Posted by jhodnett on August 1, 2009 in Site Features, Website

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:

  1. Evaluating and connecting with suggested connections
  2. Learning from and collaborating with connections you make
  3. 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 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”.

Suggested connectiosn

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.

  1. At the top of the connection listing there will be a direct link to view the individual in the other member’s tree
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Connections - details

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.

New save

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.

Conflicting save 1

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.

Conflicting save 2

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 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.

Recent activity

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  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  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.


  1. Mary Ann Scott

    What happened to the gedcom family trees. I have not been able to find them the last 2 weeks?

  2. Jesse

    If nothing else, Member Connect was certainly a wakeup call! I had no idea just how many people had stolen information from my tree before I made it private; often times the information they took was not relevant to their family!

    I use the term stealing out of bitterness; if I find a person with a tree related to me, I always make contact before taking anything so we can discuss our connection.

    I do like this new feature though.

  3. I find there are many people with the incorrect information for my family. When contacted, the don’t respond or bother to make corrections. I don’t mind my pictures being used, IF they are part of ones family, but not to be sure and use them without being positive, shouldn’t happen. I never could understand why people would have their family tree private, I’m really beginning to see why they do. Ancestry has made it too easy for others to just “think” they have the correct family without actually doing any indepth research. All the “bells and whistles” are not doing anyone any favors when it comes to keeping a family genealogy factual. We all can make mistakes and attach a wrong person from time to time, but as a rule a bit more research, will show the mistake and a correction can be made. I find with all the “add on’s” I spend more time asking to people make corrections, leaving little time to continue my own research, they rarely respond or make those changes.

    Have stopped entering any
    information on Ancestry. Gerri

  4. Adrienne Boudreau

    I like the idea of Member Connect — but I’m royally annoyed. I’m a *former* member who is working on the World Ancestry Project. As a result, I access my home page on a daily basis.

    Right at the top of my home page is a message that someone has attached a record to my grandfather, and taken photographs from my account (this does not bother me, but I WANT to get in touch with him!). I want *very very* much to contact this potential relative, but apparently because I am not a paying member at this time, I cannot.

  5. I am working under the name/website Carrie Kane, I am her Mother. I like the new site where you can add info. for past relatives. The only thing is I am trying to add the parents of Margaret Musgrave, but somehow they show an option that is really her father DL Lynch, but I cannot add it because it is deleeting the Margaret Musgrave info. Also cannot continue with her mother, Josephine Walker’s info. then there is the children including Dollie and Tom Green Musgrave, how do I get to correct and add all them to the TREE? thanks, Sandra Kane

  6. Thanks for the detailed post on the intricacies of this new functionality. I’m sure it will help clear up a lot of the complaints I have been seeing.

    On another note though: is it just me, or has been performing poorly (in terms of web server responsiveness) since member connect appeared a few days ago?

  7. Jade

    Mike #7, it is not your imagination. Not only slow, but displays wonky and items not transferring between trees correctly.

    Wonky display: names not shown in Ancestry Hints (green leaves).

    Wonky display: parent not displayed in ‘connection’ list of items, although shown in the adding-these list.

    Non-transferring: during slow times, the detail/explanation for event items are not included; also user-added source citations not transferring between my trees for events.

  8. Andy Hatchett

    RE: #4- Gerri

    I’ve maintained from the start that that there should be no way to add *any* info from one tree to another except by manually entering it. In the case of pictures the only way to get a picture from from one tree to another should be to have to download the picture from the tree it is on and then manually upload it to your tree.

    These two simple steps would stop the namegatherers cold! The real researchers wouldn’t mind at all.

    Ancestry, of course, wouldn’t dream of doing this as it would totally conflict with their “one-click” genealogy mantra and turn newbies off since real genealogical work would be involved.

    Show info from another tree-fine but not actually adding it to another tree. This just promotes genealogical practices and leads to megajunk in the trees.

  9. Carol Dixon

    Since Member Connect I’ve found it takes a very long time to pull up my tree & make any additions or corrections. Right now I find it just too time consuming to make changes. I removed one public tree because Member Connect made me aware of how easy it was for people to incorporate my information into their tree even if it wasn’t relevant to their family. I kept one private tree online. I agree with everthing # 4 had to say about Member Connect.

  10. David Graham

    Thanks to those who have shared feedback. I just wanted to share a few comments…

    — Mary Ann (#2) – I’m not sure which GEDCOM family trees you are referring to. If you are still having difficulties you may want to contact Member Services at this URL:

    — A few people have mentioned concerns about others saving photos or other information from your tree, at least without contacting you. This is understandable and we’re trying to do some things to help. If a photo is copied from one tree to another, we continue to make it clear who was the original submitter of the photo. And we are looking at ways to make that easier to find. Also, in Member Connect if a member saves a piece of information from another member we encourage them to contact the other member (though that doesn’t mean it will always happen).

    — It sounds like a few of you have noticed some slowness with the site. We have not noticed issues on our end, but we will definitely look into this closer.

  11. Moi

    You need to provide a way for members to get their names removed from public trees. I just found my name and my sibling’s name in a member connect activity attached to my tree. I sent the owner a note, but they have not signed in for more than six months so I am doubtful that anything will be done. I do not appreciate tree owners blithely adding names of living persons to their trees, especially the public ones. Usually they are very careful to hide their own names and those near and dear to them. What will do about this?

  12. Andy Hatchett

    David- Re: #12

    The easiest way to handle the concerns about others saving photos or info from other trees is simple.


    I have yet to hear a rational reason from Ancestry for promoting and enabling such bad genealogical – not to mention unethical!- practices.

    Tell the newbies and others who want such features that if they are unwilling to do the actual research then they shouldn’t be doing genealogy at all.

  13. Katy

    Permission from the person who posted the information should be required before data or pictures can be automatically saved into someone else’s “tree”. At least the option to prevent that should be available. I, too, have found some apalling errors – one of the most common is that a number of tree owners have apparently decided that the abbreviation for the state of Arizona is AR – it is NOT – that’s Arkansas – and placed my direct ancestors in Arizona decades prior to statehood. Of course no one ever responds to corrections. I will never make my own family tree public as long as everything can be copied at will.

  14. Andy Hatchett

    Marshall- Re:# 16

    It is just the usual Gremlin 10K Weekend Romp.

    With all the changes the gremlins have to learn the new course layout so it might take longer to complete. *grin*

  15. John Hirschmann

    I find comment about people bringing material into one tree from another without getting permission interesting. First, the way is set up — it encourages rather than discourages it and it certainly until now did notify the original source that this was happening. So shame on you for saying you discourage it when it fact you did the opposite. Also, I presume if you bring information from one tree into another public tree — the same rules on protecting privacy for those living continued to be honored by the software.

    If people make their tree public — the implies they are willing to share and if they make it private — it implies the opposite. Forcing automatic acknowledgement (as is now done with pictures) is a good idea for all areas where information is brought over electronically.

  16. Jade

    Andy, #14, is not a genealogy site.

    It is a business. Its main marketing is to folks who want results without doing research.

    What is it marketing? Mainly access to Trees from which to take stuff. Secondarily, access to 20th-century and late 19th-century material of most interest to newbie vampires who have not a clue about the difference between evidence and trees, and which Ancestry’s computers can readily search so the hobbyist does not have to think about doing actual research.

  17. Tom Sommer

    For all of the above reason my trees are never public. Making your tree public encourages copying of your data.

  18. mary

    I’ve had a family tree (Reece) entered in my collaboration section that absolutely is not connected to my line and I contacted the person whose name is attached to it and she said she did not insert it and wouldn’t even know how.
    I also had an 1870 Texas census entered into one of my family member’s records who was already dead in June 1870 before this Texas census was enumerated. The person whose name was attached to it denied inserting it. I have been unable to delete any unwanted info submitted under this column. Please remove all info in this collaboration column from my file. I have since gone private hoping to stop this practice.Thank you. I liked the old way you did it previously by letting us decide what we wanted to accept or ignore.

  19. Martin Briscoe

    I have been having a check at the latest entries to see if anyone looking at any names I recognise but what would be really useful would be to be able to flag people in my tree (the main line probably) and get an immediate message if someone looked them up in any records.


  20. Jan Bray

    There is a person using some of my ancestors in her tree and they are not related to her. I have tried to contact her, but she will not answer my emails. Does anyone have a suggestion on what can be done?

  21. Andy Hatchett

    Jay Re: #23

    About the only thing you can do, if it is a public tree, is to add a comment to the tree itself pointing out the erroneous connection.

    You could also post that same comment to the appropriate surname message board…

    Something along the lines of:
    “Ancestry Member Tree (insert tree name) posted by (insert tree owner’s ID) contains the following errroneous information (insert wrong info); the correct info is (insert correct info).

  22. David Graham

    Just wanted to share a couple more comments:

    — The names of individuals we believe are living should not display publicly on the site. Moi (#13) – Did the other member mistakenly have death dates entered for you and your sibling? If you continue to see this problem, please contact us at so that we can correct it.

    — I wanted to be totally clear that the information you see under the Member Connect tab for someone in your family tree is actually activity happening in other members’ trees. We do not change anything in your tree automatically. You can decide to make updates to your tree based on information you learn from others, but we will not change your tree for you. The only way changes could be made to your tree without you making them would be if you invited someone to your tree as an editor and they made changes.

  23. John K. Atkins, Jr

    As a previous member – recently rejoined – I am not surprised by the snobbish views that some “researchers” have expressed. To wit, “If you can’t invest as much time as I have, you are a contemptible thief and should be expelled from the club.”

    I do not understand this attitude. I have added my verifiable information, including pictures, as I have it and I have found very interesting information from others and from databases that were previously unavailable. I hope that my information will be useful to others.

    I have found a lot of erroneous dates and places. I just laugh and “tsk, tsk” about these errors. Do these errors affect the fate of civilization?

    The whole point is to learn. There are A students, and there are F students. Perhaps some D students (and some F students) will become educated.

    Some information that others have posted is obviously incorrect, but just having the clue can give me a place to begin to look for the real information. “Caveat emptor.” Anyone serious can weed through the chaff.

    If you hide your data, then you have prevented someone else from gaining an insight. That is your choice.

    Currently, I choose not to do so.

  24. Roberta Whitacre

    I have been a member of ancestry for years and I, like a lot of others actually researched in the day of the dinosaur. I don’t mind member connect if there is a way to do it right, I have found someone has actually gotten my info and changed it to fit them and taken my pictures which I do not mind sharing but this person is just collecting everyone with a specific surname and it is a very common name. I have all the sources for my info and it is not from Ancestry but from 30 years of research. You have got to change some aspects of memberconnect. I never understood why people had private trees but I do now and I did not want to be that way until today. Please change things that a member that thinks they connect with you cannot change the info. I have seen people listed with like 50000 people in their tree and as many photos and I know how they do it because it is hard to drum up that many photos in your own family. Sharing is one thing but changing another person’s history is wrong. I had one member tell me she is collecting people with that surname and then she is going to try to connect them. My family was no where near hers and she has changed info and made it wrong. Now, my granddaughter and her dad, my son, are researching ancestry with their own account for a project for school and I told them they could use my info but if people change it then my son’s research is wrong. I do believe we should have to ask before taking a photo or changing information on another’s tree. This needs to change or I will leave Ancestry.
    Thank You
    Roberta Whitacre

  25. James

    It seems to me that there are three reasons to post trees and photos publicly. The first two are helping and getting help from others. The other is to brag. If you are posting publicly to help others then good for you. You are a true asset to the genealogical community (community being the operative word).

    If you are doing out of pure vanity then I don’t know what to say. You are going to have to weigh your need to be acknowledged and praised with your desire to be private and selfish.

  26. Connie

    How does one delete this feature from the homepage?

    It has some potential from my sample family tree, which I rarely use, but I certainly don’t want it mucking up my homepage with connections to “ancestors” who are so far removed from me I can’t even begin to figure out who they are – and I collect lots of distant relatives.

    If you want to make it useful, give us a way to tell you how far afield we want it to search for us.

    I’ve tried the trash button from the customize page, and it works only for that visit to Ancestry. When I come back to Ancestry, it’s back cluttering up homepage.

  27. BEE

    I have a number of trees, and they are all “private”, and from what I’m reading on this blog, I’m glad I set them up that way, and will not change. When I created my “trees”, I searched for every document possible for each and every person, spending many hours looking at ship manifests and census pages, searching by surname, first name, etc. – searching whole counties in some states; street by street in the ward of a large city for a family I knew was there, but with the ethnic names and surname so badly transcribed, it was the only way to do it, so when I see a “connection” to 10+ trees that have nothing more then a name and date of birth, and find no sources – besides blatant errors, I have no desire to “connect” with any of them to correct their errors.
    Here are just a few examples – a child added to a second marriage when there was none; names of sisters entered as daughters; a whole line of people attached to someone that can’t be confirmed on 14 trees! Dates and available information just doesn’t add up – it’s a great historical background going back to the Revolution and earlier, but I can’t see how it can be the same person, so I won’t add it. If it is the same man, I would want some verification, especially when there are so many men born about the same time, in the same state, with the same name on the 1850 census. There is too much undocumented “information” passed from tree to tree. If you go to the “list of names” for all these “contacts”, they have duplicate, triplicate names and more. Why would I want to view a tree with thousands of names full of this duplication – I don’t know why these people even have “trees”. When I learned how to merge families, I spent hours making corrections in my trees – I found that it’s easier to add parents from the “select someone already on your tree” list then it is to add a spouse, and then have to re-add all the children, even if all the info comes with them.
    I have answered every email sent to me through ancestry, and like this feature – I’m happy to do so, even if I have no information to share. If I am able to help the person that writes to me, I do so, but I don’t feel that I should share all my hard work with someone that just adds names to a tree, and doesn’t bother to check out any documents, and apparently doesn’t really have any interest in their trees.

  28. Mary Beth Marchant

    David, please answer this one. Last week I could remove that abominable RECENT MEMBER CONTACT from my home page and it stayed removed. Today, it DOES NOT STAY REMOVED. It is back everytime I go back to my home page. What is this. Are we going to be forced to use this abomination. I do not want to see what every one and his brother is doing and I don’t want everyone and his brother to see what I am doing. PLEASE FIX THIS PRONTO!!!

  29. Mary Beth Marchant

    Lets also address the slowness which you claim you cannot see. There are plenty of us who have observed that beginning Friday and still continuing today. Your servers are not keeping up with the continuing stuff y’all keep adding. Slow down the additions until you get some new servers that can keep up with the traffic. If you want new subscribers and still want to keep the old subscribers, this needs to be done. Otherwise, the new subscribers will not renew and us old ones will go away too.

  30. Nancy

    I found today that someone added some of my photos to their private tree. I saw this because I was on that page. I cannot find that activity on the Recent Member Connect Activity on my home page–and this is something I would like to know, and without searching through every page.

    Do I need to adjust my settings for this?

  31. I wanted to share a few thoughts I have on the reaction to’s newly added functionality dubbed “Member Connect”:

    1) As I understand it, this functionality will only notify you of changes that other researchers are making to their trees. It will not, in fact, update your information on your tree for you.

    2) I see a lot of complaints about newbies scouring other trees and in a frantic effort to grow their trees, regardless of validity of information.

    Regarding Member Connect: this is a fantastic tool to let you see if you missed a relevant source or document that someone else may have found. It is left up to you to verify the documents and sources that others add to their trees, allowing you to maintain the integrity of your tree.

    Regarding the many complaints of careless tree management by newbies: why do you care? I mean, really, what does it matter if others have crappy evidence or no evidence at all? I am only concerned with my tree, and doing the best I can to maintain its integrity. I have to dig through the muck as I am researching anyway, so if the added functionality that adds to their site exposes more muck to me, I’ll have a greater chance of finding some gold nuggets.

    I try not to look at what the neighbor is growing in their garden, but instead make sure that I have what I need in my garden.

    I hope this may put some things in perspective, as I am truly tired of reading of others being so concerned about newbies not researching properly.

    I would like to see a third option in the privacy configuration settings for trees: visible, but requiring permission before copying.
    This would be similar to what there is now (allowing to be searched, but hide content), with the difference that it would automatically open the “contact owner” dialog window.
    I would also like to be able to set individual media items, as well as people, as private on my tree, while being able to share the rest of the tree.

    I have my tree set to private and not searchable at this time for the following reasons:
    – I am not 100% certain that all aspects of my tree are accurate.
    – I have private material (letters, pictures, certificates) uploaded in my tree that I do not necessarily wish to share.
    – I have purchased materials in my tree that cost me money, that I also do not necessarily wish to share with everyone.

    What I do is establish connections with other researchers, build a relationship, and invite them into my tree. We then share mutually and usually remain in contact.

    One thing I am concerned with: does Member Connect reveal my activity if I have my tree set to private?

  32. David Graham

    Mary Beth (#31) – We were just able to duplicate the problem you reported with the section on the homepage coming back after you turn it off. It looks like this is a new bug with a roll we made this morning. My apologies to anyone who has run into this problem. We are working to get it fixed as soon as we can.

  33. Mary Beth Marchant

    I continue to wonder why Ancestry does not have quality control. Many times when something new is released, there are unintended consequences such as being unable to completely get rid of the Member Connect and having the viewing screen much smaller when viewing a census page. It amazes me that someone is not checking your programmers to see if the code they have devised actually works right and does not mess up something else. I suggest Ancestry practice Zero Defects.

  34. David Graham

    We have now fixed the error where the Member Connect section on your homepage would come back after you removed it. Thanks for your patience with this temporary issue. If you have any further difficulties with this please email us at so that we can look into it further.

  35. Bonnie Stertz

    I wonder if anyone can help me find any information on my husband maternal grandfather, Adolph H. Yost?
    I know he existed, but I would like to find out who his parents were. He was born in 1888 and died in 1944. His wife’s name was Freida E. Sterkel.

  36. Jade

    Mike, in #34 you say,

    “Regarding the many complaints of careless tree management by newbies: why do you care? I mean, really, what does it matter if others have crappy evidence or no evidence at all? I am only concerned with my tree, and doing the best I can to maintain its integrity.”

    I think there are two types of complaints.

    On one hand people who cobble stuff from others’ trees complain about inaccuracies or lack of sources for them to lift.

    On the other, I am aware that at least 95% of the trees on the internet are riddled with major errors of many types. I do not expect to glean information from trees about my ancestors. Few other than me are doing actual research on them. I just don’t want to be bothered by ancestry’s ‘Member Connect’ notifications when someone links an extract from something to a person in their tree that Ancestry’s computers think matches the first wife of a 2nd spouse of a distant cousin.

    People will do whatever they wish with their Trees. I just don’t want to be notified about it.

    Also I don’t want to have records-image pages cluttered up with notifications that others have saved extracts from them to tree or shoebox, or have commented on an item. I do not want to have to manually make these go away.

  37. Nancy

    David, using Member Connect, if you choose an event from another person’s tree, and click “Save to your family tree,” does it show that tree as the source of the event?

  38. David Graham

    I wanted to address a few other topics that have been raised…

    — Nancy (#33) – The notification about photos of yours that are saved by other members should appear on the Recent Activity list for a related person in your tree, as well as on the full Recent Member Connect Activity list. It may show up a little differently on the full list, though. To make things a little bit easier to get through, we sometimes combine related items. So if another member saved three of your photos it might mention that “3 photos you added” were saved by the other member. If this was the case, it would be listed in time order based on when the last photo was saved. If you’re still unable to identify it on your full Recent Member Connect Activity list we’d be happy to look into it further to make sure everything is working as it is supposed to. Just email us at with the specific details.

    — Mike (#34) – The only information shared within Member Connect about activity in private trees is regarding historical records and photos or stories from other members that are saved to the tree. It does not allow other members to see more about your tree than they would otherwise. They’ll need to contact you to request to be invited. These save actions in private trees are only shared with others if your Activity Preferences are set to share your personal research activity. You can check or update this here:

    — Nancy (#40) – If you choose to save information from another member’s tree using Member Connect we will create a source referencing the specific tree that it was saved from (including a link to the person in their tree it was saved from). If they had an historical record cited as a source, it will save that as an additional source (unless you choose not to save the record when you save the other information).

  39. Jade

    Bonnie, your #38:

    Adolph and Freda are enumerated for 1920 in Sutton, Clay Co., Nebraska.

    When Adolph registered for the WWI draft in Clay Co., NE he said he was born 7 Feb 1888 in Nebraska.

    He is most likely enumerated for 1900 as ‘John’ Yost, b. Feb. 1888, in the household (in Sutton City, Clay Co, NE) of the widowed Anton Yost, b. Oct. 1852 in Russia. Also with Anton were three other children b. in Nebraska, the oldest Kattie b. Feb. 1886 and the youngest HEnry b. Jan. 1892. Anton had immigrated in 1876.

    Since these blogs are not intended for genealogical queries, now is a good time to hone your skills posting queries. By all means make further inquiries on the Yost surname message boards, giving where your people lived and roughly when born and died. Folks looking at the message boards for Clay Co., NE may be able to give you some tips on finding marriage records, naturalization records, estate records and cemetery information, if you give enough information for them to work with. Most such records must be obtained by personal visits to the County Courthouse.

  40. Jade #39: Thanks for your perspective on this. I can appreciate where you are coming from regarding the overwhelming influx of irrelevant information regarding what other members are doing with their trees.

    This could be fixed by:
    A) Making the home page setting stick (I believe this has been fixed).
    B) Making the settings for Member Connect (which items are to be displayed) stick as well.

    This would greatly relieve much of the clutter, as I really am not interested in who is added as a connection, but only interested in what sources are added by others, as that is the only really useful information.

    Would you agree if these two items were in place that this would be less aggravating?

  41. Jade

    Mike, your #43:

    Your proposal makes sense. Got me thinking about some details.

    I am not bothered by the Home Page mess, I do not use it – I bookmark sites I use in my browser and do not have to wait for the myriad items to load.

    I did take a look this morning a few times, and noticed that the ‘selection’ checklist only is visible if you go to ‘see more’, and only works for that particular visit. If you go to ‘see more’, no matter what you uncheck, the rest of the HP is taken up by the box for the MemberConnect notifications, nice big empty space eliminating everything else from view. For people who use the HP regularly and want *some* types of notifications, this would be quite aggravating: a choice supposedly offered without really being a choice (like voting in certain countries). It eliminates the content, but still takes up the space. Great Design Engineering, that.

    The “Activity Types” check box on each individual Tree page in the Member Connect tab-page also only works to limit what is displayed when you click on “Suggested Connections” ***for that particular visit to that particular individual’s Suggested Connections tab-page***. If you again look at the Suggested Connections tab-page during the same visit to that person’s individual page, it is all still there.

    Unchecking the SIX “Activity Types” does not clear the Suggested Connections. If you do not ALSO click to “Ignore” EACH of the Suggested Connections, the garish notification remains on the individual overview page.

    I would like a link on the Tree Settings page to:

    “Do not send Recent Member Connect activity of the following types” (with checkoff box)

    “Do not send Ancestry Tree Hints”

    “Do not send Ancestry Records Hints” (since Ancestry considers stories entered in Trees to be records, and it considers when someone links a person in their tree to an excerpt from a book or image also to be a record).

    Then on the Individual Overview pages there could be a one-color bar (please, not pukey green) with a link to **select** receiving MemberConnect notifications. Once you select that, the “Activity Types” selector box could drop down for you to choose what notifications you want FOREVER UNTIL YOU CHANGE IT, not just for the duration of that visit to the page. It could be a nice plain-white box like the one for selecting type of ‘event’ to add. It would **roll back up** after you’ve made your choices (click button to ‘submit’). If you change your mind and de-select the choices, the notifications should **vanish**. **Permanently** until and unless you again choose to have them.

    Some would like to have such selective notifications for, say, all descendants in a particular branch, or all children of a particular person.

    I just want a method to make it all go away without thousands of clicks a week.

  42. Moi

    RE: Moi #13 David, the tree owner did not have death dates associated with our names. Since the age span from oldest down to youngest sibling spans well over a normal generation, your system evidently misread the lack of dates for us and went by the birthdate for the eldest sibling who is still living into the late 80s. Siblings in the middle of that span have been deceased for many years. Today I noted that the tree owner signed in yesterday and that our names have been removed from their tree and also from the member connect entries within my tree. – The youngest ones

  43. mcwasthere

    I believe the new Member Connect will eventually lead me to important breakthroughs. One thing I’m doing to quickly weed out the member connections is to look at the number of records that person has in connection with the name (located in the blue line). If there is only one, I usually ignore the connection. No sources for me are a red flag.

    I so agree with John K. Atkins, Jr., #26, and Mike, #34. One just has to get over being angry about all the incorrect information posted in trees and concentrate on making your own tree the best it can be. I do agree with James, #28, that for some people it’s a vanity issue, i.e., “My tree has 50,000 people!” I have a cousin who seems to fit this category. Her tree goes back to 1300. Please!! Short of being related to a King of England whose line is well documented, few trees can go back that far. Plus, her tree has many pictures from mine that she manipulated into hers without using the Ancestry sourcing system that would have listed me as the source. You must learn that if put your tree online, even if private, it’s never going to be completely private. If you can’t deal with that, don’t put it online–Ancestry or otherwise.

    Even with all the junk out there, there have been so many priceless nuggets of information found–sometimes, even in those “junk” trees. As mentioned, I continue to work on my tree, documenting relentlessly. Hopefully, it will contain a few golden nuggets for someone, too.

  44. Virginia Owen Wallac

    I agree with Jesse, Member Connect is a wake-up call and certainly useful is used for the right purposes!

  45. Roberta Courtot

    I understand that some people think they just worry about their own trees and if somebody adds wrong info they just wade through wrong information. I have always strictly believed “No man is an island when it comes to genealogy”and I really like to share because I know what it is like to be able to find a photo of a great grandmother or some other ancestor and I am happy because now I know what that person looked like. Here is the problem with people using the wrong information and just taking it in the hopes it might be connected. I am putting my information that I have researched for years before the pc came to be as I am sure so many others are doing and I have a lot of documents that I do not mind sharing either but I put my tree up because I will not be around forever and when my descendants may go to look for information they will be able to find information that their own ancestor, me, their grandmother entered but if they see that someone else has the wrong information that they just took just in
    case they might be connected; then what?. When someone takes a photo of your great grandmother and links it to a husband that she never had then there is something wrong. We are all entitled to our own opinions that’s for sure but I just found a connection and wrote them and asked them a question about a source and also told them they are welcome to use my photos or any info I can help them with. What is wrong with that??? It is just common courtesy. I think a lot of us have started our trees out of curiosity or because we never had the chance to know
    many of our family because with some of us the older ones were gone before we were even born. I feel like I have done this in honor of my family no matter who they were they were strong, pioneering people that struggled and made a life in this country and I just want it to be correct. If someone has information to add that is correct that would thrill me but when it is wrong and they just put it up it can have a domino effect on everyone else that happens to run across their tree and then they will have the wrong information; basically, rewriting history or at least the history of someone’s family.

  46. Jade

    Roberta, your #48,

    You accurately describe the problem: once it is out there, bad genealogy is forever. There is no eradicating it. Someone, somewhere, will copy it into their little corner, with the encouragement of outfits such as

    At least LDS is no longer encouraging its promulgation so much, at least in their NewFamilySearch tree (which nonetheless is riddled with errors from the post-1991 IGI).

    You could spend a lifetime trying to eradicate the genealojunk you know about. Imagine trying to go around to libraries and destroy the publications that perpetrated so many of the errors now found in trees. There will always be someone adopting material from those, in addition to electronic tree copying.

    Far better, I think, to continue to do the best research in actual records (*not* meaning, here, the anonymous and error-prone extracts from books, contractors’ abstracts or images that calls “records”) that you can — hoping that in 25-50-100 years documented accuracy will prevail.

  47. Roberta Courtot

    Thank you for agreeing about the domino effect of errors in genealogy. No one is perfect, sometimes we all make mistakes but do try to correct them when we realize. Just today, I contacted ancestry about a record they have that was transcripted from Ky. death records 1852-1853. Someone had given me that record to look at for my gr grandfather’s death. It had the same name as his (very common); it was in Ky. where he died, but I knew from the death date they had transcribed on their little card that it could not be him because he would have died two years before his last child was born so I looked at the actual record which I always do, zoomed in as far as I could and saw the first name was completely different than my ancestor or the person they had on the card so I wrote them so that no one else will get that wrong info and maybe someone who is looking for the man named Benjamin on the actual record will find him. We all know how difficult the old records on microfilm are to read so transcription is difficult. I totally agree with the searching of actual documents and not just histories of counties that we know are wrong or from reading family histories that some have written with faulty information. I am not being critical of people that want to accept that but I want others to be able to rely on information that I know to be fact as in my gr grandmother’s picture being put on a site connected to a husband she never had. Years ago, about 30, my great uncle had told me his father’s middle name was Thomas so I always looked for a James T. and I can tell whenever I see that record that someone else is using and not just on ancestry that is my information because it was a mistake. I found original documents where he signed his name James M. It is a small error but still an error and I believed him because that was his father. He also told me that his father came directly off the boat from Wales and ended up in Ky. and was riding by when he saw my gr grandmother and asked her for a glass of water and she invited him home for dinner with her parents and they fell in love yada yada yada; well, it was a nice story until I started checking microfilm census records and found that not only did he not just step off the boat from Wales; he was born in Ky., his father was b. in Ky.; and his grandfather, perhaps, Tenn or VA. so his family several generations back may have come from Wales but he didn’t so there you go. I am thankful I found the truth and even when people share information with me I try to find the sources they used and check them myself and would advise anyone I share with to check mine also.
    How does the saying go “Garbage in, Garbage Out”I have been with Ancestry since 2000. That is a long time but the majority of my research had been done in libraries, archives, Washington D.C where I obtained many civil war records of my family until I was hurt and could no longer even lift a lot of the heavy courthouse books so I am happy you understand. There are some things that Ancestry has that are good and sometimes you can connect with distant cousins and help each other but sometimes it looks like some just have a contest going as to who can enter the most people and pictures in their trees. I don’t care about that either as long as they are not mine or if they are at least connect them to the right people. I guess it is just the fact that since computers so many people who are interested in genealogy are just doing things that would never have happened before. I was even going to put up all my civil war documents and anything else like that I have that comes directly from the ancestor but I don’t know now. Will people connect the documents to their ancestor just because they have the same name? I am at a crossroads at to whether to now make my tree private and others can contact me and when I know they do share a common ancestor no matter how far back I will be more than happy to share a photo or the documentation I have but then someone could just take the information or photos from their trees. Can I make my tree private now or is the damage done and I just don’t worry about it.

  48. Elaine Jenkins

    Since the addition of Member Connect , I have had problems moving through the Ancestry site. I can not click on the father of the individual I am looking at. I have to click on the mother and then double back by clicking on her spouse. Is anyone else having this problem?
    I have to say, I do not like the member connect idea.It promotes to many errors as people borrow
    (steal) peoples research. I paid a lot of money for obits, death certificates , social security applications, etc. I don’t want to give them to just anyone. The member connect isn’t useful at all.

  49. Living in a small rural community, I would have to drive a few hours to the capital or a city with a large library to access even a fraction of the records has made available. That’s one of the best things about the site. The other is that I have been able to locate, and to be located by, several descendants. That’s priceless, and it wouldn’t have happened without

    However, these benefits are beginning to be eclipsed by the frustration of having people attach branches of my trees [which I assume are coming up as leaf hints] to their own, even when there is obviously absolutely no relation whatsoever.

    The latest of many examples: Another user has an Irene Sternberg who seems to have been born in Colorado. He has several of her ancestors; his Sternberg family appears to be Gentile and originally from back East (NY, PA, etc). “My” Sternberg family is Jewish with roots in the Midwest, and also includes an Irene Sternberg. Obviously, “my” Irene Sternberg’s ancestors have different names, dates & places than his Irene Sternberg’s ancestors. Nonetheless, he has attached to “my” Irene, taking all of her data except place of birth (which he kept as Colorado), and he has also added her husband, her husband’s ancestors and their descendants to his tree. They are clearly two unrelated families and two different women who just happen to have the same name. One would think that even an overly-enthusiastic (or extremely lazy) “newbie” could figure that out, but apparently not!

    This seems to be happening more and more frequently. And to add insult to injury, most of the people who do this willy-nilly attaching don’t respond to messages, let alone remove the unrelated people from their trees when requested to do so.

    Don’t get me wrong. I don’t mind if someone uses information I collected, no matter how long it took me to find it or what it cost me to get copies of it. It’s not about that at all. I’m more than happy to share. Goodness knows, I’ve certainly benefited from what others have shared with me. And this isn’t about looking down my nose and trashing “newbies” — we were all new to this once upon a time and no doubt made our share of mistakes. But “back in the day” our mistakes were on paper in our filing cabinets.

    Today, mistakes are online for all to see, believe and perpetuate. This erroneous information will spread virally as people attach to people who attach to people who are absolutely unrelated. After a while, what we have is not a helpful tool, but a bunch of garbage. Is that really what wants to be known for?

    DNA and books and posters are all good and well, but if REALLY wants to offer something of value to its members, they will start by making it easier to protect the integrity of the information we gather and incorporate into our trees.

    My research partner is furious and wants to pull everything off so as not to be associated with this mess. I’m not yet ready to go that far but I am now doing what I never wanted to do: make my trees private. However, as Roberta said, “the damage is done.”

    There should be a way to make trees (with photos, document scans, etc) public without allowing attaching, at least not without asking permission.

    And until then, there should be a way for us to UNattach someone who has attached to our trees.

  50. John Durbin

    The Member connect in the hints – shakey leaf: The Historial records show up at the bottom and the Member tree items are first. I think that should be reversed (histoircal First and Connect following) further the member trees should be ordered by their presents of historical sources, then Ancestry sources, and lastly no sources. Also there should be a “ignore all records” with a confirmation pop up – It takes a long time to clear/remove a shakey Leaf currently. Johndur

  51. Hi Roberta #48,

    Your sentiments represent most, if not all of the genealogical society, I believe. I completely agree with you, in that we want our information to be correct, and we don’t want it to be mistakenly “dirtied” by bad research, that down the line may not be clearly distinguishable as such, i.e. with our grand and great grand children.

    I also completely agree that genealogy is something that should be shared. I try to make connections and contact people regarding their sources, just like you, and have found many long-lost cousins that way! 🙂 It is definitely a great experience, and we do need more of that.

    However, what I don’t want happening is that information be throttled out of angst that other researchers are not responsible with their trees. We need to give everyone the opportunity to research their trees on their own terms without forcing our desires on them. If that means that there are some inaccurate trees out there, then that is what we should be willing to deal with.

    On the same token, ancestry should be working harder to facilitate constructive communication between genealogists. I believe, as I take you to believe, as well, that sharing and communication is key to proper research. If ancestry would add some tools to facilitate that, we could all be greatly helped.

    Now, that got me thinking: what could be implemented on the web-site to facilitate accurate research in a community setting? Member Connect is actually an ideal place for this:

    Let’s say you have researched something, and you have proper sourcing and documentation to prove your research. While on, you come across other people who are researching the same person, but evidently have incorrect information in their tree.

    At this point, it would be helpful to open a “case” using the Genealogical Proof Standard, and resolve the opposing evidence properly. This case, once resolved, would then go on file in and would be available on Member Connect for that particular individual that was being researched. In addition, the resolved case would provide fully sourced and cited evidence.

    This would be a great boon to Member Connect, and justify its usefulness, as well as get member to come together and resolve conflicting evidence properly. Not only that, but it would lead to more accurate and detailed information, and make this information available to anyone researching that person.

  52. Roberta Whitacre

    Hello Everyone it is Roberta again trying to be calmer about everything about the errors people are just taking and putting other peoples ancestors with them. I have started to comment when I see them and tell them the documentation but just now I find the same person I have been talking about has my grgrandfather who died in 1864; well, she has him dying in 1870; I explained I even had the documentation and that it is easy to get because it was during the civil war but not only does she have him dying seven years after he was already dead in a different place she has this man m. to my grgrandmother and he is of a different race than my own dead gr grandfather; now, I do not care if I am a melungeon, a native american, an irish man, a german, an african american, but I just want it to be correct. If you write the comment and prove the documentation you have and they still don’t change it than we are all in trouble. I realize some people are taking this lightly and some are taking it like I am especially if it is happening to them and some others will start having it happen to them. I am sorry if some of you think I am being silly but we all pay for ancestry and pay big bucks and I personally like to find the documents and of course the fanily connections too but I don’t think some people are even reading how to do it and the explanation pretty much makes it easy for them anyway because if there is info they don’t like they can just hit ignore to make it fit to them or that is what it seems like anyway. There should be some where it comes up; this is not your ancestor or this is not a match; check for documentation first or just don’t let them use it until they can show the connection to someone. I will say this all those years ago we older ones were in the libraries studying every thing we could to learn and have papers after papers in our homes of documents we worked hard to get whatever we have of our families. Now, it seems, and I hate to say it Ancestry lately is making it to easy for mistakes to be made when claiming to be the best genealogy site which I used to agree with but not anymore, not until they fix memberconnect somehow. I will end up just entering my info in a program off line and printing it out and giving it to my children I suppose now. I really did like Ancestry when we could look at documents more than just take info from someone’s tree; it was more fun; more real; more like a treasure hunt; now it is like copying off somebody’s test at school. I am sorry if I am boring you all but I just have to vent.
    Thanks for listening
    Be Careful

  53. Jade

    So tell me, please, how exactly “John Isaac” [surname] matches “Jehu” [surname]?

    The man’s name was truly Jehu.

    If tree people don’t know any better because they have copied some old gedcom that got the name wrong, I really **d.o . n.o.t . w.a.n.t . t.o . h.e.a.r . a.b.o.u.t . i.t**. Speculated wife’s maiden name, silliness about their children, only surname and vital dates (approximately) correct.

    This is like my cousin who did not believe there was any such name as “Ruhama” (clearly given in marriage record and death record as well as in 3 death records of children, not to mention a couple of Census enumerations) and insisted on “Ruth Ann” instead.

    Please give us a way to turn these foolish MC notifications and ‘Tree Hints’ off.

    Thank you.

  54. MOI

    There is an old saying that “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” I have found this to be very true in researching genealogy. People do not want to be changed nor proven wrong about their research. They must “save face” at all costs. Even when presented with documentation of correct information, they refuse to believe it because they have “never made a mistake.” P-u-h-l-e-a-s-e. I had a 3GreatGrandfather who was supposedly married to two different women at the same time, in two different parts of the state, who had large numbers of children in each family, and who continued to father more children for many years after his death. This misinformation is available on line in several trees and it periodically appears as one of’s wiggly leaf hints. Further, I have been told by one or another researcher that my ancestor was born to Mr. X in X location and that I am cousin to a family of Xs?? They even cite the wedding date of my ancestor and his wife. But that date is incorrect because it was taken from the old family Bible pages that were obtained from an elderly relative of mine who was sold a bill of goods about seeing her name published in a book. Actually, her name was added as an afterthought because the author did not know how to connect the families. For 40 years this misinformation has been copied and recopied from this “book.” The author transcribed the name of one daughter incorrectly and she has been subsequently labeled as a son. That is how I know where the information originated. I have researched the wedding date of my ancestors and have documented a date more than one year after the one written in the Bible. The date was not a cover-up for the early birth of any children, but was probably a mistake that was recorded in the Bible sometime after the fact. My ancestor had the same name as two other men of widely differing birthdates and birthplaces. Someone had cobbled together the two or three families to create this nightmare that has taken on a life of its own. Once I asked a gentleman for proof of his information because I wanted to get at the truth. I never heard from him again. As I said earlier, “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.”

  55. David Graham

    This is has been a very interesting discussion, with very valid points of view expressed across the board. The goal of Member Connect (and any improvements we make to the feature) is to make it easier to collaborate with other researchers. The hope is that this helps everyone make new discoveries and new connections. When there is conflicting information out there about our family tree, ideally this collaboration leads more and more people to the correct, well documented conclusions (though I’m sure this won’t always be the case).

    I’d love to be able to continue to get everyone’s thoughts as we work to make family history collaboration a better experience. If you are open to me contacting you directly for more insight, please email with your name and email address. If you’re willing to chat by phone, please also include your phone number and a good time of day to contact you. We truly value your feedback.

  56. Andy Hatchett

    David- Re: #58

    Thank you for your thoughts on this.

    I think the biggest trouble may be one of terminology.

    Collaboration means working with.
    Sharing means allowing access to.

    When one is allowed to copy info from one tree to another there is neither sharing nor collaboration involved.

    Everyone is free to have whatever I have online… as long as they have to enter it by hand- one letter at a time- into either their online tree or their genealogy software on their computer.

    Under *no* circumstances should they be allowed to merely copy stuff from my tree to their tree with the click of a mouse!

    In fact, allowing the copying of info from one tree to another actually hinders the need to collaborate!

    Member connect also needs to be more granular. By that I mean that I should be allowed on a person by person basis the following:

    1) Be notified if a person adds to their tree a historical record to a person in my tree… and not just that they have added a census page that a person in my tree appears on.

    2). Be able to disable on a person by person basis any notification to others about any person in my tree.

    Member Connect can be a great asset to Ancestry- but only if properly implemnented, something that is sadly lacking in its present form.

    There is one other point…

    Ancestry needs to make sure that the corporate policy is to not only promote good genealogical practices as best it can through the use of technology but also to prevent bad genealogical practices as best it can through the use of technology.

    Make Ancestry’s future about Genealogy research- not the Marketing and Selling of junkology that seems to represent today’s Ancestry.

  57. Jade

    Andy, re: #59, very well said.

    By ‘collaboration’ as being ‘new’ feature of the new code, appears to mean the ease of taking from other trees. Since one can hide one’s activities in personal settings, the owner of the tree from which items are taken may not be notified.

    A search for an individual-of-interest in trees will yield the same trees listed in Member Connect, whose owner can then be contacted (or not) through the system already in place. There is no new means of contacting a tree owner (who may be dead, have a different email address, or have lost interest).

    Indeed, the only real means of collaboration within the trees, the “Comments” on each individual page, has been hidden in such a way that one cannot even view the relationships/events and the comments at the same time.

  58. Connie


    You make a very valid point in #60 that has also bothered me: There needs to be some way that if Comments have been added to a tree, this is highlighted and readily available visually to others who come along later.

    In the last couple of years, I am finding that most of my great-grandparents, or their siblings, whose identity/ancestry has been know for decades, have suddenly gained spouses, siblings, and/or children: how someone can believe that a person of the same name who always lived in Kentucky is the same person as my ancestor who always lived in Missouri is beyond me, but that is what is happening with virtually every individual I’ve bothered to check for.

    In many cases, I can trace the problem to OneWorldTree, which cannot be corrected easily if at all.

    Unfortunately, the inaccurate info has multiplied into 15, 20, or more online trees, while the accurate info is in maybe 1 or 2 trees (if at all). I have to comment individually on each inaccurate tree and when I do there is no visual indication that anyone has added a comment.

    Unlike others who have posted here, I’m finding most newbies are happy to have the correct info, and fix their trees, but in many cases the owner is long gone and never sees my comment so the tree doesn’t get fixed. And third parties can’t see my comment either unless they are very diligent.

  59. Andy Hatchett

    Connie Re #61

    Ancestry should do the genealogical community a favor and simply delete teh entire OneWorldTree.

    It is a misconceived abomination that was created by Ancestry and should forthwith be destroyed by them; indeed, they should have done so long ago!

  60. Jade

    Connie #61 and Andy #62,

    Quite right about OneWorldTree.

    How the program determined which weird version of mostly-wrong trees to incorporate is inscrutable.

    But clearly the implementations were *not* based on any genealogical concern, such as “is there evidence for that conclusion?”

    And that sort of problem does not even touch the program’s own glitches, such as combining persons of different generations.

  61. i agree with the comment of others
    accessing my family trees without
    contacting me even though i made them private! apparantly private
    means different things to different least warn me.

  62. Joanne Sholes

    “Member connect and Ancestry hints appear to contain much the same information. The trees appearing in the ‘Hints’ section are the same appearing “Member conntect.” I have already chosen to ‘ignore’ many when they came up in “Hints’ now I see them again in member connect where I decide again to ignore them. Now I am just ‘ignoring’ the member connect box..

  63. Tom Sommer

    #65 Sharon

    As I understand it if your tree is set up as private no one can get to your data. They only know there is a tree with some information about the person they are looking for.

  64. I have just encountered my first real negative experience with Member Connect: items in my private (not searchable) tree are shared with a cousin’s tree, which is public, become publicly available on

    This means that my tree is not longer private.

    I would expect that items that originate from a private tree should not be shared, even if they are attached to a public tree. This is easily achievable, since they origination information is attached, and it can be easily determined if that tree is set to public or private.

    I find this extremely discouraging and will think twice about hosting my tree on, or even sharing it with friends, relatives, and genealogists researching the same ancestry. If I can’t control who gets my materials, I refuse to use this service.

    Very Upsetly Yours,
    Mike Bronner

  65. David Graham

    Mike (#68) – Information in your private tree should remain as private as it has always been. No information from your private tree would automatically be added to a public tree or made public in any other way. If you invite someone to your private tree, they could save information from your tree and post it publicly, though. I’m expecting that this may have been what happened in this case.

    We’d love to better understand the specific situation and get any other feedback you have. Please email us at

  66. Hi David,
    Thanks for responding in your #69. I have sent multiple emails (one with suggestions and ideas, and another with this specific issue).

    Yes, that is what happened, I shared my information with a public tree. However, I feel that since the source is private, it should remain private. In no way does sharing my information with one person I invited to my private tree imply that I wish to make my information public. To assume that is simply a falacy; completely false logic.

    I would like to discuss these things in more detail, and I have ideas as to how privacy can be better handled on in a variety of ways. As a web developer I may have relevant suggestions as to how they can be achieved, but I’m sure your team of developers are quite able as well.

    Mike Bronner

  67. Andy Hatchett

    David- Re: #69

    This is the perfect example of why there should be *absolutely NO copying of info from one tree to another tree*

    Here is the main point that I believe Ancestry doesn’t understand…

    Most of us are willing to let either the whole world (via public trees) or a select group (via private trees) VIEW our info- BUT

    At the same time the overwhelming majority of us do NOT believe that that info should be able to be copied to another tree with the mere click of a mouse.

    Please-PLEASE disable the copying of one tree to another.

  68. Dave

    I hate to go slightly off topic and sound like ANOTHER raving lunatic, but I’m really disappointed in Ancestry’s filtering of “living” people in the family trees.

    This has been an issue even before Member Connect, but with more people poking into other people’s trees with its roll out, it needs to be fixed ASAP.

    I want to keep sharing my tree online to help others and to get contact from relatives, but I know people in my tree that truly are living (and don’t have any death info recorded in the tree) are showing up in searches… and it’s not just my tree. I can find the same relatives in other trees just by searching for them. And while they ARE old, none of them are quite 100 yet.

    I’m really disappointed that I’ve had to make my tree private, but that’s what I have to do until I hear that the problem has been fixed.

  69. mary

    I’m curious,
    does this connectivity thing ever show any new information they’ve added to someone we both have in our tree’s, that I may NOT have? because I’ve only seen information they’ve added I already have. Historical, census records, etc.

    While it gives me an idea of others researching the same people,& I’ve tken the time, on some, to see what they have, … so far, it’s only shown me people who have less that I do. Though the potential of adding their branch and stories now exists, If I choose to explore this.
    = 2nd,
    Just commenting on the discussion about newbie’s and not so serious researchers, to very serious researchers.
    I was once one of those annoying , very new, newbies. Got fascinated by some of your glorious tree’s and interesting stories, pictures, histories, and large numbers of names, etc,
    I loved reading and getting to know your part of the family. I was fascinated! I started before they started blocking a lot of privacy information, and I don’t mean just on this web site. I swear, I use to be able to find A LOT , on A LOT of sites, that isn’t available anymore.
    Sigh, I miss the old rootsweb.
    ….. Being a newbie at that time,
    I just jumped in. did a lot of stuff wrong, incomplete, unsourced, etc. oh by the way, I still occasionally find someone with date of death listed as unknown, that is what newbies do, and it makes living people show up on the current trees
    (Maybe Ancestry can scan for “Unk” or “Unknown” and take that out? )

    but somewhere along the way, I began to learn from all the generous people who belong to this site.
    I still make mistakes
    I’m still fixing mmistakes
    but I am learning, and growing,
    and now in a position to share
    what was shared with me
    and someday
    when I’m long gone
    someone’s child, somewhere, will
    develope a love or curiosity about
    their genealogy and something I’ve done will help them discover their
    family too. and some of the stories
    and pictures and connections will
    make the past and me and you come alive for them too.
    to any I may have abused, unknowingly, when I was new,
    I apologise
    and for the newbies who may,
    unknowling, abuse my information,
    after you start learning more,
    you’re forgiven too.


    I think the point of websites like this, is to connect, learn, share, and not just historical records,
    but the stories and pictures that make our long gone relatives come alive for us all.

    Is there a way to Have a public story and then a private one to be viewed by invited only or to be used for your printed version of your family tree?
    Maybe that way, for those who feel the need, there could be sharing without treading on their “copyright” version for their own personal book?

  70. Andy Hatchett

    I’m a genealogist.

    As such my interest for each person is:
    1)date and place of birth
    2)date and place of marriage
    3)Spouse’s name
    4)date and place of divorce(if any)
    5)date and place of death
    6)date and place of burial

    I build the framework.

    I’m not particularly interested in pictures or stories… those I leave to the family historians. They can add the meat and muscle to the skeleton.

  71. Nancy

    Looking at definitions of genealogist, I find “an expert in genealogy.”

    All of the definitions I have found so far for genealogy include some version of this:

    “1. A record or table of the descent of a person, family, or group from an ancestor or ancestors; a family tree.


    2. The study or investigation of ancestry and family histories.

  72. Nancy

    Mary (#73), I appreciate your telling us how you became interested in creating a tree on Ancestry. Several years ago I bought a Family Tree Maker package that came with a year subscription to Ancestry. I will never forget finding the tree of a 3rd cousin I did not know, who had photos of our gg grandparents, which I did not know existed. I also was fascinated with the format of his tree, and I was hooked.

    Since then I have met him and his family and exchanged stories; and working together we have found our 3rd g grandfather. Truly an Ancestry success story.

    Since Member Connect, I have had many people contact me. And looking through the Activity (and there is a LOT of it) I have found some records that I did not have–not many, but a few–and also some clues.

    I have found several trees with incorrect information as well, but almost everyone who I have contacted about that has been very nice and appreciative of the correct info.

    Reading the objections that several people here have, I think that having the option to have private stories and photos in a public tree would be a good thing for Ancestry to add. But I hope that people don’t make their trees private. Sharing the info and stories of our relatives does keep them alive. I have especially enjoyed adding the lines of relatives who do not have descendants, knowing that their lives will be remembered, too.

  73. Andy Hatchett

    Put in today’ terms…

    A genealogists maintains a Stud Book..

    A Family Historian maintains a gossip column.

    Neither is better or worse than the other- they just do different things.

  74. Roberta Whitacre

    I have started to make my trees private even though the damage has been done a lot; luckily I had not uploaded all my photos that I was going to or documents either so I guess this is one time I am glad I
    was not as organized enough all of these years to rush home from a research trip and enter all the info and photos I found because otherwise it would all be online now.. I may not use ancestry anymore. Member connect could have been a good thing if the person who took things was related somehow no matter how far back and if you had corresponded with them first. I am sorry if you all don’t agree with me but I know some do. I emailed David and told him I would be willing to talk about memberconnect with him but he has not called so until something is done I will not enter any thing new I guess. This is the first time I have ever felt that I have wasted money on ancestry. This makes me sad

  75. Velma

    Re: Jade Comment #19 about “newbie vampires.”

    Yikes, weren’t *you* ever a newbie? Folks have to start somewhere. I’m am just starting out with genealogy and elitist comments like that are not encouraging.

    I belong to another site where new folks start out and we try to encourage them, not insult them.

  76. Karen C

    My two cents.

    @79 Velma:
    When someone is researching their family history, it’s true that ‘everyone starts as a newbie’. I myself started before I even had a computer, so that’s way back.

    However, this alone should give you some indication as to why people on Ancestry become very protective of their respective families, and why it becomes a bone of contention between ‘newbies’ and researchers with some time under their belts. They’ve worked long and hard, and when irresponsible people -not necessarily newbies- take that info and start attaching it willy-nilly to their ‘Tree’, it makes for some not very happy people. You will see as time goes on, the same thing might happen to you.

    So, we’re venting some frustration here, don’t take it personal. The ones that should take it personal are the reason I’ve made both my Trees private (Unfortunately).

    As to the “Member Connect”, this is a waste of everyone’s time. Once again Ancestry has trotted out another ‘enhancement’ that is not. I click on the ‘Record’ that ‘X’ person has saved. Ok, so? There’s no context that tells me how this person is related. I went to X’s Tree, and searched the names, and I still can’t find a connection. This ‘Connects’ us how? Dumb idea, which was not thought through very well.

  77. MOI

    In response to No.68 Mike I have a question: Did you actually look at your cousin’s public tree and see your private tree information posted there, or did you merely see that information in the member connect information available on your tree? If it was the latter, you may be seeing the actual information that is posted only to your tree with some “new” additions from another tree. When I encountered such, I made a point of visiting the other tree and my information was not posted to their tree. It is not what it seems to be at first glance.

  78. James

    I have found member connect to be very useful. I’ve connected to descendants of all of my 3rd Great Grandfather’s siblings (born in the 1830’s.) We’ve shared photos from the 1850’s – 1870’s of this family. I’m connecting with more and more related individuals in my tree and sharing information that would probably never be shared in “conventional” methods. For example, I’ve connected with a relative in Germany where our common ancestor was born in the 1700’s. While there may be problems with the current implementation as some note, the idea seems to be a good one.


  79. Tom Sommer

    I also was a newbie at one time. I had some information from a great grandmother who did some genealogy in the 1930s. But from there I used some trees to see who could be connected to who. I then did the research on Ancestry to find documents and records to substantiate the tree information I found. So I do not object to someone contacting me to see how information in my tree may help them. I am willing to share. I am a family genealogist, not a pro.

    What I object to is the taking of information by those I call “gleeners”. That is, people who grab every piece of information they can find, true or not, and then pass themselves off as “family experts”. Usually they have no sources to prove anything. They add everything they find to online (one-world) trees and use other trees as sources. It really is genealogy pollution.

  80. Moi #81: I am researching this further and have set up a test tree to see if it leeches my private information out.

    I will post updates to my test once it has propogated in the index (appears to take a day or two, or even a week).

  81. Dave

    A few comments

    As far as newbies, I have mixed feelings about newbies blindly taking info. On the one hand, it’s THEIR problem if they’re putting bad info in their trees, not mine. I’ve seen it happen within days of putting a new person in my tree that I know for a fact isn’t the same person the newbie thinks (or hopes) it is. As long as I’m satisfied that I have the right person in MY tree, I don’t care if someone is wrongly putting that person in their tree. If everyone with good info goes underground, there’ll be nothing but bad info online. Ancestry must have a stake in this too, because the more bad info they carry, the less useful their family tree service is. Maybe they could send emails to people new to the family tree service strongly cautioning against the importing of others’ info without some minimal standard of verification. These people are usually starting off with

    I’d even like to go through my connections at some point and get in touch with those people to let them know they’ve included bad info in their tree, but this is my hang-up: A lot of people with trees I’ve seen that have individuals numbering in the 10s and 100 thousands are just collecting info on all possible connections they’ve made through other trees and waiting for (and even requesting) people to email them with corrections. I don’t want to do the work FOR these people. They should let ambitious websites like Ancestry attempt to make the inter-tree connections and worry about just getting their own families right.

    I don’t have a problem with Member Connect at all… it’s just another tool that you can ignore completely if you want. Anything that makes newbies more likely to correspond with those of us with real trees before importing info is a good thing. I wouldn’t even mind if Member Connect was spun off into OneWorldTree 2.0. These are all just tools, and although there’s lots of bad info on OneWorldTree, it still helped me open the door to some descendants of my ancestors… just like the Ancestry trees do occasionally. The day someone figures out how to make a wiki-type genealogy website with just one page for each individual and verification safeguards will be a good day for both the old-timers and the newbies. Member Connect is a potential starting point for this kind of service.

    I’d just like to encourage anyone who has “gone private” to consider the benefits to the community as a whole of having “good” trees available online, but… as I said a few comments up, until Ancestry can guarantee living people in trees aren’t showing up in searches with all their info free for anyone to see, I’ll keep my tree private. I haven’t received a reply to my email to Ancestry about this yet.

    Rootsweb automatically filters out everyone without death info that was born in the last 125 or so years I believe. Why don’t they do this to Ancestry’s trees? Does it have to do with Ancestry records being attached to the living people?

  82. kerleygirl77

    Hi…I am so glad you are working continually to make improvements to the ancestry site. For me, I did get a message in my regular email letting me know I someone had contacted me on ancestry so I finally logged on today and saw the new messaging feature and that I had several messages in my box. I missed some of these on my regular email so I am very happy about the new feature. I don’t know about the contacting them thing…why people say they can’t contact them. I just sent a reply and am waiting for a response just as I would for regular email. I am so glad to be able to contact them directly from the ancestry site. And we can always exchange email addresses and other contact info. later if we choose to continue and want to enhance our communications.

    I do wish I had been contacted through regular email about the new messaging feature. I thought certain I may have seen it there…but it was probably that I logged on briefly and saw it.

    Anyway, thanks a lot for working so hard at improvements which, are much needed. However, I think it’s a great way to connect and that the monthy price is very reasonable considering how much information is available and it enables you to connect with information on relatives all over the world.

    I do wish, though, that a “chat” feature was available and that we could have a “blog” feature for our individual sites.

    All in all, I think it is great! Thanks!

  83. kerleygirl77

    I do think if there was…a “chat” feature, that more people would log on more regularly.

    Also, it would be great if there was some sort of programming so that when a person sends you a message and they mention a person’s name in your tree, that it would create a link to that person’s name in your tree so it could be more easily found. Like on my bible software, when I click on any web page on any scripture reference a link is created and the entire scripture pops up.

    I hope this helps. My thanks again to the ancestry team. : )

  84. kerleygirl77

    I keep remembering little things…A family member recently invited me to facebook. It is so popular now and I see why. I just love it. Connecting has never been easier. You can invite your family (and/or friends) and share photos on your site, links, videos, games and quizzes…you can post notes (kind of like a blog or other journal) and see wall-to-wall and so on. Your friend list appears with their profile pic and you can just click on one of these for connecting with them, or on their name which also creates a link. They have a chat feature and so many, many great features that makes it fun and drives you to keep connecting. Now I’m in touch with my family, everyday, which is several states away from me. It’s just fantastic! I’d love to see ancestry set up like that where it is possible to do so!

  85. Andy Hatchett

    The less like Facebook Ancestry is the better off Genealogy is- Genealogy is *NOT* social networking-period!

  86. Marjorie

    Having just read all the Aug blogs about Member Connect,
    and having had my tree information and photos copied by members
    who did not contact me
    and have not answered my messages,

    I would like to make 2 points:

    [1] As Mike 34 suggested on Aug 3, I encourage Ancestry to add a third privacy option:visible, but requiring permission before copying.

    And, like Nancy 76 on Aug 12 I think that having the option of private stories and photos on public tree would be good for Ancestry to add.

    I believe this would prevent many people from making their trees private, me being one of them.

    I believe that this would also encourage the collaboration that Ancestry says they encourage.

    [2]Collaboration takes two, i.e., collaboration is not without communication.

    A problem Ancestry needs to address is how to foster this collaboration/communication.
    Requiring communication before copying would do this.
    Having a 2nd step connected to the message center would also help.
    As Jade stated, “There is no new means of contacting a tree owner…”. Ancestry needs to provide an additional way, or assistance, to contact another member when no response has been received so that the message center does not become a dead end.

  87. Nancy

    There are lots of reasons why I like the newer public tree format for hosting some of my family lines. My initial goals were (1) correct misinformation that I have found through my research (2) connect with members in hopes that I might further my research on family brick walls. What has surprised me the most about my first goal was how hard it is to convince people of previous errors, even with evidence. As Jade (49) said, “once bad genealogy is out there, it never goes away”. I have found that individuals will copy my notes with transcribed records, and conclusions and still keep the errors uncorrected in their trees. I can count on one hand the number of individuals who have contacted me and yet numerous individuals have copied my data with apparent ease. I don’t mind sharing good data, but I do miss having a give and take with shared information. What I would like to have is a choice of what to make public and what to make private on my own public tree. Say for instance I have transcribed a LWT for my family member. I would publicly give the source for this LWT and privately have the transcription (letting the reader know that there is a transcription available). The same actions would be for photos or other information you would want to block to the masses. This way I would have more control over some of the information in my tree and might be an incentive for more serious researchers to “connect” with you, weeding out some of the name gatherers (tens of thousands and counting). I go back and forth as to whether to keep my tree public or go private. I want to stay public in order to share good information, but feel the current set up is not conducive enough to promote communication between individuals. Just not enough give and take. Finally, a message for David (41), I did and still have an infraction of ancestry’s rules concerning names of living people on ancestry trees. My mother who is still living, is named on an individual’s tree. The owner of this tree has not been a member since 2006. I notified ancestry about this and was told that the owner of the tree could only make the changes. The tree owner (who had taken my information from a private site and posted it without my permission) promised to make the changes and never did. For me, it is a double whammy because the information also appears on rootsweb. Ancestry failed to live up to its standards in this regard. Yes, her birth information was made “private”, yet her name remains.

  88. Marjorie

    To David re 12
    “In Member Connect if a member saves a piece of information from another member we encourage them to contact the other member (though that doesn’t mean it will always happen).”

    If you encourage contact why do you allow a member to block communications from another member?

    If a “contact ….” does not appear on the profile page, does that mean that member has blocked me from sending messages?

    A member has copied my photos, bypassing what you intend which will cite me as the original source. I asked Ancestry to add me as the original submitter. Customer support told to ask the member to do that thru the message center. I did and got no response. Now he has blocked me from sending him messages.

    This does NOT encourage communication / collaboration.

    AND, it it giving precedence to one member over another. The member who is violating the intent of ancestry is able to control the situation and keep on stealing my data/photos without even being reminded by me to give me credit for my work.

    Is this FAIR to both paying members???

  89. Roberta Whitacre

    Mike, #81
    I know that some people will think that is a horrible idea to make something up just to test the member connect abuses but I thought the same thing but backed out and it would have been easy because I would have just added the common name that this person is collecting and I am telling you all this name and another common surname are probably in the majority of people’s trees that are online because they are two of the most common names and I mean surnames; in fact, growing up I knew four different families with the common name of Smith and each one had a son named Ronnie; that is the problem with member connect so I call this person a collector and now today I was trying to just research actual books and things and I clicked on Photos and Maps just for the heck of it and the first photo that popped up was my father; I just started laughing, but the lady that took from my site and my son and granddaughter’s site took photos and info of a family that had nothing to do with her. She is just clicking, I am telling you and when she said she is collecting everyone with this name in the same area that her parents might have lived in she means the entire continental U.S. She now has my father’s line from France that had nothing to do with her and photos so I am going to upload my photos to a web album that you need a password to enter and see them and only to people that connect somehow. Mike, just put the names Davis, Smith, Johnson, and make them from Ky. among other places and there should be a bite; maybe a lot, but especially from this one person and if you do then others may understand. Oh and I have seen where my photo that I originally submitted went to a website and this lady also took from there and it has the man’s name as the original submitter on the one she took from him and I think it is because
    originally he uploaded to one tree but then took it from that tree and uploaded to his wife’s tree with a different name of owner. So, actually it seems like they can get away with getting the original submitter off of it somehow. I do have one more thing to say; how can a person own a tree if they are just click, click, clicking?
    Everyone can think this is blown out of proportion so this is my feeling as long as I live I will try to do my best to help people that connect and when I am dead and gone if my family just wants to let loose and post every photo, every document online than that won’t bother me because I will not be around to see it happen
    Good Luck Mike

  90. Jade

    Marjorie, no. 92, a photo or story copied from your tree (that you originally uploaded or created) is labeled as originally submitted by “username” to “username’s tree”.

    I have seen this (most regrettably) dozens of times connected to photos taken (by the treeowner of a tree in which I am an invitee) from other trees.

    The person who took it cannot edit or remove this label information, though they can change the story if it was submitted as text rather than uploaded as a PDF file.

    This only goes for items copied or linked through the normal means. If they saved it to their computer, then uploaded it separately, that tag may disappear — I have never tried this, so don’t know what happens.

    However, if they cut-and-pasted text, it will not be so identified – only if they copied the document through normal means provided. The same goes for cut/paste of comments.

  91. Hi Roberta, #93:
    Thanks for your thoughts and experience on this.

    I realize that grumbling and complaining about a situation will not rectify it alone. That’s one reason why I want to perform the test case.
    Also, it’s not just the fact that they are taking a person’s information from my tree (which I presume to be correct, since I have backed it up with numerous sources, and they may be adding it willy-nilly), but it’s more about the attachments to the person, i.e. personal documents, images, etc. I’m more worried about those “escaping” out into the wild without first communicating with the respective family tree custodians.

    On a more general note, I think that through the comments on this and other entries here on the Ancestry Blog, we, the users, are coming to a common consensus that we need better privacy, as well as quality, for our trees.

    This can mean the following:
    – optional granular control over what is available to the public.
    – fostering of research behavior, not clicking behavior.
    – discouraging of using other trees as source material (this includes member trees, as well as OneWorldTree).
    – encouraging communicative behavior to facilitate information sharing (as opposed to clicking behavior as it is now).

    Jade #94: Regarding your comments about information being easily copied off of another tree without going through the proper “channels” by using the built in functionality (which retains the original owner information, etc.): I agree with you. Protecting information on a tree so that a majority of users can’t “run off with it” is a relatively trivial thing to do. However, the more technically savvy users will know how to circumvent these methods. There are ways to do this thought, and I have urged in multiple emails to go use technology that would allow them to do this, as well as finally become cross-platform usable for all browsers alike.
    I think they are starting to head that direction, but it may take time. Lets hope they start patching up all the security leaks. At least if I see them making an effort and responding to our concerns, I will remain subscribed, as has furthered my research considerably.

  92. Marjorie

    Jade 94 said,”If they saved it to their computer, then uploaded it separately, that tag may disappear”

    This is exactly what does happen.

    Ancestry needs to fix this so the original submitter and any information on the original page STAYS with the photo.

    In the situation that happened to me they not only copied and uploaded but edited the photos inbetween, destroying the integrity of the original photos. One photo was a group photo intended to show 3 generations; for each individual all but one were cropped from the original picture.

    Mike 94 stated what many of us, who are serious researchers, would applaud Ancestry for doing: “discouraging of using other trees as source material (this includes member trees, as well as OneWorldTree).

    From the very being of my use of Ancestry I have been so annoyed that a Tree or a collection of trees is considered a source even though there may be nary a source in the Tree(s)said to be a source.

    So Ancestry, please make a distinction between mere mention and source of information.

  93. Nancy M.

    Sorry, should have differentiated from the other Nancy posted. I am also author of (91).
    Sources have become very muddled and difficult to ascertain within the ancestry trees. We want facts in our files and we need proof of those facts. That proof is called a Source. The Source should lead anyone to the documentation of that fact should they desire to research further or to ascertain the validity of that fact. When individuals “merge” or copy information from other member’s trees, the Source becomes muddied. Have you tried to go back and trace the sources on someone’s tree – perhaps someone who has copied from your tree? When doing so, I find a number of trees with some of the same information that I know originated with my tree is not sourced back to me but to every tree that has copied the same information – nothing that leads the searcher to the original information unless it is a photo or story. This does not qualify as a Source because it is does not lead back to the fact where it should. How does one determine which tree was copied first? I am at least thankful that at this point, when stories and photos are copied, the original submitter’s name goes along with the copied material (except in the case of Marjorie above where the individual not only copied her photos, but altered them and added them to his site without credit to her – outrageous and without integrity). I have to agree with Mike (9) only let individuals copy name by name and date by date – the same way I built my tree. And to Carol (10) my log on to ancestry and movement through ancestry is also very slow since the recent changes.

  94. hanna white

    I am thinking of joining Ancestry with a view to contacting the person with Matthew O’Brien Rathendrick Meath 1859 in their private tree. My research proves I am a long lost relation still living in Ireland.I have a detailed family tree complete and I would dearly like to make contact but I am scared off by the many negative comments on this page.
    Is there any way to contact private members privately?

  95. James

    Hannah, I’ll contact the person if you’d like. I’ll create a tree with this person’s name and see what I find.


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