27 December 2012

Fixing What's Not Broken 2

The threads on Ancestry.com's Facebook page have changed to "What can Ancestry.com do better?" but they are still posted once a week. Most people who comment never look at the thread again so replying over there seems rather pointless. At least here I can entertain myself and hopefully some of you too.
You know what's after the jump. As always the comments are cut and pasted with no corrections and my comments are in red.

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✿ I can't get further back than my great grandfather. His line stops at him. I've been looking for hints for as long as I've been on Ancestry and a couple of times, I've taken a wild goose chase without knowing it.
✿ Welcome to the world of genealogy!

✿ Help users better distinguish between unsourced family trees and well-sourced info. Discourage the "copy-paste" that results in a gazillion badly researched trees. Do more to encourage good sourcing and citations...
✿ So say we all! Unfortunately it probably wouldn't help. Those who want to learn will read and watch everything that they can get their hands on. Those that desperately want to be related to royalty or fame will not listen to reason if it destroys their fantasy. Ancestry has been releasing educational videos weekly. We can all learn something from them but those that need them the most will probably never watch them.

✿ Webinars on nights or weekends for us working folk,...
✿ An answer directly from Crista Cowan, Ancestry's Barefoot Genealogist:
My show is every Tuesday and Thursday at 1pm (Eastern), regularly scheduled like any other show. Within a few hours after each episode originally airs, we archive it on our YouTube channel where you can watch it at your convenience. On occasion we do special events that are held at different times but will most likely always be during my own working hours. I do make an exception for the Tweetchat events (because I can do them from home if I need to). We hold one morning, one afternoon and one evening Tweetchat each month. Tonight it's in the evening. I hope that helps you understand why we do these the way we do.
Here's the playlist page on the BUWT YouTube channel where you'll find videos from Ancestry.com and others. Ancestry videos are also available as a free podcast. You can download them and watch whenever and wherever you want.

✿ Some people on here do not know how to use the card catalog I see so maybe some advertising on the use of it. It's invaluable.
✿ So true! There are plenty of videos that include tips on using the card catalog but again, those who need it the most won't watch them.

✿ Don't suggest a census as a hint when that census has already been attached to that person. It happens to me a lot. I always go back to check before accepting the hint so I don't get duplicates.
✿ I've thought this on occasion too but I found multiple censuses for a few people. Same year different location. In 1940 my grandfather is with his parents one week and with his sister the next. I mentioned it to my dad the last time I talked to him and he said his dad lived with her while he was going to school. He'd go back to his parents' house on the weekends. If I hadn't mentioned finding him twice in the 1940 census I never would've known that.

✿ i would like to see the cemetery location of family members and obits too
✿ Wouldn't we all but it's not going to be handed to you on a silver platter. Ancestry.com doesn't have every bit of genealogical data. It never will. In fact only a small, single digit percentage of all genealogical information is online. Ancestry has a percentage of that.

✿ Allow download of entire genealogy books in .pdf rather than just one page at a time.
✿ If the copyright has expired you may be able to download the book from Google Books. If it hasn't expired it wouldn't matter if Ancestry's website had that capability. 
✿ More info displayed on SS death index results, such as an address or some other identifier that tells me I found the person I was looking for.
✿ The information you see for the SSDI is the only data in that collection. It is released by the federal government, not Ancestry.com. It's up to you to then look for the death certificate or order the Social Security application or SS-5. In 2011 the SSA changed the rules regarding the release of SS-5s. If the applicant was born less than 100 years ago the parents names may be redacted. If there's a city/county/state listed in the SSDI that will be the last place the person either worked or received benefits. A state in parentheses is where the person filed their initial application.

✿ I believe the spirit of Geneaology is sharing, HOWEVER, others should NOT be able to add your photos or stories from your tree to thiers WITHOUT PERMISSION. now before everyone jumps on & says well then keep your tree private-- doing THAT means you're locked out of finding connections! not trying to have it both ways,,, yet i have so many people who HAVE attached my personal photos-- and don't even send a simple message to me-- if Ancestry created a permission key- the owner would have to give it before was 'attached'-- BENIFIT... = creating MORE communication & sharing- not just the ... swipe n run.
✿ If you want people to ask permission and encourage communication then make your tree private. Then people HAVE to message you and ask. They aren't prohibited from contacting you if your tree is private. If you keep your tree public and Ancestry adds something that requires you give permission before someone attaches your photo what happens after you die? Your tree is still there and no one is allowed to share the items you've uploaded. Besides, anyone who doesn't want to contact you will just download and upload or screen cap and upload or take a photo of the screen and upload. All of which removes any indication that you are the owner of the photos.

✿ One thing is when you open a record all the way, and then decide to go through page by page of those records, say 20 pages, then you just want to go back to the search box and change your search terms, you can't, you have to only go back to the record, or start a whole new search or click "back" 20 times.
✿ Open each record in a new tab or window.

✿ translation help for foreign documents
✿ Why when there's Google Translate, FamilySearch research communities on Facebook, numerous other Facebook groups, message boards on Ancestry.com, Rootsweb, Find A Grave,...

✿ please add those extended family member like grand uncles or aunts would be helpfull
✿ You can add as many family members as you like, as distant as you like. You can add the "father-in-law of 4th cousin 2x removed of husband of 1st cousin 1x removed of husband of 1st cousin of husband of niece of husband of 1st great grand aunt of husband of sister-in-law of 1st cousin 1x removed" if you want though I wouldn't recommend it.
✿ if someone picks up a record they can be alerted that dates cannot add up. Eg if the spouse or children are born centuries apart!
✿ There is a warning but people choose to ignore it. Unfortunately a warning does not come up if the information is being copied from another tree through tree hints. There is no cure for people shutting off their brain or having no common sense while using Ancestry.

✿ I would like high quality trees to be highlighted in some way. Perhaps a discount for members whose trees meet certain criteria as an incentive
✿ Maybe in an ideal world but I can see it now, "My tree has 250,000 people on it. Why can't I get the discount?" "I've traced my family back to Adam & Eve. Why can't I get the discount?" The Facebook page would be filled with complaints from people who think they deserve the discount. And then there's the issue of Ancestry having to hire more people to find those worthy trees in the millions of fantasy/junk/clickophile trees. Personally I'd rather they spend money getting more records, not grading our work.

✿ I've found most of my connections for free on GeneaNet. While I don't have the actual records, I'll continue to hope that the other trees are fairly accurate.
✿ Obviously not a reader of my blog.

✿ Have an email contact as well as a phone number. My computer crashed and burned and I installed tree maker on the new computer, but it won't let me sync.
✿ The address is support@ancestry.com


✿ (The following has been suggested at least 3 times previously, but Ancestry apparently doesn't listen!) Please, please, please add a "Starts with" selection on the filters when searching for people. It would be SO helpful if we would be able to use that selection, adding in the first few letters of a surname (for example) instead of having to search multiple times for multiple spellings.
✿ (Maybe it's because something similar already exists.) You can use a question mark for one letter, an asterisk for multiple letters. Examples: J?nsen will return Jansen, Jensen and Jonsen; Johns* will return Johnson, Johnston and Johnstone among others. It can also be used for first names. Examples: Ann? for Anna or Anne and Ann* for Annie, Annika and others. A separate search would need to be done for just Ann. UPDATE: When using ? or * use exact search.

✿ To be able to search by state or county only without have to look at other states. Also to be able to highlight the records that you have already looked at.
When I want Michigan - I want MICHIGAN!! Not the whole WORLD!! Same for any SEARCH!!
✿ The search options need to be narrowed when the person inputting is being very exact/precise with the information they are putting in. An example; I KNOW when my adoptive father was born, where he was born, where he lived 98% of his life, and where he died. I KNOW THIS EXACTLY. So what happens when I supply all that information?? I get several thousand people with the surname but most don't even have the given name. WHY IS IT THAT WAY?? I never get a satisfactory answer when I call and inquire about it, much sympathy, but no real ANSWERS!!! Sometimes I think all these erroneous "clues" are designed just to keep us as customers. It's the only thing that makes any sense to me. So ANCESTRY REPRESENTATIVES: Any response?
✿ I will put in certain information I want but I don't check exact ie: TX vs Texas, and I get such wide results, when TX is not even in the results! We have been asking for years for this to be fixed. Surely there is something that can be done.
✿ You could watch any of the many videos about using the search engine. Just doing something as simple as choosing the place from the type-ahead will make your search more accurate.  

DUPLICATES (underlining is my emphasis)

✿ I would love it if I could link common ancestors. For example, we have 1/4 cousins who married. They were both descended from a particular couple but I have to duplicate those common ancestors and all the ones that come before. So I end up with twice as many entries. This gets very untidy.
✿ Making it possible for trees to over-lap. Ex: great, great grandparents were first cousins. Right now, two sets of one person has to exist, and it gets very confusing.
✿ I have many family surnames who intermarried with others and it isnt easy to just link them.
✿ my fathers cousin married my mothers aunt. whenever I add info on them I have to go to both sides of the family and enter it twice It would be nice if it automatically entered it for me
✿ I would like to see the mapping of my branches together. For example, if my Dad's 10th Great Grandma married my Mom's 11th Great Grandpa, it would be nice to see that person only listed once with both lines matching up there. Otherwise I have duplicate entries.
✿ First, there's no reason you have to create a duplicate. When you add a person the first option at top of the box says "Select someone already in your tree." Under that is a button to click. It says "Select from list." Choose from the list and you'll avoid having duplicates. Second, there are cases where you might not realize that the two Mary Smiths in your tree are the same person until you've done quite a bit of research. Earlier this month Ancestry added a merge feature to solve both problems and combine duplicates.


✿ Instead of having national and international versions of the site. Make Ancestry an all inclusive site. I've researched all the way back to the immigrant for all 4 of grandparents blood lines and a bit further in some cases; however, it would be nice to view the records from Europe and Italy without having to pay an additional fee.
✿ And you think if they made the site all inclusive they'd go with a LOWER price? If Ancestry did away with different pricing for your home country and world access all the complaints would be along the lines of, "Why can't there be a lower price for those of us that haven't crossed the pond/border and don't need access to records from other countries?"

✿ would be nice to inform you before you spend time searching that there is a charge etc
✿ Does this person ask other companies to be clearer about the fact that they are a business? "I went to your store and they wouldn't let me walk out with your product unless I paid. You really need to let people know that it costs money." Part of the problem is that people read "free trial" and stop at the word "free" or don't realize that "trial" means you can try it for free.

✿ How about a free week or day once a month
✿ Yes, so all the freeloaders can crash the site once a month and annoy all of us who pay.

✿ Ancestry is expensive and lots of people drop it and go to the library, especially retired people. Price needs to be looked at.
✿ You can use it for free at the library so maybe you should explain why they need to lower their prices.

✿ Don't need access often enough to justify the high cost.
✿ So go to the library and see if they have the Ancestry Library Edition. It's free.

✿ This use to be free till they got a lot of us to add our familys on here then they wanted us to pay them to see our family
✿ Anyone remember when Ancestry.com was free? Yeah, me neither. Also, you don't have to subscribe to view your own tree.

✿ How about blocking the people that whine about the cost or maybe charge them double .....
YES!!! Thanks Corey :-)

Lastly, a response from Rhi (Genealogy for the Everyman) to all the "lower the price" comments that overwhelm these threads:

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RELATED POST: Fixing What's Not Broken Part 1


  1. I did leave a comment on Ancestry's facebook page once upon a time... asking that they consider being able to turn off hints on individual people. I get lots of hints on branches of my tree that I'm really not interested in following. Several people replied that they would like that too, and ancestry support said they might do it in the future. So, I don't know if they will ever do it, but I don't think commenting was a complete waste of time.

    1. I meant replying to specific comments within the thread. Comments that can be answered easily or are suggestions for features that already exist can be replied to but most people don't return to read the thread after they've commented so it's pointless because they would never see it. They don't get a notification that someone else has commented unless someone on their friend list comments or Ancestry.com comments.