MyHeritage Raises MyHackles, But We Make Up

I was quite excited a few mornings ago when I opened my email and found a message from that said, “Craig, You’ve Got SmartMatches!”

I had signed up for MyHeritage in June to see what it was all about.  I had posted an abbreviated family tree consisting of myself and my parents.  Then as the summer went on, I got distracted with real time family issues and I forgot about MyHeritage.  So getting word that someone in my three-person family tree matched someone else’s tree was interesting news indeed.

As it turned out, the wife of one of my cousins in Kansas City was working on her family history on MyHeritage and had used their Family Tree Builder software to create a family Website.  MyHeritage has several levels of privacy control, and hers was set at “mixed site,” meaning that some items were visible to non-members and other information was restricted.  A person may request to become a member of a family site, subject to the approval of the Webmaster.

I went to her site and sent her a message. I explained who I was  and that I wanted to become a member of her site. Within a very short time, I got word back that I was approved  as a member of her site.  I got a very nice message from her and we began a dialog about exchanging information.

In part to help her and in part out of my own curiosity, I tried Family Tree Builder.  I created a GEDCOM from my Roots Magic file and loaded it into Family Tree Builder.   At that point, MyHeritage began to raise MyHackles.  Family Tree Builder asked if I wanted to create a family site for the family tree had just created. I pressed the NO button. Family Tree Maker and MyHeritage ignored  my command and created a family site with two family trees: the three person original one and the new one!

The next problem was that my second tree has something more that 3,800 individual in it.  That exceeds the Basic Subscription limit  (500; free) of MyHeritage.  This I did not realize, and it’s not very prominent on the site.  The site gave me the option to upgrade to a Silver Subscription (2,500 individuals; $3.95/month billed annually; i.e., $48.00) or a Gold Subscription (unlimited; $9.95/month billed annually; $120.000 or a Platinum Subscription (also unlimited individuals, but with 2000 MB storage;  $14.95/month, billed annually–you do the math!).

None of those options seemed palatable to me, so I decided to delete the large database. I’d take it down to the 500 size which is all my cousin needed from me anyway. Except I couldn’t find any way to delete it.  I seemed to have recalled seeing a “Manage Tree” button earlier, but I couldn’t find it now!  The site map does not mention deleting trees; however, the help FAQs discuss deleting entire sites. I did not want to delete the entire site, just the too big tree!   After an hour of frustration, I found a link that said “LIVE CHAT.”  So I clicked there to find out that it’s not live chat–it’s email!  But I wrote my problem anyway.   “Live Chat” is really “Comatose Chat.”  It took 81 hours to get a reply!

While I was waiting for a reply, I changed the privacy settings on my site to “Private” so non-members could see none of it.  Before I heard back from MyHeritage, I got an email from someone I’d never heard of inquiring about a surname in my database!  I checked the privacy settings to discover that they had been set back to “Mixed”!

Well, I finally heard from MyHeritage tech support and everything is fixed now.

I willl say that there are some positive aspects of MyHeritage.  The fact that a family site can be created and family members or others invited to become members of the site (for free) is good.  The setup of the family trees in a 3-D sort of format is cool. The SmartMatches feature isn’t as smart as one might wish, but it’s pretty good.  The integration between Family Tree Builder and the Web is good.

MyHeritage won’t aid the serious researcher very much, but it is a good place to display one’s work and make it available to families. It would be a good tool to get younger folks interested in genealogy.

So all is forgiven!


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December 2008
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