22 July 2013

Social Disgrace

Those of you who visit the Ancestry.com Facebook page regularly already know that there have been some changes in Ancestry's social media staff. You would think the job requirements would include:
  • basic grammar and proofreading skills
  • ability to write coherent posts
  • ability to incorporate genealogy into posts and promote Ancestry.com collections
  • basic knowledge of history or at least the ability to use a search engine to confirm historical facts
Boy was I wrong! But what the new team lacks in those skills it makes up for with censorship. 
My friend David posted links on Ancestry's Facebook page to two excellent blog posts. The links were promptly removed. Both blogs have made Family Tree Magazine's 40 Best Genealogy Blogs in the last two years. The links were to Research vs. Proof in Genealogy from 200 Years in Paradise and Beyond Evidence to Proof from Genealogy's Star. Looks like the new social media team's job is to cater to clickophiles rather than educate them.
My post on junk trees was taken down, twice. Heaven forbid we offend those people who made a tree with three people on it five years ago and haven't been back since. The reason I posted the junk trees link a second time was because of this message:
 I also read you blog post from earlier today, and it is fine to share on our page if you wish to do so again and I will make sure the moderator knows it is ok. When your posts are informational and/or educational without calling someone an idiot for building a tree wrong, it makes it easier to defend. And defend you I will. That I promise.
My second post was deleted. This person either has no power over the moderators (but thinks she does) or is a liar. She was aware that it was deleted and discussed the situation with another Ancestry.com fan who happens to be a friend of mine. Any semblance of professionalism is sorely lacking.

More examples of incompetence are after the jump.

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Tweet from Ancestry.com @ancestry
Johnny Depp's descendant fought for justice by suing for her freedom as former slave & won! ancstry.me/14xZR7I #LoneRanger
Hope Johnny has learned his lesson. You don't just leave the keys to the time machine lying around.
Knowing the difference between ancestor and descendant should be basic knowledge for any high school graduate yet the social media team at the world's largest genealogy research company got it wrong.
Also, if she was a former slave then she was already free. Why would she need to sue for her freedom?
The link in the Tweet goes to the Ancestry.com Blog. If you are an English teacher or a grammar geek I do not recommend reading the linked post, it's painful. You have been warned.

Thank you for your responses to date. We are working on educational posts to address some of the items in Karen and Rennie's posts, we also know we also know we have access to a lot of data and we want to make sure we share none Ancestry.com related posts so these responses are helpful.
Coherent posts that are not run on sentences would be a good start.
"...we want to make sure we share none Ancestry.com related posts..." Uh, what?

We are having technical issues with the and apologize for inconvenience. We are working to resolve the issue as quickly as possible and thank you for your patience!
"...technical issues with the and..."???


A wonderful honor for Kim! Too bad her employer couldn't find someone to write a post that does it justice.  

It is suspended from a chest ribbon of the SAR colors and accompanied by a certificate, which should be engrossed and presented with the medal.
The certificate should be engrossed? Really? (The post has been corrected.)
The photo, posted on both the blog and the Facebook page, is not captioned. I'm assuming that one of those women is Kim but who knows.


One more example from the same blog post.

The Martha Washington Medal is the highest honor that the SAR can bestow upon a woman in recognition of her outstanding service who is not a Daughter of the American Revolution(DAR), and we are extremely proud of Kim for receiving this honor.
 I'll just quote Karen from the comments on Facebook:
1 mistake fixed...they still need to address the last paragraph which should read : "The Martha Washington Medal is the highest honor that the SAR can bestow upon a woman, who is not a Daughter of the American Revolution(DAR), in recognition of her outstanding service..."
I just checked and the last paragraph has not been corrected.

Much more coming in Friday's post ;-)

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  1. My guess is that Ancestry is employing persons whose first language is not English for more than just indexing....

    1. You must be an optimist Kay ;-) Unfortunately I think this team is the result of the American education system. (sigh)

  2. I suppose ancestry.com is afraid if they got rid of all the people with junk trees, their membership numbers and income stream would suffer a collapse. Ditto for those who don't know the difference between descendant and ancestor or how to spell the name of the website.

    I also think that social media/texting has contributed to a serious decline in spelling, grammar and proofreading skills. The emphasis is on NOW, not on CORRECT.

    1. Agreed Annie, they are definitely more interested in quantity rather than quality. I can't imagine it would affect their income stream that much though. People with junk trees don't subscribe and clickophiles only subscribe for a month or two, a year tops unless they evolve into actual researchers. Maybe they're hoping all the clickophiles will evolve. Who knows.
      How ironic that the increase in ease of communication has brought about the decline of communication skills :-P Even so, those getting paid to represent a company should be held to a higher standard.

    2. Can't agree entirely. I've seen plenty of junk trees belonging to subscribers - how else could they have 6 different 1880 censuses for the same person in 6 different states, along with one or two from England and Scotland.

      I had a similar experience attempting to communicate with a representative of another major player in the genealogical industry - nameless here, but the one with many useful dbs, all for free. Not only did the person misspell my name, there were several typos in the short email, in which I was assured that some errors I had pointed out would be corrected .... When I replied voicing my concern, in polite terms, I got a flippant retort.

    3. I think I define junk trees differently. The ones with multiple censuses I define as clickophiles, completely click happy. I think of junk trees as just plain made up and not even trying. If you click the junk trees link above you'll see what I mean. I once found a tree that had Hitler married to Mother Teresa as the parents of Lindsey Lohan. At least that one was considered offensive so Ancestry actually deleted it.

  3. I'm dealing with a bad situation right now where Ancestry (admittedly) made a mistake that caused me to lose hundreds of records from my tree. When I called customer support, the rep first spent 15 minutes trying to tell me that I had the death date wrong for the example individual I was showing her. This wasn't why I was calling, and also she was just wrong. She was looking at a false match ancestry hint that was popping up (but apparently didn't realize that Ancestry hints can be wrong!). I then spent the next HOUR trying to tell her that the problem, which extended far beyond that one example, was with a census collection, not a death records collection. I spelled it for her, I gave her exact links - nothing worked. And this was NOT a language/translation issue.

    I don't know if the same people do social media as customer service, but after my experience dealing with this issue and now seeing your post, I am getting the impression that the people they're hiring, at least the ones who have initial contact with their customers, have no genealogy or technical experience at all.