Monday, 21 December 2015

Lump of Coal Award 2015

Based solely of the reactions received in comments to the previous nominations post, to me in person and in other's posts there is no need to go to a vote. The 2015 winner of the Lump of Coal Award is clear.

Despite being, or perhaps because it is the biggest commercial genealogical organization has received a lot of negative reaction to the decision to no longer support the popular Family Tree Maker software after the end of 2016.

From a strictly business perspective the decision makes sense; targeting its efforts to a growing part of the business with more profit potential.

Do the partners in, and President and Chief Executive Office Tim Sullivan get it? Ancestry's clients use the service for personal, emotional reasons - family. For many who have been using FTM for years, perhaps since the Banner Blue days, Ancestry's move feels like having family ripped away for corporate profit. By not providing a path forward for FTM users Ancestry is coming across as a bully.

Charles Dickens wrote in A Christmas Carol when Ebenezer Scrooge encountered the ghost of his former business partner Jacob Marley.
“But you were always a good man of business, Jacob,' faltered Scrooge, who now began to apply this to himself.
Business!' cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. "Mankind was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The deals of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”
Go to's mission statement and you'll find the word community used three times, but in the context of the company being a facilitator not a member. Where's the friendly face, an organization that's part of the community, not just a business serving it?

The Lump of Coal Award for 2015 goes to


Barbara said...


You have hit the nail on the head! Your quote from Dickens is so appropriate. Unfortunately, I don't imagine Ancestry's corporate "leaders" will ever get it. They will continue to be "good men of business" despite the outrage of the very people whose money they want so badly. In the end, I suspect, this will affect their bottom line.

John said...

I'm in absolute agreement with your post. It wouldn't be so bad if they planned on selling the software division or allowing some other ancestry software company to sync with But there was certainly no mention of that in the email they sent me.

John McConkey said...

Well said, John - and a merry Christmas to you!

Geolover said...

The truth is they could not make FTM12/14 really work well, either standing alone or using it to synchronize with Ancestry Member Trees. It is a memory hog and subject to crashes. Even some patches had their own glitches. Its GEDCOM export is not fully GEDCOM 5.5 compatible, though it would only take some pretty simple fixes to make it so. may not be entirely forthcoming about the reasons for stopping development on this software. The whys and wherefores remain unspoken.

John McConkey said...

I've downloaded RootsMagic 7 (free version) and am giving it a trial run using GEDCOM output from FTM 2012. I was surprised that it is able to display all my media but that's because FTM includes the file address in the GEDCOM code. What it doesn't pick up are all the documents that only exist on the Ancestry website so these would have to be captured as .jpg images. I don't think there's any other way. I've still to determine what is lost due to the non-standard GEDCOM code that FTM produces. However there is a guy who has posted on the Ancestry Message Board for Family Tree Maker that he is considering writing a plug-in for FTM 2012/2014 which would generate correct FTM code.