Posted by on July 3, 2008 in Site, Site Features

This is a follow-up to our previous post about our new homepage. Thanks again to everyone for their feedback on the updated logged-in homepage. We really want to make sure that the homepage is something that can be a real help to all of you. Here are some of the improvements we have planned based on your feedback:

New Search interface

Thanks to your feedback we identified a bug that is making it so that if you click on one of the content Quick Links on the homepage like “Birth, Marriage & Death Records” or “U.S. Census Records” you will get switched to our new Search experience if you weren’t already using it. This was not our intention. We hope to be able to fix those links within the next week or so to prevent this from happening.

If you like the new Search experience, you don’t need to do anything. If you have gotten switched to the new Search experience and prefer the old Search experience, just click on the Search tab and then click on the link near the top of the page called “Switch back to old search experience.” We’re sorry for any inconvenience this caused any of you.

Some additional links to commonly used content

Since everyone has different content that they’re interested in, we won’t be able to automatically put all of the links you want into the new Quick Links section. Based on feedback, though, there are a couple links that we think will help most members. First, we’ll be adding a link in the Quick Links section to go to the Ancestry Card Catalog where you can quickly find and search any database you are interested in. Second, we’ll be adding a link to the US Military Collection, as that is the most-used record collection that is not already listed in the Quick Links section.

We expect to add these new links in the next week or so. They will be added for everyone, so if you don’t want them in your Quick Links you can easily remove them by putting your mouse over the link and then clicking the trash can icon.

Making it easier to add the links you really care about

We know that for many of you the links that are initially included in the Quick Links do not cover everything that you want quick access to. Right now you can add a link to any page you want by clicking on the “Add a link” button and then pasting in the URL, but we recognize that is a bit of work. To make this easier we are going to be adding a link in the masthead at the top of each page that will let you add any page you are on to the Quick Links section of your homepage. So you will just need to go to one of your favorite pages once, and then you can add it to your Quick Links with one click. We hope to be able to add this feature within the next 2 weeks or so.

Quicker access to the Search box

While a large number of our members have online trees on (over 5 million currently) and want quick access to their trees, some members who do not have an online tree on have expressed the concern that the Trees box at the top of the homepage is making it harder to get to get to the Search box below it. We are working on a design that would allow these members to switch to a smaller version of the Tree box that takes less space. This should move the Search box up on the page and make it easier to access. We hope to be able to add this within the next 2 weeks or so.

Thanks for your patience as we work to make these improvements for you. We’re very glad that some of you are finding value in the new page already. We really hope that the updated homepage can help you take advantage of the site and further your family history research.



I urge you to also consider adding a way for a user to specify which tree is shown by default on the home page.

July 3, 2008 at 3:04 pm

It defaults to the last tree you used.

We need a user setting somewhere that controls whether the home page default is a specific tree, the last tree used or NO TREE AT ALL.

July 3, 2008 at 3:10 pm

Based on the feedback here, I agree with you.

July 3, 2008 at 3:14 pm

“some members who do not have an online tree on have expressed the concern that the Trees box at the top of the homepage is making it harder to get to get to the Search box below it”

Point of clarification: It is not just members who do not have trees who find the Trees box obtrusive; many members who do/i> have trees associated with their profiles do not want to waste prime screen space on that box there either.

The solution to this particular problem is not for TGN to try to guess who does and who does not want to see the box; the solution is to let the user control it. The short term fix is probably to implement a sticky setting to collapse that box to one line. The long term solution is for the web site developers to stop trying to second guess users and provide some explicit control for this ,and other features. in the user profile.

July 3, 2008 at 4:19 pm

See. I told you all in the other blog that Ancestry won’t do anything about the complaints. All they do is tweak the new interface a little, but leave it as is. We are stuck with this useless, horrible new Home page.

Complain all you want, Ancestry is intent on forcing all these new changes on their users.

There is nothing we, the users, can do about it.

If 50 people complain NAY and 5 say they like the changes YAY, Ancestry jumps on those 5 YAYS and the changes are permanent.

July 3, 2008 at 6:09 pm

All those complaints on the previous “New Ancestry Home Page” and what is Melissa’s response?

They tweaked the Home Page, but left it as is.

Ancestry should change their name to “Genealogy for Dummies” because it is no longer a website for the serious genealogist.

This is the perfect time for one of those upstart genealogy websites to take over all the unhappy subscribers from this site.

July 3, 2008 at 6:19 pm


If you don’t like the home page, you can go directly to the search page. Simple. No need for the drama.

July 3, 2008 at 6:38 pm

It takes you *two weeks* to make a simple change to one web page?

Reckon that explains a lot about the rest of the site.

July 3, 2008 at 7:16 pm

Melissa Philips, I suspect you must be the one that changed the Home Page. Your follow-up post addresses only a fraction of the complaints, have you even read all of them? No one, No one, No one, wants that “Start Your Family Tree” form on the home page. We all want the census records back or at least give us the same search form to use, this one can not be used to search for a child with a step-surname, etc, etc. Please put your efforts into perfecting all the not working records and missing records. Just a week ago I had to use another genealogy program to view a census record because it appears Ancestry has left a whole community out of the index and scanned records. We just want dependable records to work with.

July 3, 2008 at 10:14 pm

If I wanted to view a family page as a home page, I would NOT use Ancestry. There are other FREE sites that provide that capability. The only reason most subscribe is for research reasons. So make your home page convenient for those of us who research!

July 4, 2008 at 2:26 am

Can we have the ‘search’ section moved to the top please?

July 4, 2008 at 4:50 am

WHEW!!! I was soooo frustrated. I’m so glad to see that others are having trouble with the new page. All the new boxes keep saying “Loading, Loading, Loading” (and I add “RAWHIDE” – singing while I wait)… It would be nice if there would be an error box pop up to tell me what to do…. Do I need to reload Java? or some other “viewer” to see my new stuff? AND when I try to attach someone to my existing tree, I again see “loading, loading, loading”…

I have yet to find help on what to do. I have been saving all my research “finds” to my shoebox until I can find a solution, just so I don’t lose all the time I have spent looking through irrelevant “finds”…

I hope the writers realize that some people have not run out and purchased NEW and FAST computers and some still live in remote areas where DSL or High speed internet is not available. The HOME page should be fast loading and easy to navigate…

July 4, 2008 at 5:55 am

You have made it easier? Where are the U.S. Censuses. I followed your instructions to switch back to the old way. Clicked on the Search tab but there was no heading to click on to go back to the old way. This is not easier.

July 4, 2008 at 7:10 am
Jerry Bryan 

I continue to by mystified as to why ancestry feels New Search is so wonderful when I think it’s so awful. One of us must be wrong. Based on all the postings on the blogs, it is clear that ancestry doesn’t understand what we who object are saying and it’s clear that we who object don’t understand what ancestry is saying. We are both talking past each other. So I have done a couple of things to try to understand and to give ancestry’s point of view a fair hearing.

First, I listened to Kendall Hulet’s interview with DearMYRTLE. Second, I decided to give the new design a fair chance by using both New Search and Old Search to address a particular research task. The particular research task I chose for the experiment is real and current. I didn’t know ahead of time what I was going to find. As a comparison of New Search vs. Old Search, my experiment is a sample size of one. A sample size of one is generally not a very valid way to come to conclusions. But this particular research task is very representative of what I do every single day. And I may end up repeating the New Search vs. Old Search comparison with a few more real research tasks, just to make the comparison more accurate.

To keep an already very long posting a little shorter, I’ll split the DearMYRTLE part of my comments apart from the real research task part of my comments.

Listening to Kendall Hulet’s interview definitely de-demonizes my impressions of what is going on. His interview really explains where ancestry is coming from much better than do any of the ancestry postings in the blogs. Kendall seems to be a really nice guy who trying to produce a superior product. In his heart of hearts, he believes he has done so. He must be as mystified about the uproar in the blogs as some of us are about why ancestry thinks New Search is better than Old Search.

Ancestry has done extensive usability testing with real users, not just done surveys. Apparently the feedback was quite positive, and ancestry did improve New Search and the new Web site during the usability testing based on feedback from the users. This is surely one of many reasons why Kendall must be surprised that the blogs are so overwhelmingly negative. In theory, any early problems in New Search and the new home page should have already been identified and solved in the usability testing process, and we negative bloggers should now be seeing the light and gladly embracing the new design. (By the way, I would love to talk face to face to some of the early usability testers and explain my concerns to them to see what they say.)

I commented in an earlier message that I had come to realize that new home page and New Search were separate issues, and that I would grudgingly accept the new home page provided all the horrible problems in New Search were fixed. After listening to Kendall’s interview, I think I was wrong. The new home page and New Search are part and parcel of the same thing. Your really can’t do the one without the other. From Kendell’s point of view, that family tree at the top of the home page that we objectors object to so much is one of the most important if not the most important feature of New Search. I think his view is that you really can’t get rid of that family tree without getting rid of New Search altogether.

I’m going to try to explain Kendall’s vision, and I hope I am representing his vision accurately. His vision is a fuzzy search vision. I think after listening to his interview that he would be surprised that anyone would ever want to do an exact search for any purpose. And in doing fuzzy searches, the concept is that the more information you can give to the search engine, the more accurate will be the results from the fuzzy search.

That’s where that family tree at the top of the new home page comes into the picture. The purpose of that family tree is to provide as much information to the fuzzy search engine as possible while requiring as little data entry into the fuzzy search interface as possible. That is, when you are constructing your fuzzy search, the fuzzy search interface will automatically fetch all the information it can find about the person in question from your family tree at the top of the page. That’s why Kendall feels it’s so important to have the family tree there. It’s really integral to the New Search process.

Kendall and Myrtle spent most of their time talking about how wonderful this feature of the new home page and New Search was. Kendall was operating with a tree of a few dozen or a few hundred people. He was getting hundreds of thousands of hits on his searches. The concept was to sort the hits by relevance, to only look at the first two or three pages of the hits, and to ignore the rest. Kendall talked about a process he called triangulation whereby as you give more information to the fuzzy search engine, the searches it performs for you will be ever more accurate.

Despite my best efforts to understand, I’m mystified why anybody thinks getting hundreds of thousands of hits is a good idea. I have tens of thousands of people in my tree and lots of researchers have hundreds of thousands of people in their trees. That’s radically different than Kendall’s demo tree with a few dozen or a few hundred people. And when I do a search, I want a few dozen hits at the most, not hundreds of thousands. I think Lewis Carroll would be amused at the Looking Glass character of these two radically different views of the genealogy research world, mine and Kendall’s. I’m not sure one is any more right than the other, but I certainly don’t want to have to operate with hundreds of thousands of hits. I don’t find the idea of looking at the first two or three pages of hits and ignoring the rest very satisfying. (“Solving” the problem by only displaying the first hundred or so hits wouldn’t really solve the problem, by the way.) And I certainly don’t want the search interface constructing my search for me based on a tree I have given it. I want to construct my own search, not have my search constructed for me.

Even with Old Search you can get the “hundreds of thousands of hits” syndrome if you use fuzzy searches. And the fuzzy search engine (as opposed to the fuzzy search interface) usually does a very poor job of sorting by relevance. It seems to give too much weight to surname spellings that match exactly, and not enough weight to other factors such as given names, geographic locations, and dates. It’s really bad when a person goes by a first name in one census and by a middle name in another census, even if you provide both names to the search interface. In the occasional situation where I use fuzzy searches with Old Search, I often find myself deliberately withholding information from the fuzzy search engine rather than trying to give it more information, because by doing so I can guide it where it needs to go rather than having it go off on some wild goose chase of its own.

So after listening to Kendall, I think where we are all talking past each other really comes down primarily to exact searches vs. fuzzy searches. I think beginners and people who are primarily interested in finding trees that have already been researched really like fuzzy searches (no matter how buggy those trees are)! But I think that experienced and serious researchers who are mostly interested in finding primary source documents in the databases really use exact searches most of the time.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but I’m a much better fuzzy search engine than is But for me to be my own fuzzy search engine, I need for to be a very good exact search engine that I can use when I’m being my own fuzzy search engine. Then, I can try spelling variations on my own and I can use wildcards more effectively. I know how my surnames are typically misspelled and mis-transcribed. I would even love to search with regular expressions (nobody talks about ancestry supporting regular expressions, but they are way better even than wild cards for doing difficult searches). I would love always to be able to reduce, not increase the number of hits.

In looking at the requests for improvements through the years that seem to be regularly ignored, nearly all of them have to do with making exact searches better rather than making fuzzy searches better. The three character limit on wild card searches is an example of a frequent request that has been long ignored. But ancestry’s vision is only to make fuzzy searches better, not to make exact searches better. There was not even the slightest hint or the slightest mention in Kendall’s interview about making exact searches better. So I would say to ancestry, please, please, please quit trying to make fuzzy searches better. That’s really just the wrong vision, and it won’t work anyway. Instead, please, please, please make exact searchers better. Please internalize and embrace the fact that good quality exact searches with lots of good indexes and lots of good searching options in the search interface are what serious researchers really need. It’s ok to make fuzzy searches better if you want to. But make exact searches better first. Please!

July 4, 2008 at 7:36 am

I have on my homepage a “House Family Tree”…..I don’t know these people. So I took your advice and clicked on “search” to get back to the old homepage. Your next instruction was to click on “Switch back…..”. I don’t have that option. Any more instructions to make it more confusing??????

July 4, 2008 at 8:12 am

Jerry – very well said.

I use exact searches of a specific database the vast majority of time. I never use the generic “search everything for this person” type search because I don’t have the time or patience to sort through thousands of results. Most of the time I find the record I want pretty quickly. If I don’t find it, then I alter my search (and as you described become my own fuzzy search engine) to just use the last name, a wildcard, widen the location, etc. Using this process, I have been able to find most records I want in a matter of seconds and only have to spend extra time on the records that are miss indexed or when I don’t know the person’s locations, etc.

I can see how the new homepage and new search would seem like an improvement to newer users who have a member tree and have always done the generic search. However, I would think that group is a small minority of Ancestry’s customer base. It’s just unfortunate for the rest of us that we are no longer their target audience.

July 4, 2008 at 9:01 am

Melissa’s claim in her post above that 5 million users have trees online. Hmmm..based on the stats on Ancestry’s Advertising information page, there are approximately 5 million users. I can’t believe that nearly all have an actively used online Family tree that they want to go directly each time they log on!

Here are my thoughts.

1. Melissa/Ancestry is counting multiple trees as being associated with a single user each. From other message boards, I know people who use online trees will upload new trees to either replace or add multiple trees.

2. Melissa/Ancestry is counting those trees people uploaded, decided they were useless, and may or may not have deleted them.

3. Melissa/Ancestry is counting those trees that are loaded simply for sharing from offline genealogy software databases that are maintained offline, not through the inadequate functionality of Ancestry’s online tree functionality.

4. Melissa/Ancestry is counting trees that were added during trial periods or other users who have not been active for months.

5. Melissa/Ancestry is making the assumption that even those who use the online trees want to work with the tree immediately upon entry.

Based on community board, blogs, and my own network with genealogists, the vast majority prefer keeping and maintaining their tree offline. A few will use the online tree functionality for sharing purposes only.

I believe Ancestry is either misunderstanding their own statistics or are purposely using them to support their own vision. I’m afraid I also question the user test processes in the selection of the testers to the analysis of the surveys returned by the test users.

Although getting sort of off topic talking about the New Search vs. the new Home Page, I, like LM McCauley have always used Exact searches only similar to what was described. Ancestry’s Kendall’s did compare Ancestry searching to Google searching where it is likely you’ll get thousands of results. Hmmm. When most databases have data with information that corresponds to specific criteria entered, it doesn’t have to be like a google search. The only possible exception is searches of newspapers and other documents. Although the searching is a little trickier behind the scenes, I still want all words to be on the document exactly as typed. I would prefer that there is a proximity search so that the search words are fairly close together in the document. In my opinion, the old exact search is far superior to the new exact search which excludes real matches and tries to suggest additional results when I want the exact search results only.

July 4, 2008 at 12:27 pm
Jerry Bryan 

Lfmccauley said: “I use exact searches of a specific database the vast majority of time. I never use the generic ‘search everything for this person’ type search because I don’t have the time or patience to sort through thousands of results.”

My basic philosophy is the same as Lfmccauley, namely to use an exact search of a specific database. Nevertheless, I do use the “search everything for this person” quite a bit. But I do so for the best of all possible reasons: I’m really lazy!

I usually find it a little slow and awkward to get to a specific database in the first place. So I’ll do an exact “search everything” search for a person just to get the list of databases containing that name. I’ll do a second click to get it down to just birth, death, and marriages, or down to just military, etc. Usually, I then have a pretty short list of databases and I pick the one database I already knew I wanted before I started the search. It’s sort of a lazy man’s version of a Quicklist. And of course before they took the list of census years off the main search screen, choosing an exact database quickly wasn’t an issue for census data. Until they put that back, choosing “the old search experience” doesn’t really give you the old search experience back. We need the census years back to get the old search experience back!

I guess I need to find a better way to get to a particular database. With Old Search, I certainly know how to click on All Databases, and do a search for the one I want. Despite that, I’ve been known to do an exact search for John Smith just to get the list of databases to choose from when I don’t know the exact name of the database I want.

I’ve been playing around a little bit with how you do essentially the same thing with a filter in New Search. That is, start with an exact “search everything” search and then filter it down to just the one database that I know in advance is the one I want to search. The New Search way of doing it seems *really* clumsy.

But New Search is getting better for me. Now I can sometimes stand to use it for as much as ten or fifteen minutes at a time before I get so mad I have to go back to Old Search. My tolerance level for New Search used to be only five minutes. The thing that usually drives me over the edge is that a search that starts out as an exact search seems to turn itself into a fuzzy search as I work my way through the process. I understand this is a known bug that is going to be fixed in a week or two.

July 4, 2008 at 2:18 pm

Melissa, when are you going to get the bugs fixed on the message boards? We’ve been waiting 19 months.

July 4, 2008 at 3:40 pm


The problem with the ‘Start your Tree’ box is not its size. It is is presence.

One of the most Frequently Asked Questions is: how do I eliminate the Tree box from My Home Page?

This question is not mentioned in the posted FAQ section link from the Home Page.

Please post this as an FAQ and give a truthful answer.

Thank you.

July 4, 2008 at 9:54 pm

Jerry Bryan,

Your explanation of the integrated concept of Tree and Fuzzy Search is beautiful.

You are quite correct that Kendall Hulett’s simplistic view of Ancestral Tree’s being the key focus of the Search Engine is quite unworkable for the majority of research tasks.

After all, most of the Trees were constructed as copies of other Trees, with no records-research involved whatever. Most of the Tree People don’t want to do records research. They want to add to their trees from other trees.

As for those of us Records Researchers, we may be researching collateral lines. We may be researching the families of distant cousins: other descendants of our ancestors.

We may be researching a point raised in discussion about an unrelated line.

We may be professonally researching a totally unrelated family.

The Tree / Fuzzy Search concept has been devised by someone with very little experience in the research. Maybe someone whose grandparents on both sides were 19th-century immigrants.

I have lines going back 12 generations. For some of those lines I have tracked the majority of descendants down to around the year 1900.

I have no intention of posting my work in tree form for Ancestry to sell on CDs, or for others to copy omitting the documentation.

Thus each time I see the ‘start your tree’ box I laugh and laugh and then want to take a magic marker to my monitor to draw big black X’s over the box.

Why anyone wants to use the Ancestry Home Page at all is a mystery. In its present form it has become quite unworkable for those who had a more user-friendly home page.

And those who want quick links to the searches they use frequently are much better off to bookmark the search sites they use in their own browsers. Why bother with the extra step of going to the foolish Home Page?

July 4, 2008 at 10:15 pm
Andy Hatchett 

All I can sat is that if Jerry Bryan’s analysis is correct about Kendell Hulet’s vision of Ancestry’s future then all is lost as far as Ancestry continuing to be a research source for the serious genealogist!

Just from Melissa Phillip’s response you can tell that they really do not comprehend what we serious researchers are talking about.

Sad… very sad.

July 5, 2008 at 12:17 am

You have yet to address one of the most common complaints — the “My Tree” that would be taking up too much space even if it were mine.
There are many things ancestry needs to do that are more important than forcing an unwanted “home” page on us. How about fixing the awful census indexing? Fixing the continuing bugs on the message boards? Getting some tech support people who actually try to help subscribers?
I’m dreaming, aren’t I?

July 5, 2008 at 6:15 am

I have to add my disgust to this cross chorus on the blog. I use Ancestry because it still provides most records for the cash. I do not have an online tree, so that box at the top is silly and annoying. The new Home page is no improvement at all.

I want to go straight to the search page (and I appreciate that one can via bookmarking). And the new search is awful too. Why cannot I order my results by , say, date or place? Most search engines can do this.

I echo those who suggest that you are less and less interested in serious researchers.

July 5, 2008 at 6:18 am

Incidentally, the home page does not as yet seem to have been similarly wrecked. Do you have plans for that as well?

If so, please hold off!!

July 5, 2008 at 6:21 am
Jerry Bryan 

(With apologies for the length, here’s my comparison of doing a real research task with both Old Search and New Search. Because of the length, I’ve broken this into three separate messages.)

This will be my second posting initiated after I listened to Kendall Hulet’s interview with DearMYRTLE. This posting being about me using both Old Search and New Search to do a real and current research task. I’m trying to be very fair and give New Search every possible chance to persuade me of its value. I will say in advance that this particular experience with New Search was much better than I expected, but New Search was still hard to use.

Before getting into the details of comparing New Search to Old Search for a specific research task, I should point out that for an exact search it is the case that New Search gives a lot more hits than Old Search. It seems to me that the number of hits for an exact search should be identical between New Search and Old Search. I’m hoping that the cause of this problem is the bug where exact searches are getting morphed into fuzzy searches somewhere in the New Search interface. If New Search can’t give the same number of hits for an exact search as Old Search, then the reliability of New Search is very much called into question.

My current research task is a Burl Kyte. The only data I have for Burl is his name and the fact that he married Cleo Bryan Underwood in 1929. Cleo was my second cousin twice removed, and I have no Kytes in my database other than Burl. Cleo was born in 1908 in Tennessee, she was enumerated in the 1910 and 1920 censuses in Sevier County, Tennessee, and I can’t find her in the 1930 census.

My immediate research task is to find Burl Kyte’s birth date and place, his parents and siblings, the courthouse marriage record for Cleo and Burl, and Burl’s 1910, 1920, and 1930 census entries.

Doing a fuzzy search for Burl Kyte or Burl Kite is pretty useless no matter whether you are using Old Search or New Search. There are a gazillion false hits. Also, fuzzy search doesn’t recognize that Kyte and Kite are variant spellings of the same surname. So for example if you search for Burl Kyte it lists all the Kytes in the world ahead of Burl Kite. This problem seems to be in the search engine rather than in the search interface.

Doing an exact search from the Old Search main page for Burl Kyte gives 1 hit, an obituary reference that’s probably the son or grandson of our guy. Doing an exact search from the New Search main page for Burl Kite gives 2 hits, a 1920 census entry that’s our guy and a U.S. Public Records Index entry that’s not our guy. The Family Trees tab for Burl Kyte gives 14 hits. Several of the hits were for our guy. The Family Trees tab provides his birth date and place, and his parents, for example, but I still want to find the family in the census to verify his information. The Family Trees tab for Burl Kite gives 1 hit and he is not our guy.

Doing an exact search from the New Search main page gives the aforementioned hundreds of false hits on Burl Kyte and also on Burl Kite. The searches do include the same hits found by exact search, but I don’t like all the false hits when I’m doing an exact search. I didn’t have to click a Family Trees tab to see the Family Trees hits because the Family Trees were already there. There have been objections to that feature of New Search, but I don’t really have any serious objections to showing the Family Trees hits in this manner.

Strangely enough, New Search only found 11 hits for Burl Kyte on Family Trees instead of the 14 hits found by Old Search, and New Search found 10 hits for Burl Kite instead of the 1 hit found by Old Search. Again, the discrepancy between Old Search and New Search for exact searches really needs to be fixed.

This example really emphasizes the distressing feature of both Old Search and New Search that I can’t search for K?te to get Kyte and Kite on the same exact search. And I really need to be able to search for “K [y or i] te” rather than for K?te because I don’t want to find Kate, for example. Fuzzy search does not improve this situation one iota that I can tell.

Soundex is useless in looking for Kyte/Kite because it finds gazillions of utterly unrelated surnames. That’s typical of Soundex, and Kyte/Kite’s problems with Soundex are the norm rather than the exception. On rare occasions, Soundex is useful, but not often. The limitations of Soundex are not ancestry’s fault, but the matching of alternate surname spellings needs to use techniques other than Soundex. In any case, ancestry seems to want to fix this problem by making fuzzy search better. That’s really the wrong approach. The proper approach is to make exact search better.

In summary of the searches so far for Burl Kyte/Kite: 1) New Search does not provide the same results as Old Search for exact matches and it clutters the search with many, many useless hits that really aren’t exact matches, 2) the 1920 census entry for Burl Kite shows that he was born about 1913, so there is no reason to look for him in the 1910 census, 3) even though New Search cluttered the search with a lot more hits than Old Search, the 1920 census record was just about as easy to find in New Search as in Old Search, 4) no courthouse marriage records for Burl Kyte/Kite have showed up so far in New Search or Old Search, 5) and Burl has not yet showed up so far in the 1930 census in New Search or Old Search.

Having said all that, New Search was tolerable for exact searches but totally unusable for fuzzy searches. And New Search is really designed and intended to be used with fuzzy searches.

July 5, 2008 at 11:51 am
Jerry Bryan 

I want to continue with my experience in researching Burl Kyte/Kite with both Old Search and New Search. The two pieces of information that I’m still looking for at this point are his courthouse marriage record and his 1930 census record. Both of these searches share in common that I just want to go immediately to the database I need and then do an exact search for the data I’m after. At this point in the process there’s not really much of an Old Search vs. New Search issue per se except in the sense of how quickly either style of search will get me to the database I want.

Let’s start with the marriage record. The database I need is called Tennessee State Marriages, 1765-2002. I use this database nearly every day, so I assume that the My Quick Links feature New Search would be the way to go. However, like many others I find it incomprehensible as to how to set a Quick Link for this database. I do understand that a fix is coming. So instead, in New Search I click on Birth, Marriage & Death Records. From there, the only way to find the database seems to be Go to the Card Catalog. I go there and Sort By Database Title and Filter By Keywords(s) Tennessee Marriages. What pops to the top of the list is things like Boston Births, Boston Marriages, Buchanan Family Records, etc.

This is an example of why I really find the Card Catalog to be incompressible and unusable. I don’t see how keywords like Tennessee and Marriages give you births in Boston. In fairness, if you scroll far enough down the screen you do see the Tennessee marriages database in question. So I plod right along like a good soldier and click on the Tennessee marriages database. This one really bad experience with the Card Catalog is sufficient to convince me never to use it again. But if I can’t use the Card Catalog effectively to get to specific databases, and unless there is some other New Search way to get to specific databases, then I really can’t use New Search.

I thought I was going to get the old familiar search screen for the Tennessee Marriages database at this point. But instead, there’s a New Search style search screen that’s very puzzling. So rather than looking for Burl Kyte/Kite at this point, I decided to do some searches against known people to see if I could understand the New Search screen. I used my maternal grandparents as an example. My grandmother Lola Williamson married my grandfather E. L. Peters in Loudon County in 1921. This is well documented from family records and I long ago chased down the courthouse marriage record using Old Search.

The Old Search screen had a place for the given name and surname of one spouse, and also a place for the given name and surname of the other spouse. The New Search screen has a place for the given name and surname of one spouse, and also a place for the name of the other spouse (the given name and the surname for the other spouse are not split out). I didn’t like the change, but what the heck. I tried given name Lola, surname Williamson, and spouse name Peters and also spouse name E L Peters, and it all worked great. So far, so good.

Next I tried just Lola Williamson without a spouse. There were 5 hits statewide (same as with Old Search, again it’s so far, so good), and then there were 9 more “not so close” hits. The “not so close” hits list repeated the 5 close hits (that’s silly, don’t repeat the close hits in the not so close hits list), and also included cases where a woman named Lola had married a man named Williamson. That’s actually not totally silly. For example, my grandmother could in theory have been Lola Smith who married first a Williamson and married second my grandfather. Indeed, I look for that kind of situation all the time. However, I would rather look for such connections on my own. I guess and I would just have to agree to disagree on this issue, but I really don’t want my exact searches cluttered up this way.

Here’s where it gets more interesting. I tried to reduce the 5 hits for Lola Williamson down to 1 hit a different way. Instead of providing my grandfather’s name, I decided to provide the county. The results are dissatisfying.

The Old Search screen for this database knows that we are in Tennessee, and the only place value you need to enter is a county. But the New Search screen for the Tennessee Marriages database apparently doesn’t know that we are in Tennessee. If I type in Loudon, I get a drop down list for every Loudon anything the world. For example, Loudonville, Ashland, Ohio, USA is on the list. That’s just silly when you are in a Tennessee database. I suppose it wants me to pick Loudon County, Tennessee, USA. But I don’t want to pick Loudon County, Tennessee, USA. I know I’m in a Tennessee database, and I just want to type in Loudon. So I do. Having done so, I still get all five hits, including for Carroll County, Henry County, etc. Therefore, I go back and dutifully select Loudon County, Tennessee, USA. And I get my 1 hit just like I’m supposed to. This is not better than Old Search. It’s worse than Old Search. And mostly it’s just silly.

To come to closure on Burl Kyte/Kite, his marriage to Cleo Underwood is not in the Tennessee State Marriages, 1765-2002 database. The database is a wonderful resource, but the coverage is not complete. They were married in Knox County (I found that at the local library), and ancestry’s data for Knox County stops at about 1900. For many other counties, the data goes to the 1990’s or even all the way to 2002, but not for Knox County. Even though this is a great database, it illustrates that we need more data a lot worse than we need New Search. With both Old Search and New Search, I did try things like men named Burl married to women named Underwood, men named Burl married to women named Cleo, etc. in at least a dozen different combinations. If the data is there, I can nearly always find with these kinds of tricks, being my own fuzzy search engine as it were. In this case, there obviously were no hits, neither with Old Search nor with New Search, because the couple was not in the database. But despite my dislike for the way New Search handles place names and the way it combines first names and surnames for the spouse, I have to admit that doing the searches was close to the same between New Search and Old Search. Old Search is definitely better, but not by a whole lot. Once I got to the right database, New Search was usable even if it was irritating.

July 5, 2008 at 11:52 am
Jerry Bryan 

I want to finish with my experience in researching Burl Kyte/Kite with both Old Search and New Search. The final piece of needed information is the 1930 census.

As many others have pointed out, it used to be really easy to get to the census database you want. Census is probably the most important database for serious researchers. It’s now much more difficult to get to the census database you want.

It’s even a little harder on Old Search than it used to be because the compact list of census years is no longer there on Old Search. I don’t understand why they had to take it away for Old Search just because they were implementing New Search.

On New Search, you go through the following sequence from the home page: 1) Click on U.S. Census in the upper right hand corner of the screen, and 2) scroll down a whole bunch and pick the census year you want. That doesn’t actually sound so bad in theory. In all truth, since they deleted the compact census list for Old Search the number of clicks to get to a census database for New Search is the same as for Old Search. But in practice, after the second click on Old Search you can see the list of census years (or at least a part of it), and you may not have to scroll down at all to click the one you want. After the second click on New Search, you can’t see the list of census years at all, and you have to scroll down a bunch. Indeed, a new user probably wouldn’t know that the census list is there because it’s so well buried. It almost feels like it’s hidden on purpose.

Sorry to sound so negative, but it just sort of feels to me that ancestry is being either obtuse or stubborn (or both) about this issue of not making the census databases easy to get to. It’s like they really don’t want you to go to a particular census database. They really want you to go to their New Search process instead.

But let’s suppose you get to the 1930 census. At first glance, the New Search screen for the 1930 census is fine and is no better or worse than the Old Search screen. In practice, the one thing that’s really bad about the New Search screen is the ugly pull down list for the birth location and the lived in location. It’s just as unfriendly and awkward to use as was the ugly pull down list for the Tennessee marriage index. Indeed, it’s exactly the same technology.

I usually start a census search by just putting in a state, and I add a county only if I get too many hits otherwise. I don’t usually start with a county because people move between adjacent counties so often. Putting in a state before was trivial. All you had to do was put in the first letter of the state. If more than one state starts with the same letter, you just keep hitting the first letter until the state you want appears. It’s extremely easy and fast process. And I don’t mind typing in the county when I need to. Indeed, Windows itself will usually complete the typing of the county name for me. Similarly, another common pattern for me is to leave the state and county blank but to put in a birth place. That handles people who move from state to state. Again, just typing in the birth place is in practice much easier than fighting with the newfangled pull down thing.

Kendall Hulet’s interview with DearMYRTLE suggests that ancestry is extremely proud of this new “feature”, that they think it’s great, and that they aren’t going to back off. I don’t know what else to say. If all I did was to hear about or see a demo of the new way of doing place names, I would also think the new way was better. But it takes very little time actually using the system to realize that the old way was much, much easier to use in practice, no matter what theory would suggest.

But I digress. Because there’s no Cleo Kyte or Kite in the index, I looked for all the people named Cleo, living in Tennessee, born in 1908 plus or minus 5. There are 521 hits, too many to look at unless I’m really desperate. I could have narrowed the search for Cleo down by county, but instead I next looked for all the people named Burl, living in Tennessee, born in 1913 plus or minus 5. There were 100 hits, not too many to scan through, and I found them. Burl and Cleo were living with Burl’s parents, and the family had been indexed as Ryte rather than Kyte.

In all truth, by the time I got to the 1930 census database, and except for the ugliness of the New Search way of doing place names, the search was just as easy or just as hard with New Search as with Old Search. And if I hadn’t found Cleo and Burl when I did, I would have started filtering down by county, I would have started plugging in the names of Burl’s parents, etc. One obvious thing to try doesn’t work, and Old Search vs. New Search makes no difference. That is, looking for a person named Burl with a spouse of Cleo doesn’t work. That’s because they are not indexed as spouses. Burl is a son and Cleo is a daughter-in-law.

In fairness to the indexer who came up with Ryte instead of Kyte, it looks like Ryte to me, too. And the situation is made worse by a big descender from the previous line that overlays a part of the K. I’ve done a lot of indexing and transcription, and it’s very hard. In general, I don’t feel anywhere near as negative about ancestry’s indexes as some of you all do. With an occasional exception where I think the indexer had an easy transcription and just was being very lazy or sloppy, I think the ancestry indexes are pretty good. After a while, most people get very good at guessing and compensating for transcription errors. This Ryte for Kyte thing was especially difficult. It’s hard to see how any kind of fuzzy search or wildcard or regular expression etc. would have helped very much with this one. I just had to find the people by their given names and ages.

In summary, once I get into a census database, I can use New Search just effectively as Old Search. But I always use exact searches in combination with my standard bag of tricks (wild cards, alternate spellings, given name only searches, etc.). Fuzzy search is just about as worthless for census searches as it is for any other search. The place name thing in New Search is maddening, truly maddening (I can feel my blood pressure rising every time I use it!). But anything I could find in the census with Old Search I can also find with New Search.

July 5, 2008 at 11:54 am
Craig Hubbard 

New Home page

Following is a work around for those who use Internet Explorer (IE) and want to avoid opening the new home page.

Navigate to the Ancestry database you wish to search, i.e. US census

Select Favorites > Add to Favorites

In Favorites > Links folder, create a new folder and name it Ancestry or whatever name you choose

Add the US census link to the folder Links > Ancestry

Continue adding direct links to your favorite search sites. Create additional folders in Links as you desire or just add the direct links to the Links folder. You may also rename these links to cause them to line up in the manner of your choosing.

Put your cursor in the IE tool bar and right click to turn on Links. This causes your Links folder to be displayed in the IE tool bar.

Folders in the Links folder will display as drop down lists, while other links line up across the tool bar.

If the number of links exceed the tool bar space, then >> appears on the right edge of the tool bar. Left click on >> to display a drop down list of your additional links in the Links folder.


July 5, 2008 at 2:20 pm
Jerry Bryan 

I think there was previous discussion about the topic I’m about to mention, but I looked through the blogs without finding it. If it’s there and I didn’t find it, I apologize for bringing it up again. Namely, an exact search also does a fuzzy search (also called a ranked search) and displays at least some of the results for you even though you are doing an exact search.

Could ancestry treat this “feature” as the bug that it is and just turn it off. Failing that, could we have an option to turn it off? Or has it already been announced that this is a bug that will be fixed shortly?

July 5, 2008 at 6:07 pm

Stop wasting your time redesigning the website. The layout was fine. It was clean and uncluttered. The trees were easy enough to get to. You should be putting your time and energy into useful things like the search engine but most of all more content to search. The data files come mostly only in dribs and drabs. I need more data not a redesigned website!!!!

July 5, 2008 at 6:15 pm

Last thing I want or need is a tree that someone ask me to look at months ago added to my home page.

July 5, 2008 at 6:57 pm

Jerry Bryan you said:

The database I need is called Tennessee State Marriages, 1765-2002. I use this database nearly every day, so I assume that the My Quick Links feature New Search would be the way to go. However, like many others I find it incomprehensible as to how to set a Quick Link for this database.

This is very easy Jerry, open the marriage database and copy the URL, better yet here it is:

Highlight and copy the URL, go to “My Quick Links”, click on the
“Add a link”, then in the “Add a new Quick Link Web Address” space, highlight the http:// that is already there then right click and paste the URL, then in the Name space under that, copy and paste
Tennessee State Marriages, 1780-2002,
then click the Save button.

Hope this helps you. I hardly ever search for a database, I have them listed in my browser in the Favorites toolbar button. You can click on the Favorites button then click Add to Favorites, click on the New Folder Button and name it Marriages, go to your Tennessee State Marriages, 1780-2002 database (or ant other) and click on the Favorites, then click Add to Favorites, then highlight the Marriages folder, then click OK. You can add and name as many folders as you need such as Births, Deaths, Cemeteries. When you put your pointer over a folder it’s list of databases you have added will pop out to the side, you just click on the one you need. The folders and database files can be alphabetized as often as needed by right clicking on any folder or file then click “Sort by Name”

July 6, 2008 at 12:49 am

The bottom line is that the programmers (and/or their bosses) are not day-to-day users of the Ancestry product for real genealogical research. They are selectively listening to feedback that reinforces their notions of what a user should want. This is a common problem in programming interfaces for complex database systems. The programmers don’t understand the users. I am extremely disappointed that Ancestry keeps making misguided “improvements” that decrease rather than improve functionality in accessing their data records.

I’ve seen the Ancestry blogs give voice to both positive and negative feedback. Ancestry should not write off the comments posted in this thread as those of a disgruntled minority. The problems and issues discussed here are real.

July 6, 2008 at 6:45 am
Jerry Bryan 

Edith, much thanks for the very clear directions on setting Quick Links. Actually, I had already puzzled out how to do so sometime after my initial posting.

The problem with the existing Add Quick Links implementation is that it’s backwards. If you go to Add Quick Links, it asks you for the URL and of course at that point you have no idea what the URL is. As you very clearly describe, you have to be counterintuitive and reverse the order of things – fetching the URL first and only then going to the Add Quick Links feature.

I was sort of expecting it to let me put in the name of the database rather than the URL. If as Kendall Hulet’s interview with DearMYRTLE indicated this was tested with 28 different groups of testers, then I’m puzzled that the problem didn’t show up with those groups.

Ancestry has already announced that a great improvement in the Quick Links interface will be delivered very soon. You will be able to add a Quick Link to a page while you are looking at the page in question. I think they should be much commended for this improvement.

Other users have recommended using the browser’s Bookmarks or Favorites feature. The details are slightly different depending on the browser you are using, but essentially all browsers support this feature. I also know how to do that, and saving a link through the browser does let you do things in a natural order rather than in a counterintuitive order. Bookmarks and Favorites are very personal things, and they work extremely well for many people. I decided to quit using them many years ago because they are tied to a particular machine, and I work on several different machines. Also, I used to lose my Bookmarks or Favorites any time I got a new machine, or if I had to re-install an operating system or if I had a hard disk failure etc. So I have generally tried to find alternatives to Bookmarks or Favorites when I want to save URL’s.

To that end, ancestry’s Add Quick Links feature is great. Once a Quick Link is established, it’s there on my account no matter which machine I use to access my account. Also, the Quick Links feature is not tied to the new home page. It works on the old home page as well. Again, I highly commend ancestry for being responsive on this particular issue.

July 6, 2008 at 7:17 am

Today, Sunday July 6 when you find someone on worldtree and then click on that name the system says “this person doesn’t exist” I tried several different ones, different families and they all said that.
What happened?

July 6, 2008 at 9:18 am
jane carpenter 

From a Professional Genealogists stand point, the new front page is ‘HORRIBLE’. I do not have any interest in ‘TREES’! My interest is in finding the records and finding them quickly. I can’t even find where they ‘tweaked’ the Home Page. Hire more Professionals to look at the sites and give feedback.

I agree with Adrian [3 July] Ancestry should change their name!! Perhaps ‘Genealogy for the’ non- Professional or non researcher’ or ‘Genealogy for Copy.

July 6, 2008 at 10:02 am

The “powers that be” at Ancestry would do well to listen carefully, very very carefully, to the comments on this and related threads. I have been a subscriber for nearly a decade, and if you force the horrible, horrific, so-called Card Catalog on us, I will seriously consider discontinuing my subscription. (For now, I can make do with the Old Search Card Catalog, but I fear it will eventually disappear). Quite frankly, with the difficulty experienced researchers are having finding things, I can’t imagine how “newbies” will ever figure anything out.

In particular, Ancestry should take the time to carefully study Jerry Bryan’s posts (though his are not the only ones to attend to).

I can live with the new home page. I cannot live with the new search.

You don’t seem to understand (or care?) that a significant number (I would be surprised if it isn’t the majority) of your customers (and likely potential customers) have not one wit of interest in providing you with free data about their families. I reluctantly gave in and posted one of my families this weekend, just to see how the system works. Clearly, you are intent on forcing us to do this, because that’s about the only way to access an exact search. Unfortunately, the exact search feature in Hints is perhaps a bit too exact: if I’ve told you that John Doe’s parents James and Minnie Doe are on a specific 1910 census, and have given you John’s birthdate, why it doesn’t find him on the same census is beyond me. And, it misses records in older data bases that you’ve had online for years. I would continue to use this feature if I could be assured that the data is truly private and won’t be glumped into OneWorldTree or claimed as your intellectual property right.

Let me summarize as briefly as I can what you need to re-think and fix:

Don’t force us to use the My Tree feature. We aren’t interested.

Give us a way to easily find and search just one database. The Old Card Catalog does this, sort of. (The new so-called Card Catalog is completely and totally useless, to put it as nicely as I can).

Make the Shoebox searchable.

As Jerry says, the new locality feature is a pain in the neck. And doesn’t seem to work.

We want the ability to conduct true exact searches. Fuzzy searches have their place and should be an option, but we need the ability to filter by locality and time period (the search box tricks us into thinking this is an option, but it isn’t in practice). I don’t want to see records from the British Isles when my family has been in North America for almost 400 years. And if I’ve told you the guy died in Iowa in 1874, don’t give me Massachusetts or Texas records from the 1930s. I also don’t want to receive more than 50,000 hits when I’ve given you a complete name, a location, and a birthdate (and my guy is the only one in the database who meets the 3 parameters I gave you).

If your fuzzy search can’t find people named Fannie Taylor when I told you her name was Fanny Taylor and given you a specific locality and time period (or Kyte and Kite, as Jerry described), then how in the world do you possibly think your “fuzzy” search engine is useful?

We need the ability to conduct true wildcard searches.

I could go on, but if anyone at Ancestry has any intention of listening to customer feedback, you should get the idea…

July 6, 2008 at 11:06 am

Has anyone tried to generate a GEDCOM from an online tree since this new home page was activated?

Finding the link to do so is very difficult and involves a lot of waiting through “loading…”. If/when someone does manage to find where its supposed to be possible, it doesn’t work. Clicking on the “Download GEDCOM” link brings up “The page cannot be found”.

In what context would this be considered as an improvement?

July 6, 2008 at 11:06 am

I ask the same as Diane #35, what’s going on with “this person doesn’t exist?” The One World Tree detail has been unavailable for two days with no notification of trouble or otherwise.

July 6, 2008 at 3:52 pm
Jim Morgan 

There seems to be a bug when you are viewing Ancestry Trees. When the name shows up as “Undefined” and you try to add information from public trees to your tree, you will get an error message “We apologize, but were unable to handle your request. Please try again later.”

I thought that this was indicating that the server was overloaded or too many users were on the site but I can try over and over for the same person and get the message. I can go to a new person, with normal “Name” (not “Undefined”) and the program works fine.

July 6, 2008 at 4:22 pm

Agreeing with Pen #24 “I echo those who suggest that you are less and less interested in serious researchers.”

AND – most strongly – I want my Bookmarks back ! Like Diane #35, and Warren #39, and I’m sure many others.

July 6, 2008 at 7:00 pm

The next change that Ancestry is working on will have a tab where “My Ancestry” used to be, and the tab will say;

“Genealogy for Dummies”

Click on it and choose:

“Ancestry for Idiots”

and you will be able to put in your home person and then instantly merge your entire family tree together from other submittals in 10 minutes or less.

Good job Ancestry!

Keep all those changes coming! Every week, something new!

The newbies love the graphics, and love love love that merge feature.
The newbies just love love love the trees on the new Home Page.

And when their trial period is over, or the tree is complete, which ever comes first, that newbie subscriber is gone and what is left at Ancestry?

Hard to say, since Ancestry is driving away a great number of the professional genealogists.

July 6, 2008 at 7:28 pm

Jim said…”When the name shows up as “Undefined” and you try to add information from public trees to your tree,….”

May I suggest purchasing genealogy software to record the results of your genealogy reseach. Why are you copying from a public tree? Do you know the researcher and the validity of the data? Do you use any offline software to store and manage your research data?

Offline software allows you to control and manage your data better than online trees and you don’t have to worry about Ancestry messing up the system or your internet access be down. Be cautious about merging other data with yours automatically. Even with the greatest care, you can end up with a mess.

As others have suggested, Ancestry needs to get back to being a research tool rather than encouraging the posting and copying of trees from each other. I have occasionally gotten CLUES from other’s trees but most of my successful contacts have been through message boards.

July 6, 2008 at 7:30 pm

I’d like to throw in a word of defense in regards to ancestry family trees. First off, I’ve been subscribing to ancestry for five years – hardly a newbie. I use software on my computer to create my tree, but I also have a smaller tree on ancestry.

As the known genealogist in my family, I use this tree to provide my research to other family members. Because it is private and invite only, I’m able to put information online that I would not otherwise be able to protect on my website. I can put photos and sensitive documents up as well.

I also often search for other family trees. I’ve found three family trees that have been placed online by distant relatives – who are also able to share photos and information that I don’t have. These trees are well researched and backed up by sources.

The point of my saying this: based on the comments here, everyone is assuming no “real” genealogist would place their trees on ancestry, that all the trees on ancestry are faulty and badly researched and that no good information could be found by the public trees online.

Although, I agree with many other comments on this blog lately (hate the new search, would love to see changes to the new home page, etc.) I hate to see the trees bashed. I think that there is a lot of good in ancestry’s family trees – as long as you take everything with a grain of salt.

I personally like that my family tree is now on the home page. But, that said, I’m someone who uses the tree system. I do think that the new home page was badly done. Ancestry should know that not nearly everyone uses their trees and *should not* have forced it on everyone the way they have. I would like to add my voice to the option to add/delete widgets from the home page.

Ancestry should understand that they have a diverse group of subscribers – none better or worse than the other – and they should strive to make the ancestry “experience” best for everyone. And maybe they already had that a few months ago…

July 6, 2008 at 8:57 pm

Can we please have the old home page back? If all I wanted to do was look at the research I have done I could pull it up on my computer without loging in. This is frustrating and denies me all of the information I use to read on the old page. Please fix this mess

July 6, 2008 at 9:06 pm
Mary Beth Marchant 

I too consider my self a “real” genealogist but still only an amateur compared to many others. I have been at this for going on 10 years. I have 4 trees online but upload them from my own genealogy program. What I object to strenuously with this new mess is having my trees shoved in my face first thing. I was perfectly capable of finding them through the “my ancestry” link which was a good but not intrusive. This new mess is completely obtrusive and complicates everything else needlessly. It appears that ancestry thinks we needed some handholding in order to find our trees and have gone out of their way to “help” us ignorant old folks. I want the small census block back so I don’t have to hunt for the census listings nor scroll down a whole page looking for them. I want the trees in an unobtrusive but accessible spot so that when I want to bring up one of my trees I can do that, but I do not concentrate on trees to the exclusion of other research. In fact, adding to my trees is the least of my research. Hopefully, some other smart genealogy outfit will step in with lots of data and we can stop using Ancestry. Right now there is not a whole lot of choice but the Mormon web site is coming on and one day will be a big player.

July 6, 2008 at 9:13 pm
Nancy Rogers 

I have become concerned enough about what TGN is doing to ancestry to wonder when it will begin to make changes in Rootsweb. So I have now pulled my tree. I realize that somewhere there is still some part of it around, but hopefully a serious genealogist will realize that since it has not been updated that it is not to be trusted.

July 6, 2008 at 10:19 pm

Amongst the changes, which I am not so impressed by, I have discovered this morning that access to the One World Tree appears to have been suspended. I hope it is a maintenence issue and not a permanent dissolution of the site.

July 7, 2008 at 4:39 am
Judy Atkins Taylor 

I’m so frustrated that I don’t even know where to begin. I don’t usually pay any attention to blogs, but in desperation to find out what happened to your website I decided to see if anyone else was having problems, or was it just me. I couldn’t believe my eyes – so many searchers with so many problems!!! And no one seems to know how to fix the situation. No one seems to be listening. But I have an idea that might get someone’s attention – something that they might understand. All of the serious searchers should cancel our subscriptions and ask for a refund since this is not what we signed up for. Yes, money talks. I only hope the “powers that be” are paying attention. Forget all this “tree business” and fix your census problems.
I still haven’t figured out how you managed to decipher Ridgeway as Igbay.

July 7, 2008 at 7:16 am

When you are happy with something do you usually blog to the world about it, or just continue on with your day satisfied? But when you are upset about “change” you comlain to no end and throw a tantrum to get your way. People, please look at what you are saying and look at the progress that has been made at There is good here, just stop kicking and screaming for a bit to get used to “change.” Yes, there will be a few bugs here and there, but what software or website doesn’t have to go through that?

July 7, 2008 at 11:34 am
Kendall Hulet 

Jerry Bryan:

Thank you for your very insightful comments–I love getting specific examples–it really helps us be able to understand the issues more clearly and respond to them. I’d like to spend more time reviewing your comments and then post a response in the next couple of days as a new blog post about the new search.

July 7, 2008 at 11:53 am

Thank you, thank you, thank you. I can add new people, my zillion bookmark records still exist – and although I did suffer severe angst I’m still here, so expect more census corrections !

July 7, 2008 at 12:02 pm
Faye Jarvis Moran 

I would like to know why comment #20 “is awating moderation?”

On July 4th an article appeared in the Winston Salem, NC Journal about my web site. One of the questions the reporter asked of me “What is your favorite site” and my answer was I wish I could retract that statement now.

July 7, 2008 at 12:09 pm
Tony Cousins 

I just found this ‘new’ blog and realized I had posted in the wrong place – so here it is again for those who haven’t already seen it, and for those who have – sorry:)

On the new home page – rubbish. After logging into Ancestry the first thing I do is click on the search tab. Ancestry is as others have stated not a facebook, or myspace – they only have to submit an e-mail address to join – we have to pay Ancestry – in my case over $300 just a week ago.

I know the vast majority of paying users are ardent researchers and, again like other comments, not interested in the flashy adverts on the site.

Sometimes the phrase of ‘if it isn’t broken – don’t fix it’ applies – it certainly does here TGN have broken what a lot of users once considered the premier site for serious Genealogical Research.

I’ve heard so many comments from Ancestry ‘moderators’ about the statistics from the surveys they conducted, and how well they’re [TGN] doing. Save the money and time on the surveys – just listen to what the people, who take time here, have to say.

We have our own family tree web site.

We keep out tree(s) in FTM (v16).

We used to love Ancestry and we used to have a link to Ancestry on our web site – used to!!!


July 7, 2008 at 1:31 pm
Tony Cousins 

I forgot something:)

If Ancestry is so concerned (are they?) why is it that there is about a 1 Ancestry response to each 50 user postings.

Is there really someone in TGN / Ancestry who cares as much about this site as we do.


July 7, 2008 at 1:35 pm

Please, please, take the Family trees off the top of the page — My page has someone else’s tree on it — I want to get rid of it off the page and access it when I want to the old way.

Thank you.

July 7, 2008 at 3:05 pm
Carol A. H. 

I have spent this past holiday weekend on my computer using ancestry. I still do NOT like the new home page, but I did managge to get around with some thought and effort. Sometimes not easily. I have read the blogs and I agree with most people. I don’t want to see the last tree I worked on. (At least it was one of MY trees.)

Have you folks tried the “new” search? I have and I REALLY don’t like that!!! I keep going back to the old search. I think folks should try it and get ready to blog about it because I understand it is COMING whether we like it or not.

I too hate the advertizing when it has nothing to do with genealogy. It is so blinking (pun intended) in your face. Sometimes I have to hold a piece of paper up to the screen to cover it, so I can look and my search results. This is like an old movie where the suspect gets a light shinned in the face while being questioned.

Come on Ancestry, you can do better than that for my $300 a year!

July 7, 2008 at 10:46 pm
Carol A. H. 

Well since getting the new home page and also discovering there are places to blog on the site, I found there is more than one place to blog about the same subject. Little confusing there.

I’m not usually a blogger but now I am!

Yes! I do email people who have a site that I find useful, and I praise and thank them for their efforts and work.

I reccomend everyone stay on top of the blogs. I’m finding I have similar problems and complaints and some others have work-round answers. We can learn from each other. It is true many sites have bugs and problems but they won’t know about them unless we blog them.

I had various problems this past holiday weekend and kept at it until I found some answers. Sometimes I didn’t find an answer and had to “undo’ what didn’t work. So keep the blogs coming. The squeaky wheel get the grease (if it doesn’t get replaced.)

I’m a FHC volunteer librarian and am in a position to recommend software. Ancestry used to allow the FHC to have free access to their site and then pulled it, but people still ask us questions, “How do you do this or how do you do that?’

I’m a serious researcher and cite my sources in my trees. I don’t work for ancestry and I never accept someone else’s tree but use it for a possible guide. I do find mistakes and submit error corrections and other hints if I have documentation. On some censues, there is no place to do this. (Ancestry take note here.)

I’ll be blogging again.

July 8, 2008 at 12:09 am

I am the family researcher and have been for twenty+ years. I have suscribed to Ancestry since 2002. I am a serious researcher.

This morning I entered in the “new census search”, Robert E. Cole, b. Carroll co., Miss., living Carroll co., Miss. and what came up was 50 people, none of which lived in Miss. (Minus 1, Ancestry!)

When my home page comes up, it shows my recent tree activity. I already know that, I put it there!!!! (Another minus, Ancestry!)

And the flashing advertising…what a pain! I am administrator of My Family website at and I pay thirty dollars a year to keep those flashing ads off the site. Isn’t Ancestry making enough off the serious researchers to pay the bills where we don’t have to endure these? (Another minus, Ancestry!)

The specific year census search that used to be in the bottom left corner of the homepage is gone. It was my favorite search to use and now it has vanished. I want it back, Ancestry. (This is a HUGE minus for Ancestry!)

I have a friend that has in the last month subscribed to Ancestry and I was trying to help him find some records that I know are on Ancestry…and they couldn’t be found because of the “new improvements”. The reason I know they are there, is because I have worked on his tree and he became a subscriber because of me. I will also deny that the “newbie theory” is a crock because the friend is having a terrible time navigating through the Ancestry website. Will I advertise for Ancestry any more? Absolutely not!!!! Ancestry’s loyal members DO advertise for them. Not this one anymore. (Another HUGE minus for Ancestry!)

I keep six working trees on Ancestry. I keep them private and will respond to anyone that wishes information. Which brings up a whole other issue. I have contacted Ancestry several times in the past because when I get a request to share my information through their connection service, I can’t do it. I finally gave up calling and emailing Ancestry because they try to blame it on the settings on my computer. I have done everything they asked me to do to my computer. It never works!!! I received another request about a week ago and can’t connect. I have to use the persons user name to connect them. With the “improved site”, I am having trouble finding out how to do that. I hope they are patient. And the “newbie” friend….I have sent him several invitations to view his tree that I have worked on, and he is not getting the invitations. (This would be at least minus two, Ancestry!)

As I am writing this the scoll bar on the right is not working. (Another minus, Ancestry!)

The above is a prime example of fix what’s broken, Ancestry and quit “trying to” fix what works!!!!!

If Ancestry ever shares my PRIVATE trees, as some say they might, this would be grounds for a lawsuit and I am not sure how many minus points Ancestry would get for that!!!! A bunch!!!!

I am seeing a lot of minus signs for Ancestry and I am not coming up with any plus signs. Frustrating? Yes!!!!!

Am I a serious genealogist? I have Family Tree Maker, World Vital Records, Legacy, and Footnote. My cousin is writing a book about our family and I am helping with the research. Ancestry has made this a difficult task. I spend every spare minute working on genealogy. When I do have the time for research, I do NOT want to spend the time tweaking this and tweaking that to get to the records I need. I WANT TO DO RESEARCH!!!! If anyone could share another website that comes close to Ancestry, I’d bail on Ancestry in a heart beat!!! I am fed up with their so called improvements and not listening to their loyal customer complaints.

Am I a blogger? NEVER, until I am TOTALLY disgusted!!!!

July 8, 2008 at 6:52 am

I do not like the New Ancestry.Com. The new search interface is Bad, not user friendly.
I am a serious researcher and have used for 10 plus years. You have made the new search interface very difficult. Example- I type in James Blevins b. USA KY, I had to scroll through 18 pages of green color font [bad color, hard to read] census from 1850-1930. On each page you have 10 search results-One example 1880 US Census the name James Blevins and other information out from that, also appearing is a pop up of results of that census, and then I can choose image [Bad Format] the old search listed each census year and I choose what results I wanted, and read the names and information and could choose what I wanted to view. This was fast and simple. The old search allowed me to find other search results on same page under various titles. The new search I have 12 pages of Kentucky Death Records 1852-1953, Kentucky Birth Records 1852-1910, KY Birth Index 1911-19-99-KY Death Index 1910-2000, then came Ohio Deaths.
After 30 pages of unwanted information, I was livid. I had consumed 20 minutes just scrolling through 40 pages of search results. I have no clue what other search results is on next pages, I am out of time and patience. Also I can not choose page numbers, all you have is Previous-Next and Viewing 241-250—
The next item states “If you have gotten switched to the new Search experience and prefer the old Search experience, just click on the Search tab and then click on the link near the top of the page called “Switch back to old search experience.”
No Such Luck…could not switch back to the old Search.
I am not a happy customer. Come on Ancestry you can do better than this.

July 8, 2008 at 3:30 pm
Jaems Robertson 

I found it distracting. I had to spend 10 minutes to find where to delete an old tree (manage your tree). I am not very interested in pretty pictures.

I want to quickly see the family tree, relationships and key facts.

I use media with my sources including descriptions. After uploading a tree, it does not show the description I already entered on my computer but instead asks for a new one!!!

July 8, 2008 at 7:42 pm

I agree with Carolyn about the way search results are displayed. The old way was much better. I would also like to see date range search restored. I often do not have birth, death or marriage dates for people. Maybe there is still a way to do this. If there is it is well hidden. I was going to upgrade to a yearly account but now I don’t think I will.

July 8, 2008 at 10:27 pm

Just read all your blogs and I agree BUT there is one small glimmer of hope. I am Canadian BUT 98% of my family are in the UK with 1% in Canada and 1 lonely person in the U.S. The point is I use the UK site all the time, I have membership in UK records. I sign on in UK but after searching several records find that I have to ‘restart’ my computer, as the screen freezes in the ‘view the record’ page, Ancestry told me and sent me a thing to correct that problem, for a couple of weeks, so now I switch back and forward to the U.S. UK and Cda sites. The UK, CDA and AU are still using the old Home Page and old search patterns. It is so much easier. I have tried the U.S. site but find it extremely frustrating even having another tree pop up in the middles of adding a person from a census to my tree and find out later that they are on the wrong tree. The second tree is one I have for an elderly relative in another country, so I don’t use it and she doesn’t need the new people on it.

July 9, 2008 at 6:52 am




I know there will be no reply, but I just had to relieve the stress!

July 9, 2008 at 9:35 am
Betty Minnick 

I would like a NO TREE AT ALL default choice on the Home Page.

July 9, 2008 at 11:27 am
Mary Beth Marchant 

A resounding AMEN to default “no tree at all”. I HATE THIS MESS

July 9, 2008 at 12:06 pm

Why change a good thing – it is all taking too long to find anything you want. It does not tell you how many names you need to look through for census, bmd etc. and some are not now even there!
Just go back to the old format and leave us to carry on in peace.

Ancestry was great but is now letting us down.


July 9, 2008 at 2:15 pm

I cannot get to my trees. What gives? This isn’t right. I can only see one tree and it is one I just started. I need to work on others. Something s wrong with this system. I sent an email several days ago and no reply. Anyone have a phone number I can call or shall I just cancel my membership?

July 9, 2008 at 2:17 pm
Patricia Davidson 

They just don’t get it at Ancestry – the new way is still with us!!

July 9, 2008 at 5:00 pm

Please bring back the My Ancestry page and put all the “My” stuff there. The My Trees, along with the My to do list, My shoe box, My press projects, My quick Links, My Recent Activity, My Links, etc.

Please restore the home page back to essentially what it was, what is new at ancestry, easy links to searches, census years, ancestry statistics, etc.

Just getting to the home pages of each of our trees is now more difficult. It used to be one click access from the My Ancestry Page. Now I have to select the tree from the drop down list, and then it doesn’t take me to the home page. Then I have to click again to get there. Please Please fix this. We want to go to the home page of the tree to see what is new, not pedigree chart. Please put the “Recent Family Tree” activity tool on the home page of the tree. thanks for considering my opinion on this.

July 10, 2008 at 4:53 am
Tony Cousins 


You may as well talk to a brick wall, you’ll get a better response. For Ancestry to go back to the web site that worked would mean that someone would have to admit they were wrong.

How many responses have you seen from Ancestry / TGN on these pages. As long as they keep getting us to pay the subscription charges they are happy.

I may sound a little bitter, but Ancestry seems intent on making our research more difficult and thereby taking the fun our of it.


July 10, 2008 at 6:47 am
Patricia Davidson 

I agree, Tony – the people at Ancestry definitely don’t get it and, I think, they just don’t care. They are bound and determined to change no matter what we genealogists want.

July 10, 2008 at 10:14 am
Ron Bestrom 

Your new home page is TERRIBLE. You tried this before, sooooo many complained. WE DON’T WANT THE START YOUR FAMILY TREE ON THE HOME PAGE. Return the Census links. WHY should we have to click to a second window to get to the GENEALOGY links that we WANT ON THE HOME PAGE.

One person said, “if you don’t like the home page, go to the search page”. WHY DO WE NEED TO DO THAT WHEN IT WAS ON THE HOME PAGE BEFORE. Ancestry is adding crap that MOST PEOPLE don’t use. How many people’s Tree has WRONG INFO? Ancestry joins that wrong info into other trees making them ALL worthless.

RETURN THE OLD HOME PAGE. Or give us a PERMANENT preference for us as we log in.

July 10, 2008 at 11:14 am

You can just bet that these unwanted changes to the home page were done only for’s financial benefit. I don’t even have a family tree, so they selected one for me to adopt — one that I happened to visit months ago and which is absolutely meaningless to me. I wouldn’t care if they would just provide a way for me to delete the one they picked. I suggest that they want to collect more trees to sell back to us on CDs.

As far as census searches are concerned, could learn a lot about search options by visiting the HeritageQuest Online site. What you type there is what you get. When you ask for 1880 census images, they don’t force you to look at thousands of images from 1850 through 1880.

July 10, 2008 at 11:58 am

It’s nice to be appreciated, isn’t it folks. There have been 74 posts to this blog and doesn’t care enough about our desires and our subscription payments to reply (except for #51, which is a non-reply).

It appears that they (The Generations Network) are trying to destroy just as they did The Family Tree Maker software program. The rewrite of FTM 2008 is such a failure that they have decided to offer FTM 2009 free to everyone who purchased FTM 2008. Go th the Family Tree Maker section of this blog if you don’t know what I’m talking about.

July 10, 2008 at 12:20 pm
Tony Cousins 

There have been various comments about Ancestry becoming more like a FACEBOOK or MYSPACE – how about MATCH.COM ;) – this is from Spectrum Investments site; they own a controlling share of TGN!!!

CEO Biography
Tim Sullivan has been President and Chief Executive Officer of Generations Network since September 2005. Mr. Sullivan most recently served as Chief Executive Officer for, the global leader in online dating and an operating business of IAC/InterActiveCorp., from 2001 until September 2004. Under his leadership, achieved recognition as the clear leader in the U.S. online dating market, while expanding globally into 29 local language dating markets. Prior to joining, Mr. Sullivan served as vice president of e-commerce for Ticketmaster’s predecessor, Ticketmaster Online-Citysearch, Inc. Before joining Ticketmaster, Mr. Sullivan spent seven years at The Walt Disney Company, where as vice president and managing director for Buena Vista Home Entertainment Asia Pacific, he was responsible for all Home Video distribution of Walt Disney company products in the Asia Pacific Region. Mr. Sullivan is a graduate of Harvard Business School and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

July 10, 2008 at 12:26 pm


Dating and videos.

Perfect background for a genealogy research provider company.

July 10, 2008 at 12:59 pm
Faye Jarvis Moran 

Yesterday I received an e-mail from a Danielle Mauldin. She “invited” me to look at her family tree on I looked. Today I received an e-mail from and the subject line read “New Content Has Been Added to YOUR family tree.” Guess who? Danielle Mauldin’s tree. Ancestry advised in the same e-mail that if I did not want to receive other e-mails concerning this tree it “was not a problem, just log on, and go to ‘my alerts’ — guess what — no “my alerts” to be found.

Additionally, Danielle’s tree has copyrighted material on her family tree. But that will be between her and the Forsyth County Genealogical Society and the Surry County Genealogial Society.

I want my name removed from her tree and I do not want any e-mails of this sort to come to me.

Faye Jarvis Moran

July 10, 2008 at 1:24 pm
Scott Shenton 

Looks like a lot of hostility here, but maybe we should consider that Ancestry is a commercial enterprise (although hopefully not like and has ‘customers’ with different needs and tastes. From the posts, two obvious groups stand out: the “serious researchers” – desiring to ‘view the original’ and accepting only documented results – and those somewhat less serious who are willing to accept unknown inputs at face value.

The first group generally desires to maintain their trees either off-line or on their own sites (I have three other sites where I have my own control), primarily view Ancestry as a research resource (.i.e., Census, vital records) and may post trees for limited exchange purposes only. The second group may post their trees on Ancestry as their primary venue, and relish automatic merging and linking with other peoples sites and names.

So we have two different categories of customers. Other than breaking things up into an Ancestry-full and an Ancestry-lite, Ancestry must figure out a way to provide for these two vastly different customer bases, and this obviously applies to the linked concepts of old/new search and old/new home pages. The only obvious mechanism is to allow heavy user-tailoring of ANY default home page (and selection of old/new exact/fuzzy search logic), as many posts have suggested.

On a very positive side, I am a very heavy user of the UK Census databases – and, less so, the US Censuses – and I find the transcribing and indexing amazing good, considering the enormous volume. And I have found Ancestry extremely responsive to my (frequent) ‘comments’ on name issues, by posting my suggestions as ‘alternate names’. Well done there, Ancestry !

So I’ll be a happy customer if I can get a little ability to add some stuff (I’ve added a few links already) and delete/minimize stuff I don’t want (e.g., ANY reference to ‘my trees’) on my home page.

July 10, 2008 at 4:21 pm
C. DeLaporte 

Would appreciate a way to just default to the “old” edition of the home page. Appreciate having the link to get back to the “old” search experience. I was happy that way – am not with the new.

July 10, 2008 at 4:32 pm

Re: New Home Page. I don’t like it at all. I used to be able to click on the census year I wanted and go right to it. Now I have to go to another page first, then click on the census year. More trouble than it’s worth. I sure do not want my family tree that big at the top. This now takes me more time! Bad, bad new home page.

July 10, 2008 at 6:00 pm

I much prefer the old search page, I rejoined after a one year hiatus because of issue with incorrect content in the census pages and a very weak, almost nonfunctional search engine. I decided about 4 weeks ago to give it another try. After over three years of waiting for the correct census pages to be loaded for Philadelphia, I have found ancestry has done a GREAT job of ignoring the problem. Now now a totally useless home page, with a worthless Family Tree Section.

July 10, 2008 at 7:25 pm

I much prefer the old search page, I rejoined after a one year hiatus because of issue with incorrect content in the census pages and a very weak, almost nonfunctional search engine. I decided about 4 weeks ago to give it another try. After over three years of waiting for the correct census pages to be loaded for Philadelphia, I have found ancestry has done a GREAT job of ignoring the problem. Now now a totally useless home page, with a worthless Family Tree Section.
I have been doing genealogy for over ten years and do NOT need to start a family tree, PLEASE give us the option of doing away with this worthless page. Please increase the speed,efficiency and reliability of your search engine. From day to day I do NOt achieve the same results when searching for the same individual using the same search parameters. Why when i enter a known birth date and death do I continue to receive results for people born 70 years before the individuals DOB or results for forty years after their death. I have tried using the exact search and receive no results for the individual.
Please give us the OLD Home page and fix your database issues or I will be gone again to never return, good data is becoming available on many of the new subscription sites and now Family Search is loading more and more data.

July 10, 2008 at 7:41 pm

Many people have posted perceptive and well reasoned responses to the new changes at They are overwhelmingly negative and I agree with most of them.
I suggest you improve the data bases and and assume you are dealing with intelligent customers.
Unless the site is improved, I too will discontinue my subscription.

July 10, 2008 at 8:45 pm

#78 Written by: Faye Jarvis Moran

Logon to
click “My Account”
click “Edit your profile”
click “My Alerts”

There you will have settings for each tree you own or have been invited to.

If you want to be removed as a member of a tree and remove the tree completely from your list:

go to
click “My Trees”
click “View all my trees”
click “Trees shared with me”
There you will have the “Remove from list” option

July 11, 2008 at 5:38 am
Tony Cousins 

TGN / Ancestry we may have an answer to all these people that really do detest the new home page and the new search.

Why don’t you present a simplified survey on the home page…and I do mean simplified, with only five easy to answer questions.

1. How long have you been involved in Genealogical Research?

Answer options – ‘less than 6 months’, ‘6 months to 2 years’, ‘2 to 5 years’ and ‘over 5 years’.

2. Do you have a public family tree on Ancestry?

Answer options – ‘Yes’ or ‘No’.

3. Which search method do you prefer to use?

Answer options – ‘Old’ or ‘New’.

4. How do you rate the new home page?

Answer options – ‘Hate it’, ‘Love it’, ‘don’t have an opinion’ or ‘was there a different home page’.

5. Do you believe that TGN and Ancestry listen to their subscribers?

Answer options – ‘No’ or ‘Yes’.

Answers to question 1 of less than 6 months and question 4 of ‘was there a different home page’, in my mind should disqualify that respondent

Just in case anyone is listening, apart from bloggers, my answers would be:

1 – Over 5 years
2 – No
3 – Old
4 – Hate it
5 – No


July 11, 2008 at 10:11 am
Ray Stillwell 

“Introducing a new home page that is all about you.” NOT – I am stuck looking at a family tree that has no direct relationship to me. One person gave me authorization to access the tree. YOU made the assumption it is my family tree. Now have the professional courtesy of getting it off my so-called home page.

July 12, 2008 at 5:23 am

Tony Cousins’ proposed survey, from #87 july 12, is posted on Ancestry Site Comments Message Board under Topics/Ancestry

July 12, 2008 at 5:36 am
ezra l. sheppard 

Type your comment here.

July 12, 2008 at 10:31 am
Jaems Robertson 

I would like to see the same source media capability as the FTM 2008 product. Also I would like to be able to get a Gedcom file with all the media in it.

July 12, 2008 at 7:20 pm

I think I understand now the reason for the ‘New Home Page’.

Just like the horrid and disruptive reorganization of the Message Boards, the purpose is to add a dandy new large advertising box.

At first the ad for was not offensive.

The dog-food ad in the middle of the right-hand column is revolting.

Will this also turn out to be the reason for New Fuzzy Search?

July 13, 2008 at 5:12 pm
Tony Cousins 

Hi Jade,

Maybe all this advertising that is appearing will drastically reduce our annual subscription – what do you think;)

On a side note, have you noticed the continued advertising for FTM2008. How can Ancestry / TGN continue with that given the many issues still being reported?


July 14, 2008 at 7:15 am

On the new page that opens up . At the top is a McGehee webpage across the entire top of my opening page. This is not my family and there is no way to remove it .Please tell me how to get rid of it.

July 15, 2008 at 10:27 am
Linda MC 

After reading all these entries with which I wholeheartedly agree, I think it might be appropriate to say to Ancestry’s public relations people at this point, “Can you hear me now?”

July 16, 2008 at 9:32 am

regarding #94 Pat

To remove trees from your list:

go to
Click “My Trees”
Click “View all my trees”
Click “Trees Shared with me”
Click “remove from list” all the trees you don’t want to be a member of anymore and want removed from your list of trees shared with you.

July 16, 2008 at 2:45 pm

Lisa (#96),

Thanks for your instructions for removing the unwanted family tree that Ancestry has assigned to us on “their” home page. Did the procedure work for you? I tried it several days ago. the two shared trees were deleted (I had no trees of my own); however, that annoying tree that Ancestry assigned me still appears on the homepage.

I wonder if Ancestry even knows how to remove it!!! What a bunch of goons.

July 16, 2008 at 4:43 pm

I’ve read all these comments, some of them quite rude in their delivery. Yes, we are commenting on bugs and flaws, but last night after I read the last one I reflected on what the site IS doing for us. It gives some of us LEGS to do some of the research. It gives us a window into the past through which we can see our families — good or bad. For me personally, the census records alone have allowed me to reconstruct a black sheep history that my family would prefer to forget.

Are there things that don’t work properly? Sure. Are there things that were undoubtedly better in the ‘old version’? Of course. But considering how many things this program DOES do, it is a marvel it stays up and running at all.

Constructive cricticism is good. Whining and kvetching is hostile.

Just my .02

July 18, 2008 at 4:06 am

It would be a nice enhancement if Ancestry would consider a dashboard that simply allows the users to check off what they want on their homepage similar to igoogle, msn, yahoo, comcast, etc. It would be specific to their account login and everyone could personalize their home screen the way they want if they accept the “cookie.” People who have paid accounts could have a step up version with no ads and some special feature not available to guest accounts.

I don’t think you’ll make everyone 100% happy, but it would be a nice olive branch. Plus, another idea for the future if it doesn’t already exist is an ancestry gadget/widget.

You have a nice concept, I just feel I would prefer to control what I want on the page. Just another thought.

July 19, 2008 at 11:18 am
Marshall Sinback 

I like the “Recent family tree activity” section. However, if new content was uploaded as a .PDF file such as a story, this secion just displays an empty box, no Logo, and it is a dead link to the family record. This is not the case with free text uploads. Your website is not recognizing how to open a .PDF file from the user’s home page. Can this be fixed?? Will be confusing for many who will be unable to navigate to the original doc.

July 19, 2008 at 4:59 pm
Kathryn King 

I hate the new home page. How in the world do I find my tree? It’s ridiculous that I can’t find it without searching for it like everyone else. If you don’t fix this and I mean fast…..I’m outta here.

July 22, 2008 at 6:35 pm
Kathryn King 

Can anyone tell me how in the world I find my own family tree?

July 22, 2008 at 6:52 pm

Kathryn, near the top of the home page there is an area that shows the last tree you viewed. Next to the title, there is a drop down link “My Trees”. Click it and you should see the title of your tree or select the “View all my trees” item in the list.

July 23, 2008 at 6:59 am

I agree with those who suggest getting rid of the “tree” section – or at least drop it to the bottom of the page.

July 24, 2008 at 1:21 pm Blog - » New Homepage Update 

[...] my previous post, I discussed some improvements and adjustments we were planning to make to the new home page based [...]

July 30, 2008 at 9:34 am
Sue Allen 

To everybody,
Go to the top of this page & click on Melissa’a underlined name. It will show you her latest update July 30.

July 31, 2008 at 9:33 am
Sue Allen 

To everyone again,
Besides and/or blogging try this.
Email Ancestry direct by going into help at top right corner,click on email ancestry support then the catagory–all other questions. You will receive an answer back. A friend did this this morning & they said she would receive an answer within 24 hours,that they were so backlogged. I wonder why!! Maybe if the get backlogged somemore they will listen. HUMMMM!

July 31, 2008 at 11:11 am

We need to have a search box where you can input who you’re looking for in the SHOEBOX istead of going through the entire list to find them.

September 1, 2008 at 10:02 am

Why are there ads for Coldwater Creek jeans and other non-genealogy items on a site that I pay alot of money for a subscription? I don’t believe this is ethical. If is making money from rotating ads, why am I paying for access to the site? I MIGHT understand if it were genealogy items, but I don’t want to shop for clothes while I’m researching (and paying a big price for that research.)

September 6, 2008 at 2:49 pm

Pretty site, but I quit a long time ago and still keep getting shit in my email box

October 20, 2008 at 3:42 pm

Not sure if this is right venue, but where did you move the setting to find your famous relatives? My family really enjoyed that feature.

November 5, 2008 at 8:29 pm

The to-do list seems to keep disappearing at times from the page it should be on. So much for customising your own page when this keeps happening.

I needed my to-do list as I was going to research in London but it now isn’t where it should be. This has happened before and is VERY annoying.

I almost feel like I’m going mad as it isn’t there at times and then comes back. And now I can’t access my list – what’s the point of having it there at all if it disappears?

What is this fault with ancestry and has anyone else had this problem? I am very happy with ancestry when all is working well but am starting to get increasingly frustrated with the on-going faults with this website.

November 14, 2008 at 8:51 am
Rich Dohm 

In your redesign, you threw out the one feature I used most… the “Find a person in the tree” quicklink is gone, poof. Consider putting it back? And I liked the old photo array better. Thanks! Rich.

November 18, 2008 at 11:44 am

1124 Written by:

Posted on:
December 6, 2008 at 1:31 pm
I do SOOOO agree with those who do NOT like the new homepage!! I have sent two emails to Support in the last week, requesting help & information as to why my ‘browsing’ within has become so slow and cumbersome. All I get back are “Auto-Response” emails with a bunch of links that lead me to suggestion that either don’t work or don’t apply.
I’ve NOT had this problem until the past month or so, and it doesn’t occur on other sites I visit, so I truly suspect all the changes on the homepage is causing it.
Have others had this happen??

December 6, 2008 at 1:36 pm

This is a follow-up to my previous post. I thought perhaps if I was more specific, I might find others who are experiencing similar problems. I have been SO pleased with up until this past few weeks. Right now I’m about ready to cancel my subscription! Here are (at least some) of my frustrations:

VERY SLOW responses to searches–slow loading, pages that ‘jump around’, etc.
ERRORS IN SEARCHES: I often get a ‘no results found’ message, but changing NOTHING in the search, I click again and get MANY results.
ERRORS IN SEARCHES #2: When the results come up, I click on one and THEN it tells me ‘no results found’ ! Example: I search for ‘John Smith’ and the 1920 census comes up….and when I click on 1920 census it does the ‘no results found’ thing….doesn’t even make sense!!
ADVERTISEMENTS: NO WAY should we be subjected to ads, when we’re paying the price we do for a subscription.
HOME PAGE TAKES FOREVER TO LOAD: Well, I THINK I figured this one out….I just deleted all the ‘extra’ stuff, like the ‘To Do’ list. Unfortunately was not able to delete the ADVERTISEMENTS!
1) USE IE7. Against my better judgement I installed IE7 rather than the IE6 I was using–I noticed that was mentioned & felt I needed to try every solution. It seemed to be even WORSE, so now
I have reinstalled IE6.
2) KEEP CACHE & COOKIES CLEAN. I ALWAYS keep my cache/cookies etc clear, so that
can’t be the problem.
3) USE FOXFIRE AS YOUR BROWSER. Hmmmm…downloaded and installed Foxfire, tried to view an image; message came up that ActiveX was needed to use the Upgraded Viewer. Checked the Foxfire site, and found that it DOES NOT support ActiveX…verrry interesting! So back to IE6.

Thank you…if there’s anybody out there…..

December 6, 2008 at 2:26 pm
Len Pellman 

Hope this is the right venue for suggestions …

I would sure like to see a feature in the family trees that tracks the generation of the individuals relative to the “home” person. It could be something as simple as a little icon or circle with the generation number in it, so we would know that if Joe Schmoe is shown as “[27]” he is the 27th generation before the home person. If I’m the home person, I can then readily calculate that Joe Schmoe is my 25xgreat-grandfather.

Would anyone else like that feature? Perhaps a few “amens” could get it added to a future upgrade …

December 26, 2008 at 5:01 pm