After ten days without a response, I posted a note on the Ancestry.com Group on Facebook, saying:
"What happened to 567 databases on Ancestry during the week of September 14th? There were 32,682 in the Card Catalog on 13 September; on 18 September there were 32,222 (which included 7 new databases between 9/13 and 9/18). So 567 disappeared? What happened? Why doesn't Ancestry tell us, or warn us so we can work in them, when a database is removed from the list? See my blog post in http://www.geneamusings.com/2015/09/where-did-567-databases-on-ancestrycom.html."
After several days, and a prompt from me to some of the Ancestry personnel I know, I received this answer from Kristie Wells:
", we run regular maintenance on our collections and the databases that were removed were really old, low use records that were in a format that is not currently supported. Much of this data is also available in other collections.
"We are not able to provide more details, but as you know we add a lot of content each week and regular maintenance has to be done. This one just happened to be a large batch."
I appreciate that Kristie responded to my question, and provided an informative response.
I, and other researchers, would like to know which databases they were, but it appears that they cannot or will not provide the list of removed databases.
This may happen all the time to one or two databases - I've noticed several times that the number of databases added in a week, according to Ancestry, does not match the change in the total number of databases week to week. But it's impossible (it seems!) to tell which one or two were removed. Oh well.
UPDATED 8 October 2015: Kristie Wells commented on the earlier post today saying:
"I wanted to state it would not be in the best interest of Ancestry to remove collections that provided a good user experience or aren’t available elsewhere. As noted earlier, a good portion of the collections were duplicates of other collections we have available in improved formats and others are still being considered for re-keying.
"Among the collections that were removed, were some text-only city directory indexes that were deleted as we now have indexes and browsable images of those very same directories. Many other collections were text-only local histories and other books that are now duplicated with images of the actual publication and an improved browse.
"For example, the United Empire Loyalists series was text-only and difficult to navigate. We now have the volumes posted with browsable chapters and an index like this one: http://ancstry.me/1LjTzAo
"Other examples include reference books like “The Source,” “Red Book,” and Juliana Szucs' “Family Historian’s Address Book.” The first two are now available free on the Ancestry Wiki: http://ancestry.com/wiki/ and Juliana's “Address Book” was last published in 2003 and most of the links in it and many of the addresses are out of date. There are much better ways to find a society or library now.
"After nearly 20 years of publishing data and reference materials, it is important for us to audit our content to ensure it works with current technology and that customers are getting the best version of the data and reference information that they can incorporate into their family history.
"This is as much as I can say on the matter, but I hope most will see this was required maintenance to ensure the data we provide is reliable and actionable. "
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Copyright (c) 2015, Randall J. Seaver
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