Posted by on January 30, 2009 in Ancestry.com Site, Site Features

I just wanted to make a quick post to let everyone know that we’ve made some improvements to our RSS feed option on the message boards.  For those not familiar with RSS it stands for “Really Simple Syndication” and is essentially a standard way to get feeds or updates from a website (learn more on wikipedia if you’re curious).  For example, this is how the feed for the Graham message board appears on my iGoogle page:

rss-on-igoogle.png

We have an RSS feed for our message boards that we have recently improved.  In the past it was difficult to see updated replies to message board posts through the RSS feed.  We now send an update for each new message, whether it is a new original post or a reply.  We’ve found that this has helped us stay up-to-date on the message boards we watch.

If you are interested in subscribing to the RSS feed for one of your favorite message boards, just click on the “Subscribe to RSS” link on the top of the message board.

rss-link.png

For those who weren’t aware, you can also add a box to your homepage to show you updates to your favorite message boards.  Just click the “Customize your homepage” link at the top right of the homepage to add this to your page.

mb-favorites-hp-box.png

We hope that this update has made it a better experience for those of you who use the RSS feature on the message boards.

36 Comments

Kevin 

The system has gotten worse… I am thinking about cancelling my account after being a member for at least 5 years. It’s slow, someone changed my access code, I cannot get the viewer to reload although I have a perfectly good one that I have used for years. You have screwed up a reliable system.

January 30, 2009 at 10:18 am
Sue 

David –
I appreciate your updates on the difficulties your having with Ancestry.com’s website. Having said that, I am amazed at how S-L-O-W it still is to navigate from page to page. I have been building my family tree and find it tedious at best. Can’t something more be done to speed it up?
Thanks – Sue

January 30, 2009 at 12:16 pm
Taneya 

I am SO GLAD you fixed this! I noticed the new feed a few days ago when suddenly I had hundreds of messages for the boards I’m signed up to. Of course knowing that there could not possibly be that many new messages, I checked it out and realized the feeds were now updating with replies to messages and not just showing the original message which could be quite old. I’m a heavy RSS user, so i really appreciate the fix! I wrote this suggestion into Ancestry.com recently, so I am a happy camper right now.

January 30, 2009 at 6:12 pm
Chuck Crannell 

Thanks for the improvements, I’m sure they improve something. However, this site still continues to be much more sluggish than when I joined in SEP 08. Picture and thumbnails don’t load any more (starting about a week or so ago). Everything (really, everything) is slow to load or times out. This is not a link speed issue, believe me.

January 30, 2009 at 6:54 pm
Ron Lankshear 

I do like the Custom Home page for message boards and record collections. VG thanks for drawing attention.

I use Bloglines for RSS and recently a lot of message board note flowed through – I take it you have fixed some problem. Again it looks good – I like RSS – enables quick scans and perhaps more important reminds me as well

January 31, 2009 at 12:14 am
Tom 

I’m a little miffed (if that’s a word.) I spend a ton of money to subscribe to your site and at 3:30 AM, I CAN’T GET ON!! Whay does this always happen on the week-end? I suppose I’ll have to wait until Monday to get a resolution. It really isn’t about the money (totally), but if someone pays this much, the site should be available. Does your company have back-up servers, etc for moments like these? This should be a no brainer for the $$$ you make.

Good ol’ Tombstone Tom (somehow I feel like eyore)

January 31, 2009 at 2:00 am
Nancy 

I purchased an annual subscription 30 Jan 2009. It has been several years since I had a subscription but did take advantage of a two week trial last year. I was VERY disappointed in how slow the site runs. After a couple of hours I found I couldn’t connect at all…I kept getting a “page not found” error. Then when the homepage finally came up after clearing my cache I can’t login…I get an error message. I sent an email to support and get a message telling me that if this is a weekend (which it is) it may be Tuesday or Wednesday before I receive a reply. What kind of service is this? I am certainly NOT going to pay for something I can’t access.

January 31, 2009 at 2:11 am
Pamela Gross 

I have also had a lot of problems with the site being very slow and also there are a lot of “hints” I simply can never access. When I reported the problem I was told my browser (Safari) is not supported, but when I switched to the recommended one from Firefox, there was no improvement. Right now the site seems to be completely down. This is frustrating since Ancestry.com seems to have cornered the market on access to many records that I need.

January 31, 2009 at 2:45 am
Barbara 

I am a Bit disappointed again, Site is down at times or only part of it running. I was unable to sign on for over a hour, and now 2 hours later, Still Unable to full use site, I keep getting ” we are sorry, Come back later”, That is totally unacceptable for a site that we pay a fee for. Please get you act together..Barb

January 31, 2009 at 3:42 am
Ashley 

Can you please get this sorted out. Like a lot of my fellow ancestry.com members I only have time to work on the weekends and to have it going down and not being ‘fixed’ for hours is extremely frustrating. At least update messages saying what is going on. Don’t you know that by apologising and keeping people up to date you diffuse the situation! Like another blogger I have recently updated to an annual membership, how much of a refund do we get when it doesn’t work? Come on guys, get it together.

January 31, 2009 at 4:07 am
rebecca 

It would be nice if someone would just let us know what is going on. There is absolutley no access at all now to the website with no information on what is going on. And I agree we should at least be prorated on our billing. We understand sites have problems from time to time and things crash. But to continue to charge people for no service rendered at a regular rate is also technically illegal still in the US. Could you at least acknowledge to the community that you are aware there is a problem? That would just be a good old American courtesy. If the site has crashed or otherwise acknowledge it. Honesty never hurts.
And thank you.

January 31, 2009 at 4:21 am
Alison 

Is there anybody there?

January 31, 2009 at 4:26 am
Jon 

I can’t say I’m that impressed with this either as the site is still down. There must be someone connected to ancestry who would have been able to post on this blog that there are site problems and how long this may last for. I understand that servers can go down and so on but for there to be no update on this blog site is quite unacceptable considering the revenue ancestry gets from the members.

January 31, 2009 at 4:32 am
Beverly 

Arhhhhhhhh

Just when I finished all my chores and was going to spend time researching I can’t get on the ancestry.co.uk site.

If you were going to have downtime to fix errors, why during the what must be a busy time, or why can you not send out an email to let sunscribers know. Other sites can.

How long are we going to be off this time and will it improve the site????

January 31, 2009 at 4:45 am
Kim 

I am so glad I am not the only one!!! I have been an Ancestry.com subscriber for five years and never have I experienced such difficulty on the site. Searches are taking way too long…heck, doing ANYTHING is taking way too long. Tasks that would take me a few seconds are becoming exceedingly tedious and frustrating.

January 31, 2009 at 4:45 am
Nick Marklew 

How typical …

The Ancestry site is down for absolutley hours, no explaination.

Yet again nobody from Ancestry has the balls to explain to thier paying customers what the hell is going on.

Come on Ancestry, this simply isn’t good enough sort this crap out!!

(or at least let us know where we send requests for rebates on our monthly subscriptions … yeah like that’ll happen!!)

January 31, 2009 at 5:18 am
p midgley 

Site down again – with just the message check back soon. Any indication of how long soon is?

January 31, 2009 at 6:06 am
Beverly 

It’s back.

January 31, 2009 at 6:21 am
Jon 

Well praise be. So will ancestry give us all an extra day to our subscriptions I wonder? I already know the answer to that one.

January 31, 2009 at 6:26 am
Robin 

After reading the post about RSS I decided to try it. I keep getting an error message and have no idea what to do. Do I need to download something before clicking the subscribe button? Thanks. Error message below:
The XML page cannot be displayed
Cannot view XML input using style sheet. Please correct the error and then click the Refresh button, or try again later.
————————————-XML document must have a top level element. Error processing resource ‘http://boards.ancestry.com/wap.general/rss.xml’.

January 31, 2009 at 7:55 am
M. J. Humphrey 

Instead of worrying about the wonders of the RSS feed, so we can all find out that we’re all unhappy and frustrated, why doesn’t Ancestry worry about how unhappy, angry and frustrated all the subscribers are?? I’ve had a subscription since very close to the beginning of ancestry.com, and I am very close to chucking the money wasted and giving up.

Like quite a few other posters, I think it would only be VERY common courtesy to at least have a site update, an explanation email, or at least some *acknowledgement* that Ancestry’s servers are clearly not up to grade (probably because of all their incessant advertising – they want everyone’s money, but don’t want to use it to keep their system up to the traffic flow).

Sorry for the rant, but this company is clearly just a bunch of money grubbing *%$#@*^%, and doesn’t give a rat’s butt if their paying customers are unhappy or not.

I pity the poor souls who got a gift subscription or who signed up for a free trial. They probably can’t even get OUT of the darn thing, the way the site is working now……….

January 31, 2009 at 10:13 pm
susan 

I am so frustrated at how slow Ancestry is working, if it will at all! It is almost impossible to get any info at all. This has been going on far too long, will it ever get sorted? PLEASE!

February 1, 2009 at 1:38 am
Pat 

I am disgusted with ANCESTRY I cannot get on the site, I am really fed up of this happening its about time Ancestry sorted its self out After all it,s costs enought to be a member.

February 1, 2009 at 9:09 am
Patti 

Your site is becoming a problem….it is rarely up…….what is going on? Patti

February 1, 2009 at 9:30 am
Beverly 

Please can you keep us updated re service and proposed data inclusions on a readly available page.
It would stop certain frustrations members have.

Also a reply to some of our comments would be favourable.

Thanks

February 2, 2009 at 6:54 am
Jon 

They have updated the blog site about US updates but no word on why the site was down at the weekend at all! Perhaps they think if they close their eyes it will all go away and be one big dream.

February 2, 2009 at 1:47 pm
Lantrix 

I too signed up for the free trial last Thursday (and gave my credit card info) looking forward to some research on the weekend only to find at least 24+ hour outage.
I checked over on your twitter feed http://twitter.com/ancestrydotcom only to find information about this post and this blog.

I also have had issues creating new trees since the outage. It has been 3 days now and my uploads are still at 0% processed. I contact the tech support who advised wait 24 hours and try again. So we will see :-|

An idea for keeping customer (that’s what we are when we pay!) up to date would be not only to add info to the twitter feed about blog posts but outage statuses as well. If there is a scheduled or even unscheduled outage – even a tweet in twitter goes a long way to helping someone understand that it is not them but your services unavailable. Then a tweet about the re-availability would be seriously welcomed too. Hope that idea can be taken on board.

Also wondering if there would ever be an RSS feed “per thread”?

My first week on ancestry.com.au and it has been difficult. I’m looking forward to the new improvements and the future.

February 2, 2009 at 3:12 pm
Lantrix 

Pamela Gross said

When I reported the problem I was told my browser (Safari) is not supported

I’m a user of Safari as well. I get a slightly different view on the My Ancestry page on Firefox and Safari. The funny thing is I see the correct info under Safari :-P

My point is that companies should stop writing web sites to a browser, and write to the standards. That way you don’t have to say that it wont work on Safari. I can understand that a platform or browser is “untested” and that is the approach Ancestry seem to take. See http://tinyurl.com/bw6s9e

Safari is just as standards compliant as Firefox if not more so :-)

February 2, 2009 at 4:50 pm
Lantrix 

Nick Marklew said:

or at least let us know where we send requests for rebates on our monthly subscriptions … yeah like that’ll happen!!

I was thinking the same thing. Do I want to finish my trial and become a paid member, or will I cancel before the time is up?

So I looked up their policy and as you said, it wont happen. See http://tinyurl.com/dc78l7

I’m digressing from the original post so I’ll stop commenting for now.

February 2, 2009 at 4:56 pm
Dawn 

Hi I am sorry to hear you all are having problems. I have been a memeber with ancestry for about 7 years now. I very rarely have trouble accessing the site. Also download time is great for me. Are you on a dial up connection or dsl. I am on dsl and it works fine no slow down. I do support this site 100 percent and the time and money it has saved me by not doing foot work and straining my eyes on the library feeds is well worth the money.
But of course that is only my opion.

February 3, 2009 at 11:39 am
Lantrix 

I mentioned earlier in post 27 “I also have had issues creating new trees since the outage. It has been 3 days now and my uploads are still at 0% processed. I contact the tech support who advised wait 24 hours and try again.

It has finally come good. The trees I uploaded over the last 3 days where gone and I have recreated my initial tree. The site has sped up and it looks like it may be returning to a useable state. All my shoebox and other data loads OK.

February 3, 2009 at 10:16 pm
Melda D Scott 

I cannot find any access to the message board; ie people looking for Dean Morse and Clayburn ancesrty. I like the older version of the message board.

February 5, 2009 at 9:09 am
Ed 

Slooooooooooooooooooowwwwwwwwwwwwwwww, gonna have to cancel subscription, hope I get a refund!. Been signed up for 2 hours and the speed is ridiculous! Be quicker to sort through a mountain of info by hand!

February 5, 2009 at 3:27 pm
Karen 

HELP from ONE MEMBER TO ANOTHER WITH YOUR SLOW PROBLEM:

One word: Mozilla

If you download a Mozilla Firefox and use it instead of Internet Explorer, you SLOW problem will be solved and your speed with increase DRAMATICALLY. I did this after a tip from another member and suddenly I am living in the 21st century again. Now, if Ancestry.com would only get a real blog for members! Why can’t members start a topic and be authors? I believe a lot of members could and would actually help each other, considering most members know how frustrating it is to not have any true help with Ancestry.com technical and search problems. Most members have a heart. HOPE THIS HELPS EVERYONE.

February 18, 2009 at 8:03 pm
Dale 

I, too, get frustrated at how slow everything works. I especially dislike the fact that when a page loads,only the top part of it, including a large blank area, is visible, and not the important section where I want to edit or add information. It takes a while longer before that area becomes visible. I don’t need all that stuff on the top part of the page! I do need the facts section, and want to get to it faster. I’ve also noticed that the longer I am on the site, the slower it gets! I find myself logging off out of frustration. I actually love ancestry.com and all it enables me to do, which is why I find it so annoying when it is so difficult to use.

February 20, 2009 at 8:29 pm
Kath 

This has become a wonderful site with so much information, and that is the key ‘too much information’. I like many others now get lost around this site and often have to revert back to the old way of searching to have any chance of finding what I am looking for. Is there any possibility of having an alpha search for all the different data bases. Also can they be further separated in to country of origin. Some times I sit here for hours trying to get to the right country by then I am so lost.

March 4, 2009 at 11:14 am