Scott_J on Family Tree Circles
Journals and Posts
We saw a lot of growth in Family Tree Circles this year.
New users: 5,170
New Journals: 1,063
Spammers stopped at the door: 16,915
Here's a quick look at the weekly traffic. This increase in traffic was a result of a work I did over the summer to clean things up to eliminate spam and make the site better for search engines. This work allows us to get more traffic. As you can see Family Tree Circles is doing better than ever. About 10% of that traffic is from spammers, most of which never sees the light of day, but the traffic is significant.
Here's the geographic breakdown of traffic on Family Tree Circles. As expected, there's strong representation from Australia and New Zealand. The China and India traffic is where all the spam comes from, which is why they are up there on the list.
This is also interesting, to see the makeup of our users, demonstrating what we know that the majority of family researchers tend to be older.
Note: This information comes from Google Analytics, which is completely anonomous. We don't have any personal information about our visitors beyond what you enter if you create an account.
Here's to a great 2020. A new decade and more growth than ever for Family Tree Circles.
Happy New Year!
This email went out the the Family Tree Circles mail list last night. If you didn't get it and would like to be on that list, click here to sign up for the list.
It's been a busy week on Family Tree Circles. We had dozens of old friends come back after the last newsletter. Thank you! Each week, I'll be providing a recap of what happened here in a newsletter, and on social media.
This past week on Family Tree Circles, we had 24 new posts, 63 new comments, and 65 new users.
The posts in the past week also had the following surnames. Are there any you've got information on?
This isn't the full list of surnames as people don't always fill them in. This is a great reason to do that in your posts!
You can see the full recap of the prior week's activity here, including all the posts and comments:
Family Tree Circles Weekly Recap
Please come see if you can help someone out!
New Feature: Surnames
We've always had surname pages on Family Tree Circles, but we've beefed it up with over 150,000 surname pages based on surnames from the 2010 US Census. Of course there are peple interested in lots of countries other than the US, but the US Census is the only on that I know of that has provided a full list of surnames gathered. I'd love to learn of other countries that provide this!
See it here: Surnames on Family Tree Circles
Adopt a Surname
Did you know that you can help edit the surname pages? If you've earned enough points through activity on Family Tree Circles, you can edit the surname pages to add information about any surnames you have knowledge about. The more information we have, the better our resource will be for everyone.
Just go to a surname page, and below the blue section, there's a link to edit the surname. If you don't have access to a surname you'd like to edit, please contact me and let me know. You can reply to this email or send a message to Scott_J on the site.
Finally, I'd like to wish you all a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, whatever you and your family celebrate this time of year. I have a lot to be thankful for, not least of which is a great community on Family Tree Circles. Thank you for being a part of it. We'll see you one more time before the new year!
Family Tree Circles
First, welcome to all the new and returning users who haven't been around a while. We've had a big boost in the past few days because I've been doing some outreach. Thanks to everyone for posting their help requests, journals, and questions.
Here's what's changed in the past week or so:
1. "Lookup Requests" have been renamed to "Help Requests". But it's the same. I felt that "Lookup requests" was a bit too specific when people are really just stuck and need help and didn't really know whether it was a question or lookup request. As you can see by the sea of purple in the list of posts, it seems to be working.
2. "Thanks" are now "Likes" on posts. Years ago when I added this, I didn't want to call them likes because I didn't want to be Facebook. On the other hand, "Thanking" is proabably a little too specific. I've also included the total number of likes a post has. We'll see if that gets used more. I'll be making it a bit more prominent when I have time to switch from developer to designer for a while.
3. We've had a bit of a changover on the sponsorship of the site. For a few years, MyHeritage has had an exclusive sponsorship which has ended and not being renewed. The bad news is that funding for FamilyTreeCircles has gone away. The good news is that I'm no longer locked down in an exclusive partnership to help pay for FamilyTreeCircles. This site costs a lot to operate, and I've always promised that it will be a free resource. I'll be testing ads and looking for new partners, which is why you see those appearing. I simply can't keep this running for long without some income to offset the costs. I'll get there. Thanks for accepting the ads.
Special thanks to everybody helping people out. I'm always amazed at how few requests for help go unanswered.
More to come...
I just read about the volcano eruption and resulting deaths and injuries on White Island in New Zealand.
FamilyTreeCircles has countless friends from that part of the world. We hope that everybody is ok and we join you in your greiving.
Please join me by sending your own best wishes, prayers, vibes, whatever you got.
Got a request for this feature, so I put this together quickly. Like most of the other profile info, this is public.
Click here to view yours
Anything else you'd like to see here? Let me know!
Here's an update on what's been going on beyond the recent spam updates...
I've been doing a lot of work to make the site more mobile friendly. There are a full 40% of visitors using a phone or tablet and the site is much more usable. It was pretty well impossible to browse FamilyTreeCircles effectively on a phone before, but not any more. Take a look next time you're browsing on your phone.
This basically means more new members.
Now that we've got those boring but necessary things out of the way I'm now entering a phase of development and looking forward to improving the website. There are two major areas of improvement that I'm considering equally: 1. getting new people involved, and 2. making life better for the people who are already here and using the site on a daily basis.
I would love to hear your ideas for both.
Is there anything you think we could do to bring in more researchers? New features or sections? Can I organize information in a different way than we do currently, which is primarily by surname currently.
And what can I do to make your life easier? Whether you're managing a lot of journals, or trying to stay on top of the latest posts and comments, or doing something unique that I'm not even aware of...how can I make it better for you?
I'd love to see a conversation here about that.
In the past three days I've deleted about 80,000 spam accounts and automatically blocked the creation of nearly 1000 more already.
Only a dozen or two have slipped through, which I'm learning from and tweaking the algorithm.
I am blocking a few countries entirely which I've always been reluctant to do. But in analyzing activity to see if there has ever been any legit participation from there, there's basically zero over the past 15 years that this site has been around.
I know that there was a lot of visible spam in the form of journals and comments, but that was actually a tiny fraction. Mostly they are just creating accounts to link their profiles to their websites or their clients' websites as these are mostly professional link-building companies.
I hope you see a major decrease in that activity.
The site's been down for a few days because when I was doing work on it Monday, I broke it for everybody but myself.
So here I thought there was nothing wrong. Thanks to those of you who contacted me to let me know. Without you, I'd be blissfully unaware.
It should be ok now. Sorry :(
Hi all. I've been doing a quite a bit of spam cleanup over the past several days. I've deleted about 80,000 spam accounts (there are many more), but more importantly I've been making it more difficult for them to create accounts. You'll see that slow down a lot, and I'll be keeping an eye on it to see what's getting through lock it down further.
How do you determine these ancestor names?