Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Looks like Ancestry has discovered blogging

It's about time, isn't it? Shouldn't every commercial genealogy company have a blog capability affiliated with their web site in order to announce new databases, added capabilities, acquisitions and the like?

Of course, Ancestry has published a Weekly Ancestry News for years, and had a Daily Ancestry News for awhile, which was replaced by the 24/7 Family History Circle blog edited by Juliana Smith. A weekly email containing the blog posts comprises the current Ancestry Weekly News sent by email to subscribers for FREE.

It makes sense for The Generations Network to create a blog for each of its' major products. There are already blogs for:

* 2.0

* Rootsweb NewsRoom

* Blog

At the latter site, the introductory post on 25 September said:

"Welcome to the Ancestry Blog! We’ve created this Ancestry blog as the place to keep you connected with what’s going on at It’s a place to learn about new additions – our products, content, features and other services – as we develop them. Here you will read blog posts from the people who create and develop these products and features for

"You’ll find blog posts on all sorts of topics: content and digitization, family trees and other site features. Learn the latest company news, see what the press has to say about the company, even offer your opinion in interactive polls. Read posts from the people who are continually working to improve Family Tree Maker, Ancestry Press, DNA Ancestry, Ancestry print publications and many other products. Chat with Tim Sullivan, president and CEO of The Generations Network, parent company of

"And, we want to hear from you. We hope you’ll leave comments and offer your thoughts, ideas and other opinions. Share your ideas on what works, what needs to improve and what you’d like to see on the site in the future."

That sounds like a well-intentioned effort to try to communicate with the subscribers of Ancestry services. However, "the proof is in the pudding" as they say. Is a blog really the most efficient and user-friendly way to communicate between customers and providers? It may be, but it might not be.

Are they saying that TGN CEO Tim Sullivan is writing the blog? Or that users can somehow "chat" with him, presumably electronically? Perhaps that is in the near future.

To date, the blog has 8 posts (over 25 days) concerning Ancestry Press, FamilyTreeMaker and DNA Ancestry products. There are a few congratulatory comments, but there are few real constructive or critical comments yet - probably because these blogs are new to the genealogy world.

However, there are three sub-blogs on the list at the main blog - one for Ancestry Press, one for FamilyTreeMaker and one for DNA Ancestry. However, the main blog has posts for all of them.

For Ancestry databases and FamilyTreeMaker, there are message boards for review and comment and they are well used by subscribers trying to figure out how to use the products or services. There are also lists of Frequently Asked Questions on each web site in an effort to communicate with users and subscribers.

It seems to me that using one blog - the blog - to try to communicate with users and subscribers of all of The Generations Network products will not work out well.

If asked, I would have recommended creating separate blogs for each product with a unique blog name - a blog family, if you will. A separate blog for each of the family - US, Canada, UK, Sweden, Germany, France, Italy, Australia, etc. would probably work much better than one blog for all of

Likewise, a blog just for FamilyTreeMaker communication would probably be better than hiding the FTM light under the blog bushel.

Of course, with blogs most of us know that CONTENT is everything. A blog requires constant care and feeding - often one or more posts a day - to maintain readership and to communicate with its readers. Will the developers of the different TGN products be able to regularly post development news and answer comments and questions from users?

Will The Generations Network really listen to the suggestions, comments and questions from their users and subscribers? After the public relations stumbles of the past 12 months, I wonder if they have the commitment to listen to the Voice of their Customers. If they have that commitment, then they need to demonstrate it. I sincerely hope that they will. If they don't, their competitors will gradually overtake them (I realize that it might be a very long chase!).


Unknown said...

Good heavens, Randy, where did people get this corrupted expression? And you're not the only one to do it, so it's nothing personal.

However, "the proof is in the pudding" as they say.

When have you ever looked in pudding for proof? OK, education time. The expression is as follows:

"The proof of the pudding is in the eating."

Doesn't the original make far more sense than the corruption we often hear? Sure, if the pudding tastes good, then we know the recipe was sound.

I will now alight from my soapbox. Thanks for your kind indulgence. Please pass me the pudding.

Happy Dae.

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