employees or volunteers there. Building a positive rapport with them is a great way to enhance your success as a lookup provider.

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What's the best way for me to scan paper documents to produce quality digital images?

Many articles in genealogy magazines and on genealogy-related websites discuss this topic. We'd recommend the following articles online as a good starting point:


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What's your current commission rate?

Our commission rate is currently 15%. If you as a provider set your "Document Found" fee at -- for example -- $10 for a particular lookup, we'll credit $8.50 to your Genlighten provider account each time you complete that lookup successfully and upload the client's requested document to the site.

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When should I mark a lookup "Document Found" and when should I mark it "Not Found"?

The time to first ponder this question is before you create the lookup offering. Your "detailed description" should outline what you expect to be able to find as well as possible negative search outcomes. When a client submits a request to you and you accept that request, the two of you share the goal of getting a particular document into the client's hands. If you believe that the document you've retrieved fulfills the expectations that your offering has raised in the client's mind, you can feel justified in marking the lookup "Document Found." This is true even if the document does not end up containing groundbreaking new information for the client.

If despite your best effort, you are unable to find the document you expected to be able to deliver, you should mark the lookup "Not Found." Depending on how you phrased your detailed lookup description, there may be other situations that would also merit the "not found" designation.

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Where can I find authoritative guidance on how to generate source citation data?

The "Bible" of genealogical source citation methodology is Elizabeth Shown Mills' Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace. Every Genlighten lookup provider should own or have ready access to a copy. Mills' Quicksheets are also an extremely useful reference to have nearby.

Articles on this topic appear frequently in publications of the National Genealogical Society and the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG). Online message boards moderated by the APG provide a forum where such questions are frequently addressed and answered by experienced practioners.

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What should I include in my "Not Found Report"?

Documenting a negative result is as important as providing images when records are found. When your search doesn’t yield the record your client was looking for your report should tell your client what records you searched (titles, call numbers, etc.), where you searched them (repository name), and how you searched (for example, if you were searching a church register did you just check an index in the front of the volume or did you read through every entry between specific dates).

In many cases, it’s possible to provide images that document the result. For example, if you searched an alphabetical index for the surname “Ackley” and there were no entries found, you could provide a copy of the page that would have included that name.

Genlighten requires an upload before a request can be completed and charged. If the search didn’t result in an image to share, you can upload a report as a PDF or Word document. You are also welcome to upload a place-holder image, a photo of the repository you visited, for example, so that you can complete a request as “not found.”

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I received a low rating and/or negative feedback that I feel is unfair. Do I have any recourse?

At the moment, it isn’t possible to respond directly to negative feedback but you’re welcome to add a note of explanation to your profile page, if you’d like. Most times a consistent 5-star track record will minimize the impact of a single instance of negative feedback.

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How can I get more requests for my lookup offerings?

The answer here obviously depends on the type of lookups you offer and the overall popularity of the records you can retrieve. But we can offer a few general suggestions:

  • Take a look at similar lookups offered by other providers. Compare their headline, description, and pricing to yours and see if there are obvious improvements you can make to your listings.
  • Have a friend review your listing text for hard-to-catch typos or grammatical errors.
  • Take genealogy courses to improve your skills and mention them in your provider profile. Or join a genealogical organization such as the APG or NGS and list those memberships.
  • If you author a blog or are active on social media websites, consider linking directly to the description pages for the lookups you offer. This may help the ranking your pages receive in online searches by potential clients.
  • Look for additional suggestions on this topic in our blog and in the Genlighten newsletter.

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