Monday, August 22, 2016

RootsWeb Update for 20 August 2016

RootsWeb by Ancestry logoHere is the latest I know about the RootsWeb website.

As of 20 August 2016

  • Freepages FTP service seems to be down still.
  • Mailing lists seem to have miscellaneous problems with archives and admin tools.
  • I was able to browse mailing list archives. I understand that was recently broken.
  • The mailing list archive search doesn’t return any emails since sometime in April.
  • I was able to subscribe to a mailing list.
  • I hear reports that emails are being sent, but spam filters are not working, so a lot of the email is spam.
  • User contributed data stats haven’t been updated since 24 February 2016. I don’t know if RootsWeb is currently accepting new data.
  • There are currently 15,297 web pages in the freepages genealogy community index. I haven’t monitored it for change, but there it is.
  • The freepages file manager, http://freepages.rootsweb.ancestry.com/­fileman/, is still missing.

DonFT wrote on 19 August 2016:

I heard from somebody at RW Help whose reply included the words "decisions are being made as to the future availability of this feature." My impression was that the person was referring to the free pages generally. Suggests to me that they may be abandoning the whole thing. Thoughts?

BKip wrote on 18 August 2016:

Having been unable to access the Freepages File Manager since sometime in July I’ve been mostly in the dark about what is going on. My site is fully available for viewing, but I am unable to make any updates. An email to the help desk gave me an ambiguous reply leaving me just as confused. This page is the first place I’ve found where there is at least a bit of information.

Is there another place where there is more information on the status of Freepages?

Is Freepages expected to continue?

Is there a different URL to log-in to the File Manager? http://freepages.rootsweb.ancestry.com/fileman/file_manager.cgi

Any further information would be truly appreciated.

BKip, I’m afraid I have very little information you don’t already have. There is a status page (http://helpdesk.rootsweb.com/ or http://rootsweb.custhelp.com/), but Ancestry.com is not using it.

Tim received this message from RootsWeb on 15 August 2016:

Dear Tim,
Thank you for contacting RootsWeb in regard to Mailing List spam.
We are sorry that you are encountering a problem with spam. We will do all that we can to assist you. The Mailing Lists are undergoing maintenance. Spam filters have temporarily been turned off during this process. Other tools including those for subscribing and unsubscribing are also not available at this time. We expect the spam filters to be re-enabled soon. We apologize for the inconvenience and appreciate your patience.

Bobango2 sent this query to RootsWeb:

Checking in once again on the repairs to the Freepages file manager. RW has over 15000 sites listed in this category. It would be nice to know that they are still working on the issue and have a completion date in mind. It is very frustrating for those of us who have devoted hundreds of hours to these pages not to be able to upload new material or make corrections. Surely, someone in IT can throw light on this matter.

He received this reply on 15 August 2016:

Thank you for contacting RootsWeb in regard to maintenance to the site.
We sincerely apologize for the length of time the maintenance is taking. We had hoped it would be completed by now. Our development team is working on getting this completed as quickly as possible, it is just taking longer than expected. We appreciate your patience and understanding during this time.
If there is anything else with which we might assist you, please let us know

I received this message from the RootsWeb product manager on 15 August 2016:

Right now we are dealing with getting the spam filters working on the mailing lists again. I have nothing new to report other than we are trying to fix problems as we find them.

So, there’s what I know. Post comments as the situation evolves and any of you learn more.

P.S. I got to thinking. How long will Ancestry.com keep the mailing lists running? How much are the mailing lists being used now days? Here’s the historical picture for the number of messages sent during the month of July, since 1995. (Note I skipped some years, as indicated by the dots.) Writing on the wall, guys. Writing on the wall.

Historical graph of the number of RootsWeb mailing list messages during the month of July

5 comments:

  1. I belong to two lists, my Lowry surname list (which I admin) and the Transitional Genealogy Forum. The Lowry list had just two messages posted to it in 2015, while the TGF see multiple messages each day. I also belong to several active Google Groups. I believe there is still a place to communicate via email with like-minded genealogists. Facebook, Twitter, and the Ancestry.com forums (among others) just give us additional avenues. I would hate to see Ancestry turn off these features.

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  2. The mailing lists were having problems last week where spam was getting through to just about every list because of the server moves, and the fact that the List administrators were unable to get into their tools to adjust the settings. By the end of the week, however, most of that had been fixed, and as of this morning, Monday, Aug. 22, I haven't seen any spam from any of the many lists I'm subscribed to.

    I personally doubt if Ancestry is planning on doing away with their mailing lists, after having just moved them to new servers.


    As for the Freepages, I don't know the plans that may be in store for them, however, for those who use FTP for uploading their files, that does seem to work with new security settings as worked out and generously shared by the members of the Freepages community:

    http://freepages.computers.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~pasher/encryptedFTP.html

    For those who use the File Manager to upload, that seems to be the system may be done away with. I've never used it, but it could be that those who use it may have to change their method of uploads to via FTP. The reference to "decisions are being made as to the future availability of this feature." sounds to me like they were talking about the File Manager, since that is the only feature in Freepages which hasn't returned. That might be an outdated system that they consider to be not as useful as others.


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  3. I wonder if the problem with File Manager is the new security layers. File Manager allowed uploading of files from the user's remote computer, I assume using FTP piggybacked on HTML. Is TLS available for a piggybacked connection?

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  4. I think your message chart generally tracks my personal use. It peaked 15 years ago and has been declining every since. Most of the half a dozen of lists I'm subscribed are down to one or two posts a month. I would guess that the RW traffic has moved to Facebook.

    Our local genealogy society has a long tradition of publishing member queries in its quarterly journal. This year we had gone three issues without a query and it appeared that we were going to break a 38 year tradition as we assembled our fourth issue. So I wrote a query to keep the tradition going but I see a day that we will cease publishing queries entirely. Even publishing a traditional local genealogy journal is something that has probably seen its day.

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  5. The Freepages File Manager is up and all functions appear to be working.

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