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Friday, August 31, 2007

Bringing Down a Website in One Step

The Ancestry Insider explains this morning how even a well-intentioned effort to make genealogical data more accessible can step on the toes of other webmasters. (I would add that Mr. Morse offers a tutorial on how to subvert his own well-intentioned efforts.)

Law and ethics have a hard time keeping pace with technology. Some of you old-timers might recall the Genealogy Message Searcher. That was a tool at GenCircles that cached and searched messages from the Ancestry.com and GenForum boards simultaneously, but was shut down in 2002 over concerns that it violated Genealogy.com's new terms of service. With the help of Google, I just created The New Genealogy Message Searcher in about two minutes. Granted, it's not nearly as functional or comprehensive as the original, and doesn't provide links to cached copies, but... Wait, are those lawyers from Utah I hear outside my door?

Drew Smith

Chris, it may simplify your search design to use either boards.rootsweb.com or boards.ancestry.com, but not both. I think they're the same set of boards (just with two different ways in).

Drew

Chris

Yeah, there is a lot of duplication, but I noticed that in some cases Google indexed a message from one but not from the other. For instance, this query turns up one page from each without duplication.

Far fewer pages from RootsWeb are indexed by Google than from Ancestry, so if I drop one it will be Rootsweb.

kac

Reminds me of when I worked on the volunteer data entry project for the Illinois Pre-1916 Death Index. When Morse first added our index to his searches, the site came to a crashing halt. The poor webmaster would have to hurriedly bring the site back to life, which was especially unfortunate since we were still entering data and all work had to stop.

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