Several of you have asked what I thought about the “New Ancestry.” I promised I would talk about it after my holiday break. So, here it is. First, let me say that my opinions on the matter don’t count. Why? Because Ancestry provides me with a complimentary subscription and a complimentary copy of Family Tree Maker. I don’t have the same skin in the game as you. So take my comments with that in mind.
I’ve heard some talk about cancelling their subscriptions because of the extensive changes to Ancestry Member Trees. Saying so is a nice way to blow stream, and a nice way to communicate to Ancestry the number of dissatisfied users. But at this point it looks to me like the number of dissatisfied customers is in the thousands—maybe tens of thousands. Even if all of them cancel (which won’t happen), they are still a drop in the two million [not billion, as previous reported,] subscriber bucket. If the records are worth the subscription cost to you and yet you cancel anyway, you’re hurting yourself more than Ancestry. If the value was marginal and this is the last straw, go ahead and cancel. But don’t cancel thinking you’re somehow punishing Ancestry. You’re not.
I’ve heard some people saying Ancestry has ruined Member Trees by adding superfluous historical events.
Rebecca Lewis was living in Richmond, Utah when the Great Flood of 1862 inundated the region.1
Really? According to Wikipedia those floods were mostly in coastal states and the affected region in Utah was 400 miles away from Rebecca.2
I’ve heard some people saying Ancestry has ruined Member Trees by inventing fictional, erroneous narratives.
When Percy Alexander Hope Johnstone was born on August 13, 1845, in Moffat County, Colorado, his father, William, was 26 and his mother, Octavia, was 26. He married Evelyn Ann on March 28, 1878, in London, London. They had three children during their marriage. He died on August 7, 1899, in Meath, Ireland, at the age of 53.3
Really? Born in 1845 in Colorado? And then marries in London and dies in Ireland?
It’s unfortunate if these are the reasons they are giving up Ancestry Member Trees. It makes me think they don’t know how to get around them: Don’t use Lifestory view! Switch to Facts view and turn off historical insights. In fairness, there is still a reason to not like Lifestory view. Others may still be using it to look at your ancestors and thinking you are at fault.
I’ve heard some people say that despite the ugly, depressing colors and a host of other problems in the Facts View, they intend to continue to use Ancestry Member Trees. That’s where I am at.
Further, I tend to think of things in black and white. In my opinion, Ancestry’s records and Ancestry’s Member Trees are independent value propositions. Why? Ancestry Member Trees are free. If Ancestry’s records, all by themselves, are not worth what you are paying, cancel your subscription. You can make the decision to use their trees independently. I realize the world is not totally black and white. There is synergy between Ancestry’s records and their trees that can’t be discounted. There are also alternatives to being a 100% subscriber 100% of the time. But still, the records by themselves are either worth the cost or they are not.
P.S. When I set out to verify that the Great Flood of 1862 couldn’t possibly have affected Richmond, Utah, I learned that “in 1862 flood waters plagued much of Utah from February to June, sweeping away almost every bridge in the region and demolishing roads, fields, and homes.”4 Wikipedia was wrong. Who knew.
1. Ancestry.com, historical insight found in the author’s public member tree, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 20 December 2015), Rebecca Alvira Lewis, born 1 November 1859 in Richmond, Cache, Utah. Sorry; I don’t believe you can see historical insights in other people’s trees.
2. Various contributors, “Great Flood of 1862,” Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Flood_of_1862 : accessed 19 December 2015).
3. Ancestry.com, machine generated text (Lifestory) derived from Levittland (username), “Tydesley Family Tree,” public member tree, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 20 December 2015), Percy Alexander Hope Johnstone, 1845-1899.
4. Andrew M. Honker, “’Been Grazing Almost to Extinction’: The Environment, Human Action, and Utah Flooding, 1900-1940,” Utah Historical Quarterly 67 (1999), 25.