Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Does Ancestry World Tree = WorldConnect Project?

Some people are surprised when I tell them that the Ancestry World Trees (which are FREE to view on Ancestry.com for registered users) and the WorldConnect Project database on Rootsweb (which are FREE for anybody, no registration required) are the same database.

But are they exactly the same database? I wondered about that, when I noticed different totals of persons in the two different databases last night. Here is the screen shot from the Ancestry World Tree page in the Card Catalog:

The Ancestry World Tree is listed with 467,671,004 records. The page says:

"The Ancestry World Tree contains nearly 400 million names in family trees submitted by our users. The Ancestry World Tree is the largest collection of its kind on the Internet. "

Another set of numbers that don't match.

I decided to see how many Smiths were in this database, and found:

There are 4,617,751 Smith entries in the Ancestry World Tree database.

Okay - now I have two points for comparison.

Off to the WorldConnect Project database at Rootsweb - here's the start page:

The page above says that there are "More than 575 million names on file." Hmmm, that's different from the Ancestry World Tree number - I thought that they were the exact same database. I entered "Smith" in the Last Name field above to see how many Smith surname entries there are in the WorldConnect Project database.

Here is the search result for the "Smith" last name:

The screen above says that there are 4,617,751 entries for the Smith surname. That's the same exact number as were in the Ancestry World Tree. How could the two databases NOT be the same?

I did the same experiment with three other surnames, and got the exact same number for each in both the Ancestry World Tree database and the WorldConnect Project database on Rootsweb. So the numbers in the two databases are the same.

How many records are really in the two databases? The last screen above probably provides the right answer: 601,084,936 (it's above the search results just under the words "Rootsweb's WorldConnect Project Global Search").

Why don't the two WorldConnect Project numbers agree? Probably because the 575 million number is on a static web page, while the 601 million number is on a dynamic web page. Someone has to physically change the 575 million number, and they do occasionally.

So why don't the Ancestry World Tree and WorldConnect Project person numbers agree? Same reason - someone has to make a physically action to change the number in the Family Tree table on the Ancestry.com Card Catalog page. Those record numbers must not be "dynamic" - meaning they change automatically when records are added.

So my curiosity is satisfied to some extent, although the consistency issue is there again.

How many family trees are in the Ancestry World Trees? The answer is shown on the WorldConnect Project page: 425,369. The average family tree size in the WorldConnect Project/Ancestry World Tree database is 1,413 persons. That's more than 10 times the average family tree size in the Ancestry Member Tree databases (assuming that the number on the Ancestry.com Corporate page were correct - 1.1 billion records, 11 million tree).

Why do I care about this? Besides being a "numbers guy?" Well, the WorldConnect Project family tree collection is one of the most versatile family tree databases available, it's free, and it has a lot of people in the database. If the contributor of a database included notes and sources in their uploaded database, then those notes and sources are readable. Any user can obtain an Ahnentafel Report, Register Report, or Descendants List from a WorldConnect database. Yes - they are compiled family trees and many of them have erroneous data, and poor or no sources, but some of them are excellent records of ancestral research and can be used with the "it's a clue, but verify the information" proviso. When I have a new ancestor to search for, the WorldConnect Project is the first place I look for clues to parentage and lineage.

I find that the WorldConnect Project is much easier to use and seems much faster than Ancestry World Tree. I do wish that WorldConnect Project would return a list of more than 20 matches at a time, but perhaps that's why it's faster!

So the answer to my "Does Ancestry World Tree = WorldConnect Project?" is YES!


Ann Martin said...

Hi Randy, I originally put my entire tree on Rootsweb because it was the only place I had total control over it, including the ability to update it as new information was found. It was also free to users. I am pleased that Ancestry has kept their pledge to Rootsweb to keep its databases free. Since Ancestry combined the two I am wondering how they are treating updates. If I decide to take it off line, does it also disappear from Ancestry?

Mary said...

For 20 years, I have searched for my Dad's ancestors in Ireland. They settled in a given area and are in church, census, and land records in U.S. Recently, I came across material on World Connect. Birthdates were correct for the 4 and parents' names accurate. I ordered the LDS film of the church. I found none of them on the film! Maybe numbers aren't same because faulty "info" is
entered. thank you