Sunday, January 24, 2016


blog 1

There are 77 public member trees that show Samuel Simmons, born 1800, as the son of James Simmons and Ellenor Lee.  There are also an additional 20 private member trees where I can’t see enough of the information to tell what they have as the parent-child link so I am not bothering with them for now.  All 77 of the public member trees either have no source or their source is another Ancestry tree.  How is this research?  If Samuel were the son of James Simmons and Ellenor Lee this would be a critical piece of information.  James and Ellenor had three known sons (proven with indirect evidence case studies) but they also had other children who are not yet identified.

I realize of course that you have no control over the quality of research that gets uploaded.  However, there are a couple of things you do have control over.

After you have brought up a list of possible matches it takes three mouse clicks to get where you can send the person a message.  There is no way to bulk send a message to all of the hits so after clicking 3 times, defaulting in the subject line (there is autofil), and then pasting the message, you have to back click to the list and start the process over.  Contacting 77 people is a very time consuming endeavour.

Then there is the problem of people uploading duplicate trees.  They make updates to their tree and then upload a new copy without taking the old tree down.  I might have messaged the same person a dozen times for all I know. Surely you could put some sort of warning message when someone uploads asking the person not to upload duplicate trees.  Another problem is that when you click on a tree link in the list the link color does not change making it very easy to lose your place in the list.  And most importantly, I don’t think you should allow people to link to another tree as their source.  All it does is cause an endless loop and utter frustratation.

I am pretty sure that all of this was for nought considering no one has a source.  However, I still have to do it because of that pesky GPS step, "conduct a reasonably exhaustive search."  On the 0.000001% chance someone has proof of this relationship I have to investigate it.  You could make that task a little easier.


Michele Simmons Lewis


Copyright © 2016 Michèle Simmons Lewis


  1. Michele, only 77! You are one of the lucky ones. ~ Cathy

  2. Unfortunately Ancestry will never do anything about duplicate trees. Part of their "Ancestry is so great" spiel is touting their numbers (trees, profiles). They won't do anything to lower them. They love duplicates and clickophile fantasy trees.
    As for losing your place on the list, have you tried opening in a new tab? I do that with search results. I'll open each one that looks promising in a new tab. Usually it's only a few on the page but if there are a lot I'll do the ones I can see, review them, go back to the search results tab, scroll and open more.

  3. Thank you, Michele for a great letter now if only Ancestry will listen!

  4. Kudos Michele. I can only wonder if Ancestry will respond or the owners of those 77 trees will even know they are the subject of your concerns - or care!

  5. I know all about those dups. That is probably all FTM users. When you have sync issues, the last resort is to unlink the sync, but then to get it back you either; upload from FTM to Ancestry or download your Member Tree. Obviously, uploading creates a duplicate, but it is preferred as you don't lose your notes, tasks, and "locked" media. I hesitate to delete the old tree, also, but I do make it private. I even know that you can download the old one and save it on your computer, but I hate hitting that delete button and saying "bye-bye". That said, I am going to encourage the FTM community to clean it up, or at least make those old trees private.

    As far as an unsourced tree, some people don't really use the Member Tree but have it up their as cousin bait, so they upload the bare bones of their work (someone might steal it, oh my). Some just have no clue, or, they are searching for total fun and usually don't stick around longer than the free trial. That usually explains the source being completely Ancestry Trees, it's the low hanging fruit. I usually look to see how close the family relationship is before I even look at the vital info. If it is close, I will use those dates to do my own research. Sorry this comment became so long...

    1. Barbara,
      I was just frustrated yesterday. All I am saying is that there are some things Ancestry could put in place that would make things better. It makes me wonder though, now that there will be no more syncing with FTM at the end of this year what impact that will have. Ancestry has hinted that they might be interested in releasing their API (programming code) so that other companies could write the code to be able to sync but they haven't said anything concrete. If that is the case, this problem may get worse before it gets better. I know I would want to be able to directly sync to my DNA file I have up on Ancestry so that I don't have to delete and upload but I wonder if the syncing itself cause duplicates. Who knows.

      My DNA tree has actually be stripped of sources (surprised?) but I have a disclaimer that says,

      "This is a direct line (with siblings) tree for DNA purposes only. It has been stripped of everything except BMD information. Please contact me if you want the sources for any piece of information."

      I am wondering if I should create a source that I actually attach to each fact that says, "Contact tree owner for source information." I might do that in addition to what I have already done to make it more clear.

      In the trees I looked at there was no such message letting people know that sources actually do exist and all you have to do is ask.

  6. The ones that add bare bones are usually the most professional. FYI, we cannot sync our DNA info to FTM. I was hoping to see that in the future, but I guess that won't happen either. I actually linked my entire, fully sourced, working tree, to my DNA. I think it would be easier to others to find a match. I have also been dabbling with "finishing" someone else's research when their DNA tree is just a stub. I have had great success with finding the MRCA that way. So far I am 4 for 4 and keep that in a working tree that is private called DNA Matches. It's a bit of work and I still need to draft a message to those tree owners.

    I posted a call for FTM users to either delete those unused duplicates or make them private, checking the box that will stop them from being found in other member's searches. Apparently, I was not part of the problem as I had checked that box. Whew!

  7. I can so relate to this. I try to remember that we started with WORLD FAMILY TREE with no sources and Ancestry has been built on that adding more unsourced material along the way, like International Family Marriages and more.
    Barbara has identified the other problem with FTM and the syncing issue. I currently have two trees, almost the same name on Ancestry. The one with all the media attached that won't sync with FTM and the one with no media attached that will sync. Oh well, this is the clean up, start over and find another program year.

  8. LLG70 is quite right about the marketing aspect. Every duplicated tree adds myriad "records" to Ancestry's marketing claims to having bazillion "records" on its site.

    I must say, however, that they have expanded research guides, tutorials and tools, albeit in a totally different silo from the trees sector. But links to this material are at the top of every page, under the "Extras" button, so not entirely invisible.