Thursday, June 6, 2013

Reader Issues, Suggestions and Questions for

In Do You Have Issues/Suggestions/Questions for (posted 3 May 2013), I asked readers to provide me with issues, suggestions and questions to talk to about while I was at the SCGS Genealogy Jamboree this weekend.

I received quite a few via comments on the blog posts, plus some in email and some on Google+ and Facebook.  Here they are, without my own comments:

1)  Doug Williams:  "Ask Ancestry to allow user changes to more fields in their indexes. I find no way to add a person who was missed on a census enumeration - and no easy way to alert Ancestry to the missing person. Nor is there any way to change an age which is incorrect in the index, which means an incorrect year of birth is present. Oh, and while you're asking, see if you can't get them to lower the annual subscription price!"

2)  Tessa:  "Please make the shoebox more useful by allowing us to file and tag items (would be great to group family documents). I want to be able to search it easily and I know the technology exists."

3)  Monique Riley:  "I don't care for the new document viewer in regards to seeing the source of the document now. Before you could click on an expandable arrow and it would expand out the source info on the right of the document. Now you have to click on "more" then "view source" then the source info pops up in the middle of your document covering it up. I liked it better when I I could view both at the same time."

4)  Russ Worthington:  "In addition, please expand your comments to the Web Merge feature within Family Tree Maker. When I use the Web Merge feature in FTM2012, I MUST edit / reformat the Source, then edit the Citation. 

"New vs Old Search: There is no way to set which search I want on the new Home (customized home page for each user). The "default" is Old. I want to set the "default" to New. Yes, there is a quick way to get to the new, but I don't want that extra click. Your 2nd and 3rd bullet points are very valid, I just wanted to through in the Customized Home Page feature in that discussion.

"New Search": IF I make changes in the Name (first or last), Years (+ / -), or Place, to one of the Options. There should be a "reset" or clear the options, on the New Search Screen, NOT have to click on Exact two or three times. I have had a couple of times where an option was not reset."

5)  Larry Davies:  "1. Have an option within the List of All People to include alternate names and married names.

"2. Provide some means of identifying different lines. I have my lines, my wife's lines and my ex-wife's lines in the same tree as they are all our children's lines. Color coding (background and/or foreground) the names would do it and could be carried over to all displays and reports."

6)  Barbara Snow:  "This problem applies to those of us who have the international subscription.  My default collection priority is "United States" AND I have checked the box that says "Show only records from these collections." If I search from the home page, I check the box "Only Records from U.S. Collections."  Yet my results include many other countries, which makes it cumbersome to navigate them. 

"I would like to have these restrictions work the way their names suggest they will. If I ask for results only from U.S. Collections, give me results only from U.S. collections. "

7)  Annick:  "I am still a beginner, but I get very frustrated with Ancestry's searches. I research ONLY in France and I filter on that country, but still I get "zillions" of irrelevant hits from other countries. Could Ancestry respect the filters they have themselves established??? Also what's the use of Ancestry offering restricted searches like location and name spelling, if Ancestry's returned results ignore them?"

8)  Jean:  "Looking up my great grandfather I found tree postings from several family members that are accurate or partially so. But - the default tree is from someone or composites that show him with a middle name - a picture not his, 4 wives and over 30 children being born from marriages at the same time. There are death places wrong. I posted comments that this was completely wrong - but surely there should be a way to contact the poster to have them remove all the bogus garbage material. I click on the submitters name but get no where Only the listed 3rd wife (his only) is correct."

9)  Sven Ove-Westberg:  "When will Ancestry publish an open API so other programs then the Family Tree Maker can use the site."

10)  Rosemary:  "I totally agree with Monique Riley on the source data covering up the image. With the source data on the right I could copy and paste that data while in the middle of saving the record. As it is, I have to save the source data elsewhere and then remember to delete it when I have finished saving the record to my PC."

11)  Debbie Blanton McCoy:  "In addition to what Monique and Rosemary have said, when using the new viewer there is no list on the right showing users who have posted that document to their trees. I used that feature often."

12)  FranD (several comments):  "FTM Mac 2 linked to Ancestry.  Last night while viewing notes for an individual on Ancestry I added notes for the same person via FTM. Then I tried to synch the two. That was the only change because I was testing another suspicious action.  FTM would not synch saying there were no changes.  I immediately did screen captures of both and have them saved in a document. This morning, I added a few names then did the synch to see if it needed to find another "valid" change or something.  The notes have not been ported over to Ancestry!!
Now, that's quite frightening. What else is missing?

"Worse yet, I've had to unlink then download from Ancestry a couple of times due to FTM faulty merge of two individuals. What a mess that made. When I compacted the file to see if it could possibly repair itself, it then changed the names to ""!!!!  When I called Ancestry/FTM, the first guy was quite sympathetic but had no answer. I think they avoid discussing the faulty programming.

"I was looking at the Family vs. Person tabs in FTM to see where the military information I saved on Ancestry was put in FTM. Just cannot find it. I don't like the idea of a link to the images rather than really "saving" the actual images on Ancestry. 

"Anyway, in the Family view I can see all of my notes. In the Person vie I cannot!!!! The NOTES tab shows only the first note!!  At the moment, since I work in both simultaneously, which by the way the representative said I could do, I am not sure if I put the original note in via Ancestry or not. I suspect so, but am not sure.

"Response from Ancestry:  All notes should have been transferred. Must be file corruption. How? Blah, blah, blah. Compact file.  Export from Charts.  Use that one to upload to another tree on Ancestry.  Download that one from Ancestry.  Then see if the new tree has been fixed.  Can't help me if I won't follow these steps.  Sounds like hours of work to me and I just don't have the time."

13)  ToniP:  "I would like to be able to order my media in year order. I haven't ever found anyone's photos or other media in the order they happened.  I upload as I find. Then everything is out of order because the new items show up first."  

14) Shirley: "The question: Why are hits from computer-generated databases being promoted as "Historical Records" from the 1500s and 1600s in England via Green Leaf Hints?   Most of them for some families are wrong.

"The backup:  Reference: Stephen Hopkins of the Mayflower
 The Family Data Collections Series (- Individual, - Births, - Marriages, - Deaths),
U.S. and International Marriage Records 1560-1900,
U.S., New England Marriages Prior to 1700 ,
the profile part at "Profiles and Historical Records",
Passenger and Immigration Lists Index 1500s-1900s,
OneWorldTree,  and the Millennium File
are hits from databases, not historical records or documents.

"One of the seven different "U.S. and International Marriage Records 1560-1900" for a marriage to the mythical Constance  Dudley  has him being born in Massachusetts in 1581, 39 years before the Mayflower arrived;  one has second wife Elizabeth Fisher born there also .

"Stephen's Millennium file  which says he was born in Wortley, London.    Problem is--Wortley isn't in London and according to the records found in Hampshire, England in 2004 he wasn't born in either (nor in Gloucestershire).   The Millennium file has his birth date two years after his baptism, has the date of his second marriage shown a month after it occurred, and lists the death date as the date his will was probated (which was a full month after the estate's inventory)"

15)  Edith:  "Here's my suggestion/gripe.  Ancestry pops us "the millennium file" & "U.S. International Marriage Records" as sources.  Looking at what these are, they are just summarized pedigree charts, i.e., a popularity contest.  They are not real sources.  My suggestions is ask ancestry to drop these as they perpetuate a lot of misinformation."

16)  Barbara:  "Unless they have fixed it in the last month, there is a serious bug when  you use the Safari browser.  When you move to a record database linked to Ancestry, and then want to add that info to your person, sometimes you get bounced off Ancestry and have to log back in.  It doesn't happen every time, but once it starts happening to you on a given day, it will recur often and is too annoying to continue.  Twice I've called about it.  Their answers, basically, they know about it; it's very complex to figure out, users should use another browser.  There are a significant number of Apple users I would guess, using the Ancestry product.  It'd be nice if they worked on it."

17)  Glenna:  "The one thing that drives me crazy is that often when I refine my search – absolutely nothing happens. If I had half a million hits before, I’ll have half a million hits after. This is particularly true if I try to refine by country. However, if I ask for exact, that half million goes to zero ... every time.  Why give us the option of refining our searches when they aren’t taken into account in the next go-round?"

18)  Sherry:  "Ancestry has become user unfriendly in the past several months.  I have two friends who have left Ancestry due to the changes and am contemplating doing the same.  They claim they have surveyed the membership for suggestions?  I have never been “surveyed.”  As you mention, hints have become more unreliable….often covering folk who have long passed.  It takes more steps to add an individual instead of streamlining  procedures.  And WHEN are they going to make it possible to rearrange the photo additions to an individual?"

19)  Diane:  "If I have multiple photos for an event I'd like to be able to choose which one is displayed in the overview section of a person. "

20)  Randy:  "*  The sources for record summaries and images are non-standard, they aren't Chicago, Turabian, MLA, APA or Evidence! Explained format.  Will ANY effort be expended to upgrade the source citations that are listed on a record summary or attached to a person or event in an Ancestry Member Tree?

*  Will "Old" Search be continued, or will it be retired?  If it will be retired, when?  If it is retired, what features will be integrated into "New" Search?

*  "New" Search is very complex with the Name and Location filters feature (which are very useful if you know how to use them!).  Can the filters be made more user friendly, and/or can short video tutorials be provided on the Search page so more users can learn how to use them effectively?

*  Many users complain about getting results from searches that are outside of the life span of the individual sought in the search, or outside of a specified locality.  Is there a way to restrict search results to a specific year range?  Or to a specific set of states (say one central state, and the surrounding states)?

Whew, my readers sure unloaded their pent up frustrations and complaints, didn't they?  I don't know the answers to these issues and problems, but I'm sure that will read this list and perhaps comment on them in Comments, or in an email to me (  I will try to ask these questions at the Genealogy Jamboree between Friday and Sunday, and I will highlight any responses I get.

Copyright (c) 2013, Randall J. Seaver


Anonymous said...

In their new Story View feature, if the same file appears in multiple SVs, you must edit it multiple times. Ask them if the number of edits on the same item can be reduced to just one edit?

Liz said...

My biggest beef lately is the U.S. city directory collection, and it's not even w/the bad indexing-by-OCR (though that can get really bad when it latches onto a name not quite in line w/the rest, like a business name, and then uses that as a surname for the next 20 lines--OR inexplicably just skips several lines completely). I rarely use the index--just search "manually," well, by estimating image #s in a volume until I find the surname. Although that's not really OK, either, I've just gotten used to it. My biggest annoyance is the more recent (??) digitizations--I know the collection was in "beta" but it looks not to be now--really, is there no QC going on at all?

Several big city volumes around 1930s-40s were unusable for the 1940 census release, because apparently they're continued across microfilm reels, and no one seemed to digitize the next reel--so several vols. just stop around L or M. (Or was this a microfilming issue? Either way, it would be nice for you to indicate it, if so.) Anyway, reported several of these to Ancestry, but nothing's changed that I can see. I just spot-checked Dallas, TX, 1938--nope, still not a complete volume! If I remember correctly, there was one Dallas volume where the images were spread across 3-4 years, but it was only one volume. And I remember mentioning this to an Ancestry rep at Jamboree last year (and reporting to the site), so it's been this way for at least a year! I think other cities included Los Angeles a few years? Fort Worth? and recently I found El Paso. Maybe more. I didn't keep track of the ones I reported or I could be more specific now. C'mon guys, I've been a subscriber for 10+ years, I *know* you can do better! (I think.)

Liz said...

OK I checked a couple more just to make sure I wasn't being too harsh or remembering incorrectly. Besides spot-checking Dallas (1938) above, I found that Los Angeles 1941 & 1942 also end in the "L" listings.

Los Angeles, 1941: image 692 ends in "L" listings
image 693: "Continued on next reel"
image 695: "City Directories of the United States, 1936-1960, Los Angeles CA, 1941: A- L"

Los Angeles 1942, image 750 ends in "L" listings; image 751: "continued on next reel" (no more images until 1948 (telephone) directory)

Thanks for reading.

Eric Shoup said...

Thanks Randy (and all the other posters) for the feedback. We are listening and appreciate the input. It helps us to know where we still need to improve the service.

Thanks again.

Eric Shoup
EVP Product,

FranD said...

Follow up to prior post.
I did as they suggested and exported the extended chart then brought it in as a FTM file.
My notes are still there.
Then uploaded that file to Ancestry.
The other notes are gone.
I can see these particular notes in FTM under the family view, but in the person view there is only one note - the first -which got uploaded to Ancestry.
When I uploaded this "new" tree I was back to square one at
I generated a "Notes" report that does have all of the notes for this individual.
I guess I will have to go to prior backups before the time I had to unlink and re-upload. I have no idea how far back to go and which ones could be missing - or why.
I see no need to do the last steps because the data uploaded is not accurate. Why bother downloading again as they suggest?

Compact the file
Exporting a new file from charts
Uploading and downloading your file
Exporting a GEDCOM

So, so frustrating.

FranD said...

Message from Ancestry Support:
"However, if you are adding Research Notes on Family Tree Maker, there is no place for them to sync on family trees. They will remain in Family Tree Maker only. We recommend keeping all notes under the "Person Notes" heading."

Mystery solved, but why didn't any of the tech support people know this? I was quite detailed with my explanation. This message came through after a phone conversation with a tech.