Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Gordon Clarke says old FamilySearch to be shut down

Original FamilySearch.org Logo I bet FamilySearch's Gordon Clarke loves the blogosphere. Recently the writer of the Shoebox Genealogy blog reported:

In our discussion with Gordon Clarke, we asked him what was to become of the old familysearch.org page. He matter of factly told us “It’ll be shut down, there will be no use for it because all of the information will be in the New Family Search.” He couldn’t be more wrong.

Following Shoebox's complaint, other bloggers have rung in to voice their opposition to killing the old FamilySearch website.

"This [issue] is of international concern," said Hugh Watkins, U.K. blogger.

Genealogy's humor writer, Chris Dunham of The Genealogue blog, was all serious when he expressed concerns about broken links. "I hope they remember that FamilySearch is part of something larger than itself—a world wide web, to coin a phrase." See the entire post for more information.

FamilySearch has released so little information about how "all of the information will be [moved to] the New FamilySearch," I think it a little premature to get too worked up. On the other hand, I'm glad people are proclaiming the potential pitfalls. One should never over-estimate vendor understanding of product utilization. The better the feedback given to a product manager, the better the decisions will be.

This is not the first time Clarke has experienced a "near-death" experience from bloggers.

Last September 2007 Renee Zamora reported that in Gordon Clarke's Northern Utah Genealogy Jamboree presentation "they confirmed that PAF is a dead animal." Since Clarke's presentation was in support of his actions to help out 3rd-party developers, some of which depend on PAF, it's a great irony that the sound-byte, "PAF is dead," overwhelmed the remainder of his message.

To avoid this problem at the March 2008 BYU family history conferences, Clarke read a carefully crafted and approved statement on the future of PAF, which seemed designed to reassure PAF users and the 3rd-party developers constructing products dependent on it. This author reported that statement under the head line, "PAF is only mostly-dead," referencing Miracle Max from the movie Princess Bride. Miracle Max declares an apparently dead character as "only mostly-dead" and then proceeds to revive him.

Hopefully Clarke's latest statement will not be reduced to "Old FamilySearch is Dead"—at least until we understand more about the patient's condition.


  1. I shudder to think about how many FamilySearch links published in our magazine could become nonfunctional--I have to think FamilySearch webmasters would consider these issues as part of a transition. And The Princess Bride is the best movie of all time.

  2. Actually, how the cutover will work will be this: Right now, the new version of the site is 'new.familysearch.org' and that implies that the new site itself is a part of familysearch.org.

    What they will do when the time comes to do the cutover is take off the 'new' part, discard the old front page, and the new front page will link to all the components of the 'new' site as well.

    There may be some loss of old page links here and there because the new links use newer programming technology that creates parts of their URLs automatically. But as I heard once, both the old and new site will coexist for a time in order to allow everyone to get their older links cleared out and new links placed into their site.

    We're already seeing new links like wiki.familysearch.org and their associated pages, etc., coming into play.

    This is all some time off though, they have to finish the LDS Church rollout, then prepare the family tree site for a worldwide opening, make the wiki more robust, and get the Record Search area more ready as well with even more data, not to mention anything else they are working on.


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