Thursday, June 19, 2014

Ancestry.com, Mundia, Find-a-Grave, DDoS attacks & closures

Over the last few days it has been difficult to get into some genealogy sites, including Ancestry.com, Find-a-Grave, Mundia and others. Rumours and conflicting reports have abounded. One story was that there was a DDod (Distributed Denial of Service) attack on the servers. It's not clear why anyone should attack generalogy sites, but perhaps they did.

It also seems that reports that the attack had been neutralised are premature, since I've had no mail from any of the Rootsweb mailing lists since 16 June -- unless the mailing lists are one of the services that Ancestry is dropping, as described below.

Another story is that Ancestry.com are planning to retire some of their services -- see here Genea-Musings: BIG News from Ancestry.com - Announcing Retirement of Several Features and Websites:
Mundia.com Retirement:

* Mundia trees have always been part of Ancestry and are available in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish and Swedish.

* Members can download the family trees they've created in Mundia in their native language before 5 September 2014.

* Mundia trees can be accessed for free on Ancestry.com.

That is rather sad. Mundia was a bit clunky, but it was a kind of "Ancestry-lite" for those who couldn't afford the full subscription to Ancestry.com.

The DDoS reports also seem to be true, as some Ancestry services, like the Rootsweb mailing lists, appear to be suffering from delays. And it had a weird spin-off for us this morning. We've started getting phone calls from people wanting the Castle Wine and Brandy Company.

Very odd, since if you go to the web site of the Castle Wine and Brandy Company, their phone number is clear, and it is not ours.

But if you search for it on Google, the top three search results are:

  1. [SOUTH-AFRICA] Castle Wine & Brandy Co. - Archiver

    archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com › SOUTH-AFRICA2007-09
    From: "Steve Hayes" <> Subject: Re: [SOUTH-AFRICA] Castle Wine & Brandy Co. Date: Sun, 09 Sep 2007 18:06:44 +0200. In-Reply-To: ...
  2. [SOUTH-AFRICA] Castle Wine & Brandy Co. - Archiver

    archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com › SOUTH-AFRICA2007-09
    From: "Rod Gebhardt" <> Subject: [SOUTH-AFRICA] Castle Wine & Brandy Co. Date: Sun, 9 Sep 2007 09:57:06 +0200. Good Morning to all, I am trying to find ...
  3. [SOUTH-AFRICA] Castle Wine & Brandy Co. - Archiver

    archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com › SOUTH-AFRICA2007-09
    From: Andrew Rodger <> Subject: Re: [SOUTH-AFRICA] Castle Wine & Brandy Co. Date: Sun, 9 Sep 2007 23:12:45 +1000. References: ...
Those are messages written in a Rootsweb mailing list seven years ago?

And other search engines (eg Bing) are not much different.

So what seems to have happened is that the extra traffic generated by the DDoS attack has pushed the old Rootsweb messages up in the search engine rankings (did any of the SEO fundis predict this?)

The bad news is that Castle Wine and Brandy may lose some business, and I may get some nuisance phone calls. Also, that responses on Rootsweb lists may be slow as the servers try to cope with the bombardment.

The good news is that some old and long-forgotten genealogy queries may float to the top of Google and other searches, and so researchers might get some responses from people who might otherwise never have seen them.


1 comment:

Paxie Kelsey said...

Hi Steve, I see that there have been a lot of complaints today of folks worldwide struggling to get onto social media sites ... Facebook, twitter etc. so maybe there is something out there causing havoc. More interestingly is that I received an email this morning from Origins saying that they had been bought over by Findmypast .....