Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Ancestry news bits

I'm way behind in my list of news items about, so here goes a bunch of them, just so I can take them off my list. If you desire, read them as fast as you can to the tune of Gilbert and Sullivan's Model of a Modern Major-General.

Ready? One, two, one, two, one, two, (faster), un,to,un,to,un,to...

  • Ancestry released their 27,000th database in December 2008.
  • At the bloggers' briefing we were told the new $79 price (down from $149) for the 33-marker, Y chromosome test meant would be losing money on the kits. You're probably aware of other companies with much larger databases. is a late arrival to this market and is trying to make up time. They only have a little over 30,000+ people currently in their ancestry database and 5,500 surname groups. I can't remember for certain, but I think they said once they have critical mass, the price may go back up unless their costs have come down by then. See the DNA Ancestry website for more information.
  • Illustration courtesy DNA results can now be linked to your Ancestry Member Tree. Once you associate paternal results with a person in your tree, those results are inferred up the paternal line. I'll have to check to see if they're also inferred down paternal lines also. (, they are.) Once enough people have added DNA results, it may be possible to isolate the ancestor in which a genetic change took place. You can see why wants more results posted.
  • State and County search pages are back. Did you suffer from the site outage a couple of weeks ago? At that time discovered that these locality searches were consuming large amounts of Ancestry's capacity (something like half?) even though they accounted for a small percentage of the searches (I'm thinking less than 10%). Worried that this was contributing to the site problems, Ancestry pulled the capability. It is now back with a more powerful database server.
  • "New Site Features Added to in 2008" is a new webinar available in the Learning Center. Click on Keep Learning, Webinars and then on the webinar name. Oops. I guess it isn't available yet. Oh well; once the interest is gone maybe they'll get it posted.
  • At bloggers day I cornered Eric Shoup, VP of Product Management and made a pointed request: "Assign your product managers to blog once a week with a report on what they have accomplished that week. You want them to make a regular report to you anyway; why not make it public? Knowing they'll have to make a public accounting would be a good motivator to show weekly progress." Long time readers know that in these pages I have advocated greater communication for years, taking some risk by so doing. So it was very gratifying when Shoup issued this statement yesterday:

As of 2009, Ancestry product managers are making a more concerted effort to reach out more to our customers via our bulletin boards and blog.  We recognize how vital this dialogue is to both understanding our customer needs as well as communicating what is new or coming up on  And frankly, this helps hold our Product Managers accountable to our customers for building the right features and communicating sufficiently.  This is an example of a broader objective this year within the Product team to “engage our customers in conversation”.  We hope this will result in better products and a better informed customer base.

Thanks, Eric!

  • At bloggers day we were also told that we were just weeks away from a long requested search improvement: date filtering. It has long bothered users of relevance ranked searching that highly ranked results had dates outside the specified birth and death dates. Other improvements in coming months will improve date and place handling. I don't have any more specifics, however.

Well, I'm out of time and I've hardly made a dent in my list. 'Night all. (You can stop singing now...)

1 comment:

  1. Insider-

    It's true -- pointed comments like yours at blogger day solidified for me how important it was that we increase our level of communication to you all. Thanks for that.

    About the webinar: I could not find the webinar initially either. There is a second page of webinar results in the Webinar list. This is easy to miss. Here is a URL that leads directly to the New Features in 2008 webinar you mentioned:

    All the best,

    Eric Shoup
    VP Product


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