Ancestry/RootsWeb Message Board Updates

RW Message Boards.jpgThe following announcement was posted to the Ancestry and RootsWeb message boards: 

The Ancestry and RootsWeb message boards were updated yesterday. While these updates did not include all of the features advertised last summer, you will notice significant improvements to the look of the boards, particularly on the thread and message displays. For instance, you can now choose to view more threads per page (up to 50), and you have a choice of viewing each thread in “Thread” or “Flat” view. Threads are now listed in order of “last post”. This means that threads with the most recent replies (or new threads) are displayed at the top of the list making it easy to quickly locate the newest messages.

Other changes you should be aware of include:

  • “My Notifications” is now called “My Alerts.” 
  • “Links & Announcements” is now called “Board Information.”
  • The “Community Guidelines” have replaced the “Board Rules.”
  • Registration is also now required for all message board posts to help reduce spam and enable message authors to keep their contact information current.

Important: If you have posted a message to the boards in the past using a “Post Name” and “Post Email,” they have now been replaced by your account user name and email on all of your posts.  This is part of our effort to make it easier for you to update your own contact information.

To view and update your account username and email address, please click on the “My Account” link in the upper-right corner of or

The Board Help and Board FAQ pages have also been completely updated. Links can be found at the bottom of all message board pages and they are a great resource to help you become more familiar with the boards and these updates. Registration is also now required for all message board posts to help reduce spam and enable message authors to keep their contact information current.

For more information, see the RootsWeb Newsroom. Click here to send feedback.


32 thoughts on “Ancestry/RootsWeb Message Board Updates

  1. Juliana,

    I have posted some comments on my blog at My two major complaints are:

    1) The URLs embedded in posts and replies are not clickable anymore. That is a major drawback now.

    2) The text for posts and replies is scrunched into the middle 40% of the web page (on my 1280×1024 screen, at any rate). This results in cutoff of the post titles and user names if there are any replies, especially for a long thread, to a post. Before, the list of posts and replies at least ran across the whole screen.

    Was there any testing of this with real users, or did the programmers just roll it out with a “let them complain” attitude? These problems, and others, would have been identified quickly if there had been real users in the testing process.

    Cheers — Randy

  2. Before, we could see all of the message boards we had added as favorites on one page. Now it’s limited to 10 per page. And SLOW. Super short message titles. Another downgrade from ancestry. If they wanted to kill the message boards why didn’t they just shut them off.

    Please tell me there’s a way to view them the old way…

  3. What was so wrong with the old boards’ appearance that they had to be changed! I agree with previous comments – dislike short subject lines, replies don’t run across the entire screen, etc. I know I will not enjoy browsing the boards since they’re not easily readable, and I will probably not do so as much as I always have – which isn’t productive. I hope GenForum doesn’t change…..

  4. I have to echo the previous users’ comments.

    The subject line is way too short. Everything is pushed to the middle of the page when I load it with a LOT of white space on both sides. If you are trying to design for the lowest common denominator, you have managed that. Perhaps using % based spacing based upon the users settings would be better?

    Further, there seems to be no easy way to change the view of the site. For example if I want to see all messages (regardless of thread) from the past 4 months, there should be some easy way to do it.

    Has never heard the phrase “user testing”? It seems they/you regularly role out “improvements” to their sites that do not meet with the communities wishes/desires. This is a sure way to see the GenForum boards at more of your traffic.

  5. Very disappointed, can no longer click on a name and see
    every post by that person or my own. That is when I get
    something besides the “error loading thread” message.

  6. I wondered if somehow I was getting the Palm version on my Mac. The pages don’t resize, only the white margins get larger. Why would they shorten message titles to 24 characters.. Is there any way to see all of your “subscribed” “joined” or whatever they call them now boards on one page or are we limited to 10 per page. Also they seem to be in “last joined” order. Alphabetical please..

  7. New message board format is counter-productive and obstructive to research.

    I encourage everyone who feels the same to post their comments at the “Ancestry Site Comments” board.

    Please also voice your objections to the new format by using the “Send Feedback” link at the bottom of each message board page.

    Also see the extensive list of problems at:
    You will be amazed to see how deeply the destruction of what was once a good system has gone! You can post there also.

    I’m still in shock – I just can’t believe what they have done to our message boards.

  8. I’m one of the volunteer administrators on Rootsweb, and the admins are very upset about the changes, just as you are. Reportedly (note I said reportedly) some admins were supposed to be involved in the testing (yet I have not been able to find a post by a single one who was involved). There are indeed lots of serious issues, and several of us are waiting to see if they return to the old style else we plan to resign. No one from Rootsweb is responding to our posts on the Admin board either which makes it more infuriating.

    Janice Brown

  9. I don’t do well with change as a rule, so I decided to “give it a couple of days” to get used to the new and improved message board system. Stupid optimist that I am.

    Now, since I still couldn’t seem to get the darn things to do what I wanted, and the instructions were worthless, I decided this morning to search out user boards and blogs that might offer suggestions on HOW to operate the message boards. I knew I couldn’t be the only one floundering, but what I found posted shocked me. (And as irritating as I found the “improvements,” the board administrators are living a nightmare!)

    Is anyone at Ancestry/Rootsweb listening to us???

    Don’t misunderstand, I am disgusted and frustrated with the entire format. But one thing alarms me more than the day to day use of the boards though:

    One major purpose of the boards – connecting people who can benefit from sharing information, now, and two years from now, and five years from now, has been negated by the inability to find a LOT of email addresses of the people who have posted recently.

    I did discover, on my own, that I had to go into my public profile (AGAIN – haven’t I ALWAYS checked the box that my email could be displayed when I have posted??) and make a universal change so that researchers in the future may find my email address.

    But did it occur to the programmers that unless everyone is computer-savvy enough (and we ARE NOT) to FIND this and figure out how to make the change to their account, there is going to be no way to contact them?

    Also, many users do not speak or read English as a first language, or at all. They must be REALLY confused by all this.

    If we continue to be ignored, we can only talk with our feet, I suppose. We’ve proved it before, and we will eventually all gather where we feel the systems and staff are most responsive to our needs.

    Permission is granted to repost this to a more appropriate forum. I just needed to vent somewhere.

    Shari Strahan
    Paying subscriber
    And FORMER Rootsweb contributor

  10. I have to agree with you all, the changes have definately been conter-productive. Chnages hsould be made to make things easier, not harder.

    As was said above, make sure you voice your complaints on the boards themselves as that the most likely way to get some better changes.

    Ralph Link
    genealogyPro Professional Genealogy Services
    Web Site Development, Hosting and Promotions

  11. Having read the comments posted Dec. 7-Dec. 10, I find that I agree with every single objection raised by the posters. I’m not opposed to change, but changes are constructive ONLY when they further the objectives of the users. In this case, has failed miserably. The new displays and procedures have an almost “amateurish” feel to them. Perhaps this is what is trying to accomplish–the entice the “occasional” researcher. For those of us who are frequent rsearchers, the changes have added nothing positive and simply made it less fun to research and/or to connect with those who are doing similar research.

  12. I agree with all of the above. The net effect is that I will not use these boards again and that’s too bad. I have met several cousins using the boards and we have all exchanged a lot of information. I hate the new format. I can’t even stand to look at it, let alone use it. I am an ancestry subscriber and NOT HAPPY!

  13. I, too, miss the opportunity to quickly view as many queries as possible on a single page. I can’t say how many times I have been thrilled to receive a response to one of my posts two or three years after it has been added to the message board. This is possible when the subject line can be long enough to allow the new viewer a chance to recognize the person I am searching for. It is also easier if the queries are on the first few (maybe 5) pages. This used to be many more per page. Now it means flipping through page after page to get 50 queries. Maybe there should be a way for us to choose the number of subject lines that we want per page, 10, 20, 30, 50. The new format does not allow a full subject line to be displayed on one line, which takes up space, and most computers will allow for a longer subject line. The space between subject lines does make it easier to read (especially for older viewers). However, it limits the number of lines per page and limits our ability to communicate with other users. If we don’t see the questions (and older ones become relevant as we learn more about our family trees), we can’t help each other find the answers.

  14. I use Netscape 7.1. After the upgrade, I can’t use the message boards. My computer freezes up and I have to shut down and start over.

  15. I totally agree with all the above and make a suggestion you retire your programmers and hire more researchers inorder to add additional data. Quit trying to fix something that wasn’t broken befor all these new format changes that seem to be growiing more difficult to use and becoming more useless has occured.

    A four year paid subscriber to Ancestry but am now considering whether I will renew or not.

  16. I don’t think I have ever seen a program change that was less user friendly or more destructive to the efficient use of the system. Bring back the old boards. NOW!

    Curt Miller

  17. Do those who really own and run, even care that their customer base is completely fed up with the lack of meaninful communication?
    I sent e-mails to every location at Rootsweb that I could uncover, from mid May to last Friday (Dec 6) without receiving the courtesy of a reply from ANTONE!!
    The fact that you advertise “FREE” information at times and then stimey the researcher by insisting they forward a payment in order to obtain the results of their query is just plain deceitful in my humble opinion!
    How many more beefs do you want to hear about? We are getting fed up with your practices. You so far are not the only fish in the sea although you act as if you are God’s gift to the genealogist!
    Please remember that your base (Rootsweb)to which you have greatly added much info., was provided free of charge by genealogists whose natural bent is to share freely our findings.
    Upset from Canada!!

  18. I agree with the comments listed above. I switched from a couple of years ago to because I found it much easier to locate the information I was looking for. I was very happy with my Ancestry subscription and ponied up the money even though it was more than I felt I could afford. After the recent changes to Ancestry I felt my research became more difficult and cosequently less interesting. Out of frustration I did not renew–and haven’t yet either.

    I used the message boards in the past few days to research a geographical area that is new to me, and I found it difficult with the new format to get a broad perspective of postings and research going on. Although I am a long time user of the boards, I didn’t become comfortable with navigating and viewing the individual boards and messages. I have used many new software programs over the years, and after a short time of discomfort, they usually become intuitive and you forget what you didn’t like. I’m still waiting for that experience with the Ancestry changes.

  19. Well, I have just been given more FREE time to do other research. The new format for the message boards are for the birds. I never had used the THREAD format, rather preferring to get the latest messages by the DATE format. Now nothing works to my advantage. Sorry, but I may abandon them all- together. I am glad to realize others feel the same way I do about this change.

  20. I simply did not renew after this subscription is up…only a month left in this year.

  21. I usually love change. It keeps life interesting. However, the recent changes on Ancestry did not address any of the needs expressed by membership. I am seriously considering cancelling my subscription. I can go through my Library and get all the census records I need, and since the message boards are no longer usable, I no longer need to spend nearly $300.00 per year for a service that is no longer a service.

  22. When I am doing a search for military records for someone born in 1847 in Georgia, why do I get records for World War 2 and World War 1? The man would have been one hundred years old for WW2 and seventy for WW1!

  23. I am in total agreement with those who are unhappy with all the recent changes made on the website, in the last few months. In fact, I notified, several months ago, that I will not be renewing my subscription in early January 2007.

    It looks like it is going to take the cancellations or the
    non-renewal of many subscribers to convince, how unhappy we subscribers are, now. I know, that some will say this is the only site that has this much information. But, it is just not worth the extra time and stress, to me, to renew this subscription.

    When I started to use in late 1999, I was able to get a lot of family information, quickly and easily.

    For the last four or five months, research has taken much more time to find much less information.

    Information that was found, earlier, does not, now, come up when the exact search is made. There are too many searches that do not produce the same information, to even start to list them.

    I have full access to the site, so it is not a matter of not having the correct subscription. The site says I have full access to the site. Full access should mean full access to the entire site. I have NEVER received a message saying that the reason I could not find the information was that a list is not available with the subscription that I have.

    Every change, that seems to make, lately, complicates searching the site, more. I can not really say that any of the changes have been for the better.

    E-mails to to complain about problems, seem to receive the same generic response.

    I have given up hope that will return the site to how it ran in early 2006.

    I have been doing genealogical research since 1967, online since 1999. So, I am not a beginner. From 1999 until early this summer, was the best site, I had found. I
    had a full subscription to, only because it had indexes for the 1900 and 1910 US census before had them on their site. At that time, I found
    to be very difficult to find the information I needed. I cancelled that subscription, as soon as had the 1900 and 1910 indexes.

    I am sorry this message is so long.

  24. I agree with all the above when I used in the oast it was easier to use the message boards and now I have to hunt around for evey one and some times I loose them and to it is hard to go in and change errors in the family trees I liked the old system so much better this new change is wasting time

  25. I agree with all of the messages already published. I absolutely HATE the new message boards and find it extremely cumbersome to use them. Since Ancestry is fond of using quotes, have you ever heard: “If’s it’s not broken, don’t fix it”? I will be using the message boards at and crossing my fingers that they have the sense to LEAVE THINGS ALONE!

  26. I’m glad I did alot of my research before all these changes. I dislike the message boards so much I can’t even stand to check out entries that look interesting in my notification emails. The new search engines are terrible also. I have been a full subscriber for several years and now all I seem to do is waste time. If I was just starting my research now on Ancestry I don’t think I’d stick with it – this is suppose to be fun and Ancestry isn’t fun anymore.

  27. The new format is terrible. My suggestion is to continue using the wonderful free RootsWeb databases and websites such as WorldConnect and the GenWeb but do all messaging on GenForum, which has remained the best vehicle for messaging from the very beginning. Della M. Shafer

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