In my bi-polar view of the world, sometimes a thing is either wonderful beyond belief, or an awful hunk of junk. Of the new Ancestry.com help system, I recently placed it in the latter category. (See “Legit or Phishing Scheme?”) My sentiment arose out of frustration from a major bug in the registration system. The system sent me into an endless loop that prevented me from registering or logging in. Ancestry’s Crista Cowan recently gave a presentation about the new help system. One of the things she talked about was the login situation.
“The Ancestry support system is actually run on a completely different software platform than ancestry.com and so that means that the logins are entirely separate,” she said. “You can’t just login with your Ancestry username and password.” You have to register for a help system account and then login with the new account. “You can use the same username and password that you use on Ancestry for consistency sake and so you can remember it,” Crista said, “but it will not automatically pull your Ancestry username and password in to use it.”
Fortunately, as Crista explained, you don’t have to register or login at all if all you are doing is searching for help. You only have to login if you want to post a question or answer someone else’s. (Hopefully, Ancestry isn’t intending to implement a self-help community. I hate those. Although in fairness, fellow members of the Ancestry community sometimes know more than new help Ancestry has hired to answer the phones. But I digress…)
The help system contains two types of content, help articles and discussions. Articles are created by Ancestry to answer common questions about a wide range of topics, like the Ancestry website, mobile app, DNA, and billing questions. The Community Support forum is a discussion feature, allowing users to ask one another about anything. It could be some feature of the Ancestry website, or it could be a research problem, or a locality question. Someone could ask what the URL is for the Ancestry Insider. (I admit. Crista didn’t give that as an example. I just made that up.)
I have to point out the Ancestry already has a discussion board which they bought with RootsWeb. The Ancestry Message Boards have over 25 million posts logically arranged by surname, locality, or special topic. You can find them at http://boards.ancestry.com/. You can register for an email or RSS alert if someone posts a new message in your areas of interest. It has been a long time since I visited them and their value lies in how many people frequent them, so we should all give them another look.
You can watch all of Crista’s ten minute presentation, “Exploring the Ancestry Support Center” on YouTube.
(And the hunk of junk still won’t register me. I guess I won’t be answering that question about the Insider’s URL.)