The idea behind Member Connect, explained Ancestry.com product manager David Graham, is to put you in touch with others who are interested in the same family lines.
Some aspects, such as being able see who’s commented on records, are similar to those on records site Footnote.
Member connect has a few components integrated into Ancestry.com searches and family trees:
- When you search and view a record, you’ll see member names of Ancestry.com users who’ve edited the record (for example, by entering an alternate transcription of the name), or saved the record to a tree or shoebox.
You’ll also get suggestions for related message boards (such as the Roberts surname board for your search on Jeremiah Roberts) and people who’ve listed related research interests in their profiles (for example, others looking for Robertses in Muncie, Ind.). Then you can visit that person’s tree or contact him through the site.
- A tab in your Ancestry.com member tree will show you other members’ ancestors who may match people in your tree. If the match looks promising, a Connect button links the trees and shows you more details—including buttons highlighting new or conflicting information. You can remove the connection altogether, or click the buttons to decide what to do with each fact: keep the new information out of your tree, it as an alternate fact, or use it to replace your information.
You also can contact the member with the matching tree through Ancestry.com to thank him or ask about any errors. This way, the “good data” in Ancestry.com trees will become more prominent than erroneous data, Graham says.
- As you link to others’ trees, you build a network of researchers—called “connections”—who share your genealogical interests. More tabs show you your connections’ activity related to people common to both trees, including updated information and records and new records added.
Graham promises Ancestry.com will respect your privacy if you don’t want people to see whether you’ve saved a record to your shoebox or added someone new to your tree. You’ll be able to set privacy preferences in your account profile.
People on your trees whom Ancestry.com believes are living (no death date and born less than a hundred or so years ago) won’t show up as potential matches.