Posted by Eric Shoup on January 21, 2009 in Site Features, Website

We frequently get questions from Ancestry users wanting to know what feature changes we have made recently.  In 2009, we are going to increase our communication via the blog to address this very question on an on-going basis.  To kick off the New Year right, we are holding a webinar next week to discuss key features that we rolled out in 2008 that you may have missed.

The “New Site Features Added to in 2008” webinar will take place next Tuesday (1/27) at 8pm EST.  We will have a panel of product managers discussing key improvements we made last year to areas such as family trees, search, homepage, profile pages, and more.  We will also leave ample time for your questions.

If you are interested, please register here.

We hope to see you there!

Eric Shoup


  1. I want to keep my tree private. When I shared my tree with someone and they took information and shared it with someone that has a public tree then my tree is not longer private. Is there a way to prevent this?

  2. Mike

    This webinar should be titled “Lipstick on 2008’s Pig”.

    Fix the concept/design problems that underlie many of those “features” instead of trying to PR your way out of the mess and tweaking the interfaces.


  3. Mary Beth Marchant

    This webinar is going to explain why Ancestry messed up so many searches last year and hope to placate the many dissatisfied subscribers. As Mike just said, the best way to fix thing is to quit giving us the flash & dash and really fix things such as the horribly slow pages, the browse by location site which now sends us to the Card Catalogue and other things which are too numerous to mention.

  4. Jim Livermore

    With all the problems this site is currently experiencing, it’s nice to know you still have the time and money for dog and pony shows. Just wonderful.

    I will not be attending.

  5. Del Williams

    You want to discuss how to use Ancestry for the 2008 new features? How about the fiasco called the 2009 features, or rather, non-features, when are you going to actually discuss that? Trying to get past it by giving us a bunch of idiotic answers about site stability must make you guys feel pretty stupid, WHAT SITE STABILITY DO YOU HAVE NOW? Forcing subscribers to use the Card Catalog is about the dumbest thing I’ve seen come along in many years, and I’ve been here for quite a few of them. I’ve always been a big supporter of Ancestry, I have always been one of those who would stand up for them when others complained about the prices. One of the things that most new users could never figure out was how to use the site nor how to look for records, I’ve had many people tell me they tried a trial subscription and dumped it because it was useless. When I questioned them further, it turned out because they didn’t know how to look for records, they would just put names in the Search engine on the homepage and hope for Results!!! Geee, I wonder why anyone would think using a Search engine would provide any real results! Anyway, I would always tell them to skip that search engine, and go right to the State Page Index, and then look at the databases they wanted to search; afterwards, most of the folks were pretty satisfied and much happier because they were actually able to find something. Now, I can’t even imagine what newbies are doing, and I feel for them because even us old-timers can’t even use this website. You can also bet that I won’t be giving anymore compliments about, I wouldn’t recommend you to my worst enemy.

  6. steve smith

    Dear Sirs I just want to know if I can start over on my family tree anc estery imformation.I entered my dads imformation then by accident entered my mothers imformation instead of my dads mothers imformation. May I start all over.

  7. Jade


    Many of us can’t view the Webinar.

    Why don’t you just post an ‘Improvments’ blog with links to what has already been described in the blogs here?

    Since the Webinars do not allow many or hard questions about why the tiny tinkering around the edges of major problems, the dialogs here are likely to be more productive.

  8. Eric Shoup

    Thank you for your comments.

    I understand the frustration that some of you mentioned about improvements we still need to make to the site. Your criticisms are totally valid. We are actively trying to address many of the issues you mention.

    Sharon — I will contact you directly at your email about private trees.

    Steve Smith — I will contact you directly about your issue.

    Jade — good suggestion. I didn’t know that people were having problems viewing our webinars. We were planning to send an email to attendees with additional resources to review about the topics we discuss. We should probably post this as a blog post or discussion board post as well.



  9. I would like to thank you for your great service. Very helpful and easy to use for a beginner. Cost is less than a dollar a day. I don’t get all the complaints, creating the family tree book was so easy, I didn’t even have to think about what to do, your site created it for me. As for the slow pages, I have found that at peak times, such as Sundays, I organize my paperwork instead. I use your site every day and I just thought you should get a pat on the back for a job well done. Keep up the good work and God bless.

  10. I have been on for quite some time. I never use the search links because it never has the correct information. I have to search the census for what I want because their is always something misspelled or in correct. I have found just because it doesn’t come up on the search doesn’t mean it doesn’t exit. It is not all ancestries fought. It is just the name of the game and a lot of translations gone wrong. Also there should be more information available thru your website. For what we pay, there should be more vital statistics and copies of certificates. I know you take our information off of our trees so I know you have more information than you are letting us have and the proofs. You give out my information which is on my private website, but I don’t have the proofs there, even though I have most of them in paper form. I figure the more I give out the more I will receive, because everyone is after the same thing. Just quit taking away the free sites on Rootsweb. Now when you try to go to a county, no matter where in the US. It refers us to some money program thru and it has taken away the free public records which are ours to have. Genealogy is suppose to be free. I have put a lot of money into my tree, but I still want to have free access to what another person wants to share.

  11. claudia stewart

    have had my subscription for only 3 weeks. and im already dissatisfied. I thought it would be so forthcoming and its not. The site is hard to understand and in the blog i found out what i was doing, IE: using the search engine is useless and its better to use tthe state sites,. now if i can just find them, ill try to do that. Obviously Im a newby and its all very confusing. My FTM 2008/ 2009 certainly is now very accomodating, so i have sent for the book.(more money) . I found the tutorials not very helpful unless i copied the information down and then tried to use the FTM. sometimes information comes and sometimes not. its very slow to reverse and i cant figuree out how to go to a different person for web search without closing the program and starting over. it simply wont let me. right now Legacy7 with all its extra things to do looks better and better.

  12. Derla Lehnherr

    Could you make it any more difficult to view the webinar? I’ve spent over an hour here just trying to get something to view. Many of us older people who work on genealogy are not really computer literate. I’ve downloaded RealPlayer, I’ve tried with Windows Media Player – and still nothing. For the price we pay for this subscription, this webinar should come onto our screens with one simple click of the mouse.

  13. Debbie Scott

    Birth/Baptism and Death/Burial dates.

    I’m not sure if this is the right place for this, my apologies if it’s not. This is something that has been irritating me for a long time.

    Why can’t the Birth/Baptism & Death/Burial dates on your family tree, be set by default to show the Birth date/year BEFORE the Baptism date – same for Death & Burials.
    It is impossible to be Baptized before you are born, likewise for deaths & burials.
    If I know that my ancestor was born in 1838 (from birth reg’s) and was baptized on 7 July 1838, why does the baptism date always show first??!
    Surely it must be possible to always show the birth/death information BEFORE the baptism/burial info??
    If nothing else, it’s simply not chronologically correct!

  14. davidfra

    I agree with all the comments here with the exception of “Mary”. Your company, website, genealogy software, etc. shows a complete lack of concern for any problems which users may have. Year after year you charge more for software and services and do less and less to earn those increases. A large portion of information that you provide for a fee has been taken from users for nothing. You produce new software (FTM) every year or two with little regard for what customers want and with no attempt to correct software problems. There is no way that name searches on your site was coded by a real software programmer, when I get over two million results on a specific name with a specific birthdate, race, place of birth. If you don’t want to provide useful software and services please sell the company to someone who does. Your company sets genealogy back years.

  15. Eric Shoup

    Thank you for the additional feedback.

    Claudia – We realize we have more to do on search. We are actively working on improvements to our algorithms that you will see in the coming months. We also reinstated the state & country pages yesterday after removing them during our site outage a couple of weeks ago.

    Derla – I am hoping that you were able to see the webinar on Tuesday. If not, we have posted in the Learning Center for your review. I will post links to its location in just a minute.

    Debbie – I will pass this feedback along to my Trees team.



  16. Eric Shoup

    We had a little over 400 people turnout for the webinar. 98% of attendees surveyed said they would recommend the webinar to a friend.

    For those of you who missed the webinar, you can find it here.

    For those who attended, we also sent out a set of links to additional resources that were referred to in the webinar:

    New Merge Blog

    The Ancestry Toolbar

    Ancestry Card Catalog World Archives Project

    24/7 Family History Circle

    See you next time.


  17. jswatson71

    I wasn’t able to listen to the Tuesday night webinar but listened this afternoon and really learned a lot. Thanks!

  18. Julie Mulroy

    I couldn’t figure out how to comment on the “adding other relatives on the record” feature, so I’ll do it here. The concept is great. However, it seems to work best (or only) when the record is found via head of household. Work-arounds such as adding the record to the husband when it was turned up in a search (or hint) for the wife can lead to a parent married to a child and other oddities. One has to be careful not to duplicate relatives whose names aren’t recognized as variants, and the original image must be scrutinized for relatives not included (especially those identified as in-laws and their children, who are clearly grandchildren of the head and spouse). And sometimes only the first of several children is listed.

    Since using this feature I have ended up with “children of unknown spouse” (often duplicating the names and associated information of children of the spouse on the record), and multiple attachments of a record to the same individual. This means checking every replicated event on a profile to make sure the one with the most information and proper documentation (especially the original document IMAGE attached, which I repeatedly consult as new questions arise) remains.

    So this feature, while great in concept and a typing-saver, is definitely not a time saver, and must be used with great care

    In an ideal world, all the ancillary information for each person would be added ss well.

  19. Terry Carter


    I’m also a newbie and already experienced my share of frustrations (which brought me to this blog). Reading the comments here from the “old timers,” what strikes me the most is that you apparently redesigned your site in a vacuum. You introduced new “features” and eliminated some old ones, only to reverse yourselves (e.g., state and country pages).

    Frankly, I don’t know if I’m going to stick with you. Your site is buggy and unintuitive. I end up with duplicate records, “children of unknown spouse” (and I can’t delete the unknown spouse), people drop off for no apparent reason and more. Mostly, making changes to your site without proper testing (and vetting) is inexcusable. Microsoft can get away with this crap, but you can’t. The marketpalce will punish you.

  20. RON

    Our you going to give the correct time for the show?

    8 PM EST

    Wake up! The rest of use are using
    Daylight Saving Time

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