Monday, 28 September 2009

Ancestry Difficulties

In yesterday’s blog I was discussing census images for which FamilySearch Indexing did not provide a transcription and which, therefore, are omitted from Ancestry’s database.

Along with the image of each folio on the 1861 census, Ancestry provides a "Report Problem" option. Opening it leads to three choices: "Missing Image", “Wrong Image” or "Unreadable Image". It does not include anything like "Image not Transcribed". If I tick "Missing Image" or "Unreadable Image" I immediately receive an automated e-mail thanking me and advising that if I wish to take the matter further I should telephone or write snail-mail.

Ancestry provides its services to us through the internet. Surely they ought to assume that their customers would want to use the same means to contact them. Phoning or writing costs money, particularly for those of us outside North America. As far as phoning is concerned, there is also the matter of time zones. The “matching working hours” window between Utah and the UK is very small.

Contacting "Contact Us" results in an e-mail saying they have put the question raised on their file of problems to check. Admittedly they get around to these problems eventually, but answers tend to be phrased as if every correspondent is looking for his/her own family and correcting a small mistake in one record. They do not seem to identify the general researcher looking at a community and who may be trying to point out to them something they may not have considered before.

One afternoon, a couple of weeks after I finished proofreading St David's, I received a collection of more than 500 e-mails from Ancestry thanking me for individual corrections and comments I had made. I didn't read too many, particularly after I found several suggesting I should take out a subscription. Can one read their Canadian census results without a subscription?

Excuse the rant. These molehills in Ancestry's provision can easily grow into mountains.

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