Posted by jhodnett on October 23, 2009 in Site Features, Website

At the end of July we launched our new Member Connect feature on  Since then we have been gathering feedback from members, analyzing how it has been used, and working to continue to improve it.  I wanted to review some enhancements that were added to Member Connect yesterday, as well as highlight a few of the other improvements we’ve added in the last couple months.

Yesterday we made a number of additions to make it easier to get to the information you are most interested in on the Recent Member Connect Activity list.  If there has been activity from other members on that is directly related to your own research activity, you’ll find this activity list on your homepage when you are logged in, as well as on the main page under the Collaborate tab.  Here’s what we’ve added to that list:


1. Recent Activity filter options


We’ve made a number of changes around how you can filter out activity from your Recent Activity list.

First, if you have multiple family trees on you can choose to filter out the activity for any of your trees.  For example, you might be invited as an editor to a tree, but not be interested in all of the activity related to that tree.  If that’s the case, you can simply un-check the box for that tree and we won’t show you that activity anymore.

Second, based on member feedback we’ve updated the types of activity your can filter out of your list.  We hope that the new categories make it easier to get to the activity you are most interested in, especially if you have a lot of activity on your list.

Third, we will now remember your filter settings for you.  So if you filter one of your trees out of the list, or a specific activity type you’re not interested in, we’ll keep that activity off of your list until you choose to re-check the boxes to add it back in.

Finally, we’ve made these filter options available from the Member Connect sections on the homepage and under the Collaborate tab, as well as on the full Recent Activity page.


2. Top daily activity items


Some members who have done a lot of research on, or who have large family trees on the site, may have a lot of activity included on their Recent Activity list each day.  If this is the case for you, we’ve made an update that we hope will help.  If there are more than 10 activity items related to your family history research on a given day, we will initially just list the top ten items from that day on your list.  Hopefully this gets the most interesting items at the top for you.  Then if you would like to see more activity from that day you can simply expand the list for the day to see the rest of the activity items.


3. Expanded activity display


Sometimes if a few similar things happen on the site, we may only list one item on your Recent Activity list.  For example, if another member researching your great-grandfather added three photos of him to their public family tree, you might get one activity item mentioning that three photos were added, but without giving details on each of them.  For activity items like this there will now be a new “show” link that will let you expand the activity item to see all of the details related to that item.


We’ve also made a number of other enhancements to Member Connect in the last couple months.  I just wanted to highlight a few of them for you here:


1. Links to your family tree from trees you have connected with


You can connect with another member who has common ancestors of yours in their family tree, either by saving information from their tree through an Hint or through the Member Connect section of the profile page for the matching person in your tree.  If you’ve done this and later go to the matching person in the other member’s tree, we will confirm that you’ve already connected with them and will include a link for you back to the matching person in your tree.  This helps you keep track of who you’ve connected with, and also makes it easier to get back to your tree when you are checking family trees of members you’ve connected with.


2. Explanations about information in your Recent Activity list


Some information included on your Recent Activity list may be related to research you did a while back rather than more recent research that is fresh in your mind.  If that is the case, you may not be sure why a specific item is on your list.  To learn more just put your cursor over the activity item and you will see a “?” icon on the right.  Simply click this to learn why the item was included in your list.  We’ll also often be able to provide a link for you to the related person in your family tree.

3. Information you’ve ignored from members you have connected with


Within your family tree, Member Connect lets you compare what information other members have about one of your family members with what you have.  If you’ve connected to the other member, after checking into their information and validating it you can also update your tree with the new information.  If the information doesn’t seem accurate or interesting, though, you can also select to ignore it.  Previously we didn’t label which items you have ignored from another member’s tree.  Now these items will have a simple “ignored” button, which will still let you update your tree with this information if you change your mind later.


These are just a few highlights of improvements we’ve made based, in large part on feedback from our members.  We’d love to continue to get your feedback about Member Connect so that we know how we can continue to improve it for you.  Please just email us at with your thoughts.


  1. Kate Janney

    “6 May 1858 in Chongqing, Chongqing Shiqu, Chongqing,”
    This is showing up as a birth and death place. It is dangerous! This town is noted for its criminal activity.

  2. Mike

    I like the updates that have been made to Member Connect. They have really improved its utility and manageability – especially the filters that are now saved. 🙂

  3. Mike

    I was just thinking: it would be good to have a filter that shows sources and records that others have, but you are missing.

    I think that would both help raise awareness to the importance of sourcing your data, as well as helping to provide sources that may have been missed, or incorrectly added by others.

  4. I am disappointed to find that people who never knew the people that are in my 3 family trees are “bootlegging off” me and others and down the line my accurate facts have been subject to errors, typos, and other information that is totally unrelated. After studying all of this very carefully, I decided to keep my trees private. I would rather keep my information accurate and correct rather than amass a huge block of names that I consider not to be beneficial to me or my descendents

  5. I have been attempting to sign up for
    your 14 day free trial membership for
    3 days. My sister-in-law, Ann Lewis has a account with you (LewisFlintpach,Tree 1 26 07)that she has been sending to me and I don’t have a password. So, evidently thats why I can’t complete my application. I hope this message will clear things up a

  6. David Graham

    Thanks everyone for your comments.

    Mike (#3) – We do have a new filter that is close to the one you suggested. If you select “New records, photos & stories added by my connections” it should show you new historical records saved by others that you haven’t saved yet, as well as new photos and stories about your ancestors that your connections publicly share on the site. I hope this option is helpful for you.

    Harry (#6) – If you are continuing to have difficulty signing up for a free trial, you may want to contact Member Services. Their number 1-800-ANCESTRY (1-800-262-3787).

  7. Tom

    I don’t like the idea that private tree owners can save my hard work to their trees without asking first but won’t share theirs. I wish I could block private tree owners from my tree until they ask or share.

  8. Tara

    I would like to see an option to “opt-out” of Member Connect. I’d love to have my trees public, but I’m keeping my trees private now because in the past I’ve had several people take my data which is correct (because I actually do go to courthouses, libraries, cemeteries, interview old-timers, etc.), and these people proceed to add a bunch of mess that’s way off the mark, to what they’ve scavenged from me, and then they list ME as their source for their bad data!

    And while I’m on my soap-box…there’s a lot of people on Ancestry who have posted data about LIVING individuals in my immediate family, and they never answer when you e-mail them to ask them to PLEASE make it private, or won’t remove the data period. Personally, I don’t want my family’s birth dates, marriage dates, and so on out there in the open for identity thieves. A lot of financial damage can be done with a person’s birth date and mother’s maiden name. Maybe you guys could add a way to report these people that are posting LIVING data.

  9. Jo

    Tara #12,
    To opt out of your activity being reported to others, go to your profile. Under the heading “Your profile and contact settings” click on “Edit your preferences.” Under the heading “Activity Preferences” click on “update your personal settings” and UNcheck both boxes, then click on the “Update your settings” button. Other users will not be notified about your posts or research activities via Recent Member Connect Activity whether your tree is public or private. Your username will still be posted on anything you post publicly, like message boards, comments or alternate/update info on records.

  10. Beverly

    I also have made my tree private because of the “scavengers” as previously mentioned by Tara. I would like to have an option to block specific individuals rather than be forced to make my entire tree private to prevent these people from copying everything in my tree to theirs. In many instances they are not even related and make no effort to use correct information so they are adding my pictures and correct information to their collection of garbage.

  11. Andy Hatchett

    Tara Re:#9

    What you do or don’t want concerning dates of birth, marriage, etc. is immaterial.

    Texas, Florida, North Carolina, and some other states put this info online. It is *not* private information.

    There has yet to be a single case of identity theft where it has been proved that a genealogical site was the source used to provide information to carry out the theft of identity.

    If you are still dealing with an institution (other than a government institution) where your mother’s maiden name is *any* part of the security setup you need to run- not walk- and find someone else to deal with.

  12. Tara

    Many thanks Jo…I’ll try that. Wish I didn’t have to though. *sigh*

    Andy #12…You are right that a few states do put out limited data usually in “pay-for” sites. Nothing you can do about that. Most states also have 25 to 75 year privacy laws, and I happen to have been born in one of those states. What I’m opposed to is the people on here and on other sites who have absolutely no regard for my privacy and that of my family. Ancestry.Com does try to filter out data on living individuals when trees are uploaded, but all too often newbies and “name hoarders” find ways to slip the data through anyway. These people don’t list their own names, dates, etc. in their database, but they do use my immediate family’s, and they’re not even related to me. They NEVER answer e-mails or member connect messages asking them to please list me as simply “Living SURNAME”. Sadly, many people have lost their common courtesy and common sense.

    Avoiding the Theft of Your Identity:
    George G. Morgan – “Along Those Lines” 5/31/2002 – Archive

    I would still like an option to report databases where living individual’s data is being displayed.

  13. Jo

    David Graham:

    Why do the message numbers keep changing?

    When I posted to Tara her message was #12, now the same message is #9.

  14. EJeannine Downs Hall

    I would like to be notifed if you have a possible connecton for my tree. However…I do not like to have these possible connectons adsed to my tree before I can have the chance to check it out. I have found numerous mistakes in additions to me tree. It’s a mess, trying to clear the errors…Just give me the information and let ME decide who should / should not be in my tree. I strongly agree with comment #5.

  15. Janice

    Personally, I love the member connect. That to me, is what building our family trees is all about. Sharing the information. Actually, all of is awesome!

    My mother and I have been working on our family tree and branches since before 1960. Mom has spent thousands of hours and dollars on research and gathering documents. I am very proud of what Mom, now 83 has accomplished. Everyday, I add to our family tree and branches on-line to share our history and stories with anyone that may be interested. We have about 5,000 members in our family tree and I am only about 1/3 of the way through all of Mom’s work. I really don’t even care if they are related.

    #11 “scavengers”, that comment seems to want to defeat the entire purpose of doing any research. Send an e-mail, ask how you are related. Then choose, block a member if you don’t want them using your info. How do you know their collection is garbage?

    #5 and #15 We have the choice to include any information or not. For me it also helps verify my facts. If I disagree, I don’t add it. Nothing is automatically added to your tree. You have the last word about what is in your tree.

    #9 In response to some complaints, I too go to courthouses, cemeteries, do interviews and all of it. My information is just as valuable as yours.

    My only concern is with individuals that have private trees and have no problem using information from my public tree and then refuse to share the information from their private tree with me. Yes, I have blocked individual members for this.

    If a member wants a private tree and thinks I am happy to share my hard work with them and they are without anything in return, think again.

    #9 I do agree with not sharing all the “living” information with the public. You can select the option to only allow family members to see that info.

    You want your tree private, that is 100% your option, but PLEASE do not try to belittle those of us that have as much integrity as you and simply want to learn about and document our family history, ancestors and descendants and are proud to share it.

  16. Janice

    Forgot a sentence.
    In paragraph two of my #16 comment.
    I meant to say: Our family tree is public, we are proud of it and to those viewing it, I really don’t even care if they are related.

  17. Janice

    On my second family tree, I am just now starting to put on-line a history that was completed in 1959 by our great-grandmother. This is a 400 page hand written record of the family. This traces us back to President Garfield, the Mayflower, and Glasco castle in Scotland.

    I cannot wait to share this information with all our great friends on related or not.

  18. David Graham

    Thanks again for everyone’s comments. I just wanted to follow-up on a few of the items raised here.

    Information on living individuals – Thanks for sharing your concerns about how information about living individuals is displayed. If we can tell that a person in a family tree is living we do hide their information. We are also trying to find even better ways to do this when there is not enough information provided about the person to tell if they are living or not. If you find that you are publicly listed in a family tree on, please contact us at to see if we can help.

    Jo (#14) – Sorry for the confusion with the changing comment numbers. We had gotten a few spam comments on this post (with links to non-genealogy commercial sites) which we had to delete.

    Jeannine (#15) – There are actually two ways that you can make a connection with a matching individual in another member’s tree. One is through the Member Connect area and clicking “connect” on a suggested connection. The other is if you save information from another tree through Hints or when finding the match when searching. It may be that you had saved information from these matching trees in the past and that is what got them added as a connection for you. If you find that you have connections made when you didn’t save information from them or connect yourself, please contact us at with more information so that we can look into the issue.

  19. Andy Hatchett

    Tara Re: #13

    You said:
    “I would still like an option to report databases where living individual’s data is being displayed.”.

    I hope you mean report databases your information appears in.

    I’d hate to think you wanted to report my database because living people appear in it as you would have no way of knowing that they have granted permission for me to list them.

  20. Louise

    I agree with the fact that if you have a private tree, you should not get your info from public trees, if you are pulling your info from a public tree, then you should allow them to pull some info from your tree also. it should be a give and take situation. everyone should be willing to share their information, if not, that is just plain selfish.

  21. Louise

    My tree is public. I want everyone who is related to me to connect with me. copy my information and my pictures. i want to share my history and connect with them and grow my tree. I DO NOT think or believe that i am stealing facts from others trees. I look at it as if we are sharing our information. We are connecting our families, no matter how distant. If I spend hours researching and find a fact, i want to share it with everyone, not hide it. SO WHAT, if someone got more information, this is not a contest. not everyone can find info that easy. or maybe they do not know how or have the tools, or can travel all over the place or have the money. If you were able to find and get fact, consider yourself fortunate, and be kind and share your information with distant relatives. We are all connected, if you go back far enough, it is one big spider web of families. I find it truly awesome, the way we are all connected one way or another

  22. Tara

    My apologies to everyone that my original message seems to have caused some controversy.

    Thank you David. I will be in contact with customersolutions shortly. Hoping to get this resolved soon.

    Janice…good for you! Glad to see someone else actually does the leg-work for a change. While my tree is private, I still do share often and freely, and like most, don’t appreciate not getting anything in return from some people, although I also often given lots of information with absolutely no expectations of a return at all. Those of us with private trees aren’t all baddies. Best of luck to you in your future endeavors.

    Andy…yes, I do mean my son’s and my husband’s and my mother’s and my own personal data. None of us gave permission to this person for it to be posted online, and the person has not answered any of my very nice requests to please list us only as “Living SURNAME”. If your folks gave you permission, then by all means have at it. That’s completely your business and is between you and them. If my immediate family is not in your database, then you’ve no need to fret. :o)

  23. Diane

    I too find it disappointing that so many people just copy trees without even verifying if the families are related. Just because someone has the same last name, doesn’t mean they are related! I have e-mailed a few of them, but it does no good. The trees are still being copied, even after proving to them there’s no connection. I don’t want to make my tree private though. I don’t want to miss that opportunity in the future to connect with a legitimate cousin and be able to share back and forth. With the others, I’ve taken the attitude that if they want to waste their time downloading a tree that doesn’t even belong to them, good on them. I prefer to make sure the people I find do truly belong to me. (I’ve got enough nuts in my own family, I don’t want to claim someone else’s nuts! !) 🙂

  24. Andy Hatchett

    Tara: Re:#23

    As far as I know neither you or your family are there but…

    My point is that there is no legal requirement for permission from anyone to post personal, as opposed to private, information about that person.

    I’ve traced whole families from 1850 thru 2002 in Texas that are in one of my databases and have never contacted any of them.

    I come at genealogy at a different angle, I want to not only extend my lines back as far as possible but I also want to bring all of them as far forward as possible- and leave a record of it for future researchers.

  25. Leoa Skidmore-Weishaar

    I have tried using the member connect. When you come across a family tree with an member connect id it is easy to send them a msg. However, if you go into the member connect search it is difficult to find the member your looking for. If this area had a search where you could enter the member connect id and it take you to one of their enteries it would make it a lot easier then searching the thousands of members. Thanks.

  26. David Graham

    Leoa (#27) – Thanks for the suggestion regarding searching for other members by their username. This has been suggested in the past and is something we’re looking into.

  27. Joyce

    I agree with those who don’t want their present day information to be posted by anyone! Tara, you said it well. Some people have posted my g-g-g-grandparents, right down to myself, and Dear Lord, what a mess tehy have made of my family.

    When I write to ask how they are related, I often find out they aren’t related at all. Then WHY are they convoluting and polluting MY family history? They need to work on their own, and allow me to work on mine. They would be furious if I did to their history what they are doing to mine.

  28. Andy Hatchett

    Joyce Re: #29

    A lot of it depends on how you define “family”.

    I traced my direct line back as far as I could and then started bringing in the families of all the spouses (ancestors and descendants), then I brought in all the in-laws of the spouses and in-laws, and then the families and in-laws of all those families’ ancestors and descendants.

    As a result of all this I have people related to an in-law of an in-law of an in-law – and *their* in-laws.

    And yes- even tho there is no blood relationship to me I do consider them all “my family”

  29. Tom Sommer

    I have found that many of the people out there copying families are just what I call “gatherers”. That is they gather everything they can find on a family name. Then they sit on the forums and pose as experts about those family lines.

    I think they must have nothing better to do.

  30. Mary Beth Marchant

    David Graham, any idea if or when we will ever get US reoords again. Seems you could throw us a bone at least once a week or even every other week other then the “So-called” updates which do not tell anyone anything about why or whether there was an update at all. Just saying “update” does not do anything at all except to make us think Ancestry is doing something. Just asking. It has been a while now. Is there anything in the offing that we can hope for or are all US Records dried up for now. If we knew what the status was, we might understand a little better.

  31. Janice

    I guess this is one of those situations where we will have to agree to disagree.

    What difference does it really make to you what or how anyone else gathers the info for their family tree?

    Your family is yours!! You decide what goes in it. No one else can mess up your family tree.

    They can certainly mess up their own with unrelated information. So what? Somewhere all of the information we add to our family trees is freely accessible to anyone. So unless you are breaking into private banking, government or heath records to get your info, there is absolutely nothing wrong with sharing information.

    Anyone can make a trip to the courthouse if they want. I just received deeds, land plats, and two death certificates this week. Simply by calling the courthouse and asking for them.

    My “family” is also expanding to the outer branches. Via in-laws and out-laws. No matter how you look at it, blood related or not each of those branches is what makes our “family tree”.

    It is awesome to know that one of my 12x cousins is related to Mary Queen of Scots and King Henry. Not a blood relative, but still in the tree that makes my family.

    I am extremely proud that my great grand father donated the land that the city school was built on. And donated another 160 acres to the University of Minnesota as a land refuge. My other great grand father donated his land and home to the State. Every year a huge farmers festival is held and my mother sits in her grandfathers house and tells stories of when she was a child there. She is 83 and won’t have the opportunity to share that info much longer and the greater loss is that we will lose another insight as to how our cities and towns were homestead by great ancestors.

    So if you want to add all of my family to yours wonderful!! We are very proud Norwegian family members!!

    And yes, I still agree with not publishing everything for living members. With that being said, My family is very excited about seeing their names on so there have been no complaints. I guess we are really a bunch of ham it up nuts!! We like our names and pictures in lights. However, if any of my living family members (or yours) ask me to remove their info, I would do so immediately.

    Yes, those that gather info just to pose as an expert really doesn’t make much sense to me. One would think that if they really expanded their own tree, they would accomplish much more.

    Buck up, make your tree private and don’t scavenge any of the public tree information.

    Or, I completely agree with #22 Louise, no one is stealing facts from other trees. Your info is no more valuable than mine. I consider myself very fortunate with any fact I find and cannot wait to share it with everyone.

  32. Mary Beth Marchant

    I agree with Andy on asking what constitutes a family. Like Andy, when I find a relationship to one of my main research families, I follow all the leads I can get. I never merge data from others. I do use their data as a guide and then do the research. For many families in many locations especially during the 1700’s, 1800’s and early 1900’s, persons were likely to be related through blood or marriage and sometimes both. Therefore, it is necessary to find all the connections. You just might find that after gg grandma died, gg grandpa married his wife’s sister or you may find that two or three of gg grandpa’s sons married sisters. It happened regularly in that time period. At least, it did in my family. For instance, my ggg grandmother married in South Carolina. Her husband died early and then she married her first husband’s nephew. He died too and then she married her overseer. She outlived him too. And her children married relatives too, some of them cousins.

  33. Janice

    Just one more comment and then I am off my soap box.

    All of us gather information for our family trees via and the sister sites and projects.

    How many of us are active in any of the projects for transcribing records for addition to the one tree world data base?

    I try to “give back” a little each week, by entering a few records.

    Because, if it weren’t for all of the wonderful volunteers that are keying in information every day to continue building the database, we would all be back to the stone ages of genealogy.

    Think about it and join a project. All of our families are awesome and we really are all related somehow.

  34. Tom


    If you have a private you must have given someone permission to live individuals in your tree or you don’t have birth dates for those individuals or you don’t have privatize my tree checked. If you have birth dates with 1900 and later and no death date your living individual will not shown up if there is a death date they will show up. I have a public tree and none of my living show except to myself when I’m signed in or if I have given a guest permission to view living individuals.

  35. Tara

    Tom #36…I wasn’t talking about my own tree. My tree is private, though is accessible person-by-person through searches. If someone wants to know more about someone in my tree they have only to ask. What I was talking about is someone else’s tree where they posted me, my husband, son, mother, brother, sister-in-law, & their daughter, my niece, complete with our dates of birth, marriage, & other personal information in notes (except for marriage dates which were actually on the main pages). That’s how Ancestry missed privatizing that person’s file…it doesn’t catch notes. The issue has been resolved though, but thanks for the reply.

    One other thing David…someone once mentioned on another Ancestry blog a while back that they’d love to see either a relationship calculator or an event box or some kind of entry spot where we could add stuff like “3G-Grandpa”, etc next to a person’s name in our database. I think Member Connect could be so much better if we could show in our own database how we, as the home person, are related to any given person in our databases. Everyone could see at a glance if another member is actually related to us or not and then we could spend time developing that cousin relationship further, or not waste time writing to people who have absolutley no clue how they’re related to who we’re asking about from their database. I think we could make a lot more useful connections with something like that. Yes, we can enter that information now as notes, or AKA’s or whatever, but I think the original poster was looking for something more uniform across the board. Just a thought…

  36. David Weaver

    I guess I’m too old ,but I don,t like all the changes you guys have brought about. Just when I think I know some method you change. We have high speed cable, but you are always overloaded. It takes forever to search….. DD and Dave

  37. Joyce

    Andy Hatchett
    Re #30

    Andy, what you say you are doing, is just the situation I’m talking about!

    Now how would you like to pop up something that had your great-grandpa married to his mother? To find his sister married to her father? That’s what happens when one not remotely related to the family does, when they start attaching anything they find to anybody else in their tree. If you don’t actually research it, then you don’t know when someone else has it wrong. When there is a senior and a junior with same names, the relationships are often recorded wrong.

    Just this very week, I found my 3rd great grandfather and 2nd great grandfather listed, along with supposed children of each. YES, their areas of birth and death were correctly listed, BUT the census records attached showed them having moved all over two states, when they never left one little county in one state. Then the children listed were totally wrong, with children of someone else listed as my great-great-grandfathers, and middle names given for his siblings that I’ve never seen in 15 years of research at court houses. The person also posted a tombstone picture of my 3rd great grandfather….a picture which I had made a few years ago, and had shared with a few!

    After asking, the lady told me she wasn’t related. Someone had given her information and she had found other information which she thought might be right, and she added it.

    This lady was kind enough to make a concerted effort to correct it when I informed her of her many errors. Not many people will even try to correct it, so what are my relatives going to find when they don’t know their history and start searching for it online?

    It’s people who try to record other families’ information without researching it, who make a mess of it for all! HANDS OFF unless it is yours! Otherwise, one day you will find online where Andy Hatchett’s mother married her own grandfather, and Andy married his aunt, who just happens to have the same first name as his real wife. Won’t be me that does it, but someone with your attitude will, and with a lot of luck and ten years of perseverance you might get a few of the hundreds who have copied it by then, to remove it. And , thanks to those who ignore requests to remove or correct it, it will go down in eternal history that way, because after all, it was on the internet!

  38. Joyce #39

    I agree with everything you’ve said, apart from Andy being married to his Aunt 🙂

    I’ve seen trees where dead people are having children a few years after they and their spouse died, also 2 year olds having children, and too many other ‘bloopers’ to mention.

    The sad thing is that given the way that Ancestry works and the low mentallity of the name gatherers who do no research on the information, there will never be a solution. Except not to allow anyone else to see your tree, which goes against what we are all trying to do.

    Personally I don’t have a tree on Ancestry, I keep it on my PC but we publish the tree every few months on our own web site – where we can control the data we want to keep private. Also people cant just merge from that tree, they have to do the unthinkable – type it in if they need it 😉

    Keep digging – TonyC

  39. Andy Hatchett

    Joyce: Re #39

    You appear to think that I run thru records just attaching people to other people because some names or dates match.

    I always research before adding someone so I am 99.9% sure before they go into my database. While I have several hundred living people in my database whom I’ve never had contact with I have had contact with some of their living relatives.

    You said
    Now how would you like to pop up something that had your great-grandpa married to his mother? To find his sister married to her father? That’s what happens when one not remotely related to the family does, when they start attaching anything they find to anybody else in their tree. If you don’t actually research it, then you don’t know when someone else has it wrong.

    I don’t depend on someone else’s research. I always consult official documents if possible.

    You also said:
    It’s people who try to record other families’ information without researching it, who make a mess of it for all! HANDS OFF unless it is yours! Otherwise, one day you will find online where Andy Hatchett’s mother married her own grandfather, and Andy married his aunt, who just happens to have the same first name as his real wife. Won’t be me that does it, but someone with your attitude will, and with a lot of luck and ten years of perseverance you might get a few of the hundreds who have copied it by then, to remove it. And , thanks to those who ignore requests to remove or correct it, it will go down in eternal history that way, because after all, it was on the internet!

    The part about “Hands off unless it is yours” is telling.

    NO ONE owns their relatives-period.

    Someone may be your great grandmother and at the same time be the 14th cousin twice removed of my Geat aunt’s sister-in-law’s third husband’s wife. I have just as much “claim” to her as anyone else and nobody has the authority to say otherwise.

    Bottom line is adding people, related or not, should only be done after researching the individual yourself- not depending on the research of others.

    Frankly, I see nothing wrong with that “attitude”.

  40. Heather Erickson has decided to remove some of the comments that were previous posted on this blog, due to disrespectful comments between a select group of blog readers. We are happy for people to share any thoughts they have about or their approach to family history, but this is a form for sharing ideas, and inappropriate comments, including personal attacks, are not accepted. We appreciate your understanding and look forward to your continue constructive comments on this blog.

  41. Daneille

    Maybe I have missed this, but if someone else chooses to click “connect” to my info, will I see their page in my connections list? Can I “disconnect” them? or block them? Thank you.

  42. David Graham

    Danielle (#43) – Great question. If another member connects with your tree you will not automatically be connected to their tree. In most cases we will include them as a “suggested connection” for you, but it is completely up to you who you connect with.

  43. Bernice

    At first I did like Customer Connect, but later when my aunt and I contacted some of the members, because we thought we might be related and wanted to to how. Most of the members did not answer, which is ok because I’m a little unsure if I would answer some of the emails. But the problem we both encounted seems that a few of the connectors are not related to us at all. They work for other people wanting information or they just seem to be collecting “old pictures” at random and no information. Can we choose not to have any members connect with us?

  44. Tara

    Yes Bernice, see Jo’s message # 10. You can change your preferences in your profile. I’m still on the fence with this, but at least we do have the option to “opt-out”.

  45. Jo

    David (#44) – Are you saying that not only can other members “attach” our documents, stories, and photos to their trees (AKA steal them) but now they can “spy” on us, too, watching everything we do on Ancestry without us knowing about it?

  46. Jim

    Two complaints about recent changes in format:

    1.) When the ‘quick edit’ boxes are initially opened from the profile screen, they’ve been relocated further to the right and the menu options are now unavailable without side scolling, even when working in full screen. This little detail becomes a major pain in the *** when sifting through records making little touch ups. Either put them back into the main screen or move the menus to the left side of the box so they can be accessed.
    2.) Many of the ‘hints’ now come up with no option to ignore. These are typically just references to a general publication, or collection, and when the ‘attach’ option is selected (the only choice provided) brings up another search screen for that collection. If I choose not to add the information or can’t find what I’m looking for, or havn’t subscribed to the european records, the only option is to leave the ‘hint’ by canceling and letting it remain flashing it’s little leaf on the record, aggrevating the hell out of me, for the rest of my life I guess.

    Two programming decisions that appear to me to be truly brain dead. Sometimes it’s the details folks.

  47. Tara

    I have written lots of biographies and transcribed documents for my ancestors which are available on many county GenWeb and US GenWeb sites WITH A COPYRIGHT NOTICE. I have seen a number of my articles appearing as “stories” on some members trees, with copyrighted photos as well…minus any acknowledgement of author, owner, or site it was taken from. Other people are attaching these items to their trees…kind of a snowball effect ensues where copyright is continuously being violated. Now, when I put all this stuff up on US and county GenWeb, it means I want to share it with ALL that person’s descendants, but the copyright notice also means I wish to retain rights to my intellectual property.

    How ’bout if we want our tree to be public (because I do want to share, but don’t like people posting my work as their own), maybe you could do some sort of a check box so that the owners of original copyrighted materials decide to make their photos, stories, etc un-attachable to someone else’s tree without permission? Everyone could come to your tree to view the original copyrighted information, but they can’t just attach your work to their tree without your permission. Also maybe a pop-up when you post a story or photo that says something like…”Is this material copyrighted? If so, please be sure to obtain permission before posting here.”

    If someone asks my permission to post my copyrighted articles, 9 times out of 10 it will be given to them as long as they include the copyright notice. I think that’s what’s getting most of us irked about Member Connect is that it actually encourages people to take without permission.

  48. Tara

    One more thing…please promote the “Web Link” feature better on the trees. I don’t think a lot of people are aware this exists because it appears way down at the bottom of the tree profile page where most people don’t even look. If more people knew they could use Web Link to refer to a website rather than just copy copyrighted items as their “stories”, then the violations could be reduced quite a bit.

  49. Susanna

    Is anyone else having trouble not seeing ANY activity when there were plenty of activity items listed before the enhancements? I find it hard to believe that there are none now… I have tried various combinations of checking items from the list. Thanks.

  50. Andy Hatchett

    Tara Re:#49

    Why even have a way to ask permission to copy. Ancestry should simply not allow coping of *anything* from one tree to another-period.

    If someone wants to take the time to download/edit out copyright notice?and then upload to their tree there isn’t too much that can be done about that but most namegatherers won’t take the time.

    If Ancestry did dis-able the copy function most peaple really interested in genealogy would praise them. The namegatherers would, of course, set up a howl that would shake both heaven and hell,..and that would *not* be a bad thing imho.

  51. Janice

    Just a reminder that is a public website. Based on links to public information. My suggestion is that if you have copyrights on any of your material, do not put it on.

    It is very difficult to protect intellectual property on a public information website. Not everyone will be going to your tree to view the original copyrighted information if you keep your tree private.

    My opinion is that it is up to each of us to do what we feel is right to protect or not protect our information. That is not a burden we should put on

    As you said, the snowball effect could happen very easily. One person takes the information and passes it on without copyright information. How would anyone know that the first person had a copyright on the info? It really is up to the owner.

    If you have taken the time to copyright your material, then obviously it is yours. And is not open for just taking. Maybe an edited or shortened version for a public site.

    Put that type of thing on your own webpage. Then you can use source code to block or at least have a pop up box that says “don’t take – copyright protected”.

    I have done that and it works very successfully. Then, there is no worry about anyone using my info. My family members leave me personal notes and messages that I do not want shared. We also have great stories about our upcoming events and our kids “home runs”.

    You have to actually be related to get our family web address. No, of course it is not perfect, there is always someone who will abuse it. But, my family likes it and enjoys both the public and private family pages/sites.

    For; those that are related, great, the info is there for you. Not related, well it sure seems like a waste of good time to be gathering mostly useless information for you.

    But, I have only put on the public site information that can be gotten from any number of places on the internet or research sites. It is there because I want it shared.

    I know several people that have family web pages, as I am sure you do. It really seems, in my opinion that your purposes would be better served by making yourself a really spectacular family webpage. And you wold be better able to protect your information.

    If ancestry were to block all copying; that would completely defeat the purpose of belonging to a site based almost 100% on public information; which is, sharing of that public information and building our family trees.

    Member connect is just one of the many great features available to us for building those family trees.

  52. onelayperson

    Firstly I would like to say is that I am a guest to the site but I administer around 160 message boards
    and although the new system may have it’s benefits there is one draw back which hinders those in my position. That is if we attempt to contact a member who has a key locked we are unable to contact that
    member. Even when in administering mode. So there could be a case that we should advise the poster that there posting is being deleted or moved and at the moment this is not possible.

    Also I would like to draw your attention to the Administers information board within the web page for the board they administer eg, my own board. Board name, surname MASSEY. my e-mail is displayed with the dropdown box “board information”. I believe that this box can either be removed or in place of the e-mail contact address should be replaced with a link via there user name onelayperson to the internal online Messages feature. This would allow a punter to contact the board administrator without seeing there e-mail but also ensuring the safeguards of the board administrator. I also not if the key to a members e-mail is not showing the e-mail is displayed.

    I take on board all the issues you have shown in the blog and agree this is the problem that are associated with the message boards.

  53. Mary Justus Castaldi

    Chongqing Shiqu, Chongqing, China
    also showed up on my search for John G Justus and Mary Ann Forry! When I look at family sites on a individual basis it does not show up. Only as a group attachment. I see that Kate Janney on 23 OCT 2009 had the same problem with her search.

  54. Joan

    I do not check messages on, but did appreciate them when e-mailed. Now, it seems I am way behind. I have so many trees to research, I do not know exactly which tree I was looking at when I asked the particular question!! I need a link back to the tree I was at when asking for further information. I do not care for this new mess you’ve created.

  55. Tara


    1) If a tree was public at some point, and then was later made private and preferences were changed to not allow any research activities to be tracked, anyone who had “connected” to the tree when it was public can still see what records are being added to the currently private tree?

    2) Is there a way to see who is “connected” to our trees so we can choose to allow or block the connections when a tree is made private?

    3) Are CUSTOM EVENTS and CUSTOM SOURCES that are added to private trees made visible for “connected” people to attach to their trees or is it only document items housed on Ancestry that are attached to a tree? Currently, if a tree is private, you can still see if that person has added stories or photos, but only the titles are given and you have to request viewing permission in order to see the information.

  56. David Graham

    Great questions, Tara.

    1) Setting changes take effect immediately. The only research activities currently shared for private trees are saving historical records or saving photos and stories publicly shared by other members. As soon as you change a tree from public to private those are the only activities we share in the future. Also, anyone who had connected to your tree when it was public should get a message that the tree has been made private and would not be able to view the details of the tree.

    If you change your activity preferences to not share your research activities with others (which you can do whether your tree is public or private), that will take effect immediately and will apply to all future research activities.

    2) We currently don’t have a way to view who has connected with your tree or to block specific individuals (other than the overall settings mentioned already). These are suggestions we’re looking into.

    3) As mentioned above, the only research activities currently shared for private trees are saving historical records or saving photos and stories publicly shared by other members. This is so that other members who have saved the same records or who added the photos you save can know about you (without knowing any details from your tree). You are likely researching the same individuals if this is the case, and could potentially both benefit from contacting each other.

  57. Tony

    I like the member connect concept. It has already directed me to several folks researching families that are researching the same people. This can be lauched from the profile of the person. What I think can be improved is that I should be able to view a list of people in my tree, then select the report for member connect, without having to navigate the tree to the person, or initiating a search on the person, to then select them for member connect..

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