I had really come to really dread the e-mails from people who say they are going to invite me to view their family tree at Ancestry.com. It’s not because I don’t want to see the tree, I do. It’s because Ancestry does me the huge favor of “attaching” that tree to my account like a very large parasitic blood-sucking leach. They’ve assumed that every tree I look at is “family,” and that my attachment to that tree is “forever.” And better yet, every time someone does something, anything, to that tree, I receive a message that says “New content has been entered to your family tree.” Well, Ancestry, it’s not MY family tree and I NEVER asked you to do me any favors by attaching some random tree I’m looking at to me. In fact, I specifically don’t want you to do that, but like normal, I don’t get to vote. This is called “too much help” and anyone who has ever loved a 2-year-old knows all about “too much help.”
So, the random tree is firmly attached to me. Now the question is how to remove the parasite.
First of all, I need to determine if I really do want the tree attached, meaning it is a tree I might want to reference, or if I simply want to detach it. For DNA project administrators, most of the time, you simply want to detach them from your own personal records.
However, if you want to retain the connection to the tree, you can simply disable the notifications. Those constant notifications are the part that will make you crazy, and the more trees you have attached, the crazier the notifications will make you. Disabling notifications is relatively straightforward. You need to go to your name in the top right of your screen and in the drop-down menu select “My Alerts”.
You can then change the delivery notification for each tree you have access to. The options are off, daily and weekly. Yes, it’s a pain to have to do this to disable something you never wanted in the first place, but it’s only once (per tree) and it removes the bombardment of unwanted e-mails.
Discovering how to remove the trees is more tricky. However, once you’ve figured out how to do this, it’s relatively easy.
Fly your cursor over the Family Trees tab.
Some have a “More” option. If so, click on it. Mine didn’t. If not, then click on the olive Family Trees Tab itself, not the drop down options. You’ll then see “My Trees” and “Trees shared with me.” Click on Trees Shared with me. There is it, the blessed “remove from list” button. Click and they are gone.
This is a frustrating dilemma because genealogists do want to share their information but it shouldn’t become a burden to either party. It’s too bad Ancestry doesn’t give you the option to “save the link” or simply, by default, just look.
Debbie Kennett suggests that if people want to make their tree available online to their matches she finds MyHeritage is a much better alternative than Ancestry. You can upload a tree for up to 250 people free of charge. The big advantage of MyHeritage is that anyone can see your tree without needing to have an Ancestry subscription or
an invite. You can see her tree here:
Thanks to Ann Turner, Debbie Kennett and Jim Owston for their assistance with figuring out how to get rid of these self-attaching trees. Once you know how to do this, it’s not difficult, but figuring out the procedure was anything but straightforward.