is up for sale? What you should do now

+25 votes
According to a Reuters article the investment company that holds most of the stock of is putting it up for sale (what else is an Investment company interested in than to make some quick money - no wonder our wishes and improvement ideas for are disregarded and ignored).


read this excellent blog article as to go you should prepare if your family tree is on Ancestry or your DNA data, especially the part about securing your sources offline is important:


As stated you should do that regularly anyway and publish it on a non commercial website like WT anyway ;-)
in The Tree House by Andreas West G2G6 Mach 6 (60.6k points)
WT isn't a non-commercial site.

RJ, I have to disagree. WT is a non-commercial site or where do you have to pay a subscription here? You don't. What you probably misunderstood is that in order to cover the server costs (and other costs incurred) there are ads being shown.

If you look up the Wikipedia entry for WikiTree please point out why there is nothing being mentioned that WikiTree is a commercial organisation or site?

Whereas the second sentence of the Wikipedia article for clearly states: "The largest for-profit genealogy company in the world".


So where do you find the words "commercial" or "profit" in the Wikipedia article about WikiTree?

Maybe Chris himself can comment on his view about being commercial or non-commercial

Andreas and RJ, if you'll permit me to play mother and knock your heads together a bit ...

I can see points in both of your arguments about commercial or not commercial.

Simply by the domain name, WikiTree would tend to be thought of as a commercial site - that's what .com is usually used to designate.  WikiTree is not a registered non-profit corporation, therefore does not qualify to use a .org name, and there is nothing preventing it from ever making any profit.

The fact that WikiTree is dedicated to being free, in the past, present, as well as future intent, could lead people to classify it as "non-commercial".  If, however, some means is found for WikiTree to make a profit - for example, if the ads provided more income than needed to meet expenses (which is probably a very far out fantasy and hardly likely to ever happen) or if some means of generating income could be found that does not include charging people fees to be members, then it seems to me that "commercial" would be a fair description of WikiTree.

I really think that there is no essential disagreement here of what WikiTree is (and is not) - just a matter of semantics.
I wouldn't call a TV company non-commercial just because I don't have to pay to watch.

Chris has to watch his bottom line, and an advertising-funded model has important policy consequences.
Nothing Ive seen indicates to be that WikiTree is commercial. Specifically there is no attempt to take money form you and the emphasis is on colloboration, I think of its as analogous to in the music world. The website address (.com versus .org) is immaterial
Family search is also free, and intented to be that way.

4 Answers

+14 votes
Best answer
It is always good to back up your data, but Ancestry's commercial value lies in its records and databases of genealogical material.  Some of Ancestry's peripheral services may be at risk, but the core of what they do (and this includes public trees) will probably remain unharmed.  What might go up is subscription rates (for eg) since if the new buyers are also private equity, then they will incur debt to pay the purchase price and those loans have got to be paid...
by Leigh Murrin G2G6 Mach 5 (56.5k points)
selected by Andreas West

I think what you should be aware about is that a commercial website/service like Ancestry can decide at any time to remove source from it's offering (for legal, commercial or public relations reasons). What I'm trying to point out (as well as the original author in the link above) is that everyone should make sure that they have a local copy of their sources in the same way that I keep my carbon copies of church book entries about my ancestors (and scan them in when time allows) as they can be subject to any kind of disaster or in a more mild inconvenience they can become unavailable to the public for a period of time - has happened already to me when the archive was moved from Bruehl to my hometown Duisburg or when the quality deteriorated too much or when they started digitizing it.

I think we agree on this advise, right?
Hi Andreas, yes I do.  I also keep copies of things, even records I find on Ancestry that are helpful, because I share your approach to being cautious.
+14 votes

If you read the article sarefully they are actually saying that you should keep a copy of your data somewhere offline.  While WikiTree does not charge for membership it is a commercial site, hence the ad's.  I do a lot of my research online and save it initially to WikiTree but I also donload GEDCOM's frequently and keep that data in three locations, on a progam located on my computer, on another web based site, and also on removable data storage.  This will allow me to have a reasonable chance of retaining my data in the future because you should "never put all of your eggs in one basket"
by Dale Byers G2G Astronaut (1.4m points)
Thanks to all your comments, I do fully agree with Bree and I love WT's business model as well. Special thanks to Chris for once again reiterating that our combined research is now and in the future being safe at WikiTree. This is very important for many WT'ers and for people that are considering right now where to put all their research so that others can access it easily, free and in a graphical clear way
Gencircles - where i once had several trees - also promised to remain forever free, but ended up being taken over by MyHeritage, which sells subscriptions to its users. Does anyone know what will happen to Rootsweb (a free site) - taken over by Ancestry a few years ago - when Ancestry will have new owners?
... you mention that you download GEDCOMs frequently.... but Wikitree doesn't allow you download a single GEDCOM with all of your ancestors in it (unless you have <~1000 ancestors).... and this, I think, is a big problem. I think that for all that volunteers put into making wikitree profiles, we should be allowed access to GEDCOMs that contain the data we want to back up (subject to the privacy controls already present), because commercial or not, and like it or not, services do come and go.

In ancestry this is easy. In wikitree it's not even possible for a decently sized tree, unless you segment your family into pieces, which, given the somewhat arbitrary (to human minds) nature of what each export might contain, is no easy process.
Daphne, where are you seeing the <1000 requirement? I don't see it in the help page for exporting GEDCOMs. Also I just did a test of downloading a gedcom of my watchlist which is just over 1700 people. The only "error" message I got was that because the size was over 500, the processing would be done over night and I'd get an email about how to get it, and that I was #310 in the queue. No size limit mentioned.
Thanks for challenging my assertion! :)

Hmm. Am I mistaken?

Or are you saying that you only get the people on your watchlist? Just because someone else put a profile up before I did doesn't mean I don't want to export it... I think perhaps the various notes about what gets exported are confusing. I can't tell whether it only includes those who are on my watchlist, or whether it will include, as stated elsewhere "all the profiles you are trusted to access". I think it really needs to be the latter for wikitree to be a place that we users can consider our "tree for once and for all" (i.e. it should include any profile I have read access to in the tree, upward from the point person)... perhaps that's what's at issue.

I've initiated a fresh download myself, to see which is which.
You can export your entire Watchlist, or you can export any tree with up to 1,000 individuals. It will include profiles where you're not on the Trusted List, as long they're not private, then it shows placeholders. You can export multiple individual's trees.
Ok, right, that's the hard-to-track 1000-person limit to which I was referring. That gets used up by people who are 3rd great-uncles, etc. before it gets to deeper but direct ancestors.... so effectively there's no way to really predict who will be included and who won't. At best, one could export a "smattering of trees" throughout their ancestry, and probably end up with a bunch of them which in toto represent the depths of one's own ancestry, then start to put them back together again with local software.

This is what I was saying doesn't seem fully sufficient to allow people to treat wikitree as their primary system of record, unless we trust that it will exist in perpetuity -- which I do hope it will!!! :)
I'm putting it on the to-do list to look at increasing the tree-export limit.
I appreciate that, Chris. :)

I think one thing that would really help would be to limit to a specific number of generations, rather than a person-count. That would make the possibility of exporting much more predictable for the user (while admittedly making it somewhat uneven with respect to the resulting person count in each export).
Well said, Dale. I will work on following your example. Thank you for sharing.
+15 votes
For what it's worth, this is not the first time Ancestry has been sold.  Likely the core business will remain unchanged.  

From 2012.

Basically, an investment firm bought and sold it like a stock and that is what is happening again.  

But nothing lasts forever so keeping your own backups is alway prudent.
by Michael Stills G2G6 Pilot (400k points)
+8 votes
by Jillaine Smith G2G6 Pilot (781k points)

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