Monday, June 6, 2011

My Love/Hate Relationship with Ancestry.com--Revisited

Well, a year has passed since I wrote my blog entry entitled My Love/Hate Relationship with Ancestry.com.  Since it's time again to renew my subscription, I decided it was a good opportunity to revisit my opinions on the website!

Despite my continuing issues with Ancestry's search engine,  I have to say there is now more to love about the website.

Several months ago, Ancestry.com updated the format of their  online family trees. The upgrade looked so appealing that I decided to upload all of my gedcoms onto the websites' public family trees.

This time, no data was lost. The trees look marvelous and are easy to navigate.  I really LOVE some of the features of these trees, especially the ability to attach photos & scanned documents.  The shaking leaf "Ancestry hints" seem to be a bit more intriguing  and in some cases actually helpful (although I have already found census for most of ancestors through my gg grandparents).

The online trees are especially good for people just starting out building their family tree.  A friend and I recently started a small Genealogy group and some of the members have recently joined Ancestry so that they could start an online family tree.  The data entry process and step by step instructions are very user friendly.  Folks new to the format seem to really like it!

I have had two problems with my new Ancestry.com public online trees. Both involved photos. In one case, a person lifted the photo of my gg grandfather JOHN F MARTINE from my tree and attached it to their own completely different Martine family.  The person was not cooperative in removing the photo, and when I complained to Ancestry.com, their comment was that they "had no control over what people put in their trees".  I wrote about this in a previous blog post, posted it on Facebook, and even included research on the individual's family, so that they could see that my photo was NOT of his/her ancestor.  Eventually the person removed the photo.

I made my online trees private--briefly--then realized that I really wanted them to be public--despite the possibility that someone might nick my family photos in the future.  Because they are public, I frequently get contacted by other members researching the same families, which has been wonderful!

The second incident involved a person who found a box of unlabeled photos and surmised that they were members of my Martine/Miller family.  They were not. I contacted the individual through Ancestry.com and pointed out the error(s). Eventually the person emailed me, asking for family photos so that she could compare with the unlabeled photos in her possession. I sent them to her. She indicated that  she would remove the erroneous tree if my photos didn't match hers (which they don't).

In conclusion: kudos to Ancestry.com for adding more databases, for more access to more books and actual scanned documents, and for their new format online trees which are very user friendly, easy to navigate, and have great features.

That said,  new members should realize that there are A LOT of errors in Ancestry's public family trees, as people are allowed to merge their trees with other member's trees--whether the info is correct, or not. So, unfortunately, errors get replicated exponentially.

Please folks, do your own research, find primary documents, and use other member's public family trees as a way to get clues about your family!  And resist the urge to merge!!

Betty





© Betty Tartas  2011

3 comments:

Amanda (the librarian) said...

"Please folks, do your own research, find primary documents, and use other member's public family trees as a way to get clues about your family! And resist the urge to merge!!"

Couldn't have said it any better myself! My Ancestry membership has been invaluable, though, in putting me in touch with some distant cousins who had photos I did not have! In most cases we shared them through private e-mail, though.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the review!

Christa

Marian Burk Wood said...

Betty, your warning about public family trees is well taken. Also, I found one public family tree with some of my living relatives in it--the adults were labeled "Living Last Name" but the kids (currently under 15 yrs old) were labeled with their full names! I wrote the tree owner to request that the kids' names be changed to "Living Last Name" as well. People, be careful out there!