Friday, March 20, 2009

More on Ancestry.com and MyLife.com

I dropped the ball on this issue last night due to grandparenting fun...but I'm home now and need blog fodder, so to update the wondering masses of Genea-Musings fans...

1) Anne Mitchell, who works for Ancestry.com, commented on the earlier post that:

"Ancestry.com did NOT give mylife.com any of our subscriber information to seed their databases. And when you click over there from a link on ancestry.com, you have to give them your information....we do not send them any emails or login information."

Thank you, Anne, for the information. I had hoped that that was so, but wasn't sure. That's why I framed it as a question.

2) In Dick Eastman's blog post about this press release, he had some interesting comments. Jan Murphy wrote:

" Those unfamiliar with the controversy about Reunion.com may be interested in this article from David Lazarus, published in the LA Times:
http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-lazarus16apr16,1,3384913.column?page=1. I too wonder why TGN would feel this is a valuable partnership."

Being the inquisitive sort, I checked out the Los Angeles Times article titled "Too Much at This Reunion" by David Lazarus dated 16 April 2008. It says, in part, that:

"As part of the process, she submitted her name, gender, e-mail address, birth date and ZIP Code. Then Schmidt came to a page saying that 'we'll find your friends and family who are already members and also automatically invite any nonmembers to join (it's free!).'

"It instructed her to enter the password for her Yahoo e-mail account."

Apparently, www.Reunion.com, which is now www.MyLife.com, invites people to "join" and allow the site to use their email address book to send out emails to friends, colleagues and acquaintances - anyone in the whole address book - saying "Hi, I looked for you on Reunion.com, the largest people search service -- but you weren't there." Presumably, now it says MyLife.com.

Note that this is unlike other social networking sites, like Facebook and Myspace, where the user controls who they invite to be "Friends."

I suggest that potential users of MyLife.com read the entire Los Angeles Times article above (two pages).

3) Another commenter, jking, on Dick Eastman's post noted that:

"With the BBB report for MyLife and it's predecessor Reunion.com, and the numerous pages devoted to them on the internet (some as recent as three days ago), one has to wonder about this alliance."

Still curious, I went and read the Wikipedia article on Reunion.com here. This article notes that :

"This company practices what the Los Angeles Better Business Bureau calls negative option cancellation. In this sales strategy, customers agree to pay for services unless they cancel within a specified period of time. Members are required to cancel prior to the initial anniversary date to avoid continuing annual charges to their credit cards.

"Complaints from customers not resolved in a satisfactory manner caused the Los Angeles Better Business Bureau to rate Reunion.com 'F'.

"The BBB was concerned that the company used misleading advertising practices by e-mailing customers advising them that people 'may' be searching for them, and offers them to become paid members to find the identity of any people that may search for them in the future."

Please read the whole Wikipedia article also. Thank you to the commenters on Dick Eastman's blog post.

4) My recommendation of "Genealogicus Caveat Emptor" still stands. If you don't want your email contacts, your Facebook contacts, your MySpace contacts and who knows what other contacts to be contacted by MyLife.com, then DO NOT agree to provide your log-in information to the sites with MyLife.com.

5) The web site www.MyLife.com may provide what Ancestry is giving up - the Public Records Index for recent years. I don't know - I haven't checked that yet, but I will soon!

The main question I have is "will it be on the free side, or the 'premium' side of the MyLife subscription?" I bet I know... we'll see!

6) The tenor of the Ancestry.com press release was "look at what we've added, isn't it great?" And it was...until they got to the sticky part (my opinion, but that's why I get the big bucks here at the Genea-Cave) about giving up the Public Records Index and contracting MyLife.com to (ostensibly?) provide it (note that we haven't seen it yet, have we?). See the comments on Gary Gibb's blog post too about MyLife.com capabilities!

7) Why haven't more genealogy bloggers posted about this issue? If a blogger publishes a press release, is that enough? Blogging about genealogy should be much more than just posting press releases. It should be about commenting and providing opinions on genealogy issues - in other words, genea-bloggers should be a "canary in the mineshaft" warning colleagues and readers of problems, in addition to being a "town crier" or "announcer" of events, or a "news reporter" of future, current and past events.

8 comments:

footnoteMaven said...

Posting a press release is not sufficient if you do not know of what you speak. I think we do have an obligation.

A member of my family clicked the yes button for Yahoo mail address book for another non-associated service.

All of the people in her address book were solicited. Some unfortunately were her clients. (Yes, she learned her lesson and no longer has friends and clients in the same account.)

It almost cost her, her job.

Caution is the word of the day!I NEVER give out my password. NEVER!

-fM

michael.hait said...

I'll admit - I have entered my email password when joining sites like Facebook and LinkedIn - haven't had any problems that weren't my own fault, as both sites allow you to choose to whom to send invitations.

I almost fell for the Reunion.com thing but chose not to enter my email information. This was several years ago, and I never heard of the negative aspects of it. But I got enough spam from the company that I just simply stayed away.

It's a shame that Ancestry has done away with their Public Records Index - I have used this in the past to find missing heirs for clients.

Bill West said...

I too wish Ancestry had kept the PRI.

As for the other, I totally agree with fM.Being asked for a password
or an address book sets off my inner red alert and I never give them out!

TamuraJones said...

Randy,

I strongly agree with you. If you that copy & paste a press release without following that up with your own review and impressions, then you are doing your readers a disservice.
The best known example of that in recent years is probably the Family Tree Maker 2008 press release, which several copy & paste bloggers posted without doing their own review or a even one critical footnote.

I have been registered with Reunion to find family members for years, and ignore all their mails except the ones about matches on the searches I registered with them. I never give any third party my email password. I am not eager to share my entire contact list just because they ask. Even if I was willing to import my contacts, they should still use the methods that exist for doing so without demanding my password.

- Tamura

Sharon said...

I would hope that geneabloggers continue to come in all types and styles. I look to some blogs for humor, some for news, some for ideas, and some for opinions. Too many canaries could spoil the mine. Keep up the good work, Randy!

Myrt said...

Ol' Myrt's response is here:

http://blog.dearmyrtle.com/2009/03/trouble-is-brewing-here.html

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)

dudester415 said...

I have a listing on Mylife.com that unfortunately comes up on the top of google searches of my name. My complaint is 1) I never signed up with Mylife and 2) the info is wrong - age is off by 10 years and residence outdated by five years (in my case there are only two people in the U.S. that share my name). Mylife claims they have the right to post this info without my consent. Further, they ask me to join to take charge of the listing and ask me for money. This is outrageous and should be illegal.

BBB Accredited Members said...

That is good article. I like it.