26 February 2015

Ancestry Tech

There has been so much I've wanted to write about that my brain just froze up and I haven't written in weeks. Sorry about that. So here I go trying to kick things into gear again.
Earlier this month The Ancestry Insider wrote an interesting summary of a presentation given by Ancestry.com at the RootsTech Innovator's Summit. You can read that post here. Three things stood out to me.

1) They "noticed that new users came to Ancestry.com and typed in their own names, then left when they found nothing." Tech Department meet Marketing Department.

You two might want to chat occasionally.

2) It's pretty standard to use stats to tout the site...

...but the numbers are not all that impressive once you take a look behind the curtain. The 60 million trees include junk trees and trees created users who click, click, click and are never heard from again once their free trial is over. A single tree back to Adam & Eve requires hundreds of unsourced, completely made up profiles. Hints accepted include clip art (ships, flags, coats of arms, etc.), images of fruit, urinals, and who knows what else. Urinals? Seriously? Even the number of records attached is worthless because it includes these collections, redundant Find A Grave collections, and tree owners who will attach absolutely anything and everything.

3) Of course I saved the best for last. This is the next to last paragraph:
"In the question and answer segment, someone asked that if Ancestry.com was so interested in learning from their customers, why wasn’t there a feedback link somewhere on their site. They explained that Ancestry.com has millions of customer interactions and that if they had a feedback link, they would not be able to review all the submissions. It’s a bad idea to ask for input and that you don’t actually read."
If they don't want feedback it's a good thing there's no feedback link on their site. Oh wait...

The screen cap is from this page which can be found by 
going to Ancestry.com and clicking the "Collaborate" tab.

Ancestry's answer confirms two things about their tech team that we knew all along. First, they don't read the feedback and second, they don't use the site.

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03 February 2015

Do Not Ancestry

UPDATE: Apparently there's a new subscription level for DNA users but the only reference I've found for it is this thread in the "community." Note that comments are closed on that thread.

AncestryDNA is now available in the United Kingdom and Ireland but it looks like Ancestry doesn't really want to sell any tests. The price of the test is £99. That's about $150 US. In the US the test sells for $99. Shipping to the UK and Ireland is three times what it is here, £20 ($30). US shipping is $9.95. And that's just the beginning.
For everyone purchasing a test after September or October 2014 (Ancestry has  not given an exact cutoff date) the following items are no longer included in the price of the test:
- List of surnames in common with matches.
- Ability to message your matches.
- Viewing the pedigree of your match's tree.
- Shared Ancestor Hints
- DNA Circles
Any tests purchased before the arbitrary date will still have those features with or without a subscription. AncestryDNA already lags behind when it comes to comparison tools and now they're moving what little they do have behind a pay wall.
The closest competitor for AncestryDNA is FamilyTreeDNA's autosomal test, Family Finder. Their test is $99. Period. Their prices do not vary by country. Standard shipping to most countries is $9.95 and they will ship everywhere except Iran and Sudan. And, most notably, using their comparison tools does not require a separate subscription.
When Ancestry jumped into the autosomal market they drove down prices. Once it became clear that autosomal tests would be the "next big thing" they dumped their Y and mt tests. Do they think they've cornered the market? Are they that confident in their minimal DNA tools? Do they think customers will be loyal no matter what?
Anyone have any insights on this?

[Full disclosure: I have no association with any DNA company except as a customer. I purchased a Y-DNA test from FamilyTreeDNA but have not purchased their Family Finder test. I received my first AncestryDNA test for free and have since purchased six more.]

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