Monday, August 17, 2009

Whither MemberConnect on Ancestry.com?

Ancestry.com announced the MemberConnect service to great fanfare about three weeks ago. I looked at it then, briefly, in Ancestry.com Changes Record Image Pages but my focus wasn't really on MemberConnect at the time. I thought it was interesting that "recent activity" on persons in my database would be listed on my Ancestry.com home page.

Here is the information page about what is included in the Member Connect recent activity list? (from a link on my home page):



[I note that it has numbers 1, 3, 5, and 7 - what are numbers 2, 4, 6, and 8?]

It essentially says that whenever someone else saves something from my tree, or I save something from someone else's tree, or someone with whom I share a tree adds or changes something in the tree, then it will be on the Member connect activity list on my Ancestry.com home page.

I've been seeing EXACTLY the SAME Member Connect activity since 29 July on my home page. Here is a screen shot of my home page from today (about 3:15 p.m. PDT):


At the top of my "Recent Member Connect Activity" list is data for July 27th. I even clicked on the "See more activity" link and more Recent Activity was added:



Now that's all very nice, although I didn't see anything that added to my own family tree. And I haven't saved anything from anyone else's tree. I don't recognize most of the people in the databases - they aren't in my database, but they are probably in Midge Frazel's database, for which I'm a shared member.

BUT, and it's a big BUT - this is August 17th, not July 27th. Has nobody done any Member Connect activity on my tree, or on Midge's tree, since July 27th? If they have, why doesn't it show up in my Member Connect Activity area on my Ancestry.com home page? 'Tis a quandary.

Since I was tired of seeing the same stuff that I wasn't interested in, I decided to "Customize my Home Page" (there's a link near the top right on the page). I moved the "Recent Member Connect Activity" down on the page below the main "Search Box" and the "What's Happening at Ancestry.com" box. I added the "Ancestry.com Blog" and the "Record Collections" features too, which should help me navigate better and be more aware of the blog items.

To customize your home page, click on the "Customize my home page" link. They give you a list of about eight items you can add to the right-hand list. You can pick and choose from the list. Then you can use the up arrow (to promote an item toward the top), the down arrow (to demote an item toward the bottom) or the trash can (to delete the item) for the main (left-hand) list and the right-hand list. When done, you can Exit from the customizing and see your new home page format. Pretty cool.

My "new" customized home page looks like this (two screens):




At least something good came from this look at the Member Connect features!

Is anybody else having trouble getting new content for their Member Connect activity? I rebooted my computer, renewed my Ancestry.com home page, and signed off and signed in again, thinking maybe it was a cached copy that I was seeing, but nothing changed.



9 comments:

Taneya said...

Probably not what you want to hear, but I see new activity everyday.

Tracy said...

I, too, have been seeing new info daily. I just finished listening/watching their webinar on this feature. It should be available for replay on their website in a few days. The more records you have specifically attached to the individuals in your tree will increase the amount of data you see in that summary. Another alternative is to go directly to an individual in your tree and look to see what other individuals have in their public trees that may be a match. Lastly, if you find a specific historical document(i.e. census image) you can see who else has attached that image to your tree. They also listed an email address for feedback which I *think* is memberconnectfeedback@ancestry.com. I didn't bother to write that address down so perhaps watching the webinar may be helpful. I think this could be a very powerful tool to help break down some brick walls.

TamuraJones said...

Randy. You asked: "I note that it has numbers 1, 3, 5, and 7 - what are numbers 2, 4, 6, and 8?"
The answer is that they should have been numbered 1, 2, 3, 4, but that they messed up the list.

The page code for the ordered list should look like this:

<ol>
<li>Item 1</li>
<li>Item 2</li>
<li>Item 3</li>
<li>Item 4</li>
</ol>

but it looks like this:

<ol>
<li>Item 1</li>
<li style="LIST-STYLE-TYPE: none"><p></p></li>
<li>Item 3</li>
<li style="LIST-STYLE-TYPE: none"><p></p></li>
<li>Item 5</li>
<li style="LIST-STYLE-TYPE: none"><p></p></li>
<li>Item 7</li>
<li style="LIST-STYLE-TYPE: none"><p></p></li>
</ol>

You are not missing anything.
There are eight items in that list, but only four of these contain useful text.

David Graham said...

Randy,

Thanks for your post. We'll get the error with the Help article numbering fixed. We haven't seen previous reports of the recent activity list not updating, but we'll look into it right away. If I have an update, I'll post it here.

Thanks,
David Graham
Ancestry.com product management

waitfamily said...

I agree with Tracy... the more individual records I connect with people, the more alerts I get when they're updated.

So far, though, it's mostly people attaching my photos to their trees. =)

Geolover said...

Randy, you asked, "Is anybody else having trouble getting new content for their Member Connect activity?"

Trouble? You will get such notifications on your home page any time someone saves a so-called Ancestry 'record' (extract of an image or from a book) to some distant cousin in your tree or in a tree to which you are invited.

You should also be notified if someone uploads a story or image to someone in their tree that supposedly matches someone in your tree.

Some people are experiencing getting notified when someone saves to one of their tree people a 'record' from a US Census item on the same page as something the complainant had saved to their tree.

You will be notified even if you have saved the same item to the person in your tree. You will be notified if the item is one someone took from your tree.

You will be notified if someone makes an addition or comment to some database item that you have saved to a person in your tree.

If nobody is saving stuff to people in their tree who supposedly match people in your tree, you will not get a notification.

There are disagreements about the value of getting notified when someone saves a US Census item to one of your 5th cousins twice removed.

David Graham said...

Randy,

After digging in a little bit I have an update on why there was a lot of activity on your list on July 27th, but nothing since.

It appears that when we processed our earliest activity items before we rolled the feature live to the site we included activity items for trees you are just a contributor on. We were concerned that this would overwhelm members with activity that they weren’t very interested in and made a change so that you are only notified about activity in a tree you are invited to if you are a full editor of that tree. So in your case you initially received some activity items for a tree you were invited to as a contributor, and then that stopped when we made our change. Sorry for the confusion.

Depending upon the member, some may receive very few activity items and others may get so much that it is a bit overwhelming. We’ll only notify members about activity directly related to an individual in their tree or a specific historical record they have interacted with, but some of these items will be more interesting than others. We’re working to make it easier to get to the most relevant activity on the list.

Thanks,
David Graham
Ancestry.com product management

Lisa Louise Cooke said...

Great post Randy!

I had an opportunity to take a live video tour of Member Connect online with David Graham for The Genealogy Gems Podcast and have published the first 2 parts of that tour in two videos.

Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3OWleu7S8X8&feature=related

and Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kX4hsGQQHig

It was great to get to go over it with David. I can understand some of the frustrations that folks are experiencing, but I can also see great potential with it. Will be interesting to see it evolve.

Apple said...

I like Member Connect. I agree that the listings on my home page aren't always helpful or of interest but there have been little gems. I like it best when used from an individual profile page. I don't do screen shots and explanations as well as you but since you're traveling, I gave it my best shot.