Thursday, June 2, 2016 New Support Center Explained

Ancestry Support CenterIn my bi-polar view of the world, sometimes a thing is either wonderful beyond belief, or an awful hunk of junk. Of the new 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 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 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.)


  1. It seems to me that Ancestry has always had one of the poorest Help systems of any site I have ever been to. They want us to phone them. The phone Help is fairly good but, why must I make a call to get the help that should be available online? Now, from what you are saying, the Help is even worse than before. I have seldom been able to get online Help at Ancestry and when I have found a "Answer" it often has applied to Family Tree Maker and NOT to the online site. I suppose that the FTM help will be diminished now though I still get answers for FTM use rather than for the online problem I am having. I do NOT want to make phone calls.

    1. Same here! Waiting, waiting... since this time last year. My case has been opened, then closed 2 times now. Never any resolution, hours in the phone queue, to be told, "give it another 2 weeks". None of my outgoing messages have been received or are in my SENT folder since early 2013. My DNA research is stifled. My only work-around is to send an invite to one of my trees, with my own, personal e-mail address in the 'notes' field. That's how I know the other, simplier method is still not working. I DO receive incoming. I've been a paid up subscriber for many years. Please show me the professional expertise that gives me confidence in your product!

  2. I agree with your assessment of the "HUNK OF JUNK". Ever since separated the HELP from the LOGIN I've been experiencing frustrations galore! I've been using for many years but now I can't get on with the latest Chrome Browser. I have to get out of my default Chrome and open FireFox or Opera to get onto the Ancestry website. When using Chrome (my preferred browser) I get the login screen and when I click on LOGIN nothing happens. Frustration Galore!!!!

  3. ancestry help has never worked smoothly. Every question requires multiple hoops jumped through. I google my question and get the answer.

  4. As a point of clarification -

    The "new" Ancestry Support Forum is NOT brand-new.

    It has existed on an Oracle platform since late 2012. The new version is now based on a Salesforce platform.

    It has always had a separate log-on, because it was always hosted separately from the Ancestry website.

    It was the first place we could discuss Beta (which became New Ancestry/Current Ancestry)in the open, among other Beta testers.


  5. I am so sick and tired of ancestry support--in the space of 3 weeks they sent me 3 different addresses to contact support--I would manage to get one report in on a contact link and hte next time it would not work--JMHO ancestry is probably getting complaints out the kazoo these days as the site continues to remain unstable and glitches are no longer the occasional exception.

    I spend about 6 hours a day doing genealogy and MUST run into glitches at least 10-20 times a day....I keep doing reloads and finally whatever I am doing usually works.

    Complaints to ancestry about not being able to add people to stories while you are writing the story keep getting blown off as "it must be a browser problem" BUT when I try the function on 3 different browsers and it still does not work it is NOT a browser problem. This problem with stories has been going on since NEW started.

    NEW ancestry continues to have myriad issues and i suspect the "moving the ball" re where to try to get support for issues, things not working etc is because they don't want us to be able to find them anymore as the complaints are overwhelming them.

    I think the majority of issues are due to programming problems. JMHO if the current programmers cannot seem to fix them, then bring in a different crew. I am tired of glitch after glitch.

    RE the support place that Annie B seems to be referring to---I always had problems with that--and nobody could figure out how to get me into it---when I tried to use same log in it would not let me, BUT when I tried to create a NEW log in it would not let me do that either saying "that email address is already in use" Well of course it is in use---it is the same email address I use for ALL genealogy work. WHY would I want to give them on email address that I don't check

    1. They're taking our money but wasting our valuable research time and experience. I'm 70 years old. Sitting in a phone queue, getting the same old advice time after time, "give it a couple of weeks". A year I've been asking. cf Your Ancestry Case 00155616 Has Been Closed Without Resolution Also see Case #00105654 AND Incident: 160713-000003. executives have walled themselves off from us customers. Round and round we go, paying up to 400 bucks a year, for THIS kind of service?

  6. RE Barbara Ribling comment "It seems to me that Ancestry has always had one of the poorest Help systems of any site I have ever been to. They want us to phone them. The phone Help is fairly good but, why must I make a call to get the help that should be available online? "

    I agree. Although the phone folks DO seem to be the best help you have to sit on hold forever.

    Their help search page is awful! You can never find the answer to the question you have.

    Ancestry support has gotten worse and worse--and many other "features" have degraded as well.

    If they had done a better job of progamming the NEW version they would not be overloaded with complaints.

    It has gotten to the point that the ONLY way to get decent assistance is to sit on the phone, on hold for very long periods of time.

    That is a waste of my time! I don't have 30 minutes to sit on hold with them. I SHOULD be able to email or get other types of support (such as a decent help search)

    Ancestry has created it's own problems in reference to being overwhelmed with complaints etc by installing a NEW version that after about 2 years is still not working properly.

    I love for the plethora of records they have--they ARE the "best game in town" when it comes to records and research BUT they need to seriously work on their HELP search engine and they need to find better ways to actually give us customer service.

    People expect to be able to email these days to get answers to questions or report problems but they are trying to take that away. People don't want to sit on hold for 20-30 minutes. They expect to be able to find answers either through a GOOD Help search or via email.

    Ancestry needs to realize OUR time is as important as theirs--but until they do a better job on their help page OR an email system, the only viable option is to call them.

    MOST sites have a site map--and that often helps to at least find the area you need more info on.

    I really wish the REST of ancestry was as good as its records...


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