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Kimberly Powell

RootsWeb.com Being "Transplanted" to Ancestry.com

By March 13, 2008

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Tim Sullivan, CEO of The Generations Network, Inc. just made the following announcement concerning the planned move of RootsWeb.com to Ancestry.com. Before anyone panics, this isn't a plan to change the free RootsWeb site or experience. Basically, they are just combining both sites under the primary Ancestry.com domain. To me the reasons for this move are not exactly clearly spelled out - navigation between the two sites, for example, can be easily integrated no matter which domain name the site is under, or which server is hosting the sites. My guess is that it has more to do with boosting traffic metrics from market research sites such as ComScore and Nielsen that do not combine the TGN properties when considering their total Internet reach. Recent data from ComScore Media Metrix actually shows nearly as many (and sometimes more) visits to the RootsWeb.com domain as to the Ancestry.com domain. Combining the two sites under a single domain will effectively double the traffic to the Ancestry.com domain. As reported in the announcement, "only 25 percent of visitors to Ancestry.com visited RootsWeb in January 2008, while only 20 percent of visitors to RootsWeb visited Ancestry.com (according to Comscore Media Metrix)." By combining the two sites under a single domain (URL), they not only increase traffic ("hits" or page views), but will also greatly boost the number of unique users (all of those people visiting RootsWeb who are not also visiting Ancestry), which is the Internet metric many consider the most important. In other words, this is a smart business move.

Below is the full text of the TGN announcement. It's also posted on the RootsWeb blog:

"As you know, The Generations Network has hosted and funded the RootsWeb online community since June 2000, thereby maintaining RootsWeb as the world’s oldest and largest free genealogy website. TGN remains committed to this mission and believes that RootsWeb is an absolutely invaluable and complementary resource to Ancestry.com, our flagship commercial family history site. We believe in both services and want to see both communities prosper and grow.

As part of this goal, we have decided to “transplant” RootsWeb onto the Ancestry.com domain beginning next week. This move will not change the RootsWeb experience or alter the ease of navigation to or within RootsWeb. RootsWeb will remain a free online experience. What will be different is that the Web address for all RootsWeb pages will change from www.rootsweb.com to www.rootsweb.ancestry.com. Again, the RootsWeb experience is not changing.

The decision to host RootsWeb on Ancestry.com is being made for one primary reason: we believe that the users of each of our two main websites can be better served if they have access to the best services available on both. Simply stated, we want to introduce more Ancestry.com users to RootsWeb and vice versa.

Today, despite the fact that Ancestry.com and RootsWeb.com are the two most frequently visited family history sites on the Web, only 25 percent of visitors to Ancestry.com visited RootsWeb in January 2008, while only 20 percent of visitors to RootsWeb visited Ancestry.com (according to Comscore Media Metrix). We think we will serve our users best by doing a better job of letting them know what is available on both Ancestry.com and RootsWeb. Hosting RootsWeb on Ancestry.com is the first step towards making this happen, but we will absolutely look for more and better ways down the road to advance this goal.

Hosting RootsWeb on Ancestry.com will also make it easier for us to make changes and improvements to the RootsWeb experience in the future.

All old RootsWeb URLs will continue to work, whether they are bookmarks or favorites, links to or from a hosted page or URLs manually typed in your Internet browser. We will have a redirect in place so that all old URLs will automatically end up on the appropriate new RootsWeb URL. You will never need to update your old favorites or links unless you want to. We have worked to make the transition as seamless as possible for our users, and this change should have a minimal impact on your experience with the site.

RootsWeb will remain a free online experience dedicated to providing you with a place where our community can find their roots together. If you have questions regarding this change please email them to feedback@rootsweb.com."


Tim Sullivan
The Generations Network, Inc.

March 13, 2008 at 10:51 pm
(1) Andy E. Wold says:

And this is part of the reason why you will see USGenWeb Project sites abandoning Rootsweb.com (soon to be Rootsweb.Ancestry.com) in the upcoming months — such as mine will be doing.

March 14, 2008 at 1:59 pm
(2) Ellen says:

This certainly is a surprise. You think they’d let people who have pages at Rootsweb know this. I maintain several pages there, as well as being moderator for a mailing list. Geeesish… when Ancestry “took over” Rootsweb, we all feared that Ancestry would gradually try to make the site more commercial. And here we go with another stepin that direction.

March 16, 2008 at 2:35 pm
(3) Dee says:

A very sad day in the history of Rootsweb. Mr. Sullivan, you should never underestimate the grassroots efforts of volunteers to keep some of the historical records available to all. Somehow, Ancestry botched the business relationship with the LDS church…now Rootsweb. I will be one of among many to reconsider options in online genealogy services.

March 18, 2008 at 12:09 am
(4) Rob says:

I never visit the Ancestry side because you cannot do anything (other than message boards) without paying a hefty price. By marrying the two sides, the free Rootsweb side will become harder to find. As you browse the new RootsWeb.Ancestry.com, you’ll be slapped in the face with JOIN NOW pages, probably even while trying to load the free pages. I believe that they are gradually trying to phase RootsWeb out.

March 20, 2008 at 1:34 pm
(5) Carole says:

This absorption of Rootsweb is in direct connection to the lockdown of all free information available at Ancestry.com and their new Ancestry Member Tree system and the discontinuation of the old Online Ancestry World Family Tree which formerly was free to all viewers.

Any name searches in the new tree system are only available to those who pay the hefty fees to join and this in turn caused a mass exodus.

In contradiction to the claims of Ancestry that there are millions of new names added every day in the new trees and “hundreds of thousands” of people who are happy with the new Ancestry Member Tree, there has still be a steady removal of names and trees. A large percentage of people who had used the original tree system do not want to pay Ancestry to give them their research and information, and they do not want to use the new tree system which is complicated, difficult to navigate and is loaded with bugs along with missing several important components that were available in the old tree system.

Many of the people who have removed their trees from Ancestry have uploaded them to Rootsweb. Ancestry now seeks to smother this movement to a free environment.

Shame on you Ancestry. Having the monoply on genealogical historical records is bad enough.

March 31, 2008 at 10:25 pm
(6) Gary Schueren says:

Shame on you, you are like all the rest
of the Genealogy Sites, put out a link of a free site, and when you get there you need to be a (Paying) member.

April 21, 2008 at 6:31 pm
(7) Carolyn says:

Hear we go again, changing a good thing, into a bad thing. I just might give us genealogy all togeather. Why
should we pay for information on our family, when we post information Ancertery steals it and then changers for your information we posted.

May 2, 2008 at 10:37 am
(8) Tony says:

This is really bad for the future of genealogical research. I suppose I will have to only post my tree on Gencircles.com now.

August 30, 2008 at 8:07 am
(9) ali says:

Good one ancestry!!!! I cant even search anymore without being forced to join. You now have all these data freely provided by people like myself and now i cant even search others!!!!! without being slapped in the face with JOINNOW ADS that i cant get passed POO

October 3, 2008 at 4:58 pm
(10) Jerry says:

I am very dissappointed–Ancestry.com does not have cemetery records!!! Do you realize imposition that imposes on the general public and genealogists? I may have a record of a person in a graveyard–I want confirmation! I prefer going to the graveyard, but if it is several hundred miles away, it is not feasible. Please, Please–mend your ways and go back to what is was before!

October 7, 2008 at 11:55 am
(11) JANICE says:

I agree, Ancestry has a monopoly on the internet. I have noticed lately that going to rootsweb and even usgenweb some things I click on I cannot get because page is unavailable. I have to go to ANCESTRY.COM. Guess what, you have to be a member. If they would put the information they get where it belongs it would be a different story, but they don’t. I know people that have paid for the information and it was completely wrong. They rake in the money and most people get zero results.

February 27, 2010 at 1:46 am
(12) sheree c says:

The tactics of Ancestry had sickened me…Unfortunately, I have a ton of info that many have been searching for over the years…now, where do I post it…I want it to be FREE. If I put it on rootsweb, familytree, or whatever, will Ancestry take it and charge for it? How do I protect my hard won research and at the same time share it? I hate Ancestry…scum bags.

April 1, 2010 at 11:41 pm
(13) Chet Ayer says:

Why has Ancestry.com spoiled it for everybody by using unscrupulus business tactics and high fees? only one word sums it up, GREED,now Rootsweb.com is at risk,once Ancestry gets control it will never be the same.
Perhaps the authorities should investigate them as there appears to be much that isn`t kosher.

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December 30, 2012 at 6:11 am
(15) Daithi says:

I am sick and tired of being confronted by genealogy sites being owned by ‘Ancestry’!
Are they trying to monopolise every genealogy site?
At one time there were many, many free genealogy sites that you could research but now all the major sites are ‘Ancestry’ this or ‘Ancestry’ that!
I strongly object to having to pay for genealogy information which was freely available for gratis not so long ago.
I once paid ‘Ancestry’ for information which I had not found only to discover later that the exact same information was available for FREE on another website, one which I was directed to by another researcher.
Was I mad?
You bet I was and I still am!
Can something be done about ‘Ancestry’ before they buy up all genealogy websites and make all researching payable?

February 21, 2013 at 1:59 pm
(16) diane carey says:

I agree that it is annoying that whenever you think you will be able to access the census records or ssdi and wham there is ancestry. com with its hand out wanting a fee. I called ancestry.com today and found out that genealogy.com is going to disappear under ancestrys wing. Here is their toll free number 1-800-262-3787 .Anybody want to make a few calls? Don’t harass the the person who answers the phone, ask for a supervisor. Ask why there is no really free access to the census or ssdi . A lot of the info that is on the site is family history that was put there when it was a free site, now whoever put it there can’t get to it without paying for it. that is unfair I would like to go on there and delete whatever i put there years ago.

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