Thursday, June 5, 2014

Ancestry.com Announces Retirement of Several Websites

imageAncestry.com announced this morning at 10:00 MT that it is retiring several of its websites. The websites are

Ancestry.com is trying to soften the blow of these shutdowns. Users will be told the retirement timeline and how to export their data.

Of much greater portent, in my mind, is that Ancestry.com is eliminating their Y-DNA and mitochondrial DNA tests. This is big. I’m surprised Ancestry.com isn’t more aware of how genealogists utilize DNA in indirect proofs. Apparently, they don’t read the National Genealogical Society Quarterly or other genealogical journals. This will cause a massive exodus of serious users of DNA to other companies, such as Family Tree DNA. I was just about to pay for several family member tests. I’m looking at going elsewhere now.

It’s hard to believe they would commit such a major blunder. I must be missing something. Maybe they’ll fold these test results into their autosomal test.

Customers can download their raw results from www.DNA.Ancestry.com.

I’ve not been paying attention to any of the four websites for a long time, so I can’t say definitively that they have long languished from neglect. But I think that’s probably the case.

Ancestry.com created the MyFamily.com website and from its inception, MyFamily.com was one of the hottest websites on the web. It was one of the first social media websites. It was groundbreaking.

This was in the early days of the Internet. No websites were making money and company valuations were based on the number of users, not profitability. I heard a rumor around town that at one point in time they were offering to pay people a couple bucks to create a free family site on MyFamily.com. (Does anybody know if that was true?) They could increase their valuation by perhaps hundreds of dollars by paying customers a few dollars. According to Wikipedia,

The MyFamily.com website launched in December 1998, with additional free sites beginning in March 1999. The site generated one million registered users within its first 140 days. The company raised more than US$90 million in venture capital from investors.

In response, Ancestry.com changed their name to MyFamily.com. When reality finally came to the Internet, focus shifted from MyFamily.com back to Ancestry.com. The company name eventually followed.

Ancestry.com took a stab at making the MyFamily.com website profitable. They hired a team in Bellevue, Washington, and did away with the free-account business model. The attempt did not succeed. The Bellevue office was closed in 2010 and the development team was dissolved. Since then, I don’t think Ancestry.com has given any serious attention to MyFamily.com other than using it to host DNA groups.

Ancestry.com will refund money to active MyFamily.com site subscribers. Refunds will be prorated as of today, 5 June 2014. Ancestry.com will export data by request. I’m not certain what format will make sense; we’ll have to wait and see.

MyCanvas will continue to accept and produce orders until 4 September 2014. At that time, all projects will be deleted.

This is one website I can speak to definitively. From the time that Ancestry.com bought Genealogy.com there has been no upgrades to it. I don’t believe I ever saw it advertised. Ancestry.com copied every website they could over to Ancestry.com. (I think there has been some unique content that was never moved over. Can anybody vouch for that?) They had a grand opportunity to do then what they’re trying to do now with Archives.com now. It could have been their Dodge to their Chrysler, their Luvs to their Pampers.

Genealogy.com users will be able to log into their accounts and export their data until 5 September 2014. While subscriptions to Genealogy.com will no longer be available, some of its content will be kept around in read-only fashion. Ancestry.com will preserve the old GenForums message boards (although new posts will not be possible), Family Tree Maker home pages, and the most popular articles. I appreciate this. I don’t know the cost to retain these portions of the site, but they have long-term value and I’m glad they are keeping them around.

I’ve never quite understood Mundia. My best guess is that it was an attempt to enter new markets with a tree product and no accompanying historical records. It is available in English, French, German, Italian, Swedish and Spanish. Members can download their family trees until 5 September 2014. I believe Mundia trees were always visible on Ancestry.com and vice-versa. Mundia trees will continue free via Ancestry.com.

Except for the Y-DNA and mtDNA retirements, none of these surprise me. Well, maybe genealogy.com surprises me a little. It’s a brand just wanting to happen. But these websites have been a distraction and probably haven’t been generating any profits. Ancestry.com has plenty of other brands it is actively working: Find-a-Grave, Newspapers.com, Family Tree Maker, ProGenealogists, Fold3, Archives.com, and RootsWeb. (OK, “active” may be an overstatement for that last one.) Hopefully these will be more successful than the former.

For more information, see the article on the Ancestry.com blog and—if you are a user of any of these sites—an email in your inbox and a banner on the website.

20 comments:

  1. I am becoming very disillusioned with both ancestry and familysearch. They are two steps away from being the same site. It's also very annoying to find a transcription on one site but are sent to pay per view on another site to see it. And not just one other site, but possibly every site they are partnered with to find documents on one or more people. At a hundred bucks a pop, it's not reasonable to expect me to subscribe to all of them on the chance my people are there. Ancestry takes my subscription money and then sells my research to other people. I understand that is the price I pay to have a tree on the internet. Ancestry is treating me the same way politicians treat me.

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    1. What is a hundred bucks a pop? If you're talking about selling your research as in your family tree you have at ancestry.com, they would be doing everybody a favor to take them all down as many of them are total garbage. You can make your tree private and then decide who views your "research".

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  2. I have mixed feelings on this. Ancestry bought these businesses and owns the content, a lot of which was contributed freely by volunteers and genealogists. Maintaining the web sites as they exist is expensive and that money has to be raised (increased membership cost to Ancestry?) or the cost has to be eliminated. I have always felt that whatever you contribute you should be sure you own a copy off the website, off the internet and on your own computer. If you cite a source, you should possibly do a screen shot, print a copy, or create a transcription of the information. This information was never "free" other than the fact that it was contributed. It has always had a cost to maintain it online. I think it is sad that the time has come where Ancestry views these as non-profitable at best, and more likely a large expense.

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  3. Well I certainly hope since they plan to take some of our research pages away, then the costs of subscribing will be gone as well! I mean really!?? I pay 300.00 a yr for the world ancestry!!! if ya gonna take the pages away then drop the prices as well...seems fair to me!!

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  4. The Y and mtDNA loss wasn't a surprise to the DNA community. They removed the order links months ago and some Ancestry staff had given indications the two tests were not a priority.

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  5. About a year ago, our local gen society had a speaker on DNA testing, a man who had been following the field from a genealogy perspective for years. He said he would never recommend Ancestry.com DNA testing, that they had changed the labs they out-sourced to five times in five years. Perhaps Ancestry has finally decided to focus on its core business and let the experts do the DNA stuff. I have had huge success with FamilyTreeDNA.com and highly recommend them. They have Surname Projects that enabled me to find cousins with a completely different spelling of our ancestral name (Friess vs. my maiden Freas) who have worked on our German line for a decade, AND when I got my second cousin (a male) to take the test, it came back a match and thus verified two years of work I've spent documenting this line back to Germany.

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  6. My question is...if they are taking down those sites, will they finally be offering those records on Ancestry as part of the membership? I know that Genealogy.com had sets of records that Ancestry did not. When I asked Ancestry over a year ago whether I could use my existing World Explorer membership to access Genealogy since they were now owned by Ancestry, they said that I would still have to purchase a separate membership. I for one will be happy to find these records all within my FTM when I click on a leaf!

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    1. Are there databases on genealogy.com that aren't on Ancestry.com? I'm not certain there are. If so, it is because Ancestry.com wasn't legally able to copy them over to Ancestry.com.

      Will Ancestry.com simply make any such databases free on genealogy.com? Or will they disappear?

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  7. I had a great experience with MyFamily, until about 18 months ago. It was great while it lasted, but it was time. They clearly didn't care about customer service any more.

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  8. This week's announcements were the equivalent of a nuclear bomb to those who depend on online research. So tired of Ancestry's "bully on the playground" attitude. When they entered the DNA game I think they believed they could replace Family Tree DNA. What they didn't realize was that in order to do that, you have to care about customer service, not a strong point with Ancestry.

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    1. FTDNA's customer service is worse than bad.

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  9. "I can’t say definitively that they have long languished from neglect . . ." I can! As a Y-DNA project manager, I made a PowerPoint file with screen shots to help participants get past the autosomal hype to the Y-DNA order page. We're trying to solve brick walls and unproven connections in the paternal line 6-8 generations back. I got an email from Ancestry about myfamily.com going away, without details. When I discovered the implications on Twitter and tried to access our project page, I got the same 404 error that others have reported. Happy father's day, everyone!

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  10. I'm over the disappointment of MyFamily's lack of service, and their shutting down. But, I'm very disappointed in Ancestry.com for not caring about long time participants, and service in general. If they continue with, "We are aware of the problem, and our technicians are working on it", reply to complaints, bye bye Ancestry!

    I'm now having a heck of a time getting the promised photos and files exported. I've downloaded several, and there is nothing I can open, so far. What is an ICS file?

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  11. You might want to take a look at mygreatbigfamily.com. It has a built in genealogy . family tree feature along with many other interactive features.

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  12. You might want to check out eFamily.com. We've got mobile apps for both Android and iPhone users and a beautiful website.

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  13. Mygreatbigfamily.com offers private family websites with built in family tree / genealogy features (gedcom importer) along with many interactive features, photo sharing, chat, calendar, archives, message boards, discussion groups, recipe archive, etc. They have been around since 2004.

    You can view a demo at http://family-website-demo.mygreatbigfamily.com/index.php or visit their homepage at www.mygreatbigfamily.com.

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  14. We have used (and my Dad has paid for) myfamily.com just about since its inception. My family consists of 28+ members now and we are spread out around the country in 8 states and over 11 cities. At times, some members were overseas. We have used the site to update support, and navigate each other through cancer, major illnesses, surgeries, adoption, marriage, birthdays, holidays, travel, college and other milestones, and up to and including death. We use the site to reminisce and remember people who are now gone. I am really sorry it's not going to be there for us. I know there are postings on the site I need to print. I wish they would reconsider.

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  15. I suggest Tribal Pages for Former MyFamily.com and other Closing sites.

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  16. Mundia is a brilliant research tool in a way others are not, for more than one reason. One is their fairly well-designed "fuzzy" search. Yes it has some annoying tics in search as well but what site doesn't? So I, to be frank, am pissed off it is shutting down. It definitely hasn't "languished" and I still haven't seen an explanation as to WHY it is being folded.

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