Why doesn't CWGC pick up on this and either develop their own search engine to do what Geoff's does - or pethaps use Geoff as an adviser or something? Have there been any moves in that sort of direction?
That is a question I have also often thought about. I'm afraid the answer isn't very positive - The CWGC still obtains considerable revenue from individuals requesting "fuzzy" and location reports. These reports generate quite considerable sums. A friend of mine found this out by making a FOI request, at first the commission pointed out that they are not subject to this legislation but when my mate pressed them and pointed out this was not in the spirit of the FOI laws, they relented and gave him an estimate (it ran into thousands). I find it quite intolerable that an organisation being funded with taxpayers money takes this line when asked to account for public derived funds and grants. It's really quite shocking and shows the Commission in a very bad light. And to those who say the commission isn't a public institution - it gets 70% of it's funds from the UK MoD (taxpayers money), that in my book clearly makes it a Public body/agency.
Years ago the Commission charged me £20 for a "fuzzy" search of their database. They provided me with one A4 page confirming the result.
I find it hard to believe that the commission has never been in direct contact with Geoff regarding his work. I also find it most odd that no one has ever added a link to his search engines on the CWGC website or at least offered to do so. Terry above confirms they know of his work. This makes it even worse, they can't rely upon a defence of ignorance. Goeff's search engines denies them this revenue, it really is that simple - GREED !
Fuzzy searches on Geoff's search Engines are an absolute sinch thanks to his coding and regular tweeks.
I know that Geoff has in the past been looking for work. I simply can't understand why the Commission hasn't ever got in touch with him and offered him a position in that organisation. That would make immense sense in my opinon. The Commission may tell us that they are not aware of his work in this area but I simply don't buy that. The CWGC often read GWF content and they must have seen his work. Again the explanation isn't positive - Geoff is probably considered a threat by their own expert staff! His expertise in this area dwarfs their own efforts and they damn well know it, better to ignore the subject and act as though his work doesn't exist.
Nothing ever changes for the better if we don't probe these organisations and tell them plainly what we expect from them. Nothing will ever change or improve if we all give them an easy ride and keep telling them how wonderful they are without knowing anything about the organisation. Most people come into contact with the Commission after visiting one of their cemeteries. I am happy to concede here that this area of their work is excellent and the performance of their gardeners brilliant (many in house horticulture staff have been disgracefully sacked and given their old jobs back working for the minimum wage with private contractors). This is the kind of employer they have become. I realise that a large amount of their staff have worked for the commission for many years. This is often a hindrance rather than an asset as they tend to get very complacent. Some staff are so entrenched in their positions that they consider Private researchers like us as interfering amateurs. They become very territorial and won't put up with others challenging their little empire. They take this line knowing full well their own limitations and lack of skills/knowledge. But when it suits them, they use us to find and pay the costs of researching the non-coms. It stinks!
I regret to say that most of the good work done by the commission was done many years ago. Since then the organisation has become complacent and stale. It could certainly do with an influx of new blood which would in turn generate new ideas etc...
I dare say my comments here will upset some people but my view is well known by most people who know of me. I am firmly of the belief that nothing will ever improve unless we all stand up and tell these organisations what we want them to spend OUR money on. I have in the past been accused of being a "Commission Basher" . This is nonsense! I have had some really good successes by appying constant pressure to organisations like this. There are too many YES men out there who think the CWGC should never be probed and challenged like this. My comments here follow naturally from the question posed by our great leader Chris. I think I am entitled to make these judgments bearing in mind the vast contact I have had with the Commission over the years both good and bad. I started my non com work years ago before it ever became fashionable (my peer is John Morecombe the true pioneer of this work). I often used to argue with people as to the extent of the non com problem. Thankfully the truth is now out and more of us are now getting involved (Chris Harley etc..) in what I think is the most important aspect of Great War research. The GWF has done enormous good and has become a hubb for people doing this vitally important work (thanks to T.D & co). There are still very few of us and we STILL pay the full costs even if a casualty is eventually approved by the MoD adjudication panels. Most of my gripes are not directed at the CWGC but to the Naval Historical Branch who it would appear have absolutely no real interest in doing a proper job. Their adjudications often make no sense and are harsh to the point of unfair. I have 2 cases still waiting for appeal 5 years after submission. Thasnkfully the MoD (Army) is now providing a superb non-com adjudication service and are making timely & sensible decisions all of the time (A DIRECT CONSEQUENCE OF YEARS OF MOANING FROM MYSELF AND OTHERS KNOWN TO ME)!
I freely acknowledge that there are some very good staff members within the commission on the clerical side mainly. It is the Middle and Senior managers I take issue with and to whom my comments here are directed.
I don't wish to speak out of turn or cause mischief for no good reason however it's in the public interest to question motives etc, we do afterall live in a democracy where free speech and freedom of association is important. For years now I have questioned the sense in having private volunteers do non-com work unpaid and unfunded. My protestations in this respect has always fallen on deaf ears. The Commission simply ignores difficult and probing questions even if they are legitimate and reasonable in the circumstances.
We all owe Geoff a huge debt of gratitude. His work is truly peerless... Perhaps we should all put him forward for a new years honour? Second thoughts perhaps not, he's not a disabled black lesbian! IS HE ?