25 April 2012

Ancestry.com Acquires Archives.com

Ancestry.com Acquires Archives.com in a move that sure surprised me today.

If my calculations are right Archives.com lasted a little more than two years as a separate company before Ancestry.com bought them. That's less than the three-plus years Footnote.com lasted before Ancestry.com bought it. I'm starting to wonder how many of these companies really plan to be around for a while and how many just want to get big enough so Ancestry offers to buy them.

I wouldn't really mind Ancestry owning so many genealogical resources if they invested some of their millions into making the research experience better. A better user experience would make me stay with Ancestry happily instead of looking for an alternative and hoping that alternative becomes a true rival. To me, better does not mean more hits that do not match my search criteria. It doesn't have anything to do with little shaking leaves because I would never put my family tree on a commercial site. It means honoring the search criteria I specify. It means giving me the option to specify reasonable wildcards and extensions of the exact names, dates, and places I enter and HONORING those. I am much happier getting a few pertinent hits than 10,000 that barely come close to what I asked for.

Make the search experience better. Show me the same records every time I enter the same search criteria.

Then I will tell people how much I love the company instead of telling them about a love-hate relationship. While I am glad Ancestry has made the improvements they have made over the last few years, this is an area still needing more work. How about building up the technical departments and offer a better product customers can't do without?

© 2012, Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, All Rights Reserved


  1. One of the most irritating things to me about Ancestry that is antagonistic to good research practices is putting original records by year rather than by record group. Missouri marriages and the new Massachusetts vital records make it difficult to tell what the original record is.

  2. I'm with you, Patti. While I understand many Ancestry customers are newbies and may benefit from following the leads Ancestry gives them with shaking leaves and "iffy" hits, even those newbies eventually learn to be more discerning. Most of the time it doesn't take any more effort on the part of the programmers to do things in a way that can work for both newbies and experienced researchers. Which makes it hard for me to understand why they make it more difficult for the experienced researcher. And proper identification of the record is key no matter your level of expertise.

  3. Old search provides fairly consistent results and honors exact search and wild cards for the most part. I have noticed some inconsistent results when searching individual databases vs globally.