29 July 2009

Waking Up To Ancestry.com

Yesterday, the Ancestry.com Blog announced that the new image viewer would be available for certain collections "sometime" today. Well, by the time I woke up, the new image view was up and running - and so was member connect. I'm very excited about some of these new changes.

First thing I noticed when I arrived at the ancestry.com home page was a new box, titled "Recent Member Connect Activity." I'm loving this. I can see that documents that I'm interested in (attached in my tree?) are being saved to individuals in other users' trees. So, for example, I can see that a researcher has attached the death record of my Great-Uncle Evoid Britt to their tree. It's now easy to view their tree and contact this researcher. By clicking "See more activity" I can see days worth of previous activity on documents that I'm interested in. Looks like a great way for Ancestry to get its users to use its trees.

Also, under the "Member Connect" section under "Collaborate" you can do a basic search for members doing similar research. The search seems to be a basic "fuzzy" tree search.

The new image viewer is pretty spiffy too - though a big buggy. The biggest change is probably the index listing each individual at the bottom of the page. You can see each person on the page on this page, instead of having to keep another page open which only showed one family record anyway.

Also, it is now crazy easy to "fix" a transcribed listing. In the image below, you can see that in the index section, Rossie is bold and highlighted. This is because I "fixed" the transcription. All I had to do was click on the first name (that had read "Sossie") and, in a pop-up box, tell it that I wanted to change the name due to a transcription error. Immediately I saw the new listing. I don't know if anyone else will see this yet - but it looks good for me! And so many fewer clicks!!!

And I said it was buggy - when I tried to re-size the image the screen went blank and I had to refresh the page to retrieve the image again. But, it was re-sized after that.

There's also an updated member connection area in the family trees. It seems to me like a glorified "hints" section, so I'm "ehh" about that new feature.

Overall, I'm very excited about these new features.... unlike the comments on the ancestry.com blog announcement. Many users are very negative about ancestry trees. They make true comments that very many trees are copy/paste versions of other trees that contain no documentation. Personally, I appreciate any chance to make connections with others researching my family - even if they don't pan out. I've made connection with distant cousins many times. These cousins have provided me with wonderful photos and documents that I've added to my research. I think these new features will help me continue to do that. Unlike "new search," if you don't like these features, you can easily ignore them. Move the "member connect" activity off your page and ignore the area. Simple.

Ok, I'm off to play!

1 comment:

David Graham, Ancestry.com said...


Thanks for your post. Please keep sharing your feedback about our new features. We intend to keep working to improve them.

David Graham
Ancestry.com product management


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