Posted by jhodnett on January 20, 2010 in Site Features, Website

As we continue to offer better ways for you to find members who share your research interests, our job is to make sure that the tools we provide on are useful and easy.  One feature that we’ve looked at closely in this regard is an older feature called “Member Connections” (not to be confused with Member Connect which was released last year).  This feature let you enter the name of an ancestor and we would return a list of members who are also researching that ancestor.


Over time the distinctions between Member Connections, the Member Directory, and Member Connect became confusing.  Member Connections has been used less by members and we also found that the search results have become nearly identical to what you find when searching Public Member Trees.  So to clean this up and allow us to focus on improving existing features and building new tools to help you in your family history, we recently retired the Member Connections feature.

If this is a feature that you valued, we suggest that you search our Public Member Trees to find the other members who are researching your ancestor.  This will bring you a very similar list of members to what you would have found before with Member Connections.  If you haven’t tried looking for other members doing similar research this way, we suggest you give it a try.

We welcome your feedback as we make adjustments in order to focus on the things that will help you most in your family history research on  We continue to improve ways to help you connect with other members through features like Member Connect and the Member Directory.  In fact, stay tuned for some improvements we’re launching in the coming weeks!


  1. Toni Eastman

    I have been a long time member of and I have posted things using the Member Connection feature. Will those posting be move over to the Member Connect or are they just lost? Should I start a new post on Member Connect? Thanks.

  2. I’m new at this but i’ve spend quite awhile trying to find info on certain people in my family, and just found several good connections only to find this tool has been retired. These connections did not come up on other sites. I’m disappointed.

  3. Pat Secord

    When “member connect” was first introduced I thought it was just another feature to mess up my home page, but I have to say, I’ve really enjoyed checking out who’s adding info to trees that have common ancestors.

  4. David Graham

    Thanks for everyone’s comments so far.

    Toni (#1) – Can you help me understand what you have posted in the past? As we mentioned, Member Connections is a feature that has caused some confusion in the past. There actually was no way to post anything to Member Connections. It was simply a search tool where you would enter the name of your ancestor and we would list other members researching them (usually listing matches from public member trees). If you posted something it might have been to your public member profile that can be searched by others using the Member Directory. A little bit more detail should help me better answer your question.

    Doris (#3) and Debbie (#5) – Our intention is really not to take away any benefits from your experience on, but to clear up some confusion with our features and focus on improving existing features and building new tools to help you in your family history. Have you tried searching the public member trees to find others researching your ancestors? I included a link in my post above and it is likely that most or all of the members you found previously would be listed there. If you aren’t finding matches there, you may also want to try searching private member trees, which you can access here:

  5. edetsch

    I just rejoined your organization and chose a new password and user name. Now I’m getting a message that my user name or password is incorrect. I just got it via your email so what gives? I don’t want to jump through hoops in order use the service I paid for. Thanks in advance for your timely response.

  6. BarbL51

    Dear Ancestry,

    What are you doing?

    Used to be easy to search Google+ancestry message boards+ Name of interest.

    Used to be fun to read message boards.

    Then there was connect.

    What happend to the boards? A great

    learning and connect tool are boards.

    Now you are retiring member connect???

    What is this?

    Previous ploy to gather information from members who have accomplished and shared research..just to make a buck?

    I would like refund for dollars spent while the site is down. I am certain I have enriched your pockets for some years now……

    And have included my own research to make it easier for others in the future.

    It bugs me that your website gives a message….

    Sorry…we are updating our site…check back at in the future..

    Umm… I want a refund.

    Are you just fi

  7. Its different to hear that there is such type of tool to find the ancestor names.I think its just to connect the names and it won’t provide any result of the ancestors name.

  8. JoAnne Horton

    I like the fact that you did not have to look up anything if someone was searching for or adding a family member to their tree. It was always on the first page. Does this apply to every person in your tree. Any time someone looks for or adds a family member you will be notified?
    JoAnne Oncidi Horton

  9. Gloria Taylor

    I am more interested in searching your data verses connections made by others members. I am having problems as of today searching for information without having to search through 78,000 people names. This is almost an impossible task. Is there a way around this. Until today, I could search without having to view so many names. What has happened? Viewing others work is a nicety, but doing ones own work is a necessity. Other’s data may be wrong and that would only carry on incorrect information. I have been a member for a long time now and I guess I’m having a problem with the change, but I don’t care that much about other members data. I would like to search and see the data and prove my own information. It seems to me your goal is for everone to use each others information. It looks as if I will need to discontinue my subscription with Ancestry, though it was nice while it lasted.

  10. Gloria Taylor

    What ever happend to the ability to contact a live person to talk to about issues? A human voice would go a long way at solving some of these problems.

  11. David Graham

    For anyone having problems with their account, our search tools, or anything else separate from this change regarding Member Connections, I recommend contacting Member Services at 1-800-ANCESTRY (1-800-262-3787).

    Regarding retiring Member Connections, I think there is a fair amount of confusion regarding our different features that enable you to collaborate on your family history with other members on In fact, this is one of the reasons we’ve retired Member Connections. I’d like to quickly review the key collaboration features available on the site in hopes that it is helpful.

    *Message Boards*
    We have over 150,000 different message boards about specific surnames, research locations, and other topics. This is a great place to learn from and collaborate with other members, and post questions. These message boards continue to be available as they’ve been in the past, and you can access them here:

    *Member Directory and Public Member Profiles*
    Every member has a public member profile that they can add information to. You can let others know about your specific research interests, family history experience, and more. Using the Member Directory you can search other member profiles to find others who might be doing similar research as you.

    You can access your own public profile here:
    You can access the Member Directory here:

    *Public Member Trees*
    One great way to find other members who are doing similar research as you is to search for your ancestors in other members’ public family trees. This will allow you to find a very similar set of members as you would have found in the past with the Member Connections feature that has been retired.

    To search public member trees go here:
    To search private member trees go here:

    *Member Connect*
    Member Connect is our most recent collaboration feature on the site. It lets you find other members who are researching the same historical records as you, as well as the members who have matches for your ancestors in their public family trees. You can then stay up-to-date on each other’s research discoveries through the Recent Member Connect Activity list.

    To learn more, just go here:

    *Online Messages*
    Whenever you find another member who you’d like to contact to collaborate with them further, you can contact them through our online Messages feature. You can access your messages just by clicking the “Messages” link at the top of the page. You can learn more about this feature here:

    I hope this overview of these features is helpful.

  12. Gloria Taylor

    Thank you for the follow-up and the information. What I really read from what you have not said is that one can not simply go on-line at your site and research. I have to research all the “Message Boards,” Public Information Boards; The Directories and Public Message Profile, etc all the extraneous boards”, just to locate a death certificate from North CArolina on a specific person. NO I AM NOT A happy person right now with your site. Thanks for the Telephone number as I will try to use it and talk with a person who will help me figure out how to locate information I need, or will I get a bunch of recordings?

  13. Andy Hatchett

    Gloria Re: #14

    One can research on Ancestry without ever using the message boards or any other of the social options for contact among members.

    Just use the search form- or the Card Catalog.

    One thing to remember is that everything isn’t online and what you are looking for may not be available online from anyone.

  14. Paula Jenkins

    I have always loved researching my family history but, do to personal responsibilities, I have just recently found the time to continue my research. I am amazed and excited about discovering “Ancestry”. I have found more information on my family in a few weeks, then I had found in years of research.

    I know that for some people change is difficult, but I am quite literally shocked at all the whining I read about “Ancestry”. Not just on this forum but on many others.

    The biggest problem I have seen since I’ve been using the site is not from the developers but from the users. Despite all the whiners and the incredible amount of people that choose to confuse honest research by mindlessly combining misinformation, this site is still one of the best tools I have found for family history research.

    My thanks to all that have put so much work into this amazing resource.

  15. marjorie e adams

    I have found the new Member Connect to be VERY helpful. Scanning the records that come up under suggested connections under a specific person in my trees help me quickly eliminate the “mindlessly” compiled trees. I use Member Connect now instead of the other Ancestry Trees you “leaf” as “hints” on my trees.
    AND, I have these suggestions:
    1. provide an option on the homepage to NOT have Ancestry Trees show as hints. I am looking for historical records and sourced facts, not for the mishmash that comes up from combining good and bad trees.
    2. On a members profile include whether or not the user has a current subscription so I can tell whether or not to contact that person and expect an answer. Alternatively, if I post a message to a person without a current subscription, inform me that the person is not a current user.
    (David Graham: your blogs are excellent. Please do more.)

  16. I have loved this site for many years now I have been trying to consolidate all of the different trees that I have put on here and unfortunatly I end up with so many duplications….I have come to the conclusion that just one main tree with all the branches going off it would have been the best way to go. Your new 2010 if fantastic and it is getting better all the time. Thanks for the great job. I am looking forward to cleaning up my work so it is all consolidated and easier to work with.

  17. Linda

    I know the email address of a friend who uploaded a family tree. How do I search for it via email address? It is a public tree.

  18. Andy Hatchett

    Linda Re: #20

    As far as I know you can’t-at least not on Ancestry. If she’s posted on any Rootsweb Mailing list you might find her posts there but it will have nothing to do with her Ancestry trees.

    You might also try a search of the public trees for one of her grandparents if any are deceased as she may have included them in the tree.

  19. Donna Jeanne Carroll

    I congratulate Ancestry on the evolving changes. When you started I was one who complained vigorously. Most of my complaints have since been resolved and I am enjoying Ancestry more than ever. About Member Connect: way too many connections. I would suggest eliminating those without genuine sources. Family data records are
    not sources that can be verified, nor are One World Tree, Public Member Trees, etc., or no source at all. If a Member Connect is pertinent to my tree I look for sources that I can independently verify. As for looking through the Member’s Family Tree list, it is cumbersome, time consuming, and usually leads to a Private tree. I don’t waste my time on that. I have too little time left.

  20. I hate the change. I used the old member member connections daily. The new method is just too time consuming and hard to use. This will probably tip me into not renewing after many years of using your site.
    Jack Schutz

  21. Rita Willoughby

    I also am not happy with the elimination of “others researching the same name” option which I used nearly every day or so. Perhaps it is possible to rethink this based upon all the negative feedback. It would have been nice to have had a choice.

  22. Margaret Breyley

    I am unabe to send a reply to a message I have received,
    I press send,a hand appears and just stays there. What am I doing wrong, I have sent messages before to this person.

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