Tuesday, October 31, 2017

RootsMagic TreeShare, Ancestry Member Trees, and Source Citations

Marcia Philbrick, on her Heartland Genealogy blog, has been investigating the way RootsMagic TreeShare works with Ancestry Member Trees with regard to source citations.  See (and please come back after reading them!):

*  Ancestry / RootsMagic - Tree not Searchable (25 October 2017)
*  UPDATE - Tree Not Searchable (Ancestry / RootsMagic) (posted 26 October 2017)
*  TreeShare and Sources (posted 27 October 2017)
*  TreeShare / Sources / Images (posted 27 October 2017)
*  RootsMagic TreeShare / Event Notes (posted 30 October 2017)
*  Renaming Ancestry Tree & TreeShare (posted 30 October 2017)

This series is ongoing, but it has revealed to me that:

1)  Sources on an Ancestry Member Tree are divided into "Ancestry Sources" and "Other Sources"

2)  "Ancestry Sources" are created by accepting an Ancestry Hint for a person, attaching an Ancestry Record  to a person profile, or adding a source manually to a person profile and an event in your Ancestry Member Tree

3)  "Other Sources" are created by uploading a GEDCOM file to a new Ancestry Member Tree, or using RootsMagic TreeShare to add a source to an Ancestry Member Tree profile

4)  "Ancestry Sources" "count" as a source that enables the subject person profile to show up on a search of Ancestry Member Trees.  

5)  "Other Sources" do not "count" as a source for a search for a person in Ancestry Member Trees.

For example, I have 23 "Other Sources" for my 3rd great-grandfather, Alpheus B. Smith, and zero "Ancestry Sources."

Why don't the 23 "Other Sources" "count" for inclusion on a search results list?  I think they should, but they don't at this point in time.

In her first post, Marcia highlights the problem that she has with this.  She wrote:
"I could avoid this issue by accepting the hints on the Ancestry side -- BUT
  • I lose control of the citation format
  • I lose control of where the media is stored
  • I lose control of how the media is named
"Right now, I don't like my choices:
  • Continue my workflow realizing that my tree won't be searchable
  • Switch to accepting hints on Ancestry and lose control over citations and images
  • Quit using TreeShare so that I can have a searchable tree and control where the downloaded images go"
My RootsMagic tree is also full of source citations that I have created within RootsMagic using EE-style source citations and my own selected Events.  In the one RootsMagic tree that I have TreeShared to a new Ancestry tree, all of my 84,000 source citations are listed as "Other Sources."

This is not a new problem.  In previous years, I have uploaded a GEDCOM file from RootsMagic to an Ancestry Member Tree and the sources were listed as "Other Sources."  I short-circuited the problem by accepting Ancestry Hints for some of my tree persons (mainly my ancestors, using the Ancestry mobile app) to add "Ancestry Sources" to those persons and my tree person would show up in a search in the Ancestry Member Trees.

What has changed is that, some time ago, Ancestry.com decided to count only "Ancestry Sources" for a matching person from Ancestry Member Trees to appear on the search result list.  

We've talked a lot over the years about "cousin bait" and how online family trees help researchers find other researchers with the same tree persons.  Unfortunately, the way this has turned out, using GEDCOM and TreeShare for my EE-style source citations, my tree persons do not show up in a search for them because they don't have attached Ancestry Sources. 

For me, the biggest benefit of RootsMagic TreeShare is the Ancestry Hints (and Suggested Records) that appear almost immediately for persons that I add or edit in my RootsMagic tree that is TreeShared nightly.  I use these WebHints to add content and sources (EE-style) to my RootsMagic database and I do not "Accept" them on my Ancestry Member Tree because I don't want the Ancestry Events or Sources in my RootsMagic tree.

It is still unclear to me if I use the WebHints for Ancestry in RootsMagic and "Accept" the Hint (but don't download the record to RootsMagic) that those Hints appear as an "Ancestry Source."  If it does add those Hints as an "Ancestry Source" then I will continue doing so, especially on my "problem persons."  

 I think it is an Ancestry.com problem - if they permitted "Other Sources" to be used as a basis for including persons in a search of Ancestry Member Trees then we wouldn't have this issue.

I was unable to find any description of the criteria that Ancestry uses to searches Ancestry Member Trees, or the use of Ancestry vs. Other Sources in their Help section.   If it's there, it is well hidden.  

Thank you to Marcia Philbrick for her efforts in exposing this problem.  Well done!


Disclosure:  I have always had a fully paid Ancestry.com subscription.  Ancestry.com has provided material considerations for travel expenses to meetings, and has hosted events and meals that I have attended in Salt Lake City, in past years.

Copyright (c) 2017, Randall J. Seaver

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Marian B. Wood said...

As a relatively new RM7 user (six months' experience), I wasn't aware of this issue. Now that you've brought it to my attention, I need to spend time carefully reviewing sources on Ancestry AND on RM7 to see where I can add workarounds (such as by editing comments or notes to name specific sources where possible).

Marcia Crawford Philbrick said...


Thanks for writing about this issue! I'm hoping your broader audience will catch the eyes of those that can resolve the issue.

I just posted about 'source list bloat': https://heartlandgenealogy.blogspot.com/2017/11/rootsmagic-source-list-bloat.html