Thursday, August 16, 2012

Ancestry Killer, Six Years Later

An old cemeteryHere’s something interesting I ran into recently in my tickler file:

LDS Church Building “Ancestry/MyFamily Killer”

Word on the street has it that the LDS Church [FamilySearch] is in the process of building a completely free service that will “bury” and I’ve heard the board at [] is “freaked” because people inside the LDS Church working on the project have dubbed it the “Ancestry Killer”. I’d be a little nervous too.

According to my source, the LDS Church has put an incredible amount of resources toward the project. Apparently they have brought in top talent from Microsoft and Oracle to build the service. They have been working on it for sometime and are in the process of testing and transferring data to the new service from existing records. I don’t think this will bode well for any genealogy service charging a subscription fee including the newly minted That would make the new service more than just an Ancestry killer. It would make it a category killer and that is one huge online category. …


Can anyone else shed light on this issue? …

October 12th, 2006

From the wording, I’m pretty certain that this article speaks of New FamilySearch. For what it’s worth, nobody in my circles at FamilySearch considered it an Ancestry killer.

Well, a lot of things have happened in the past six years, but the death of is not one of them. Quite the opposite. Ancestry has thrived. Perhaps someone from Ancestry could look up and post a comment with some stats comparing today’s numbers (revenues, profitability, subscribers, record count) with 2006’s.

FamilySearch Family Tree will soon replace New FamilySearch. At that time, ironically, New FamilySearch is scheduled to be terminated.


  1. Hardly the death of Ancestry which has a superior search engine in wildcards function etc.
    I find I can get around Familysearch but still hard - I preferred their old search engine and I still use Ancestry Old search.
    And they don't have census images etc - they point to external sites which need subscription.

    You last paragraph I think you meant the link to be Try Family Tree on -

  2. I don't think that any but the most naive ever thought or believed this and I actually think Family Search and Ancestry have done an admirable job at creating complementary sites/databases.
    And I'm another fan of old search at both sites; Ancestry needs to rethink their plan to phase out old search, not exclude new databases from old search; and Family Search needs to bring back collection specific search.
    I'm an LDS genealogist; the quality of LDS genealogy has always appalled me, the one mediating factor since the " Ancestry Killer" New Family Search's inception has been, strangely enough, Ancestry. You won't find many LDS genealogists who rely completely on FS; most use Ancestry as a base and augment with information from the growing online FS database and offline searches. I appreciate the increasing online presence of the Family Search catalog, but fail to understand inclusion of the IGI and the millions of shoddy PRF's in any robust research database.

    1. Surely this comment is not aimed at "new FamilySearch" but rather the Family Search Family Tree replacement for nFS. In which case I can understand some discomfort of commercial providers of "Family Tree building software" - on the basis that FS FT offers a collaborative family tree that is open to anyone to join and contribute and includes provision for all the source material justifying conclusions - once they can get their heads around the meaning and impact of "collaborative". And of course, it is free - in my view bound to have an impact on Ancestry's public and private trees, MyHeritage et al.

      FS FT does still have some rough edges but has been improved significantly in the past few months . . . has a way to go yet in providing some of the presentational/reporting bells and whistles that are more the hallmark of commercial suppliers . . . but a gap that may yet be filled by third party interfaces to FS FT.

      PS - for ldave45 - FamilySearch has the facility of collection specific searches . . . you need to watch . . a webinar presented by Robert Kehrer, a senior product manager at FamilySearch explaining how to use the revised - including collection searches, new definition and presentation of the IGI and separation of AF and PRF data. You need to make a determined effort to understand the "new" search techniques - they really are a big improvement.

  3. This is way off topic, but... Does have any interest in getting bug reports from users? I imagine the typical user is not very computer literate and so the vast majority of "bug" reports would just reflect user confusion, or the user's wish that something would be different. However, some of us are professionals in the software field and are quite capable of correctly characterizing and describing how to repeat a bug. I see no way at all anymore to report one, though. In the past I at least saw a way to ask a question -- though when I tried using that path to report a bug, the support person refused to imagine that I might really be reporting a bug and just gave me useless canned "help".

    The bug that's annoying me the most now is that the recently added findagrave index doesn't work properly for burials in Wisconsin. Clicking on the record always takes you to the "Please search again" page. I could give lots of specific examples, if someone were listening.

    1. Tim,

      Please contact me at and I will try to connect you with someone at that will listen to you.

      --The Insider

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  5. Dear Mr. Huff,

    I don't mind a little controversy, nor would I just rather plug my ears. But there is a line between discussion and solicitation and in my judgement you have crossed that line. I'm not comfortable with you presenting a problem and then directing readers to a website where you solicit investment to fund your solution to that problem. Please remove the paragraph beginning with "There are multiple documents..." and repost your comment.

    The Insider

  6. Subject: Genealogists resisting progress

    Mr. Insider, whoever you may be,

    [I should thank you for glancing at some of my materials. I didn't even realize I had done any solicitation on that site, but then I remembered the strategic overview document I recently added there, which could be taken that way. Anyway, I am happy to revise my post as you suggest. Sorry for any inconvenience.]

    I think neither FamilySearch nor deserve to be killed, but a little wounding would be good for both of them.

    I don't know how much discussion and controversy you want to handle -- whether this is intended to be mostly a one-way, output-only blog or whether you want it to be an active discussion forum also. So I will try out a question on you.

    What I have in mind is some constructive criticism and a suggestion. I mostly want to criticize professional genealogists and the FamilySearch system, but I have a few words about as well.

    Over about the past 3 years I have attended about a dozen genealogy conferences. My message has been that through a new process of coordination and cooperation, genealogy researchers could increase their output of finished, high-quality, assembled, unduplicated, family-connected genealogy data by hundreds of times, with up to 1000 times being quite possible. That translates into meaning that participants should each receive a full 10-generation pedigree -- 1024 surnames and 2048 people. Hundreds of people have found the idea interesting, but, apparently, the professional and semi-professional genealogists see this level of widespread productivity improvement as a great threat to their research businesses. Too bad about the hobbyist masses being constrained in their progress. The only important thing is maintaining the traditional research business income. From a computing standpoint, doing an entire nation's basic genealogy is only a little bit harder than creating a nationwide telephone book. But apparently we never had a cottage industry of making small, local, boutique telephone books, so there was not much economic resistance to a nationwide compilation of telephone numbers.

    This resistance to improvement in genealogy research productivity apparently infects both of the large organizations you monitor. Obviously, they are both filled with many professional genealogists who instinctively protect their craft. Everybody knows how frustrating and ineffective the FamilySearch "cooperation" offerings have been, and hasn't seriously tried to offer an effective cooperation system on a large scale. Keeping individual genealogists isolated, ineffective, and engaging in large-scale duplication of effort is their apparent strategy for maximizing subscription income.

    I can understand's obsession with maximizing income at the expense of user productivity, but I find it much harder to understand why the LDS Church and its FamilySearch system has so far avoided implementing serious quality and efficiency improvements. They have had ample opportunities to make much greater strides.

    Kent Huff


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