Ancestry.com Family Trees

by Dave Voelker on February 27, 2011 · 7 comments

in Uncategorized

An open letter to Ancestry.com

Ancestry.com is an incredibly valuable resource, their online collection of records is certainly the most extensive collection available to the general public.  I have been a subscriber to Ancestry.com for several years and one of the best innovations that they have come out with were the Ancestry.com family trees and the ability to link data from their records base and other family trees at the click of a mouse.  There is perhaps nothing that has grown my collection of data faster, and more accurately, than this method.

I am a paid subscriber to Ancestry.com, my ID on Ancestry.com is KYVoelkers, feel free to drop me a line there, and I support their business model.  There is one aspect of the business model for Ancestry.com that befuddles me and that is why they limit the viewing of family trees to paid subscribers.  Opening up all Ancestry.com family trees to public view, with owner permissions of course, would serve a highly valuable public service and would certainly drive more subscriptions to Ancestry.com.  Further, if Ancestry.com were to make their family tree data search engine friendly they would drive additional traffic, and hence future subscribers, to their site.

I like to make my research available to others and have used a number of different software programs over the years to not only house my data but also to make it available online.  The tools at Ancestry.com are perhaps not robust enough to satisfy the most demanding researcher but the value of of their online family trees for making their research visible can not be understated.  I currently maintain my data in two places, one at Ancestry.com and another for general online public viewing.  This implies that I am trying to keep two data sets in sync and jumping through unnecessary hoops to make this happen.  The ability to use the Ancestry.com tools to find and update my family tree from their records base means that most of my updates are now coming through this channel and I can either export a GEDCOM from Ancestry.com and load it into my other program or perform dual data entry, neither option is ideal.  What would be ideal is for Ancestry.com to open up their family trees and make them viewable to the public, and watch their subscriber base rise with it.  Seems like a solid business decision to me anyway.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kim March 12, 2011 at 6:48 pm

I like the Ancestry online trees but I have one big problem with them. They don’t let you merg people. With most genealogy software you can do this and it helps to keep your tree clean when you’ve found you have two lines that cross. Unfortunately with ancestry you have to copy every bit of info to the other person, and relink all the relations to them, then delete the other one. It takes a lot of time. But otherwise I do like their site and it is a quick way to add data from their records to your tree.
I agree, that I wish non members could view your public tree if you have it set for public viewing!

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2 Dr. Bill (William L.) Smith March 12, 2011 at 6:56 pm

Welcome to the Geneabloggers family. Hope you find the association fruitful; I sure do. I have found it most stimulating, especially some of the Daily Themes.

May you keep sharing your ancestor stories!

Dr. Bill ;-)
http://drbilltellsancestorstories.blogspot.com/
Author of “Back to the Homeplace”
and “13 Ways to Tell Your Ancestor Stories”
http://www.examiner.com/x-53135-Springfield-Genealogy-Examiner
http://www.examiner.com/x-58285-Ozarks-Cultural-Heritage-Examiner

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3 Steve Spicer June 3, 2011 at 6:27 pm

Yes, I think that there should be some way to make trees available to non-subscribers also. It doesn’t appear to me that they make it very easy to print out or copy family group sheets to share with other people either.

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4 Kevin Ryan December 5, 2011 at 12:03 pm

I am in Total agreement it would benefit all. Not everyone that researches their family tree can afford the price of membership. It would benefit those who can afford to pay, so why not I say.

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5 Jack Renoud February 5, 2012 at 3:27 pm

Why not charge Ancestry.com for your tree, a form of rent , for a year!!! What goes around comes around.I once offered my information data base ( over 24,000 names and thousands of pages of information that could be scanned) as a joke for ‘sale’ to Ancestry.com. No response. They are always prompting people to contribute their work and many other programs also prompt you to ‘contribute’ your data to their sites. You all know, as soon as you do that , you’ll quite possibly find it on site like Ancestry.com or other sites in a very short while. I understand that these sites are trying to make a buck. I also understand that I , too, have spent countless hours and years looking up and solving one genealogy puzzle after another all at my cost .Why should I share this online , for free , with say a site like Ancestry, when they offer no incentive for me to do it. Like I said, as soon as I let go of my data, it will be ‘for sale’ on one of these sites. I have done test releases of some it and that is exactly what happened. A few months later, I see exact copies of it on various sites. Ancestry should at least release their trees for free, if they are expecting people to give their trees to them for free. What a publicly aid for Ancestry.com and I might even consider purchasing Ancestry.com for a while as a way of saying thank you to them. If they incentivised their collection of data, they would be swamped with information the likes of which would be mind boggling. You think that Ancestry is good now, if they did this, us serious researchers would be in their employ. They would have an army of dedicated researchers for the price of a few months of free access to the system over a few years.Think about it.

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6 Dave Voelker February 12, 2012 at 1:41 pm

Jack –

This is an excellent point you make here. Ancestry.com is effectively crowd-sourcing a product that it then resells for a hefty profit and while there is nothing wrong with that, I am a capitalist after all, they could do more to support the ongoing research. While the amount of scanned reference data that Ancestry has is tough to match the amount of sharing and member connections I have made is disappointing. I did not understand the significance of this until I posted my tree online with wikitree and have received more connections from that posting in 6 months than I have on ancestry for the last few years.

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7 Karl-Michael Sala April 13, 2012 at 12:21 pm

I have posted more than $100,00o worth of personal, client, patron, friend & family genealogy research on Ancestry.com. What do I get for it? A bunch! 24/7 access, storage, sharability (whether I know about it or not), automatic emails to clients, patrons, friends & family about updates I (or anyone else) made, etc.
2006: I was the very 1st person hand-picked by Ancestry.com to initialize the former Paid Expert Ancestry.com Research Line (PEARL, my selected proposed name that won, but the moniker was never attached to it). My wife, Lynell, was 2nd.
When that close-knit team was dissolved, I moved to be the primary European research consultant for Ancestry.de[utschland].
If anyone ever said that Ancestry.com was expensive, rip-off, etc. ad nauseum, I replied “You’re talking to the wrong guy, for I believe all of what ACOM has for you is likely worth no less than twice what they are asking!” No, I did not proclaim that because I worked there. It is a fact, folks. One client of mine got about $100,000 worth of genealogy that I did not have to do, for it had already been done.
As usual, I digress. When that International Team, too, was disbanded, Lynell & I opted to launch http://www.GermanGenealogist.com. It has been the best thing we ever did.
Highlight of that decision? Two clients who found us online have paid us about $50,000. Had those two clients been your referrals, that would have meant $5,000 to you (yes, you)! Call 1-888-456-7252 to discuss your case. Email details today. OK, tomorrow, then{:>)

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