29 December 2014

New Year's Resolutions

A couple of suggested New Year's resolutions for Ancestry's programmers:
1) Communicate with Ancestry.com users.
2) Finish what you start.
Sometimes new features are just sprung on users with no explanation. No opt out and all Ancestry employees can say is, "That feature is being tested and until it is widely available, all I can do is acknowledge it is intentional - not an error." Helpful, really helpful.
Other times things are taken away with no notice whatsoever. If you're like me you probably hadn't noticed that links for locations are gone. We can no longer click on the location of an event and be taken to a map. It doesn't take much effort to use Google Maps instead but that's not the point. Lack of communication is the point. Apparently communication within the company is not a priority either. In this thread it took Ancestry employees over two weeks to figure out the feature had been discontinued.
Photo tagging disappeared when "global commenting" was added. Apparently it's never coming back. Has Ancestry said anything about this other than a random comment on their message boards?
Meanwhile, the programmers continue to add new features without ever fixing issues with existing ones.


Photo labels - Portrait / Family Photo, Site / Building / Place, Headstone, Document / Certificate, Other - have been around since at least 2009 but they have yet to serve a purpose. You cannot sort or search within a tree's photo gallery by label. You cannot include/exclude a photo label in a global photo search. I'm so glad I went through my entire gallery and assigned the appropriate label to each item. It's been so helpful. </sarcasm>
Photo captions and comments cannot be formatted. If you're typing and hit return it looks as if you've started a new paragraph, until you save the caption/comment and view it. The return is not recognized. Same goes for the transcription section for "Document / Certificate" images.
Formatting doesn't always work on stories either. Write a story in a word processing program, copy and paste to Ancestry and it looks fine. Save and suddenly all bold, italics, font changes, and paragraph indications are gone. Luckily you don't have to re-type everything but you do need to re-do all the formatting despite the fact that it looks fine on the editing page.

AFTER THE JUMP: Search, Hints & FTM, Records, Messages & Invites, Gift Memberships, and more.

ⓑⓐⓡⓚⓘⓝⓖ  ⓤⓟ  ⓣⓗⓔ  ⓦⓡⓞⓝⓖ  ⓣⓡⓔⓔ


I wrote an entire post on the issue with sliders. You can read it here.
When searching from a profile, the "smart filter" is supposed to filter out collections that already have a record attached. Unfortunately if you have only a marriage record attached the smart filter suddenly becomes incredibly dumb.

Click here to see more Ancestry.com FAIL cards.

In this case 146 of the first 150 search results were all from the same collection, the one collection that should have been filtered out.
Since some photos are documents Ancestry's programmers decided all photos should be included in searches for historical records making the check box for photos is absolutely useless.

In the above search family trees, stories & publications, and maps will be excluded but you will still have to scroll through family photos and clip art. There's an entire post about this here.


Phantom hints
Hints to nonexistent collections. The BillionGraves collection was removed from Ancestry's collections, the hints were not.
Multiple hints for Find A Grave. The original Find A Grave collections were indexed by state. They have been re-indexed by country. The state Find A Grave hints are still there but unlike the BillionGraves hints the links to the memorials still work.

Besides having multiple Find A Grave hints some of these hints will not disappear once they are attached. You have to click 'ignore' to get rid of them.
Hints to photos from your own photo gallery. Even if the "smart filter" worked it wasn't designed to filter out media gallery items.
The previous issue is complicated by a glitch in Family Tree Maker (FTM) that Ancestry refuses to fix. The glitch strips all information about who originally shared/uploaded the item. It will probably take a class action copyright suit to get Ancestry to take the issue seriously. Meanwhile people are accusing other Ancestry members of theft. If are a victim of this glitch and have a question about an image you attached you'll have to search for it again. You might have to sort through multiple copies of the image to find the earliest upload to ask the actual owner of the image.


A list of "New and Updated" record collections is always available on your Ancestry homepage. Don't expect the "United States" filter to be of much help though.

So El Salvador, South Africa, Jamaica, and the Czech Republic are now part of the United States? Way to live up to the "Americans know nothing about geography" stereotype Ancestry!
All marriage records are not equal on Ancestry. Some will create an event on both the bride's and groom's profiles. Others will create a marriage event only on the profile where the record being attached. Some will create a profile for the spouse, others will not despite the fact that both names have been transcribed and are included on the index. Of course you don't know what the collection will do until you have attached the record. There's a good chance you will have to undo everything. It's best to add a marriage event to the profile then attach the record and hope that it isn't one of the collections that will add a duplicate event anyway.


✿ You should get an email anytime someone sends you a message through your Ancestry account. Emphasis on should. This issue was supposed to be fixed but I still wouldn't count on it. Always check the envelope icon at the top of the page.
If you message DNA matches you may want to keep a separate log of your messages. Some people have reported their "past messages" showing as zero after they've exchanged messages with someone.
Inviting someone to your tree is even more unreliable than messaging. They may never get the email invite. There is a workaround for this one. Have the person create their free Ancestry account. If they use the same email address you sent the invite to your tree should be in their tree tab. If it's not then invite them using their Ancestry username. They still may not get an email but your tree will be in their tree tab.


Gift memberships cannot be added to an existing subscription and will not be a surprise. The recipient will get an email the day the gift membership starts but you have to ask them when their subscription ends if you don't want the gift to overlap. From the gift membership FAQs:
Can I buy a gift membership for someone who is already registered with Ancestry.com?
Yes, as long as your recipient doesn’t have an active paid membership. If you buy a gift membership and then find out your recipient has an active paid membership, you can transfer the gift membership to someone else — or request a refund within seven days of your original purchase date.
Extending a current membership is not an option. Read more of the FAQs and eventually all the answers will look like, "We really don't want this to be easy" and "We don't want to deal with new customers."
It's almost 2015, doesn't everyone sell gift cards? Nope, not Ancestry. You cannot give someone a $20 or $50 gift card for them to use towards a DNA test or subscription. You could get them a Visa or MasterCard prepaid card which has an added cost of about $3.95/card. Of course they can then use it for a subscription to Family Tree Magazine or MyHeritage or FindMyPast or dinner or clothes which is why most businesses offer gift cards. They want to guarantee the money will be going into their company's pocket. They want customers. Not Ancestry. Ancestry wants people to regret their purchase.


✿ Relationship Calculator: Rather than give the closest blood relationship the calculator may tell you that John Smith is the husband of the niece of your 2nd cousin once removed's sister-in-law when he's your 4th great-grandfather.
✿ Facebook App: Has this app ever worked properly? It also slows the loading of profile pages and there is no way to turn it off.
✿ Online Cancel Option: Below on the left is an image from Ancestry's help page, on the right is what I saw when I tried to cancel.

Click here to see more Ancestry.com FAIL cards.

I wound up emailing support@ancestry.com to cancel. I included the screen cap on the right and mentioned it was what I saw in both Firefox and Safari.
✿ Recent Member Connect Activity (RMCA): If you get a notice that says "2 photos" or "2 records" were attached by X member nothing will happen when you click on the "2 photos" link.

You have to click "See more" at the top of the RMCA box then click on the "2 photos" link.
✿ The Community: Ancestry's "Support Community" was launched almost two years ago. Despite assurances for the first few months that it would eventually be integrated into the main site it still requires a separate sign in. Be sure to read the comments in the second link ;-)


1 comment:

  1. I've been bugging them about the 0 messages problem for months. I guess I'm glad to know it's not just me.