Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Ancestry.com Story Upload Problems

Ancestry.com is Cutting Information Off Truncated StoriesOne of the areas that Ancestry.com excels in is media/story upload. I have a lot of stuff uploaded to Ancestry.com because it gives me a backup copy and because I love to share. I find a lot of my uploads are copied extensively and I find it very gratifying.

As I write the first draft of this article, my current genealogy project is uploading deed transcriptions done by my father before his passing. He spent quite a bit of time producing these and I’m sure he is glad to see me put them somewhere where more people can benefit from them.

Going back over the uploaded stories, I was shocked to find that Ancestry.com had truncated one of them! I first attributed it to my own error. I went back through them all to see if I messed up any other. When I came across a second one, I investigated and found the file was perfect on my computer.

One bad file is a fluke. Two bad files is an Ancestry bug. Worse for them, it is intermittent. That is, it doesn’t happen every time. That kind of bug is terribly difficult to find and fix. I’m expecting it will be many weeks before Ancestry finds and fixes this one.

While scrutinizing this bug, I discovered several of the files that I thought I had uploaded were missing. I found on one occasion that only 1 of 2 files was uploaded. In another instance only 3 of 4 uploaded.

I also found that if a filename has a period in the middle, the title of the resulting story is truncated at the first period. Ancestry ought to remove the extension, but no more.

As long as I’m in a complaining mood, may I complain about Ancestry’s handling of text stories. To view the story, one must download the file. I think they should display it like they do stories entered online.

Another thing I dislike is that they flip the order of uploaded files. When I upload a batch of files, they rearrange them so that the first file is last and the last is first. Biblical, yes. Convenient, no.

I’ve reported the problems to Ancestry.com. They are seriously looking into them. As I say, it is very difficult to fix intermittent bugs. You may never see the bugs I see. It may be my 64-bit Windows. It may be my browser. It may be that one of Ancestry’s 1,000s of servers is acting up. It may be the cookies on my computer. Or it may be the combination of all these.

When uploading stories, heed this warning: Carefully check all the story files you upload! I uploaded over 90 files and I was glad I did. And I confess that one or two problems were my own.

Carefully check. Enough said.


  1. I have seen this problem with missing stories as well, and I too, thought it was my bad memory. And it was intermittent....so I really thought it was just me. I will now try and keep a log of what I uploaded to verify my sanity and help track what might actually be missing.

    The other thing about stories is if I am copying something from a word document or other source and pasting it into ancestry as a story, it will look perfect til I open it back up - then all the paragraph breaks will be gone.

    I agree, would love to NOT have to download the story to see it. I have uploaded over 1000 stories across my 4 trees.

  2. AI, Can you clarify what exactly Ancestry.com is truncating, that you uploaded as a 'story'? Did you upload a text file (*.txt), a more full-featured word-processing file (*.doc), or a PDF file?

    Or did you copy/paste into the no-featured Ancestry.com 'write a story' form?

    As for truncated file-names: I have noticed recently that when I upload image files the Ancestry.com deletes the file-format extension. I do not understand why you think this is okay.

    Not all image-handling programs handle *.jpg, *.png, *.tif and *.bmp images with equal ease, and not everyone has a more or less universal image-handling program installed on their computers -- talking about copying image files here. (And reserving editorial comments about practices of file-copiers and those who object to others' copying files from their public trees).

  3. I have the best suggestion of all: don't upload ANYTHING to Ancestry. It has been quite clear since 1996 that Ancestry is not the least bit interested in anything but making a buck. And they'll do it at anybody's expense. They go in and sweep up decent FREE search programs and start charging immediately. If you think they CARE about your hard work, think again. I have called them "Engulf and Devour" for many years, and I continue to be their biggest adversary. They have no qualms about using material that is not only untrue but undocumented in any way. I've often thought about uploading a completely phoney tree under an assumed name just to see what they'd do with it. But I'm too honest for that kind of subterfuge. Print out your stories and keep them in acid free covers in a notebook. You'll be glad you did.

  4. Geolover,

    It was uploaded .txt files that were truncated.

    --The Insider

  5. AI, Thank you for the clarification. A very good cautionary note. Particularly since Ancestry.com touts all the material uploaded by users to their trees as research resources. I wonder if they are going to take to cropping images in bizarre ways . . .

  6. I discovered the reverse entry of photos and stories so I developed a work-around. I submit them in reverse order. I wish there was an easy way to 'fix' the entries I uploaded before I figured out to do it differently. And, when I add newly found info later. The only way I know is to remove and re-enter in the order I want BUT I don't do it because of both the effort and time but also my fear some file will get lost in the proces. I also hate the formatting problem after I type in a story and then click enter.

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. This is maybe the issue I'm having. I'm "missing" entries and photos, then, a day later they are back! This is bizarre. Also, I am just now uploading images and documents but it's kinda scary you can't change your mind and remove them. I'd like to share but I'll have to pay for the rest of my life to enjoy them. I think that contributors should get a better price. There are people who add NOTHING and TAKE everything. That's just wrong. Also, there are trees of "my family" that are WRONG. I have the documents to prove it. These people just do a search, and link to families that are NOT my family. One such Gent is linking my great grandmother as being from Canada and she isn't! I told him and he said I was wrong. WELL EXCUSE ME but I have the documents and my own grandmothers stories told to me by HER. EVEN my mother knew my great grandmother was NOT born in Canada. It's very frustrating. I am not sure if I should put anymore info on there, or if I should just stop worrying. (Sorry I had to fix this post and that is why I deleted the other one.LOL)


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.