RootsWeb to Move to Ancestry Domain

RW Logo copy.bmpThe following message was posted to the RootsWeb News Room today:

As you know, The Generations Network has hosted and funded the RootsWeb online community since June 2000, thereby maintaining RootsWeb as the world’s oldest and largest free genealogy website. TGN remains committed to this mission and believes that RootsWeb is an absolutely invaluable and complementary resource to, our flagship commercial family history site. We believe in both services and want to see both communities prosper and grow.

As part of this goal, we have decided to “transplant” RootsWeb onto the domain beginning next week. This move will not change the RootsWeb experience or alter the ease of navigation to or within RootsWeb. RootsWeb will remain a free online experience. What will be different is that the Web address for all RootsWeb pages will change from to Again, the RootsWeb experience is not changing.

The decision to host RootsWeb on is being made for one primary reason: we believe that the users of each of our two main websites can be better served if they have access to the best services available on both. Simply stated, we want to introduce more users to RootsWeb and vice versa.

Today, despite the fact that and are the two most frequently visited family history sites on the Web, only 25 percent of visitors to visited RootsWeb in January 2008, while only 20 percent of visitors to RootsWeb visited (according to Comscore Media Metrix). We think we will serve our users best by doing a better job of letting them know what is available on both and RootsWeb. Hosting RootsWeb on is the first step towards making this happen, but we will absolutely look for more and better ways down the road to advance this goal.

Hosting RootsWeb on will also make it easier for us to make changes and improvements to the RootsWeb experience in the future.

All old RootsWeb URLs will continue to work, whether they are bookmarks or favorites, links to or from a hosted page or URLs manually typed in your Internet browser. We will have a redirect in place so that all old URLs will automatically end up on the appropriate new RootsWeb URL. You will never need to update your old favorites or links unless you want to. We have worked to make the transition as seamless as possible for our users, and this change should have a minimal impact on your experience with the site.

RootsWeb will remain a free online experience dedicated to providing you with a place where our community can find their roots together. If you have questions regarding this change please email them to [email protected].


Tim Sullivan
The Generations Network, Inc.


7 thoughts on “RootsWeb to Move to Ancestry Domain

  1. Most Ancestry and Rootsweb urls are already very long–so long they cause problems when citing them.

    So why is TGN moving to make that problem even worse?

    And won’t all the redirects simply cause more loads on servers and Internet traffic and further delay page loading times?

    Seems like an anti-user move to me.

  2. This is not the beginning — the beginning was the forced “banners” from, this is just another nail in the coffin.

    My sites will be moving off Rootsweb because of TGN’s business-based actions. Their decision has nothing to do with supporting genealogy, just in making more revenue for an already greedy company.

  3. The main reason they are moving it to ancestry is a business decision to boost the comscore so they can charge more for their advertisments. If they can show that they have more visitors to than they will have a better score. It will look better for investorsand potential advertisers.

    Check this comparison and you will see RW gets more traffic than Ancestry already.

    This is the ‘real’ primary reason Tim.

  4. I am really grateful for Rootsweb. I do value greatly my freepages site and hope that it will long continue to be found by my cousins checking their family history. We used to have something that encouraged to enter data and then started to charge. That just is not long term enough. And I am pleased to be a Ancestry customer so I can find more data. Ancestry do need more UK data particularly in the Parish Register area. The British service records additions are also pleasing but finding historical church records would make Ancestry very attractive.

    I am not sure I understand the intent behind your proposed changes – sounds like more complicated URLs. BUT I like the Free message boards and free personal family history web pages.

  5. Thank Goodness Ancestry is supporting rootsweb! There is no such thing as a “free” lunch – we all know that. Servers cost money, internet fees exist, you need to hire people to keep the networks and servers running and up to date. They are keeping rootsweb info free and accessible to everyone….so what if we have to endure a little advertising? Don’t want the advertising? Then you’re going to have to pay…EVERY site does that!
    I’m just hoping and wishing they will commit some human type resources to rootsweb to beef up the free info. I go to so many usgenweb sites that haven’t been updated in years because THEY ARE BASED ON VOLUNTEERS ONLY.

    We all need to do our part to keep the free stuff alive and well. I contribute info to various sites on a weekly basis. If I’m at a cemetery, I take a few more pictures of non-family to post to ancestry community & usgenweb county sites. If I’m copying obits from an old newspaper I copy one more that isn’t related to me. I donate to the local genealogy societies as often as I can with my membership in their groups (often the small ones charge so little it is worth it for the info they provide over the years).

    Bottom line – without volunteers and the charity of strangers, there is no FREE stuff. Web sites don’t create themselves. I’m hoping with ancestry’s infrastructure backing it will strengthen the free community and let it thrive. But we ALL need to contribute and not just suck out the resources we want. If free access sites are to continue it is all of our responsibilities to make an effort to keep them current and accessable.

    I just get upset with the ancestry bashing. Today I attached about 20 census records to my tree for people I had been searching for. I found another 15 Iowa marriage records, 5 obits and 3 Biographical Histories all from the comfort of my sofa while getting over the flu. How much would that have cost me if I had to go to the county or the state historical library to do the research?

    As for the length of the URLs … maybe ancestry could look into “Tiny URLS” . Oh, and it is FREE(but they ask for donations and have advertisng).

    As an aside…I use to maintain a free website, but didn’t have the money and resources to keep it up. Luckily there is another service that still makes my old website available (as well as a lot of those old roots web sites). Go to: and enter the name of the old web site and VOILA, there is all the content! Pretty cool! Oh, and it is free (but very well funded!).


  6. Its difficult enough for the oldies to keep up with the changes and this may be my last effort to find family.
    Just figure there has to be profit for Ancestry to do this.

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