Friday, September 19, 2008 Rantings

Have you noticed that is now You remember - it was a shared family tree web site announced last year - one of many in the genealogy family tree world. If you click on, you are transferred, after several seconds, to The change makes no sense to me - FamilyLink sounds like a "family social network" site to me, not a "family history" site. And that's what is - a social networking site for genealogists and family members, with some family history capabilities.

Why did they change the web site name? They haven't made any external announcement (at least in their newsletter, press releases or on their blog). My guess is that the overall corporate name is - with a number of "products" like FamilyHistoryLink, WorldVitalRecords, WebTree and others (I think).

But as of today, if you click on you go to the social network site and not a corporate web site.

Rant on...

I have been frustrated with because I have been unable to upload a GEDCOM (whether for 20,000 persons or 3,000 persons) to create a database on their site using the "Upload Family Tree" link. After putting my GEDCOM file name in the form, I get a message: Fatal error: Call to undefined function: debug2file() in /var/www/ on line 49.

To make matters worse, when I attempted to "Create family tree" by inputting data one person at a time - I get a message when trying to input my own name: Fatal error: Call to undefined function: debug2file() in /var/www/ on line 114

I feel Rejected! In the "Ancestors of Randy Seaver" family tree, I cannot edit the Root person information - my own name, birth date, etc. When I try to add a child to the root person, it bombs me off again. I feel Frustrated!

For some reason, my WorldVitalRecords Newsletter (a free subscription) stopped coming - the last one I received was 11 August 2008. I tried to find a Newsletter archive on the site and couldn't find one, even on the Site Map link. The only way I could find the Newsletters that I've missed was to go to the sample issue link ( and edit the Issue number in the URL.

Now, I have had no problems using the web site to obtain genealogy records since I subscribed two months ago. And I had no problems with the WebTree application, where I uploaded my 20,000 person tree with no problems.

One last complaint - WorldVital Records has a link to GenealogyPlanet, which is a blog that captures titles, text and graphics of blog posts from many genealogy blogs and provides links to the full blog posts - a genealogy blog aggregator. They have a list of 43 blogs, at least two of which have been dormant for almost two years (can you find them?). Genea-Musings is not on the list, and I emailed them several times (back when GenealogyPlanet started) asking to be added to the list. Rejected again? Or just a bit paranoid?

I know this post sounds like a rant, but I'm just a bit torqued that some things don't work on these web sites and I've spent a considerable amount of time getting frustrated and rejected. If I were charging a client to do work on these sites, they might balk at paying me for not accomplishing anything of value. But then, some may say that "insanity is doing the same thing over and over again with the same negative results" and call me crazy. That shoe might fit!

I hope that some of my readers associated with will read this and take steps to fix their web site links and functions. If I'm feeling rejected and frustrated after 18 months, but am still willing to visit once in awhile, I wonder how many customers they've lost because of a lack of patience?

Rant off...

UPDATED 3 p.m. - see Tamura's two comments about Paul Allen's twitterings and the upload problems.


Anonymous said...

> Fatal error: Call to undefined function: debug2file() in /var/www/ on line 49.
Hm. There is stuff in front of That does not seem right.
Perhaps some search & replace operations for the domain name switch did not go as intended?
If so, the site is likely to be rather glitchy and unreliable until they fix it.

Anonymous said...

> "They haven't made any external announcement (at least in their newsletter, press releases or on their blog). "

I agree FamilyLink is the better name.

I got curious, I and found these three twitter message by Paul Allen (blogging is old school, and hip kids use twitter, and Paul Allen is a hip kid):

making big decisions about genealogy, history, and social networking for families -- one company or three companies?

It's always painful to change domain names. We've moved to to make room for the new

" will be our social network for genealogists. will be our flagship site for connecting to relatives."

Xfaith said...

I remember I tried this site about a week ago, I had an old gedcom on there, so I deleted it.
Now I cant upload a new one either. I guess I could read the twitter comments, but ill just wait a little longer. Was getting same errors as you Randy.

Whitney said...

Hi Randy,

We did indeed change the site to This announcement was made in’s Family History Bulletin last Friday (September 19, 2008) and also on the blog today. The primary reason the Website was changed to is because will have a new site design with lots of new features and functionalities. An exact date for this change has not been set up, but it is coming soon., Inc. will also have a separate site in the future that allows people to link to all of’s products and websites. Another reason was changed to was to give it another website instead of removing the entire site from the web. This allows all the current users to continue to connect with other genealogists. As per the problems uploading GEDCOM’s, the developers and programmers are working on the new site and other, Inc. products and are not spending development time fixing bugs on the beta site of

As per the newsletter (Family History Bulletin), it has gone out every week. There is a newsletter archive you can access (note, you must be logged in to when you click on the link): This archive has all of the past newsletter editions. Also, I checked our list, and you added your name to the list on September 5, 2008. If for some reason you do not get the newsletter on Thursday, please contact me, and I will look into the issue further.

As per the Genealogy Blog Planet, it has not been updated for 2 years, which is why some of the links are dormant. Lots of people have requested that their blog post be added to the site, and no sites have been added. This is simply because we are not focusing on that part of the site right now; more time is being spent on working on the new site, which will be much better than the current site. So, please do not feel offended or rejected. No sites are being added, regardless of status.

We are working as fast and as hard as we can to bring additional improvements to, and the rest of our sites. We appreciate user feedback and always take comments into account when deciding on what to focus on next.

Whitney Ransom McGowan, Director, Corporate Communications,, Inc.

Anonymous said...


"....and are not spending development time fixing bugs on the beta site of"

Although Randy's rant is about the site not working, you write as if there are minor defects only.
You seem to be implying that all major issues have been resolved.
I just tried the simplest thing possible: signing up.

The sign up demands to know where I live, and tells me to enter "only your city, country, and state".
That text does not seem entirely right to me, but I tried various formats.
I tried "Leiden". I tried "Leiden, Zuid-Holland, Netherlands". I tried "Netherlands".
Whatever I fill in, as soon as I push next, I get a pop-up: "getGeoCode is not a function".
I suggest you check whether there is a recent and dramatic drop in the number of new sign ups.

- Tamura