Thursday, January 29, 2009

I tried We're Related GEDCOM Upload again - fail!

The Paul Allen (CEO of FamilyLink.com) presentations I mentioned earlier this week seem to claim that We're Related is one of the most useful and used applications on social networks like Facebook, Myspace, etc. The charts in the presentation showed We're Related being used on an iPhone and other personal media devices.

Being the inquisitive joiner type, I added We're Related to my Facebook applications one year ago, and tried to use it in October by uploading a GEDCOM to it. I posted about my experience here. Unfortunately, the GEDCOM upload failed.

Then there was a WorldVitalRecords Newsletter article last week that claimed that the GEDCOM upload feature would be available on 23 January:

" We're Related on Facebook has just added a major site enhancement, which will be available by noon on Friday. Now, individuals can upload their Gedcom files (up to 8 megabytes). The process is smooth and easy. The family tree section on We're Related is also much easier to use. Plus, every person on We're Related now has their own profile page that their relatives can view.

"We're Related is growing rapidly. We're Related currently has more than 19.2 million users with 10.5 million monthly active users. It is the number five application on Facebook for the "most active users." We're Related on Facebook is free. Join today!"

I thought "great, I'll try it again." I tried on Saturday last week, and I was able to upload a 2 mb GEDCOM file to the We're Related application on Facebook. But then I couldn't figure out how to use - there are no real Help files anywhere I could find.

When I checked back on Monday, the uploaded GEDCOM file wasn't there. I have no clue where it is. And when I tried to upload a GEDCOM, I got the same message that I got back in October - "We appreciate all the feedback we've recieved (sic) from the community on our GEDCOM uploads. Our engineers are actively working to bring GEDCOM uploads to the new version of our app. In the next week, and as soon as uploading is working flawlessly, we will reactivate this feature."

This GEDCOM upload problem doesn't affect the family tree data that users input by hand to the We're Related application. I was able to add my parents to the application easily. But that method is not really time efficient when I have thousands of persons in a GEDCOM waiting to be uploaded.

Genealogists can be the ones that "seed" these the database with relatives - from there they can invite relatives with names in the database to join Facebook (or the other networks) and to use We're Related.

I, and many other genealogists, are not going to take the time to add hundreds of persons to We're Related one person at a time. Frankly, we will leap on the first Facebook application that permits a GEDCOM upload of a large database.

Obviously, FamilyLink.com has some problems with the GEDCOM upload feature. I hope the problems are solved soon. I, and others, am frustrated by the promises of "next week" and "Friday at noon" that are not redeemed.

To make matters worse for me, the other two family tree web applications don't work for me either. http://www.familyhistorylink.com/ will not accept a GEDCOM file from me, although I can search what is already there submitted by other researchers. http://www.webtree.com/ has my family tree information on it, but when I click Login I get "Error on Page" and it won't allow me to login. Same thing happens if I click "Join Now." There are trees being added somehow. More frustration.

I really, really want FamilyLink.com to be a successful business that brings genealogists together. The online family trees are one way to connect to other researchers and family members with common ancestors. The social networking aspects are an outstanding way to put extended family members in touch with each other in our busy and farflung world. The only site that works well at this time is http://www.worldvitalrecords.com/, which I am glad about!

But all of the interface pieces to a web site have to work, be attractive and inviting. The FamilyLink.com family tree/social network sites and applications don't work well right now, IMHO.

Having over 19 million people signed up for We're Related won't really matter unless the system works well for everyone involved. I realize that FamilyLink.com has found a significant revenue source using this application, but frustrated users are not happy users that will click the application regularly.

Am I too impatient?

4 comments:

Midge Frazel said...

I tried it too and it didn't work.

Jean-Yves said...

It never worked for me!

Thomas MacEntee said...

Randy you are not impatient. I had actually blocked the application in Facebook several months ago because I felt it was clunky and I could not get it to work. Plus I was p*ssed off at the advertisements at the bottom which used misleading CONTINUE buttons to get you to activate their ads.

So with all the news from Paul Allen these past few weeks I thought I'd give it a try. And . . . . FAIL. You are spot on when you say that 19 million users don't matter if it don't work.

I am still waiting for a serious genealogy Facebook app that will work and perhaps link back to my data on Geni or Ancestry.

Valorie Zimmerman said...

I jumped on the bandwagon of this app very early on. It appeared to work the first day I used it -- only to have all my work disappear. It has never worked right since, although many family members have joined and added their info. There is no good way to merge what I've done and their additions.

GEDCOM? I haven't even tried. I've never tried a program which reduced me to helpless fury so many times -- and yet I keep coming back to try again. Horrible, and ..... hopeful? ::sigh::