Saturday, August 7, 2010

When Ancestry Owns The World

I write this with some frustration, ok, with alot of frustration at Ancestry today, and here is why:

Today I get 2 emails from Ancestry, one to inform me that Family Tree Maker 2011  is now available for me to pre-order, and the second was to inform me that  is now the proud parents of another organization, ProGenealogist, Inc.  (I apologize for not including the links about both, but my linking skills must be frustrated as well because I couldn't get my linking to work).

Now I do understand that many of you reading this will find no problem with either event, but it just comes at the wrong time for me. Per the store Family Tree Maker 2011 comes with "more than 100 new enhancemets" including Smart Stories, improvements to their charting and reporting, additions to their timelines, and a way to rate your citation sources. Those all sound great and being a user of the 2010 software I see places where improvements would benefit my research, but it  was the statement that Family Tree Maker 2011 is going to be even more integrated with that hit my gut a little hard.

I cannot imagine how much more they can be connected. I already get the infamous "shaky leaf" on my family members whenever I open FTM 2010 and when I want to look for some records I have the choice between connecting into Ancestry since I have a subscription, and going onto the internet. Now the description tells me that I will be even more connected to Ancestry and other members.

I have  been trying to decide lately whether I want to stay with Family Tree Maker or go to one of the other programs, such as RootsMagic and Legacy, but I just can't decide. I am pleased that FTM is improving their product and I am sure I am going to like most of them if I decide to purchase the software.

I just wish that Ancestry would surprise me and send an email that says something like this:

"Great news!!! You have been a great customer for the past several years, and since we have taken so much of your money, we thought we would send you some upgrades to your Family Tree Maker program.....just because.  By the way, we,, will keep our evergrowing domination of the internet world off your program in the process, allowing you to decide when you need our help."

Now---for the other issue, acquiring ProGenealogists, Inc. For those of you who do not know, Ancestry has a service known as ExpertConnect which allows researchers around the country to provide client work ranging from answering  questions, picking up records at repositories, to very intensive research of multiple generations of the clients family. ExpertConnect has been up and running for over a year and I like the process overall, but now I question what role acquiring this company and the researchers that have worked for them is going to have on those who are providing services on ExpertConnect.

I know that not every single record that exists for my ancestors is connected into Ancestry. There are courthouses, libraries, relatives with photos and Bibles, and friends that can tell all kinds of stories about their relationships with my relatives.

I am just wondering when we can expext the announcement that Ancestry has taken over the Family History Library, or the National Archives.


Nancy said...

I agree with your comments. I also like your blog. I read your posts.

Carol said...

RootsMagic is a great program, I would support that change in your life.

Love your post, I have issues with Ancestry now and then.

Your concern of them owning it all, I am sure there are more of us that wonder as well.

Lisa Wallen Logsdon said...

Well now maybe I'm glad that I have not upgraded my FTM program since 2005, LOL! My (now deceased) cousin Charlie would get so frustrated with new versions and the changes that after he would try them out he'd send 'em back. After hearing a few choice words from him about each disappointment I lost interest in improving and upgrading and have been quite happily going along with my older version and not having to put up with some of the annoyances of the upgrades. I may be in the dark ages but with the money I save I can still afford to fork out cash for programs like Footnote and Genealogy Bank and continue to keep my subscription that I've had for a dozen or more years!

Cynthia Shenette said...

Interesting post, Kim. I was saddened to hear about ProGenealogists, Inc. being acquired by Ancestry as well. I also share many of your concerns. I currently use Family Tree Maker, but do not have a subscription to Ancestry. Shocking, I know. I appreciate what Ancestry does and the value they provide, but for years I've thought of them as the "evil empire." My research takes more time without a subscription to Ancestry, but I'm in no rush. Well, at least until they buy the resources I do use. It's just a matter of time. As the Borg on Start Trek use to say, "Resistance is futile."

Elf Flame said...

Great post.

I feel so much the same about Ancestry, though I've assiduously avoided getting an account with them for precisely the fact that they do seem to be intent on taking over the world (and because I don't trust any service that insists on getting my credit-card number for even a "free" service).

I have avoided them for several years now, and vaguely recall when they bought out Family Tree Maker. Which at the time I was annoyed at, because that's my family tree software. I think it is for many people out there. And my annoyance with them increased when I realized that they'd turned the program into basically an offline version of their family tree service. Not what I want from software. I'd much rather have a program that connects online but doesn't specify a site I have to pay to be on.

I get the need to charge for things. There is a service going on here, after all...but with the number of companies they own now... It feels more like greed than service-fees. And makes me want to go elsewhere.

I just wish I could decide which software to use instead.

And while I think it's not *too* likely, I can't help admitting I agree with you on the thought that eventually they'll even go after FamilySearch or any of the other big remaining sites out there--to cut out the competition, so that there are no alternatives but to pay for their site.

Kim said...

I knew I wasn't along, but so grateful for the comments today. It is almost one of those "Can't live with, can't live without" situations, and I hate that.

There is much about Ancestry I like, but they also drive me crazy!

Thank you for your comments.


Amy Coffin, MLIS said...

I've been where you were in terms of deciding whether or not to change programs. I ended up going with RootsMagic because I figured that if I had a problem or question, it would be easier to talk to a person at RM than it would be at Ancestry (for FTM).

Sure enough, when I did have a question, it was answered by Bruce, who owns RootsMagic.

Sue F. said...

I use Roots Magic also, after having used FTM for a number of years. I much prefer RootsMagic!