If you thought Ancestry.com was slow today (Thursday), you're not alone. Starting some time after 11:00AM Ancestry become, at times, slow to the point of uselessness. As of the time of this posting, the site seems to have returned to normal. If you have further problems tonight, check back here for updates.
Also today mysterious ribbons appeared on three of the Ancestry navigation buttons. Someone expressed concern that clicking the buttons didn't seem to do anything different than before. Be assured, nothing is wrong with your computer. The ribbons illuminate areas of the website where purchases can be made. You may find, as I did, that meaningful gifts can be created or purchased in these areas. (Shhh! Don't tell anyone. I'll tell you more after Christmas, but I don't want to ruin any surprises right now.)
I spoke too soon. When I started trying to use Ancestry Member Trees, I found they were still suffering from problems. The Family Tree view doesn't work. If you add or change information about a person, the Ancestry Hints "Searching..." never completes. If you try to attach an OWT match, the browser suddenly jumps to the home page. Anyone with an HTTP sniffer can see that this is Ancestry's current response to a 500 error. That means a fatal exception prevented the page from being composed for display. Ancestry Member Trees used to handle 500 errors with a special page. I think it said something like, "something went wrong. Would you like to use RootsWeb or one of our other sites instead."
I wonder if part of the problem this morning was that the home page itself was causing 500 errors. The website handled the exception by sending the user back to the home page, which quickly blew up again. Thus, the behavior caused an endless cascade of errors until the user gave up and closed their browser or went to some other website. Granted, the old 500 error handling page shouldn't have been sending users off to RootsWeb for a once-in-a-blue-moon error. But unceremoniously dumping the user back to the home page is not only a confusing user experience, technically, it can cause an endless escalation of errors. Take my example above. I tried to attach an Ancestry Hint matching record. I would rather I get a message explaining that the operation had failed. Give me a chance to try it again or to go to the home page. The page used to and still should explain that the error had been logged and reported (which actually happens).