Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Greedy Ancestry.com Stabs Friends In The Back

I've been reading with great interest all the articles about Ancestry.com using cached articles in their Internet Biographical Collection today. What's been most interesting to me is how Ancestry has changed the site architecture as the day has progressed. D'ya think they have their ears pointed to our little band of genea-bloggers? You betcha!

First thing this morning I read Kimberly's Cache 22, Has Ancestry.com Gone Too Far? followed by Janice's Ancestry.com Hijacks Cow Hampshire article. Soon thereafter I read Randy's Ancestry.com is Caching some web site data . This afternoon I caught Chris' Caching for Cash and somewhere in there I read Amy's Ancestry.com Nothing But Theifs and then Becky's Is This Fair Use? This evening I read Miriam's Ancestry.com: Copyright Violations and best of all is Susan's Ancestry.com scrapes websites; places harvested content behind membership wall. (Image below is from Susan's site)

As the day went on, Ancestry.com made changes to their site. Little by little they addressed complaints by the genea-bloggers but they stopped short of taking down the offending section altogether (which is what I'd like to see). I'd have to say, it's not looking good for Ancestry.com. In the court of public opinion, they've been found guilty of robbery. So what was their response? They released a "we're so great" press release this afternoon titled "Ancestry.com Online Community Creates More Than 275 Million Profiles and 3 Million Family Trees In Last Year" followed this evening by "Internet Biographical Collection Is Free At Ancestry" on their blog. Hmmm...

Last weekend I saw the musical, Best Little Wh*ore House in Texas. For some reason the song by the politician character... "oooooh, I like to dance a little side-step..." keeps running through my head. Go figure.

I'm thinking that the folks at Ancestry.com just don't appreciate all the business we genea-bloggers send their way. Not only don't they appreciate it, they don't want it. Instead of trying to show their appreciation for all the links and free publicity we put on our blogs day in and day out promoting the databases and information we find on their site, they're stabbing us in the back by trying to profit from our hard work. Now I ask you, is that any way to treat those who've supported them? I don't think so.

I stopped linking to Ancestry.com when they stopped Michael John Neill from using snippets of census images back in May of this year. Links are free promotional advertising and I won't be a part of it. (I've actually stopped free linking to all commercial genealogy sites and blogs that don't link to me, including Dick Eastman, the Footnote Blog, et. al.) If they want my link, they can buy it (like WVR does) or link to me on occasion (like Genealogy.About.com does). You can pull your support for Ancestry.com by ceasing to give them links within your blog posts too. That will send an even stronger and longer message than just the blog posts our community of bloggers have sent today.

Did you notice the disclaimer image at the top of this post? If you want to protect your future posts from appearing on Ancestry.com you might consider creating one of your own and displaying it prominently at the top of your content blog posts from now on. I don't think Ancestry.com will want to cache my page now, do you?


  1. They have a blog? who knew? Just went and posted there. Invited them to have a conversation with us. In our place, on our sites, in our comment areas, using their real names. Don't force the conversation to happen on their site in their blog.

    Use their blog to prominently link to the sites where this conversation is ongoing.

    Glad you liked and used and gave linklove to my parody. Had fun making it today!

  2. Hi Jasia,

    I've also posted my opinion too:


  3. Hmmm... Susan I can't find your comment on Ancestry's blog. I wonder why?

  4. Thanks for commenting Jessica. I enjoyed your article.

  5. Jasia,

    I thoroughly enjoyed your article (and the title of it). I agree with you, having a strong disclaimer at the top (which mine has now) SHOULD make them think twice about caching my blog in the future, HOWEVER since they weren't using their gray matter in the first place, they could repeat their sad behavior. At least this time I will have the satisfaction of knowing I've pointed out their discretions.


  6. Janice I personally think the idea of using a blantant statement on our blogs is the best way to protect ourselves. Ancestry may sill send their bots out and steal our content for caching on their site but we'll give them a dose of bad PR for their trouble. The court of public opinion is a mighty powerful thing.

  7. Actually, since I pay for my blog provider, they helped me to place a robots.txt file that will prevent future caching by Ancestry.com

    The down side is that Ancestry.com as of today is still using the cache of my blog from around October of last year to its creation in March of that year.

    The only consolation I have is that generally their so called "search engine" sucks.


  8. Jasia, I'm so used to being able to include a hyperlink in body of the comment that I did so in my message there. That might've thrown the comment into a moderation or reject queue (in all things, take the technical explanation first).

    I'm bummed that I didn't copy my comment before pressing POST, though.

  9. Jasia:

    Love your idea and particularly like the fact you have made it an image rather than text.

    I agree with my entire community regarding this issue and have posted how this would play out in my neighborhood.

    The only customers Ancestry has are genealogists, family historians and the corporate accounts we frequent (local library). They obviously do not understand, or care to understand our community.

    Just because you can doesn't mean you should. http://footnotemaven.blogspot.com/2007/08/just-because-you-can-doesnt-mean-you.html


  10. They really do suck. I paid them their hose-bag maximum fee which is something like $170 a year for US records and in the middle of my subscription period they changed the rules. Records that were accessible at the beginning of my subscription were no longer available, unless I subscribed to some new plan they had, and I could not get a refund for my existing plan. These people are criminals and white collar frauds masquerading as friendly family historians.