This is a follow-up to my original post introducing Member Connect. The area of the site with the most Member Connect features is family trees, so I wanted to give some more details and tips about those features. I hope it is useful to those of you starting to test out this new feature in your tree. Please note that there is a lot of information here, so if you are interested in general information about Member Connect please check my original post.
The goal of Member Connect in family trees is to help you discover who else is researching your relatives so that you can collaborate in your family history research. You may make new discoveries, may help someone else make new discoveries or correct incorrect information in their tree, and may even connect with a cousin you didn’t know you had.
There are three main steps for Member Connect within your family tree:
- Evaluating and connecting with suggested connections
- Learning from and collaborating with connections you make
- Staying up to date on new discoveries your connections make
Evaluating and connecting with suggested connections
On the profile page for an ancestor in your tree you’ll find a new tab called Member Connect. This tab has three different areas: Recent Activity, Connections, and Suggested Connections.
“Suggested Connections” is the page where we list potential matches for your ancestor or relative in other public member trees. Here you can evaluate the information they have about your relative, including a list of the records from Ancestry.com that they’ve listed as sources. You can also link to the other member’s tree to learn more. If it looks like a good match for your relative and you’d like to be informed when new information is added to this person, just click on “Connect”. If you’re not interested, just click “Ignore”.
Tip: On the Suggested Connections page we’ll mark which information from the other member is different than your information (labeled as Conflicting) and which information you don’t have at all in your tree (labeled as New). You’ll want to look at this information closely as you evaluate a possible connection.
Learning from and collaborating with connections you make
After you have connected with another member researching a common ancestor, the connection will be listed under the “Connections” section of the Member Connect tab. If you have already accepted Ancestry Hints or saved information from another member tree, you will already have connections from these trees listed in your Connections list. If you find that you don’t want to be connected, you can just click “Remove” on the connection.
Tip: It is important to note the difference between connecting with another member and saving or merging information from their tree, as you might from Ancestry Hints. Connecting with another member does not change any information in your tree. It simply allows you to evaluate their research in case there is something you can learn from each other, as well as stay up to date on future discoveries they might make.
Why connect with another member?
There are several benefits of connecting with another member researching a common ancestor.
- You can quickly check what they have in their public member tree without leaving your tree by going to the Connections section of the Member Connect tab on your ancestor’s profile page.
- We’ll identify differences between your trees so that you can update your tree if you learn something new. You can also contact the other member directly if you have information that would help them update something in their tree.
- You can also stay up to date on their new research discoveries through the Recent Activity page.
There are a few important links available for a connection for someone in your tree.
- At the top of the connection listing there will be a direct link to view the individual in the other member’s tree
- You will also see the username of the other member. This is a link that lets you see a preview of their public member profile. You can then choose to view their full profile or contact them directly through our online Messages feature.
- When comparing your trees any details, records, or photos that you don’t have in your tree will be marked as “New”. Clicking this button will allow you to save this information to your tree, view it in the other member’s tree, or ignore it.
- If the other member has information that is different that what you have in your tree it will be marked as “Conflicting”. Clicking this button will give you the same options as for New information.
If you choose to save information, you can customize what you save to your tree as you do today when you accept an Ancestry Hint. This includes editing the information as well as choosing whether or not you also want to include records from Ancestry that the other member has used as a source.
When you find conflicting information in another member’s this is an opportunity to dig in and do a little research to verify the information you have in your tree. You may find that your information was correct and you can contact the member you’ve connected with to share what you know. You may also find that the other member was correct and decide to update your family tree.
When saving conflicting information you have two different options. First, you can simply update the information you already have in your tree. Please note that we will not change the information in your tree without you choosing exactly what you want to update.
Second, you can add the information from the other member as alternate or new information in your tree without changing what you already have. Just click the box to add it as an alternate or new fact or event.
Staying up to date on new discoveries your connections make
After you connect with another member you can stay up to date on the new discoveries they make about your common relative in the Recent Activity section of Member Connect in your family tree. This page will list all of the public research being done on Ancestry.com that relates to your relative. This might be a new historical record that is found, a new photo that is uploaded, or a corrected birth date based on a new source the other member discovered.
If you have publicly shared photos or other information, on the Recent Activity page we’ll also let you know if other members are finding it useful and saving it. And if you have invited others to your tree as editors, we’ll list any changes they make in your tree as well.
If you aren’t interested in all of the Activity Types, just un-check the appropriate boxes in the upper right of the page.
In addition to the Recent Activity list for a specific relative in your family tree, there is a Recent Member Connect Activity list available from your homepage, the main Collaborate tab on the site, and the “Recent Member Connect Activity” link in the drop down when pointing your mouse at the Collaborate tab.
This page will show all activity on the site related to any of your research on Ancestry.com. This includes all of your connections in each of your trees, as well as all historical records you have saved, corrected, or commented on. Just like the Recent Activity list in your tree, this page lets you filter out specific types of activities that you’re not interested in seeing. Since there is a lot more activity on this page, we’re also working on additional filtering options.
For members with large trees and a lot of activity on the site this may be a pretty full list. If this is the case for you, you’ll probably have the easiest time looking at the Recent Activity list for a specific relative in your tree that you’re interested in. That lets you filter the list down to just what applies to that ancestor rather than seeing the whole full list of activity.
I hope these extra details about Member Connect in your family tree are helpful. If you are interested in learning even more we’ll be conducting a one-hour online presentation about Member Connect on August 17th. We’ll show you where to find the new features and how to use them to discover even more about your family story. The presentation will be followed by a Q&A session. Click here to learn more and register.
We also want to make sure that we continue to improve the Member Connect feature. As you begin using Member Connect, please send us your feedback by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your feedback will help us continue to improve this new feature and make it even more useful for you.
We are very excited about Member Connect and hope that it will help you make new valuable connections and discoveries in your family history research.