08 July 2013

Fixing What's Not Broken 4

As always these are comments from Ancestry.com Facebook fans and my comments are in red. The comments are from threads asking "Would you recommend..." or "How can we improve..." or some other question posed to illicit an opinion of Ancestry.com. This week's answers will be serious. Part 5 will be next Monday and you can guess what that will include ;-)
✿ You say you value our feedback. If you really do, then why does nothing change when people complain to you?
✿ I have seen this call for suggestions many times, but have never seen any of the suggestions implemented. Is this a waste of our time?
✿ does anyone ever read these?/
✿ Some people expect their changes to be implemented immediately. Well we've seen from previous "Fixing" posts that some of the requests can be pretty ridiculous and others are features that only a few people want. Here are some of the changes I've noticed in the last 4 years: 
  • ability to add a suffix (Jr., Sr., III, etc.)
  • classifying photos as portraits, documents, or headstones
  • cemetery and burial records attaching to a burial event
  • profile pages automatically sizing to fit the window
  • the ability to merge duplicate profiles
  • uploading photos through the Shoebox app
  • note feature on the DNA page
  • raw atDNA data available for download
  • new DNA filters
Just because changes aren't made each time they post one of these threads doesn't mean changes won't ever be made. I do, however, wish they would create a proper survey or feedback form or just tell people to comment on the thread. The threads always link to the same single question survey, "Would you recommend Ancestry.com?" I'm always tempted to answer, "No, not until you stop asking this question every week."

✿ I feel that advanced searches should enable the user to select from a range of dates, when exact dates are not known.
That way, searches can be narrowed down, without having to go through a series of useless entries.
✿ Like this?
Enter a year and then choose 1, 2, 5, or 10 from the plus/minus drop down. Click "Exact Only" and your results for whatever event chosen will be limited to that year span. Keep in mind that you may still need to narrow down the collections searched using the filters on the left side of the page.

✿ When searching for someone in the US census, & say I only want to look at 1910, & I know they lived in Michigan, I'd like to be able to limit the search to the state. As it is now, you can limit the search only down to the decade and if you want to hone in any closer, you have to browse by the city. Thanks.
✿ Edit your search. If there isn't a "lived in" event create one (arrow on the left). Type Michigan, USA, or choose it from the type ahead, then click "use default settings" (arrow on the right). Choose "restrict to this place exactly." If there are other "lived in" events (due to records already attached) remove them. Click search and all census results should be for Michigan.
✿ I would love to be able to make personal notes onto someone. Like what to search for next or what I was working on last with this person. Just a note for myself on each person.
✿ have a place that is not public. I would like to have a place for notes for individuals where I could put information that I do not all the public to have. for example it would be a great place to put addresses or Patriarchal Blessings and things of that sort.
✿ Hover over "More options" on a profile page and there's an "Add a note" option. Create a note that only editors of that tree can see. When a note is added a separate "View note" link will be added to that same toolbar.
✿ I get so peeved by the unrelated returns to searches. I specifically list names, dates, locations, family members & yet Ancestry gives me thousands of unrelated entries. I list Pontotoc, Pontotoc, Mississippi, MS, USA & get hundreds of offers from England, France & such. Stop it Ancestry.com!
✿ Every search box has a "Collection Priority" option. Use it. If you choose "United States" from the drop down then U.S. collections will top your search results. If you also check the "show only" box then your search results will be from U.S. collections only.
✿ Yes, but it is not without flaws. I don't mind that people attach the pictures or stories I put on, but when they download them them upload as theirs, that ticks me off! 
✿ While I am sure some people do this there is also a glitch with Family Tree Maker 2012 that can cause this. If a sync fails completely the only option may be to unlink the tree and start over. This loses all the original upload information from photos and stories attached to the tree. This problem is with the software not the tree owners in those cases.

Much more after the jump. 

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✿ Teach me how to make a GED-Com file.
✿ Just download your tree. Instructions are here

✿ let us download tree w/o neding to buy spendy gen software
✿ Any tree you download from any genealogy site, free or paid, is going to download as a GEDCOM file. GEDCOM files can only be viewed with genealogy software. There are plenty of free options and FTM 2012 is not the only paid option. It is, however, the only one that will synch with your Ancestry.com tree.

✿ I have used it for years...my only issue is if someone wants to change your information you have documented they can..should not be allowed..one should have to e-mail the page owner to have it corrected
[further down the thread]
do people really put false info in your tree, that scares me after all the work I have done maybe I need to put mine to private,
✿ No one can change information on another tree unless they are invited to be an editor by the tree owner. Other than being editor it has never been possible. It never will be possible unless Ancestry wants a mass exodus of customers. For those who think it sounds like a great way to clean up trees, think it through. Giving you access to clickophile trees also means clickophiles would have access to yours. If you still think it's a good idea join Geni, WikiTree or upload your tree to FamilySearch.

✿ is it possible that instead of having a summary of a document it would be great to see the orginal document. Sometimes the smallest clue helps in researching. I know you do some items, but others no.
✿ Some items are not digitized and only have an index. Others the collection owner was only willing to give Ancestry access to the index. Still others the index may be the only surviving evidence of the records. Click "read more" in the fine print details at the bottom of a record to see if the information about originals is included. 

✿ I'd VERY HIGHLY recommend it, but I'd encourage everyone to START with the Deluxe membership, so vital information like census, military, , marriage, birth, immigration, death certificate...documents can be see firsthand and saved to document every step of building your tree.
✿ The only difference between memberships is between local (U.S., U.K., Australia, Canada, etc.) and World (all collections). Family Tree Maker comes in Essential, Deluxe and Platinum packages but the only difference is the amount of subscription time that comes with the software. The software itself is exactly the same.

✿ Love it. Have traced 3 trees now back as far as 1100-1300. Very easy to use and easy to find stuff. It is kind of expensive, but maybe that's why it's so easy, you've done a bunch of the work for us already.
✿ They have NOT done the work for you. You've been copying trees from people who copied trees from people who copied trees. If you do some actual work finding records you'll find out 1) it's not that easy and 2) some of those people you copied from just made stuff up.

✿ Depends... not much use for Scotland.. big gap in available information leaving holes in research which makes you have to go elsewhere for data.. I'm about to drop my membership until such time as I can fill some of those gaps. Have sent repeated e-mails to Ancestry about this but have yet to have the courtesy of a response.
✿ Bobby's response is better than mine would be.
I have Scottish ancestors and Ancestry has transcripts of Scottish records -- because the Scottish government refuses to release the original records to Ancestry. There is a site called Scotlandspeople where you can find original records but they charge per view. Please, Ancestry --- never change to a "per view" cost!!! I spend more in an hour on Scotlandspeople than I do in a month on Ancestry!
This is the explanation about Scottish records that you can read on each transcription for every Scottish record on Ancestry: "Unfortunately, we are unable to display the accompanying images of this census at present, despite extensive negotiation with the General Register Office for Scotland. Permission from them has not, as yet, been forthcoming. For this reason, and to enable you to continue with your family history research, Ancestry has heavily transcribed the Scottish Census records to ensure you have access to all key areas of information contained within this collection." Thanks Ancestry for transcribing these records!!! It gives me exactly what I need to find the records on Scotlandspeople and saves me lots of money because Scotlandspeople charges you an arm and a leg to search/view/download every document.
✿ should have a couple days where we can access the public family trees from other members for free.
✿ You can access other trees anytime you want. Use your Ancestry.com username and password on Mundia.com.

✿ I love the idea of a different color for proven and unproven entries. I deleted an entire tree because I wanted to try make certain the information was accurate and could not find a way to differentiate. Doing that made me lose the ability to look at the famous relatives tab which may not have been wholly accurate or reliable, but it was still a fun feature that I wish you'd again make available. I also wish that there was a way to pay for multiple family members to get a discount for membership or a group price. I live in another state and most of my family are too cheap to pay the large cost when I could do all of the work and pay the fees.
✿ One World Tree, a.k.a. famous relatives, will be covered enough next week so I'll skip that here. If you have an Ancestry subscription your relatives don't need one unless they want to search for records. Invite them to your tree and they can see all of it. They just need to create a username and password.

✿ Want a place for occupation on profile
✿ Add eye and hair color to each family members profile.
✿ I would like to see the ability to enter physical descriptions (from knowing the person or from draft cards), and their occupation. Nice to have a whole picture of the person.
✿ Just a few of the existing options for "Add Fact": Custom Event, Description, Height, Occupation, Weight.

✿ It would be great to see an overview of the states that have provided birth indices. Like california, texas etc.
✿ When searching USA records, the list of records available is in no particular order so it could take a long time to even find the record database you want to search. For example, first item on list may start with "Birth index 1920-1980 Vermont". Second item on list might start "Maine Marriages". There is no consistency in how these records are listed. All records are bundled together for the entire USA. Can we have the option to search by state so that only those record databases are listed?
✿ The card catalog is one of Ancestry.com's most useful tools. It is the last option in the Search tab drop down. You can filter by collection, time period, place and/or language. You can also search for a state. Searching for Vermont as a keyword brings up every collection that has Vermont on any record in the collection. Doing a title search for Vermont brings up every collection that has Vermont in the title. Do a title search for 'birth index' and you'll find 33 collections. Those can be narrowed down further with the filters on the left side of the page.

✿ I have wondered why there are no South Carolina marriage records when I'm trying to narrow a search.
✿ Try searching South Carolina marriage records directly. Use the filters. 
Card Catalog > Birth, Marriage & Death > Marriage & Divorce > United States > South Carolina 
There are 160 collections that have some connection to South Carolina marriages including South Carolina Marriages, 1641-1965 and South Carolina Marriages, 1688-1799. Others are in collections specific to the county. Start typing a name and options from your tree become available to click on so you don't need to re-enter all the relevant information.

✿ Would love a way to connect siblings when parents are unknown. I have found siblings listed on the same Census without a known parent and there is no simple way to connect them.
✿ Add parents. There's no rule that says they have to be named. The father would be "Unknown Smith," or whatever the surname is, and the mother just "Unknown."

✿ I'm probably ignorant at it's use, but it seems like when there are multiple spouses that they're hard to add.
✿ Add Family Member > Spouse > Enter Information. Repeat as needed.

✿ I love you guys biggest problem though is that if I need to take a break and come back 6 months late I don't have all the work I already did someone was nice enough to help me the last time but I don't want to go thru that again??
✿ Keep your username and password and you won't have a problem. Your tree stays on Ancestry forever.

✿ how can i work on my tree when i am no longer a member?
✿ You can't cancel your membership. You can cancel your subscription. When you are no longer a subscriber you can still add/edit people and stories, add photos, invite family to your tree,... Here's the information from Ancestry's help center.

✿ Give us free access to our own trees and DNA, please. Some of us don't have money growing on trees.
✿ Done. What you've just asked for is already free. See the link in the previous comment.

✿ I think you need to (1) cut cost by not changing the format of Family Tree every year (2) cut the advertiseing on TV (3) cut your expensive subscriptions rate (4) allow subscriber to detete their tree if they desire...just to name a view. I get so aggrivated with your changes here there and yonder until I have decided not to renew come September. I will go my local library and use theirs.
✿ (1) There will be no FTM 2013. (2) & (3) I'm sure no one will notice or complain when there are no new records added or records they have now are deleted because Ancestry's revenue stream will be sorely depleted. (4) Assuming that should be "delete" rather than "detete," users can already do that.

✿ I do not like the roach ads and other weird ads. The ads are tasteless and annoying. If you must have ads on this paid subscriber site you should find some better advertisers! This is my chief complaint.
✿ Please, please stop the banner ads! I do not care that Russian women (or Asian women) are interested in dating me. I do not care that Language Professors hate somebody. It is embarrassing when you are trying to show someone your research and these borderline obscene ads show up.
✿ Until today, yes. I just saw the cheesiest thing that is a new low and something I would never have expected from a.com. Has anyone seen the big pink bar at the top of the page that says "ERROR. THERE APPEARS TO BE A PROBLEM WITH YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS. CLICK HERE TO VERIFY YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS."? When you click on it, an Ancestry add comes up to upgrade to more service at a higher price, and you can't go past the page till you click on it. The line about your email address is a big fat lie.. Seriously, is this the best you can do? You'd get a lot more respect from users if you just sent us an email asking if we want to upgrade. Your level of professionalism is dropping like a rock....
✿ My husband and I both enjoy Ancestry, and have spent a lot of time working on our family trees. I haven't used it in awhile, but lately my husband has been complaining that there are constant pop-up ads when he's trying to research. It doesn't make sense that you would have to endure pop-up ads on a service that you are paying for. He tells me that it makes him not enjoy using Ancestry, and makes him reluctant to do any searches. I don't know if we'll renew for awhile until you get this issue resolved.
✿ I do not like your new ads. I like to concentrate when I examine important census records. Instead a roach is racing back and forth across the top of the page. Games such as that have no place on your website. I also dislike those other ads featuring girls looking for men. Really?!?
✿ I love it. Ads can be annoying, however, but can you imagine the subscription price without the ads? Can you imagine the price of super bowl tickets if the companies didn't pay such hihg prices for their ads (commercials) during the game. I joined another genealogy site, I'm only in the first month trial (which costs money) and the annual subscription is about the same as my quarterly subscription with ancestry. But, NOT ONE RESULT when I put in my two grandfathers last names. Trying so many names within the family "no results" "no results" "no results" So for $10 I found two obits and one newspaper wedding announcement in three weeks.
✿ There were many more of these but they all have one thing in common. Not one mentioned calling customer service. If they had called they would have found out that even if you don't have a subscription, Ancestry.com does not have pop-ups or outside advertising. These people either have malware or have a browser add-on that is generating the ads. 

✿ I would like some of the classes with Crista Cowen to be later in the day. They're always during work hours.
✿ They are done during her work hours and they are available on YouTube to watch anytime you like. If you want to ask her a question you can ask during a Tweetchat. They are sometimes done after work or on weekends.

✿ Continue with the Webinar classes. They are GREAT!!
✿ Love the LIVE webcasts & YouTube archives that teach mini research lessons. They have proven VERY helpful...Thank you Crista, Anne & Julia for sharing your expertise for free!
✿ So say we all!

SNEAK PEEK at Part 5 coming next Monday:
✿ Your android app sucks!
Even I could write a better one if I knew programming.
✿ Why can't scientists cure cancer? I could cure it if I knew science.

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