Ancestry.com's Gary Gibb recently announced the demise of the U.S. Public Records Index, a database with a billion names culled from records created between 1984-2008. The database will be replaced with a new database of the same title, containing half that many names but not extending past 1990. Removing the post-1990 records opens the door for Ancestry.com to try for a fifth time to establish a mutually beneficial partnership with a living-people-finder website.
(I have wonderful intentions to write an article about corporate memory and the role good product specs play. While doing some work for Hewlett Packard I saw a wonderful example. Good multi-generational, internal product/project/program specifications, descriptions, and outcomes outlast today's transitory workforce. Not that such specs guarantee an organization won't make the same mistake twice... Not that I'm saying Ancestry.com is making the same mistake twice... But I digress...)
Here's a history of Ancestry.com's dead live-people finders.
Back in 2002 The Generations Network (TGN), then known as MyFamily.com, Inc., acquired a live-people finding website, BigHugs.com. See the press release for more detail. You can see to the left how, as best as the Internet Archive can remember, BigHugs looked before it died:
There's also a book that came out of this acquisition: Lost and Found: The Guide to Finding Family, Friends, and Loved Ones.
Next, MyFamily.com, Inc., produced a service on the MyFamily.com website called MyFamily People Finder. It looked like this before it died:
Without breaking any NDA, I can say as a knowledgeable person in this marketplace that a non-living-people-finding company that wanted to produce such a website would generally want to partner with a living-person-finding company to provide the data for such a website. Click here to see an example of the detailed information that could be obtained from public data sources and provided on such a website.
MyFamily People Finder was replaced with a totally separate website named Long Lost People. Before it died, it looked like this:
I've shown the results of a search for Barack Obama below. Notice the link to Ancestry.com that I've circled at the bottom-right. The link implies that the same results and more are available there.
Sure enough, the same results—and more—are available in the soon-to-perish U.S. Public Records Index database on Ancestry.com.
What was that next website?
Some time after the U.S. Public Records Index appeared on Ancestry.com, I started noticing links to yet another living-people finder website among the search results. Was it www.mypeoplereports.com? No; if memory serves, it had dark brown text on a not-as-dark brown background.
One example where a link used to lead to the third-party website was the left side of the Old Search UI result list. I've shown it circled, to the left. At the time of this writing, that link merely goes to the U.S. Public Records Index.
Another link was located on the individual result page. I can't remember if it was below the data in the record or in the Page Tools box, which used to be located to the right of the data. I've shown an old example that doesn't show the link, circled, below.
Apparently, this partnership didn't meet with one of the party's expectations, as the links are gone and TGN has found another partner.
That brings us to #5. Along with the change to the U.S. Public Records Index, Gibbs announced a partnership with another living-people-finder website, MyLife.com, formerly Reunion.com. BEWARE! Numerous complaints have been posted about this choice. See, for example,
- Tech Paul [Paul Eckstrom], "Just Say 'No' To mylife.com," Tech-for Everyone (http://techpaul.wordpress.com : dated 6 March 2009, accessed 25 March 2009). Ironically, earlier this month Eckstrom recommended using Ancestry.com instead of MyLife.com.
- Randy Seaver, "More on Ancestry.com and MyLife.com," Genea-Musings (www.geneamusings.com : accessed 25 March 2009).
- Leland Meitzler, "An Irritating Reunion.com to Change its Name to MyLife.com," GenealogyBlog (www.genealogyblog.com : dated 22 January 2009, accessed 25 March 2009)
- User comments in response to Dick Eastman, "Ancestry.com Adds Huge New Content Addition for More Recent Years," Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter (http://blog.eogn.com : accessed 25 March 2009).
- "Mylife.com: A new tool for bargain-seeking stalkers," Social Meteor (http://socialmeteor.com : dated 28 February 2009, accessed 25 March 2009).
ABOVE ALL, DO NOT GIVE mylife.com ANY LOGINS OR PASSWORDS TO YOUR ACCOUNTS ON OTHER WEBSITES OR YOUR EMAIL!
I'm sorry. By the time you read this the old U.S. Public Records Index will be gone. Had I given you enough warning, you could have saved all the records you needed from the database to your tree. These links are supposed to continue to work after the new version comes online.
Wait a minute... Same database name... Links all continue to work... Year coverage drops in half... Number of names drops in half... Something about this new and improved database seems vaguely familiar...