Posted by jhodnett on March 12, 2008 in Website

Thanks to those who have given feedback regarding our initiative to link to additional resources from terms identified in message board posts.  We regret that some of you have been frustrated by these links and we have worked to improve the way they work.

As we’ve looked at data on how these links have been used we’ve found that a significant number of people are finding value in the links and taking advantage of them.  We believe that these links are proving to be helpful for users who may not already know about many of the resources available to them.  We hope to be able to continue to provide benefit to these users without creating a negative experience for others.

To improve the links you’ll notice that we’ve tried to identify terms with greater accuracy, blocking words that may be surnames but are more often used in other contexts.  We’ve also modified it so that the box that appears when you move your mouse over a link doesn’t appear immediately so it’s not a distraction if you’re not intending to use the link.

We’ve also added a new link in each box that comes up that says “turn off links.”  This will turn off all of the automatic links in message board posts for the full duration of your visit to the message boards.  For anyone frustrated by these links, we hope that this helps improve your experience on the message boards.


  1. Linda

    The data collection processes of TGN should be reviewed! It follows the same logic that must have been followed with the premature release of FTM 2008! I have read nothing but frustration with your new “feature”. We are curious creatures. Just because people follow the links to check them out doesn’t mean they find value in them. I took a recent survey and there was nothing there to collect opinions about the link.

    It does help the frustration level to remove the mouse over pop up but the underlined words still are invalid half the time and we have to add a step if we don’t want them to appear. A checkbox at the top of the page would be easier if you insist on putting us through the extra step.

  2. Lfmccauley

    Thanks for adding the ability to turn off this “feature”.

    Do you have actual feedback from users saying this feature has value or are you just assuming that because you are seeing usage numbers? If it an assumption based on usage numbers, I think you should ancitipate seeing those numbers dropping very soon. Some people will click on anything that is put in front of them. Once they’ve done that a few times and realize it’s a waste of time, they will stop and your numbers will drop.

    I hope you will monitor the numbers for how many times this feature is turned off.

  3. you should remember that those using the ‘’ as oposed to ‘.com’ do not have an obvious link to these blog pages . this means you dont have the opinions, be they – or +, from those in the uk who dont use the ‘.com’ page. also peole who cant see a way to complain WONT be able to so will either fume quietly for a while or not use the message boards and other features, eventually at all. i expect with all the other bells and whistles ancestry have add which have received complaints many will leave. I HAVE ALREADY REDUCED MY SUB FROM WORLD TO JUST UK. i only renewed as i decided it was only fair to give ancestry a chance BUT if i dont see a vast improvement i will go after my current sub runs out. but in either case for a short period people will check out the boards weather or not they like the feature just to try it out. so the useage numbers CANNOT be determined as yet as this features ‘new improvement’ has been running for a short time only.

  4. William Carr

    Just a note for those using Mozilla Firefox as your browser. The “turn off” feature only lasts the duration of the message. Each time you open a message, you must again “turn off’ the links. Internet Explorer turns them off for the duration of the visit.

  5. Mary Beth Marchant

    Oh joy. So you fixed it to be more relevant. I just opened a message concerning England. The words “Pond” and “UK” were underlined leading me to the “Pond” and “Uk” family. I would be interested in hearing from viewers who liked this nonsense. All I see is frustration from the message boards. Actually, you really, really, do not care what we think. Get rid of this nonsense. Give us more images from actual records.

  6. Corrado Truffelli

    Ho visto il vostro web
    Truffelli Genealogy and Family Resources
    I Truffelli sono documentati fino dal 1212 nell’Alta Valle del Taro, in Provincia di Parma (Italia).
    Da questi luoghi i Truffelli sono emigrati, per secoli, in molti luoghi (in Italia, in Europa e in America)
    Se vi interessano notizie sui Truffelli, sarò lieto di collaborare.
    Corrado Truffelli
    via Monte Bardone, 3 – 43100 – Parma (Italia)

  7. for those of us including me who cant speek or read italian i fed the coment in no 6 into a online translater. the result is what you see below:

    I have seen yours web
    Truffelli Genealogy and Family Resources
    The Truffelli is documented until from 1212 in the High one Goes them of Taro, in Province of Parma (Italy).
    From these places the Truffelli is e’migre’s, for centuries, in many places (in Italy, Europe and America) If news interests you on the Truffelli, will be lieto to collaborate.
    Corrado Truffelli
    via Monte Bardone, 3 – 43100 – Parma (Italy)

  8. John

    Let me first say Thanks for listening and reacting. I understand that this takes sometime.

    I agree with others that more work is needed. You really have to resolve the Firefox inconsistency on turningoff the links. Whie I can launch IE within Firefox, I prefer not to (unless I am using the Ancestry Image Viewer which continues to crash Firefox!!) It would be even cooler if you could put the link preference in the user profile.

    I also agree with others that just because some follow links, that doesn’t mean they are useful. Are you tracking indivuals over time to see if they continue to use the links, or is it a novice who learns quickly that it is a waste of time?

    Keep working on term identification. I Still see too many town names and first names showing up with “Surname” links.

    Keep workin on it, and again thanks for responding.

  9. ok
    just had a quick fiddle with the message boards just to see what you have done
    yes the turn of link addition has improved the expariance vastly but i feel the button should not be in the pop up but on the main screen so a person can decide whether or not to search with the links on from the start.

    as i say it was only a quick look. but one thing that does need improving weather or not you decide to leave the new link software in place. the search facility really needs to be sorted.

    i unfortunetly for me when it comes to searching (outwith ancestry too) have a difficult time with my family as many of my direct names and also non direct names can be used as stand alone words. you can imaging the results i get from these direct names

    REASON RUFFLES DENT KNIGHT LONG WOODMAN COVER there are others ofcourse in my tree

    what i would like to be able to search for the surname with out getting the results pointing me to

    ‘the REASON for’ or ‘with REASON’
    ‘he had RUFFLES’ or ‘with RUFFLES on’

    I wont labour the point any more but to give us a more acriate search facility would be adventages as it could be aplied across the site surly your programs could sort something out on this front. but there again i am not that cofident concidering al the bells and whistles still arnt working. but never say never. so i throw the gauntlet down. put the programers to work on something useful for a change and lets see if they can get something right.

  10. Thank you for adding the “turn off links” capability!!!!

    I would also agree with post #8 (John) that would be even cooler with the link preference on/off in the user profile area.
    This would certainly address our concerns as users and would be a more accurate assessment of those who do and don’t find this “feature” of value, rather than the “curiousity factor” that has occured during the last two weeks (as pointed out in other posted comments here).

    Again, thank you for implimenting a solution to our concerns.

  11. frostfree

    Thank you for the effort to respond to user requests to be able to turn off the word-tag popup feature.

    As noted, it does not work with Firefox except message by message.

    You can completely eliminate the genealogically illogical tagging of County names with popup links to Ancestry message board for a same-named county in another locale.

    If you genuinely want to be helpful, limit the tags to the surname list in the header of each message. Any user who wants to see what you offer under a given surname can then readily find the link.

    But this is not the purpose. As Tim Sullivan, TNG CEO announced today, the purpose is to get more Rootsweb people to look at Ancestry offerings.

    I would think that pointing people to the factually barren (or completely unrelated) Ancestry offerings via these links would not present excellent product for folks to see. Users will quickly quit clicking the links. If those who directed this had any genealogical knowledge at all, they would be aware that a book on a *surname* is a foolish idea, and that purchasers will feel gypped if they acquire or have some fact-based family data.

    It is to be hoped that TNG will realize that product excellence and customer satisfaction will pay off, whereas obtrusive, disruptive marketing mechanisms will only alienate.

  12. Mary Beth Marchant

    The comment about genealogy surname books is absolutely correct. They are for the most part a complete waste of money. Some years ago my husband’s uncle purchased a book purported to be about the Marchant family. What the book had was a list of all the Marchant families in the telephone books. Yuck!!!

  13. Fran

    I appreciate the ability to turn off the links. However, I have a dial up connection and it takes 30 seconds for the links to be turned off. There has got to be a better solution.

  14. Bruce

    I don’t want be obligated to turn off the links every time I visit the message board. I want them gone.

    “Click through” is a most inaccurate measurement criterion. After all, if it weren’t for the fact that many people will click on almost anything, we wouldn’t all be running antivirus and antispyware.

  15. On “Find famous relatives” please explain many instances where you have
    parents borN AFTER their children. I get VERY turned off. WHY DO YOU NOT CATCH THIS. My daughter was very excited to be descended from Chaucer until th8s occurred! If there is an explaination please let me know.

  16. On “Find famous relatives” please explain many instances where you have
    parents borN AFTER their children. I get VERY turned off. WHY DO YOU NOT CATCH THIS. My daughter was very excited to be descended from Chaucer until this occurred! If there is an explanation please let me know.

  17. Athena

    I would also prefer an option to control the feature in my user profile. In addition, you could add an options to set the number of topics to be displayed on a board, messages in a discussion, and in a search. It is rather annoying to be forced to reset these all the time.

    Also, I would like some way to display/print a thread on one page. It’s impossible to save a discussion as a discussion rather than 15 different messages.

  18. Lenora

    I have been unable to acess anything in the Bedford Gazette or the WWI files from this computer for WEEKS from this computer and yet I can access these same files at work. Since I have been unable to contact anyone about this problem and as I am paying for a service I cannot fully enjoy, I would like some help. If you can’t do it please pass it on to someone who can. It is irritaing that it is almost impossible to contact anyone at about a problem. Lenora

  19. Ticked off

    “we’ve found that a significant number of people are finding value in the links and taking advantage of them”

    If that’s true, those folks are amazingly silent.

    (How many of that “significant number of people” are employed by TGN???)

  20. there are even complaints on the rootsweb forum about the links
    ANCESTRY LISTEN TO ALL OF US not just on the links but our other concerns too

  21. Gary Lee Gilbert

    Why does your site crapout each after and evening? I’ve started working on a book recently but work crawls to a halt twice a day about 4 and 8 thanks

  22. Just wondering if it your system or mine. Once I view an image or go to another screen such as on HELP the screen will not return to the prior screen nor will it move to another screen. The system freezes up and I have to shut down. Everything else works on the computer and all other sites I visit are running great. Wonder what is happeing???

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  24. Mercedes Gonzalez Santoni

    Iam a firm believer that if something is not broke it does not need fixing. Presently Iam not receiving my Ancestry Weekly Journal since March 16, 08; that needs fixing.Iam turning purple and runing out of air and there is no help, regardless of everything that have done. I understand the service is free and all what is needed is my e-mail; what is the problem then? As my luck has gone this is not going to solve my problem either. So fix what is broke and do not keep adding more confusing ——- some of us are not computer geeks, nerds or whatever. Mercedes Gonzalez Santoni

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