04 February 2013

Fixing What's Not Broken 3

If you haven't read the first two "Fixing" posts these are comments made on Ancestry.com's Facebook page. Specifically on threads asking, "How are we doing?" or something similar. These threads seem to be posted every other day now.
The most (intentionally) amusing comment:

✿ Go back in time and save the US 1890 census before it was burned up, please.

Okay, now on to some tips with a side of snark. As always my comments are in red and the other comments have been cut and pasted so I take no responsibility for spelling or grammar.


✿ I liked it about 12 years ago when if you clicked on a person's name it would take you back one generation to say who the parents were and so on and so on.
✿ Ah, the mentality of a clickophile. "I just want to click and poof, a tree appears by magic. Why do I have to actually read and search and stuff?"

✿ It would be nice if you got back to a certain point on one branch and find that you are related to a certain person and research it back as far as it goes. It would be nice if you could automatically copy it if you find you are related to the same person up another branch. Also, it would be nice to have more verification that the information is correct.
✿ It's your job to verify the information and the last thing we need is an easier way to propagate erroneous information. 

✿ Make it a lot easier to find photos of your relatives- I've come across distant relatives who have mutual relatives of mine in their tree and they have tons of pictures of them. I'd love to be able to find those directly, rather than accidentally.
✿ Why can't Ancestry's hints be perfect and spoon feed everything to me so I only have to click once to add stuff? I don't want to search or anything.  


✿ I would like to be able to specify a date that would automatically turn my PRIVATE tree into a PUBLIC tree. (Like after I die!)
✿ Everyone here who knows their own death date raise your hand. Leave your username, password and your wishes in regards to your tree to someone. They can change your settings after you're gone.

✿ Find a way to stop signing me out of the site while I am in the middle of a search. I constantly have to sign in again, and again, and again....
✿ I am always getting bumped offline. I'll be in the middle of looking at a record and then it asks me to sign on again. This happened 7 times last night before I gave up.
✿ how about not bumping me off line all the time..and this is not bumping me off the internet.., just off Ancestery.
✿ This usually happens when the user is on a browser that isn't compatible, usually Safari. Read here to find out if your browser is compatible. Also, clearing cookies/cache will solve a multitude of problems on the site. Always try that before calling support.

✿ I tried 3 times & could not get that link to open up. That would be one suggestion as to how to improve Ancestry: Have valid links !
✿ Of course there is no mention of which link but I'm sure Ancestry will check all of their millions (trillions?) of links just for him.

✿ I would like to see less ads.
✿ I pay for a subscription, I would really appreciate no more annoying "count the bouncing ball" or other adverts. They slow the loading of pages and are generally distracting.
✿ Get rid of pop up adds. They're distracting and unwanted!
✿ Ancestry.com doesn't have pop-up ads. You have malware, a virus, or an add-on to your browser. One known culprit is an plugin called Ghostery but I'm sure there are a number of others.

✿ First, thanks for all you already do. I love spending time searching. I do have a question, though, I have some ancesters that are duplicates. Mothers/fathers of 2 sons that marry 2 sisters. Is there any way to enter them without "duplicating?" If not, is it a possibility?
✿ How do you remove duplicates on your tree?
✿ being able to delete duplicate people
✿ Is there an easy way to Merge duplicates?
✿ I guess the new merge feature needs to be placed more prominently.   

✿ ...why should I add all my information when as soon as I add it becomes ancestrys an they make money, look at there TV ADDS an TV shows with all the actors they even have shows in other countrys They are doing everything they can to keep all your information an selling you photo copies I'm not saying I do not enjoy what service I do it has helped me with a lot but I have help them Look at there TV adds they are selling people photos right on TV AN they don't offer us any discounts I have deleted 4 family trees an my profile 3 more to go I'm leaveing ancestry I'm done
✿ From Ancestry.com's terms and conditions: "Except for the rights granted in this Agreement, Ancestry acquires no title or ownership rights in or to any content you submit and nothing in this Agreement conveys any ownership rights in the content you submit to us."

✿ I don't like that I added dozens and dozens of photos from ancestry photo hints over the last year and now those pictures are no longer available partly because the tree they were related to went private and I have no idea what else caused it. All those hours upon hours wasted !
✿ Once media has been attached to a public tree it is public even if the original tree is private, deleted or the photo was removed from the original tree. If your media suddenly disappeared you have other issues.

✿ i would like to be able to download the record images (i.e census, military) to my computer and not just to my trees.
✿ I too would like to be able download the records to my computer.
✿ When viewing the original record the last option is to save to your computer. Save to your computer = download

✿ Please add a feature that allows people who input a photo or other attachment to "approve" its copying to other trees. Otherwise, those of us posting valuable family photos and primary documents here will keep our trees private.
✿ And what happens once we're gone? Is everything on our tree forbidden from being copied forever? And what's to stop someone from taking a photo of their computer screen while viewing your photo or retyping your story? 


✿ The only thing I think could be added is a place where you could ask a question.
Ancestry's Facebook page, Ancestry's Community Forum, Ancestry's Message Boards, comments on Ancestry's blog, on Livestream twice a week after Crista's presentation, in comments on videos on YouTube,... Yes, there's absolutely nowhere to ask a question.

✿ I sometimes find hints for parents or children which, by the timing of the dates given, are impossible. Maybe a little more help for new members to understand how genealogy works?
✿ Videos from Ancestry available live, on YouTube, as podcasts in iTunes; other podcasts on iTunes that can be found by searching genealogy or family history; books from professional genealogists available at your local bookstore or library; numerous magazines; thousands of blogs;...

✿ Online videos to teach us how to do everything. I'd like one on how to organize my paper records. I'd also like one explaining how areas are listed in Scotland since it's different from the US (city, state, country) and several names have changed from 100+ years ago. Sort of like YouTube - just accessed thru Ancestry.com.
✿ Every Tuesday and Thursday Crista Cowen does a livestream video tutorial. It's posted to this playlist on their YouTube channel within 24 hours. Here's a playlist that's organized by topic. There's also a "Learning Center" on Ancestry.com. Since their YouTube channel has essentially become a learning center it would be nice if they revamped the learning center on their site. It's a bit haphazard. Just my opinion but there are lots of videos. 

✿ the educational seminars are always during the work week at 1pm EST. many can never participate. can you make a downloadable pod cast please?
✿ Have you searched iTunes for Ancestry.com? They DO have a podcast. They're getting a little better at keeping it updated with the latest tutorials. One of these days they will actually post to iTunes at the same time they post to YouTube. 
As to why the seminars are always during the work week, here's a response from the host of the seminars, Crista Cowen: 
"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...I hope that helps you understand why we do these the way we do."
✿ Yes, a dollar a day doesn't sound like much, but the records I need from ancestry are for Austria, Croatia, Bosnia and Germany. No amount of emailing Ancestry.com had given me an answer as to whether they have any records from those countries ... so it is a pretty expensive exercise just to find out they don't. Maybe they could tell me here???
✿ Hover over the search tab on Ancestry.com. The last option is the card catalog. Click that and on the left is a filter. You can find out what countries Ancestry has records for. To find out what's available for those countries online try Cyndi's List.  

✿ I would like to be able to filter out what I don't want to see from searches. At present, I get what I ask for, plus anything that could remotely be like what I want. If I know I *don't* want it, it would be nice not to have to sort through it.
✿ A list of videos about searching is here.


✿ Somehow find a way to see records from the the Canadian Railroad Companies. They won't even let us see our own ancestors records from 100 years ago. Maybe an organization like you can have more convincing power than us as an individuals. Also the Canadian Ship records from before 1865. 
✿ An American company will probably have less influence than an effort by Canada's own citizens to change their laws.

✿ ...it bugs me when I copy a person's name from a CENSUS, and it won't automatically allow copying of the rest of the family AT THAT TIME without going back and forth-back and forth for dad, mom sibling #1, sibling #2, #3, #4, etc. This gets to be a real pain when there are abt 15 siblings. THANKS FOR ALL THE RECORDS, THO. I'LL GLADLY CONTINUE TO USE!
✿ Why can you load whole families from a census on some of them, but not all of them?
✿ When I'm adding a census to a person, the rest of the family doesn't show up anymore for me to add the census to them too. What happened?
✿ I hate that I can no longer attach records to every member of a family that is listed in them.
✿ 1850, 1860 and 1870 to add and save the whole household instead of one at a time.
✿ Welcome to the pre-1880 censuses! Did you notice that those censuses do not show relationships? The first person listed may be the "head of household" but even that is an assumption. It's up to you to figure out if the others in the house are children, nieces/nephews, grandchildren, servants, or some other relationship.

✿ Yes, the private thing is so weird to me. Why!? If you are hiding, do enroll on a public site.
✿ The site is public for you because you have chosen to use it that way. Everyone with a private tree may think it strange that you make your tree public on a private site. They have their own reasons for having a private tree. I'm also fairly certain that keeping information from you is not the reason. Don't take it personally.

✿ There should be a "delete person" button on a person's main page. Having to go into the 'edit' mode just to delete is time consuming.
✿ Yes, please put it front and center where it can be clicked accidentally.

✿ I would like Ancestry.com to make corrections in the census transcriptions that are totally botched. Some of my families records are a joke, and I can't believe Ancestry.com is proud of them. I would volunteer to help.
✿ If you want to make corrections, make corrections.

✿ When is the 1950 US census coming?
✿ I am wondering why the UK censuses from 1921 onwards aren't available.
✿ Two words: privacy laws. For the US the federal law is 72 years. Guess the first person missed all the hoopla around the release of the 1940 US Census. For the UK the privacy law covers 100 years. 

✿ I want to see more episodes of "Who Do You Think You Are?"!!!!
✿ A Facebook status from one of the producers: "Working on a 4th season of "Who Do You Think You Are" for a new network. Very exciting."

✿ i have original birth certificates from Scotland I have the history of the Montgomery family from when they left the U.S.A in 1 776 through till 1950s photos wills letters an there all off line I have the index of all the books written by The Montgomies I bet there is a lot information out people would be willing to share if they had some incentive My research s almost finished
✿ Finished? I do not understand. Does anyone know what this means in relation to a family tree?

Can Ancestry force people to think?

✿ the sight is awesome, I treat myself to one month a year! only thing different would be, your sight recognizing mistakes..ex.. sometimes the mothers are born after the children, etc.. I wish you had a program to alert that things are wrong before you add the information, a lot of peoples trees are messed up, you have to watch that when following them.. just my 2 cents.
✿ I think there should be some type of prompt in place that doesn't allow someone to enter a date of birth that would have a parent dying years before their child was born, having people live for 200 years, or letting someone enter 1982 instead of 82 for a person's birth/death date, or a city in the USA as someone's birth/death place when they lived during the Roman Empire. When looking at other trees, I tend to look at those things: was this woman of childbearing age at the time her supposed child was born, or has someone picked up completely wrong information in their tree? Is this a typical lifespan for a person? How did this person get to this place?
Also, I see a lot of people with a death place of "Y" which is a city in France, and wondered why a lot of my Welsh ancestors were dying there when I could find nothing in history about a war going on or a large migration of Welsh to the Picardie area of France. Then I read somewhere that a lot of people would enter a "Y" to indicate that yes, someone was deceased, and that Ancestry was picking up that information as the city in France. Since then, I have been removing that reference to Y, Picardie from any of my ancestors' profiles on which I come across it. When people enter questionable information such as this, you could have a message pop up that says "Are you sure?" and explain what doesn't make sense. It may be a little annoying, but maybe a logic corrector could be a feature you offer that people could turn on or off.
✿ It would be great if there was a way to alert you if the birth year listed of a parent is after/within 10 years of a child. I've run into occasions where there is a match on a person in another family tree, but the person's parent's birth year is after the child's. Most of the time this has proven to be an incorrect person match, not an incorrect birth year.
✿ That illogical date warning exists but doesn't work when you're copying trees. If people would engage their brain while working on their tree rather than turning it off and clicking away there might be fewer of those errors.

After the jump are comments about the price of Ancestry.com. Sigh.

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✿ you could make it better by providing all data for free, or by asking for donations instead of charging people to find information
✿ I can't afford to subscribe... I had a friend who is a member help me out and contribute too my tree. Now I am just waiting for a free weekend so I can confirm all of my hints. Not everyone has disposable income that they can use for stuff like this.
✿ make it easier for people to access who havent got a lot of money and to at least let people view a bit more information
✿ make free for people that can not pay for it
✿ "I think yachting would be fun. Can someone give me a boat?" That's what goes through my head every time I read a comment complaining about cost. Genealogy is a hobby, not a necessity. It can be an expensive one but there are also a lot of free options.

✿ make it discounted for people who enter alot of records in the world archives project
✿ For those who don't know about the World Archives Project you can find out more here and there IS an Ancestry.com discount for participating.

✿ Sorry. I don't feel we should have to pay extra for the world version or at least not so much more.
✿ Brilliant idea and the second Ancestry enacts it the "why am I paying for world when I only need the US collections" complaints will flood in.

✿ Make all records public. Shoild not have to pay for a birth, death or marriage certificate
✿ Go to your local county or state vital records office and ask for records for free. You might not get an answer for a while because of the laughter.

✿ Lower the monthly price for those who just want to do a quick check
✿ Just want to do a quick check? Go to your local library or FamilySearch Center. Many public libraries and all FS Centers have the Ancestry.com Library Edition.

✿ A real pity it is not free or at least be able to purchase access time periods in blocks.
✿ You mean like paying for 6 months at a time? Or a month at a time? You'll need to be more specific since those are options.

✿ Make it cheaper!! OMG I'd spend less money flying all over the world to find out stuff! Outrageously priced.
✿ I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that this person has never traveled outside of their state.

✿ Lower the price! Tried your free trail when I purchased Family Tree Maker and did find some good information but also found NUMEROUS errors. Since your sight contains mostly information found by others (i.e. family trees) it is a very unreliable source. Many people using FTM or doing research on their own obtain info on your site and pass it along as fact. Found numerous errors listed for my immediate family so I know it is bad information. Your sight is good to point you in a direction if your stuck...but not at that price. Needless to say when my trial was up I opted out.
✿ If you're only looking at the trees and not the records then you were right to opt out. Most of the trees wouldn't be worth paying a dollar a year. The records, however, are priceless. 

✿ Make it free and sell advertising.
✿ No.

✿ I can't get on anymore because I don't have the funds but would like to put info in I have had people pass and can't put it in nevermind born....plus other info I found out but I can't even see what I had to check if it is the same person....would love if I could do similar to what is said here but also make sure similar names not together...someone added my ggfather as my gfathers kid....
✿ It used to be you could view the trees for free, bring that back. I can't even access MY OWN tree without paying for it!!!
✿ What's stopping you? It's certainly not Ancestry. Your tree is your tree. You can view it anytime you want...for free.

✿ Ancestry.com advertises that's it's FREE. Yes it's free to create a tree but that's about it!
✿ Ancestry has never advertised that it's free. They advertise a free trial, a 14-day free trial. Unfortunately a large number of people stop listening after the word "free." Yes, creating a tree is free. Adding people, photos, and stories is free. There are also 799 record collections that can be accessed for free. Of course there are usually more complaints about absolutely nothing being free because they also don't bother to read that they need a username and password.

✿ I have spent hours researching as I am sure all of us have..... then to have to pay to enter this info to be shared worldwide seems backward to me...... we are providing info so why shouldn't we be compensated accordingly by system use ? I'm sure there could be a formula ..... so much info= so many hours of use. I'm just saying!
✿ You don't have to pay to enter info and if you don't want to share then make your tree private. Do you think someone who spends hours entering all of this info deserves a price break? After all, it probably took hours if not days to enter all 375 children on that profile. Or what about a price break for entering 16,000 pictures that bog down Ancestry's servers? I'm just saying!

✿ Or 1 free month to everyone each year, so every Jan everyone they can access for free? Also ability to merge trees. So I find Bob Smith and someone else has built out that entire family tree, the ability to combine. Maybe that would connect a lot more people !
✿ More affordable solutions for us fixed income families. And more free access to records,at least twice a month.
✿ You should have something like free search Friday or something every week or two. It's so depressing how much ancestry costs.
✿ Yes, what we need is a free day/month/eternity so all the freeloaders can crash the site and annoy those of us who pay. Personally I think the cost of food is depressing. The cost of gas is depressing. You know, necessities.

✿ Stop the freebies. For those of us paying your fees it's very frustrating to have the site nearly inoperable during these free times. I resent paying for something I can't access because your giving it away for free.
✿ Glad to see I'm not alone.

Ah, a dose of sanity...

✿ I can't afford to travel to Switzerland to research my family. Using the logic that people are using that Ancestry should be free, I should demand that the airlines pay for my flight to Switzerland and that hotels let me stay free for as long as I want to stay in Switzerland NOT!!! Get a grip people!!!!!
✿ Love it! have been member for 5+ years. I live in an area( western Kansas) where I would have to drive hours to do research . Kansas State Historical Society is Topeka (5 hours). So I can do lots of research and save gas. Found many branches to my tree and have found"cousins".
✿ I have been a member of Ancestry since you came into existence. Your rates are NOT too expensive. I have been a part of your growing process and loved every minute of it. You have more records than any site out there and the good thing is, it's all on your site. I wouldn't trade a penny for all the information I have gotten from your site. My tree wouldn't be what it is today without Ancestry. It's been worth all the patience, frustration, time and excitement. I do recommend you to everyone and have helped many people join. Everyone knows how much I love your site. Anyone who is just getting started on their genealogy, this is the place to begin.
✿ Ancestry is the cheapest deal you guys can get! "Back in the day", we had to drive all over, clear out a hundred years of growth on cemeteries, dig thru smoky boxes in Courthouse annex', go thru a jillion bits of microfiche in damp, dark basements, pay for copies,etrc. It was long long hours and lots and lots of money. And we share our information with all. Take a trial membership and utilize it for about sixty hours that week, if that's all you can do. LDS libraries let you access it for free. Or you can do it like we did. Expensive??? Thousands of dollars over my 45 years of searching! Ancestry , expensive? No way!

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RELATED POSTS: Fixing What's Not Broken, Fixing What's Not Broken 2


  1. Well I just learned two new things! I didn't know they were working on a new season of Who Do You Think You Are? Yeah! And I didn't realize that I could get a discount for contributing to the World Archives Project. Probably because I have no time right now with a toddler at home :-) But it's good to know...
    Thanks for another great entry!

    1. Thanks Melanie! And yeah, I'm torn between needing the discount and having no time to earn it :-(

    2. One caveat for the World Archives discount - you can't (re-)subscribe online, you must use the phone number.
      Most people probably wouldn't have a problem, but I was unable to get my discount because the U.S. call center told me I had to use the Canadian number and ancestry.ca gave me only the annual Canada and World options. Given my background and ancestry's current holdings, not what I wanted at all.

  2. This isn't the first time I've come across your blog, but man, this is hilarious. Consider me a new subscriber. I agree with every point you made. When you buy the annual membership, it rounds out to not much more than $10 a month. People complaining that that is too expensive just aren't trying enough. Buy two less fast food meals a month, and you'll not only be more healthy, but you'll have the money for an Ancestry subscription. Not that difficult of a concept. I, like most, enjoy Ancestry despite it's kinks and some of the awful trees on there. I wish someone would say all of this to the actual poster's, but this is a fun way to do it without having a bunch of strangers getting angry at you. Great blog.

    1. Thanks Nathan ;-) If Facebook comes up with a way to comment on comments I'll actually say it to them but the way it is now most of them never return to the post again so they wouldn't see my comments anyway :-P