26 November 2012

Fixing What's Not Broken

About every other week the Ancestry.com Facebook fan page will post a "How are we doing?" thread. There's a link to a survey to respond but of course a number of people ignore the link and just comment on the thread. The comments seem to fall into a few categories.
  • Complaints about the price.
  • Requests to fix the search engine. 
  • Suggestions for a feature that already exists.
  • Suggestions for something only newbies want.
  • Good ideas that Ancestry should consider.
The first two could be entire posts unto themselves. This post will address the others. For the last, hopefully the people commenting with good ideas will submit them through the survey link as well as commenting on the thread. If you see a good idea on one of those threads or have one of your own I encourage you to submit it through the survey or on the Ancestry website. The best idea submitted by one person may fall through the cracks but if it's submitted by 100 different people it will get noticed.
A mixture of answers and snark after the jump. I've split some of the comments up when they cover different topics but other than that they are unedited.

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✿ Make it easy to link common ancestors
✿ bulk copy someone else's tree into a spot from our own... for instance... if my mother has done aa lot of work developing a tree and I come in to make mine, then import her entire tree into mine from where she is in it.
✿ To be able to merge information and people from other public tree in bulk
✿ Yeah because we need to make it easier to copy those trees. Ugh. If your mother has a tree ask for a copy of her GEDCOM but I still suggest double checking her sources.

✿ Why when you attach a person from a member tree can we not also attach the documents instead of having to put them in one by one?
✿ Maybe it's an attempt to force people to actually look at records before attaching them so Ancestry doesn't wind up with more trees like this or this or this or this or this.

✿ The little green leaf hints are good; can you also devise a logical fact checker?
✿ There is one, the person at the keyboard. Ancestry can't control people who turn off their brain when using their site. 

✿ Be able to delete incorrect entries/information made by 'so called' researchers on submitted family trees.
✿ That would mean the clickophiles would also be able to edit your tree. Still think this is a good idea?

✿ The hint leaves are great but they are a lot a matches that are not even close and some that don't show up as a hint that should have
✿ Blame the clickophiles for the ones that "are not even close." When wrong records are attached to that person on someone else's tree the record will pop up for that name (with similar details) on other trees. Don't wait for records to pop up as hints. Search.

✿ a free trial period and stages of membership so some of us without those kind of funds can at least use the database and resources
✿ 14-day free trial; subscriptions by the month, half-year or year; Ancestry.com Library Edition. What other options do you want?

✿ I would like to keep my personal tree onsite in perpetuity so it's there for generations to come, not disappear after I die and stop paying my Ancestry fees. That includes family photos and documents I've uploaded.
✿ Your tree stays up forever. If you stop paying you can still access it. If you leave your password to someone they can still access it after you're gone. If you don't access your tree for 5 years and come back, your tree will still be there.

✿ Take away the annoying ads that get in the way of entering information. By the way, some of them should be rated R.
✿ Ancestry does not have pop-up ads from outside companies. If you're seeing ads it is either your browser or a virus.

✿ It would be nice if we could privatize certain people (esp. living) but keep them open to my eyes only. I have all the information for my living relatives but my files are now chopped up as I work mostly online now.
✿ Living people aren't public. You can even block living people from being seen by people you've invited to your tree.

✿ enter marriage dates/places directly to tree
✿ yea it would be nice for it to list nationalities,instead of having to re go through everything trying to figure it out! so,if you know your 15th grandmothers family comes from ireland,and your 8th grandfathers family comes from poland and ect. it tells you right on your main page
✿ I think it would be cool to have a bio for ancestors, like a place to put their weight/height/appearance, their street addresses, any nicknames, illnesses, etc.
✿ Just a few of the options under "Add Fact": Address, Also Known As, Description, Height, Marriage, Medical, Nationality, Occupation, Weight. You can also create a custom event.
Not going near the "15th grandmother" thing.

✿ I don't always know siblings dob but I may know birth order. There needs to be a way to enter this.
✿ There is...guesstimate

✿ Share more stories to empower ancestry research. Secondly bring a network of members to connect with each other.
✿ He says on Ancestry.com's Facebook page. Many of you visit the Facebook page (or one of the other Ancestry Facebook pages: UK, AUS, CA, DE, IT, SE) and know that there's a large group of people who frequent the pages and are willing to help. Message boards are also available and now a Support Community. As to the first statement, Ancestry has a YouTube channel and two blogs, Sticky Notes and the Ancestry.com blog. [UPDATE: Ancestry has not updated its Sticky Notes tumblr since Dec 2013.]
✿ I would like to be able to add a group of children all in one step. I am currently entering 9 children from an 1870 census and since I have them all documented and do get tired of all the step, step, step to get them all in. I would like to be able to list them all and then hit save and be done.
✿ I want an option to add all when I find a census record with relatives. I have having to click each name individually. This is slow and cumbersome.
✿ Pre-1880 censuses don't list relationships. Do you want the computer to guess? The same computer that gave you a 1930 census hint for someone that died in 1892?

✿ ...when I click the exact match I usually get nothing. No matches. Lets say you have Los Angeles, California as a birth place and you say exact match. Well it can't be LA, or CA, or Calif, or Los Angeles, California, USA in the record. It has to be Los Angeles, California. Exactly.
✿ Choose from the type ahead, auto-fill or whatever you want to call it, for places and you'll find that the exact feature is much more effective.

✿ When searching for names in census records if we were blue [able?] to look up by first name as an option since some times last names are misspelled. That would be really helpful.
✿ And you can't do that now because...? That's actually a great way to find an elusive family in a census, delete the surname.

✿ more deaths that are not blocked in between years
✿ Just guessing at what this person means... Did you ever think that there could have been a courthouse fire, a tornado or some other disaster? Ancestry can't give you access to something that doesn't exist. To find out if a record exists check The Red Book that is part of the Family History Wiki in Ancestry's Learning Center.

✿ Would also appreciate fewer FB posts. It's not unusual to get 10 or more a DAY from Ancestry... The word for it is Spam.
✿ It's not spam if you liked the page. Clicking 'like' on a page leads Facebook to assume that you actually, you know, LIKE the page. If you don't want to see updates hover over the "Liked" button and remove the check next to "Show in News Feed." I'm sure you'll be back in a few months complaining about missing the latest contest.

✿ I would like to be able to get back to a prevois page easier. When you click on something and save etc, then you have jump back through all the screens to get back to the original screen.
✿ "Open in a new tab" is your friend.

✿ I think free account holders should be able to see family trees at least. I see so many people saving records from my tree (from when I had a paid subscription), but I can't view their tree. Seems like it's all a one-sided deal to me. If I have a public tree, I should be able to see public trees.
Mundia.com. You don't even need to sign up for a new account, just use your Ancestry.com username and password. [UPDATE: Ancestry dropped Mundia in Jun 2014.]

✿ Is there a way to do work (say transcription) that could allow you to earn credits to be applied to the cost of membership? I have had memberships in the past, but in this economy it is difficult to lay out that much money in one shot.
✿ I just wished you offered deals to ppl who themselves contribute alot of info and pics to others on the site.
✿ Free membership to those of us that contribute
✿ If you key records for the World Archives Project you get a discount. For the second and third comment...The entire site would be overrun with photos of flags, angels and flowers because people want a free membership. No thank you.

✿ I could like to see a list of exactly what records you can access in each country ing the world package!
Card Catalog. Use the left hand column to narrow down collections by location or enter the country name in the keyword search. 

✿ when you have hints come up on a person it should show more then just the census and a few other data bases it should have scanned the whole ancestry.com data base.
✿ And that collection that only has names indexed? Yeah, just make all the ones with the name of my guy, John Smith, show as hints. I'll just attach them all! I'm sure those that are doing actual research won't be annoyed at having to ignore hundreds of hints for each person on their tree. Ancestry.com is a research tool. It does not hand you information on a silver platter.

✿ I would love to see a flash intro of a seasonal tree that changes to where each subscriber lives.
✿ Yes, what we need is something pretty that serves no purpose and makes the page load slower.  

✿ PLEASE: Allow uploading of EXISTING audio and video. I have TONS of video and audio of family now dead, that cannot be recorded 'live' on my computer. I cannot understand why you do not allow uploading of video and audio from an existing file on a computer, but only through a microphone as you record it. It makes NO sense...
✿ Since there are absolutely no other sites on the internet that can provide that service Ancestry should definitely add it. Anytime there's free access or a television show that excites people about researching their family the site slows down to a crawl so yes, let's add a feature that would take up TONS of site space. Or you could just upload your items to YouTube or Vimeo and put a link in a story on your Ancestry tree. 

✿ To be able to do blogs
Blogger? Wordpress?  Any of the other free blog sites? If they're good enough for GeneaBloggers they should be good enough for you.

✿ My biggest complaint is that there are so many mistakes in names, dates, locations, etc. I would love to see all the obvious errors cleaned up.
✿ Ability to correct transcription errors in records like Census -- I found one in my family just today where I knew the spelling was a "v" but because of the writing, it was transcribed as an "l".
✿ I would like to be able to fix missing or wrong info that has been transcribed.
✿ On the left of the indexed page you can "Add alternate info." You can also add that on the page with the original record by clicking on the pencil next to the person's name in the box at the bottom of the page (click the center arrow at the bottom edge of the page if the box isn't visible). 
I searched the help page for - correct transcription - and this was the first result.

✿ The ability to change a person's parent without having to delete and re-add them...
✿ This one is kind of hidden but it does exist. Click "Edit this person" and then "Relationships." On that page you can remove parents and add the correct ones.

✿ I would like to see in the overview where it says "add a spouse" an option that says "never married". That way when you are browsing ancestors and you see that nothing is in the spouse category you would see that they never married not that you need to research them more.
✿ There needs to be a way to note "never married" so I don't keep searching
✿ This one I agree with but until they add a "never married" option you can enter "never married" instead of a spouse's name. I have 32 "Never Married" entries on my tree. It adds non-existent people to my tree but I don't spend time searching for a record that doesn't exist. Just remember to delete the spouse in the search box when looking for other records for them.

✿ 1) Make it possible to send a message to another member without paying to do so.
2) Have the ability to show parents who were never married to each other. There are several people in my family (including me) whose parents were never married to each other. Calling them "spouses" and having a "married" line connecting them is incorrect and misleading.
3) Make it possible to add siblings without first adding parents. Sometimes the siblings' names are available, but the parents' are not.
4) Make your fees more affordable. ~$300/year is very expensive, especially when I know I can most likely find the exact same information elsewhere (like Family Search) for free.
✿ 1) Mundia.com [UPDATE: Ancestry dropped Mundia in Jun 2014. Only Ancestry.com subscribers can message other members.]
2) Don't enter a marriage event for them. Go into "Relationships" (in "Edit this person") and remove the spouse.
3) Give the parents a name, i.e. "Unknown," and you can enter all the siblings you like.
4) If you can find it somewhere else why are you paying Ancestry?

✿ The ability to print the entire GEDCOM. I have almost 6,000 people on my GEDCOM and I can never see all of them at once. Certain branches are always collapsed.
✿ [speechless]

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  1. I'd love that 'never married' option too! Especially since removing the automatically added spouse's name from my female ancestors before searching drives me nuts. :)

    I love your snark! I don't follow the ancestry facebook. I'm wondering if I'm missing valuable info, or mostly just these kind of comments, haha.

    1. Thanks Alice! They've been giving away DNA tests about once a month so if you want a free test you may want to check it out. You can just go to their page and find the post with the link. I don't think you have to 'like' the page to enter. The DNA threads, how-are-we-doing threads and the "posts by others" are where the entertainment is ;-) Valuable info? Not really. I think the most valuable info Ancestry is putting out right now is their tutorial videos.

  2. I always find your posts informative and/or entertaining Loretta! Thanks!

  3. Hilarious! Thank you for the tongue-in-cheek comments. Reading this made my day.