Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Reader Comments About the Ancestry.com MyFamily Retirement

There were several comments on my blog post BIG News from Ancestry.com - Announcing Retirement of Several Features and Websites (posted 5 June 2014) that deserve airing and an answer.  

There is a Frequently Asked Questions page for the MyFamily retirement created by Ancestry.com at http://www.ancestry.com/cs/faq/myfamily-faq.


The comments from Genea-Musings readers:

1)  Kim Garrison said:  "I am appalled that they are retiring the MyFamily sites. I am active on all five family sites. One site, the Landes site, has over 89 pages of photos alone...that's 1,335 photos! My cousins and I interact on almost a daily basis. I see no other service comparable in organization, search capability and ability to communicate effectively. My cousins and I are in absolute shock and feel like we are all going to lose touch with 'the family'."

2)  Don noted:  "Ancestry just doesn't realize the amount of time spent in developing these sites, and the amount of valuable family information and photos that are on each site....not to mention the cohesive element of keeping family informed and in touch.

"This was a horrible decision for those of us who have spent over a decade on multiple sites gathering family, and loading multiple photos, historical documents and stories. Now they expect us to completely dismantle what took all of that time to assemble and attempt to put it back together on a different site which is not set up as conveniently as MyFamily is. None of the 3 alternative sites that Ancestry offers is as user-friendly, nor do I wish to learn a new system.

"Ancestry has become a huge corporation that is only interested in making money. Do they forget where they came from ~~~~> MyFamily.com. Now they stomp on their own roots. Shame on Ancestry. They'll not get another penny from me.  Call and complain at 1-888-265-7491"


3)  Jason Rhoads offered:  "I am also appalled - they are shutting down the site with no real option of migrating our content! 

"I am looking at moving our alone home somewhere else.   Just for reference, here are some alternatives I found:


http://www.familylobby.com
http://www.familydetails.com
http://www.mygreatbigfamily.com

"I'm sure there are others but these appear to have been around for a while."

4)  Don said:  "spokt.com appears to be a viable alternative. They are willing to accommodate myfamily refugees and they are working on a migration tool. Have a look.~~~~>
http://blog.spokt.com/general/myfamily-alternative/7405

I also spoke to several people at the SCGS genealogy Jamboree about the MyFamily retirement, and one of them, Gene, explained his challenge:

Gene has a family association database with over 80,000 persons in it, contributed over many years by hundreds of researchers, on the MyFamily site.  The association members add their stories, photos and family data to the MyFamily site continuously, and they have a wonderful, friendly, collaborative and supportive community there.  What should Gene, and his association, do?  While it wasn't free on MyFamily, it was cost effective and accessible.

I have several suggestions for Gene and his family association, assuming they want the information to be free (or nearly so), private (to the association members), collaborative (anyone can add, edit, delete information), and everlasting (is anything?).  

1)  An Ancestry.com Private Member Tree with one owner (Gene?), and any number of Editors (the association members).  The owner can sync the AMT with Family Tree Maker software (for a backup of the important data). The editors/members can edit information, add media, sources, notes, etc., and can make comments on person profiles.  The association members would have to have a free Ancestry.com guest subscription (no credit card) in order to access the information.  Members with an Ancestry.com subscription could attach record summaries and images.  

One problem with this option is that the sense of community might be lost due to the Ancestry privacy restrictions - living people are hidden from viewing to other subscribers.  That was one of the features of MyFamily - celebrating the birthdays and anniversaries, seeing and commenting on the posted family pictures, etc.  Perhaps a private Facebook group for the association would be an alternative, but now there are two websites to monitor by the members.

2)  MyHeritage.com may have something similar to Ancestry.com, but it has the same drawbacks noted above.

3)  A Geni.com tree with privacy controls might be an option, especially for the family association interaction and collaboration, but it does not permit a GEDCOM upload of the family tree data.  \\

4)  The association could build a family website using the Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding program (http://lythgoes.net/genealogy/software.php).  It does require purchase of the software, plus a domain name and web host for the site.  It would satisfy the genealogy research aspect of the association, but i'm not sure about the social aspect of the association.  

5)  There are other potential websites, including a family association wiki, but those would have to be built up using the MyFamily content.  

6)  Check out the websites mentioned above by Don in his comment.  It appears that Spokt.com is similar to MyFamily and is working on a MyFamily export tool to bring MyFamily data into Spokt.  

What do my readers think?  What family sites should individuals or groups use to migrate their MyFamily data?


copyright (c) 2014, Randall J. Seaver





13 comments:

Candace said...

Family Crossings also indicates they will have a migration tool for MyFamily. Their site has many of the aspects of MyFamily, but not the family tree connection.

Karen Palmer said...

One thing that Ancestry has left out of their announcement is that their "export" tool so far is only downloading jpeg files. In addition these jpegs are in an absolutely useless format as the export tool has stripped them of their original file names or any other identifying information. Its great to download 5000 pictures it is not great not to know who is in those 5000 pictures. Ancestry has been less than forthcoming with their responses to questions about this problem.

Gene Pennington said...

Randy: Thank you for your help and suggestions on this issue of MyFamily.com closing. As you mentioned, my surname research association, Pennington Research Association, Inc. (www.PenningtonResearch.org) has been in the process of moving our large database to MyHeritage for a few months now. While we are facing a few problems (primarily with having more than 1 site manager), we do like what we've found and are still moving forward with the move. For my personal use, I am very pleased with MyHeritage and have moved it from MyFamily.com to MyHeritage. If anybody wishes more information please contact me at RD1@PenningtonResearch.org. Gene Pennington, Research Director

K.Simon said...

We have looked at both familycrossing.com and efamily.com for options. Both have been responsive in terms of wanting to add the features we would like to use. FamilyCrossings.com needs some kind of field on the family's home page where recent content appears to update people about what's been added; currently it does not. eFamily has that in spaces; it's practically all it does, though, and needs more organization around "stories." Both do have albums. Both have offered to assist with migration. However, if MyFamily will not cooperate in exporting all content and not just jpgs, there isn't much these sites can do. If you can move your site before MyFamily.com goes away, at least you have copy and paste to save all your text content; there is little else one could do. And today, MyFamily.com is completely down...so folks who haven't exported may have lost everything if they, in fact don't come back up again.

There's a lot of frustration around this, and in the midst of it, my ancestry.com membership came up for renewal. I can't stomach paying them a dime right now.

C Panetta said...

mygreatbigfamily.com has built in family tree / genealogy feature, document archive area, photo sharing and many more interactive features.

C Panetta said...

Mygreatbigfamily.com also has a free trial offer. The number of features they offer is quite extensive and you can turn on / off any features you want / don't want to use. Don't think there is anyone out there with a more extensive feature set. The family tree / genealogy feature is quite extensive and you can import your family tree (gedcom (.ged) file) using their gedcom importer.

iBoardIncorporated said...

A great alternative for MyFamily.com is the Family iBoard (http://familyiboard.com/), a private and secure desktop and mobile app specifically designed for families. Check out the Family iBoard Promo Video at http://youtu.be/obpGMLrMCJs to learn more!!!

spoktrj said...

Thanks for the links to Spokt. We've had a lot of interest from MyFamily refugees since their announcement. Today we rolled out Mayflower the official MyFamily.com migration tool that will capture all of the news, history, photos, file cabinet files, reviews, recipes, threaded replies to all of those sections, and more. If you would like to read all the details, you can start with our official blog post here:

http://blog.spokt.com/general/introducing-mayflower-the-official-myfamily-com-to-spokt-migration-tool/

Or you can go to the official Mayflower page here:

http://spokt.com/mayflower/myfamily-migration-export-tool

K.Simon said...

Some thoughts:

Spokt: It's also great that they might pull off a migration tool that gathers all images, comments, and stories. They also say they will provide an export tool, so even if you don't use spokt going forward, all of that could be VERY helpful. But we won't know how any of this works until very close to end date, and that is a problem.

Spokt also does not have a daily or weekly newsltter that can be automated to go out for us, and in our case, we really do need that. Also it doesn't have great organization as far as i can tell; we like to keep our materials in family groupings because the family is so large. We are asking about newsletters and about whether a main hub can have sub hubs but have not learned the answer yet.

eFamily.com; beautiful interface, also offers phone apps which is very nice. It's really simple and easy to use, visitors can just click on "add a photo, add a story, add a video," etc. It does have Albums for photo organization and they say they are adding organization folder abilities for other info; in the meantime, we can just, by using photos, make an "album" for recipes, or for stories, as a workaround. They have no advertising nor do they share info with any advertisers. And they offer, right now, the ability to download all of your content onto a dropbox or as a zip; I tested it and it works the way I WISH myfamily had worked. Everything is there: comments, stories, members, photos.

familycrossings.com has a lot of options and features, but also a lot of advertising, which is odd given how expensive they are. To get to 2 GB we'd be paying about $250 a year. And the home page has not area that shows everything most recently added. I was back and forth with them for a week about this; it doesn't seem to exist. (The "latest news" area just contains anyting you've clicked there to add, it does not contain, automatically, any new photos or stories.) The look is pretty outdated, but the underlying html looks fine.

mygreatbigfamily.com was just so ugly. And the html is out of date. Like, WAY out of date, loaded with TDs and TRs, which have been the wrong way to code a site for about 10 years now; I was pretty shocked to see it. I would not recommend going with a company using code that old...they are going to have a huge expense in time and money to update it and clearly, they are putting that off. Why? I haven't asked them; they weren't high enough on our list to be in touch, but I would ask them about it if you are considering them.


iBoardIncorporated said...

Another option is the Family iBoard, a truly private and secure family social network desktop and mobile app (www.familyiboard.com). Family iBoard is working on an MyFamily.com input function for the easy upload of all of a family's MyFamily.com content to the Family iBoard. Family iBoard will be featured on Lifetime Television's The Balancing Act on July 31st and August 8th. Check out the TV Shows commercial for this segment at http://youtu.be/WuyZCctYt9U

Bill Anderson said...

We started using MyGreatBigFamily.com a few weeks ago and really can't say enough about all the features they have built into their private family website offering. The neat thing is your can activate or deactivate any features you want on the site. The family tree features (they call it Family Explorer) are outstanding with descendant views, hourglass views, ancestral views with the ability to add historical facts about each family member and reporting. We easily and quickly imported a GEDCOM of our family tree into the site and now have our family tree online. There are definitely some knowledgeable genealogists behind the family tree design of this site. What is also really cool about the site is that in addition to the common shared features of the site, every family member can create their own homepage within the site in which they can share personal news and photos (personal websites within a website). Common areas of the site include photo albums, message boards, live interactive chat, file archives, calendar, news, family reunion page, photo slideshows, club pages, polls, recipes. Have to say there are so many features built into this thing that we actually turned some off that we won't be using right away but good to know they are there if we want to use them. The site also has a newsletter feature and a What's New page that quickly let's you see everything new of the site. Let's Talk is a really neat feature that allows you to leave messages and also acts as a live chat when multiple people are in Let's Talk. This site is myfamily and so much more. I can't speak to code end of things but this has everything we want that others are just promising in the future and it works and works well. The site is customizable and the individual family homepages are as well so you can personalize to your taste. Support has been great and is quick to respond. We started off with a free trial site which I would recommend but quickly realized they offered everything we wanted and more and turned it into a live site. Our family is heavily into the genealogy side of things so this site which combines genealogy features and social features suits us well. We have definitely found a new home at MyGreatBigFamily.com. I would seriously encourage others to at least take a look and give a trial site a test drive.

iBoardIncorporated said...

Please keep in mind what "private" really means with many of these family social network platforms. A "private network" versus "private content" is two much different things. A private network allows you to limit the people that have access to the content in that network, but does not make the content private. Therefore, anyone in your "private network" can easily access the content you post, save it, and then redistribute it to other public networks. Even the sister of the creator of Facebook, posted a picture on her "private network" on Facebook, and one of the members in that private network, grabbed the picture and then put it on Twitter, and it went viral (http://www.forbes.com/sites/kashmirhill/2012/12/26/oops-mark-zuckerbergs-sister-has-a-private-facebook-photo-go-public/)

The Family iBoard is a TRULY private family network, where all of the content that you post, is encrypted and decrypted on the fly, only within the application, and cannot be acquired by anyone in your private network, unless they ask you permission. Even things like "Print Screen" are disabled within the Family iBoard, to truly keep your content private.

In addition to the Family iBoard's unique privacy features, there are many other unique family designed features and functions.

The Family iBoard's Lifepath is a unique timeline feature that is a graphic representation of a person’s complete life history. Any photo, story, keepsake, achievement, etc. that is posted and tagged with a family member’s name and actual date of occurrence is automatically and chronologically compiled into their “lifepath.”

The Family iBoard's Virtual Member feature, allows you to create free membership profiles for family members that have passed away, or for young children that are not old enough to have an account. This allows all members to create stories, keepsakes, and other important family information around a family member, to be stored in the family's digital safe, along with allowing these virtual members to have their own unique Family iBoard LifePath.

The Family iBoard is free for 60 days, and then is only $7.99 per year per member, and there is mufti-member group rates at a even a lower cost. I would highly suggest that you check it out at http://familyiboard.com/

Jeffery Hixon said...

I wanted to provide an update on SPOKT.com

They have completed the MyFamily migration tool called Mayflower and have already successfully imported several MyFamily 1.0 sites.

Be sure to read the comments with customer reactions to seeing their data saved! You can read more on the blog here:
http://blog.spokt.com/general/mayflower-imports-week-1/