Last month, Genea-Musing's Randy Weaver did an article about the subdomains on Ancestry.com. Seaver gives excellent descriptions of what the different subdomains are used for. I thought I'd supplement his descriptions and add some subdomains that I've seen that weren't included in the list he got from Alexa. This is all public information. Anyone using Ancestry.com everyday for the past six years who keeps an eye on the browser addresses would know what I'm going to share here.
I've only included the subdomains that are part of the Ancestry website, so while RootsWeb is included in Alexa's list (technically it now is a subdomain), I don't include it here. It's not part of the Ancestry website. End of story. Stop worrying.
Here are the Ancestry website subdomains:
- ancestrypress.ancestry.com - Obviously, this is where Ancestry Press is at. Since the new enhanced printing features for document images utilize Ancestry Press, it's also where the new Custom Print pages are located. (Have an Ancestry account? Then try this sample.)
- awt.ancestry.com - This is Ancestry World Tree (AWT), also available as RootsWeb World Connect. The bottom of http://awt.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi gives the current number of names, surnames and databases in AWT.
- awtc.ancestry.com - Funny you should ask about this one. If one tries to go directly to this subdomain, it automatically shuttles you over to AWT. The only way I have found to get to this subdomain is via One World Tree (OWT). When viewing an individual in OWT, click on the X User-submitted trees link. I can imagine that the "c" in awtc stands for constant or consistent or copy, since OWT needs a static copy of AWT to which it can link. Otherwise, all the links in OWT to AWT would break.
- blogs.ancestry.com - This subdomain is not part of the Ancestry website, but I'll mention it in passing. Its use is self-obvious.
- boards.ancestry.com - This is the message boards.
- comments.ancestry.com - This one's a really strange egg. I haven't seen any changes to this subdomain in the past 4 or 5 years so the branding isn't up to date and the functionality is not well integrated with the rest of the website. You can't get to this subdomain directly. To get there, you must view a record, select Comments and Corrections and then click on Add a Comment. Poking around, it starts to look and act a lot like the old message board system.
- community.ancestry.com - Some of the Ancestry Community pages have recently moved to this new subdomain. The new member profile pages are on the community subdomain.
- content.ancestry.com - This is another subdomain that you can't get to directly. It replaced the images.ancestry.com subdomain (see below). Currently, it hosts browsing and the image viewer.
- dna.ancestry.com - This is where DNA Ancestry lives.
- groups.ancestry.com - This is a new subdomain that sprang into being with the introduction of DNA Ancestry's DNA groups.
- images.ancestry.com - This subdomain is mostly dead. If I recall correctly, it served the same purpose as the content subdomain, which has replaced it. At least some old URLs to this subdomain can be handled by the content subdomain, which masquerades as the images subdomain when it can.
- landing.ancestry.com - I don't have a lot of public information about this domain. I've seen it used a lot for promotions. There doesn't seem to be any publicly known information to indicate why pages would be located here rather than on the main www subdomain. I noticed both the latest campaigns (www.ancestry.com/military and www.ancestry.com/nara) redirect to this subdomain.
- learn.ancestry.com - This is where the Learning Center resides.
- search.ancestry.com - This is where search results are presented. Because of the search form at the bottom of the Old Search's result pages, searches can be initiated from this subdomain. New Search lives here as well as Old Search.
- secure.ancestry.com - This is the subdomain used whenever the https protocol is needed. This is a change from the practice 3 or 4 years ago, when I used to see https traffic from the www subdomain. Https traffic is encrypted to protect passwords, personal and credit card information. As Seaver mentions, My Account resides on this subdomain. So does most of the Subscribe pages. When you log in, secure.ancestry.com is used transparently to keep the login safe.
- store.ancestry.com - The Ancestry Store is another subdomain that I'll mention in passing that is a website in its own right, with its own branding.
- trees.ancestry.com - This is where Ancestry Member Trees (aka Family Trees) live as well as One World Tree.
- www.ancestry.com or simply ancestry.com - See below.
This is the big kahuna, the home base for Ancestry.com. The home page lives here—both of them! As long as I've been at Ancestry, there's been one home page used if no one is logged in, presumably a visitor or non-subscriber, and one for logged-in visitors, presumably subscribers or registered non-subscribers.
Many searches start from this subdomain, either from a home page, a database page or a database group page.
Each database potentially has a database page here, as we saw in the P.S. of an earlier post. However, as I clicked on the links of recently posted databases, I found that the www subdomain sent me to the content subdomain. I had to go back to 30-May-2008 before I found a database that stayed on the www subdomain.
Ancestry has set up several groups of databases that can be searched all at once. These search pages are often located on the www subdomain. I found several examples on the home page: U.S. Census Records, Birth, Marriage & Death Records, and Immigration & Emigration Records.
A variety of other subdomains exist. Anybody with DNS knowledge can get an entire list from Ancestry's name server. (Note to self: nslookup/ set type=ns/ ancestry.com/ server ns1.myfamily.net/ set type=any/ ls ancestry.com) Here are some that apparently used to serve a useful purpose, but have perhaps been long ago forgotten with the change of personnel over the years. In general, Ancestry likes to keep ancient links working at least well enough to bring you to the Ancestry site.
- buick.ancestry.com - Used to go to the Buick contest page. It looked like this. Congratulations to fellow bloggers who mentioned winning prizes, Randy Seaver and Apple of Snowville. You owe me!
- census.ancestry.com - When Ancestry finished indexing all of the US Census, they created a special set of pages to celebrate. The root of this subdomain probably pointed to those pages. Incidentally, there's also pages for a previous Immigration marketing campaign.
- data.ancestry.com - Goes to search.ancestry.com. I'm not certain where it might have gone originally.
- plist.ancestry.com - Goes to search.ancestry.com.
- share.ancestry.com - Goes to a lavalife mobile promotion.
- ssdi.ancestry.com - Goes to search.ancestry.com. Might have originally gone to the Social Security Death Index search page.
- start.ancestry.com - Goes to a Getting Started page.
- win.ancestry.com - Same as the share.ancestry.com lavalife mobile promotion.
Thanks, Randy, for your idea and original article. I totally planned on a 30-minute extension to your article. Somehow this grew into an 8 hour tour down memory lane. Whew!