RootsWeb has now been down for over two days. It went down before 4pm MST on Wednesday, 24 February 2016. I asked Ancestry.com’s spokesperson, Matt Deighton for information and he issued this statement:
Our development and web operations teams are working on the problem and will have it resolved as quickly as possible. We do not currently have an estimated time that this issue will be resolved, but we will update the site as new information becomes public.
The unavailability of RootsWeb may not seem related to the New Ancestry, but in a way it is. While we think of digital information, including systems like websites, lasting forever, in reality they don’t.
- File formats are replaced. When the software programs that read the files are gone, you’re toast.
- Software programs becomes obsolete. When the operating systems that run the software programs are gone, you’re toast.
- Operating systems become obsolete. When the hardware that runs the operating systems is gone, you’re toast.
- Manufacturers create incompatible hardware and stop making old models. When obsolete hardware dies, you’re toast.
A computer website has to be rejuvenated every decade or less or it will die. That may be one reason why Ancestry produced the New Ancestry. However, there are times that companies transition a website—under the covers—so seamlessly, users don’t know anything has occurred. Ancestry obviously should have done that with New Ancestry and then introduced improvements gradually. (I once programmed a system that made millions of dollars [none of which went into my pocket] because people will pay good money to avoid change. But I digress…)
Since Ancestry.com hasn’t invested any money (visibly, at least), in RootsWeb in very many years, it is now a ticking time bomb. Or rather, it was a ticking time bomb. It has exploded and we wait nervously now to hear how much damage ensued.