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Footnote Free 1930 Promotion Update 1

Footnote ProblemsWell, the 1930 census has been free for a few days now and, as you’ve probably noticed, we’ve run into a few problems.

Overwhelming traffic
The biggest problem is that we underestimated how fast word would get out and just how popular a free 1930 census would be.  The interest has overwhelmed our servers, which has made the Footnote experience slow, frustrating, error prone and pretty much the opposite of everything we work hard to make it.

We are doing what we can to improve the experience and will be upgrading our systems to handle more visitors, but this will take some time.  In the mean time, we expect that as the initial excitement dies down (or is dampened by the slowness of the site), things will improve.

If we can’t get things stabilized in the next few days, we will postpone the free 1930 offer until the systems are ready to handle it.  We hope we don’t have to do that, but we want you to be able to use the census while it’s free and we need to be sure that we provide a quality experience for our current paying members.

We’ll post additional updates about the status of the traffic problems here on the blog.

Confusion about how to get to the census for free
We’ve heard some reports about people having problems getting the free access. To get to the census for free, you have to go through the promotional page at http://go.footnote.com/1930census.  Going through this page allows us place a cookie that gives you special access to the 1930. Once you’ve got that cookie, as long as you are on the site, you should be able to search from anywhere on the site and get into the 1930 census free.  If you close the browser and come back, you’ll need to go back to the 1930 promotion page again.

Printing and downloading
For the first day or so of the promotion, we had an error on the site which was telling people they needed to subscribe in order to print or download one of the free 1930 images.  We fixed the problem earlier this week, so if you tried to print or download earlier, we hope you’ll try again.

23 Comments

  1. Can you compensate those of us who “just” purchased a subscription since we are now unable to access any records? I’ve been trying all day and have gotten nothing but errors. This isn’t what I signed up for!

  2. If you can’t fix the problem you may want to remove the “refer a friend” button” and not allow anyone else free access. This hurts your cause rather than promotes it because people will see how slow and cumbersome it is and decide to stay away from you, not realizing it is due to your miscalculation of band width and the expected response to your offer.

  3. Very upset over this I have a limited time to work on my genealogy and this has really messed it up for the regular members I cannot get on and have not been able to for some time Why would anyone new want to join if they have this problem Almost makes me want to cancel
    Please take care of this problem as soon as possible It is ruined right now
    Rena

  4. Convenient response – millions of people do family research and you are suprised!!!!!!!! Clearly haven’t done your homework then.

  5. When I saw the free offer I thought great if it is worth it after the free trial I will join. As of now I will not join.. No matter what surname I put in it comes back very slow and with 0 findings. In the past I have found them on other programs. I will give you a second chance in about a week since I heard you were having an overload. We will see. So far I am not impressed.

    Pat

  6. I have had a paid membership on Footnote.com for about two years now and just renewed for another year, and I can say their website is normally very responsive and at least just as fast as the other genealogy record sites. I visit Footnote quite often and have never had problems accessing records, so this slowdown is clearly an anomaly. I think people should have a little patience and revisit Footnote again in a few days or weeks and experience how fun it normally is.

  7. I have been a loyal footnote member and have rarely had any problems with the speed or access to all the fantastic records. They are very responsive and I am sure are working on the volume issues right now. The usability is great and the variety of records and tools they have really make it a fun place for both me as well as my children to research and explore. I am sure they will soon have it fixed or make changes to the promotion which is creating so much interest.

  8. You had one chance at a first impression and it didn’t come off well. That doesn’t mean all is lost. It is how you respond to the situation that will show the people the kind of company you really are.

  9. This is not a good thing – when those of us paid subscribers are put to this sort of inconvenience for those seeking a free ride. Many will just take what they can get for free and not subscribe or contribute – bad business – I hope the powers that be correct this quickly so that those of who subscribe can continue to enjoy the experience we have in the past.

  10. This is not a good thing – when those of us paid subscribers are put to this sort of inconvenience for those seeking a free ride. Many will just take what they can get for free and not subscribe or contribute – bad business.

  11. I think the subscribers should get a discount for not being able to access the records. My subscription payment includes use of the 1930′s census records… and haven’t been able to access them for a couple of days. Because of the free ride… I am forever “loading… loading… loading…” Hope the problem gets resolved. I know you meant well, but do consider the people who paid full the price.

  12. please end this “free” offer and let those of us who have paid access our records. This is truly not fair or right.

  13. Quote:
    Printing and downloading
    For the first day or so of the promotion, we had an error on the site which was telling people they needed to subscribe in order to print or download one of the free 1930 images. We fixed the problem earlier this week, so if you tried to print or download earlier, we hope you’ll try again.

    Well it is Day 6 and it still tells everyone you need a “premium” membership to view images or click on anything.
    This is a classic case of false advertising just to get new members and should be reported to the State Attorney Generals Office in my opinion.

  14. Thank you for your comments.

    To our All-Access Members, we recognize the problems this promotion has caused for you. We are doing all we can to get it fixed and if we can’t, we will stop the promotion until we can support the traffic.

    Thanks to those of you who have been with us for a while and can vouch for our general character :) It’s nice to have friends during a rough patch.

    niebus, we certainly didn’t intend for this to be a “case of false advertising” and free access to the census has been working for people who can get to it through the heavy traffic.

    I’m not sure just what’s happening in your case, but, the way things should work is that if you go to the 1930 page, http://go.footnote.com/1930census/, and sign in or register, then search from that page, you will get special access that will get you into the 1930 census. As I mentioned in the post above, once you are in, as long as you are on the site, you should be able to search from anywhere on the site and get into the 1930 census free. If you close the browser and come back, you’ll need to go back to the census page again.

    All of this is based on cookies, or small files in your browser, so if it’s not working, my first suggestion would be to clear your cookies and try coming through the 1930 promotional page again. If that doesn’t work for you, please contact us at [email protected] and we’ll see if we can figure out what is causing the problem in your case.

  15. A great offer, but those of us who have paid for a subscription should get priority access to the material. I haven’t been able to search consistently since the offer began.

  16. As a long time paid subscriber and daily user of the Revolutionary War Pension applications, I am very much in the camp of those who say it is unfair to us to have free access users cut us off from the service. I am strongly of the opinion that Footnote should immediately stop the free access, and not restore it unless and until the capacity is in place to provide reasonable access to all users. Footnote should realize that it does its image substantial harm to tease would-be subscribers with ‘free access’ which doesn’t work, to say nothing of alienating its existing subscribers who have paid for a service which Footnote is not capable of providing in the face of such overwhelming demands on its existing infrastructure. I’ve offered this same constructive criticism via email messages to Footnote’s tech support. As I have always experienced in the past, tech support has been very prompt and courteous in responding to the email, if not in actually solving the problem. Perhaps if more of the paying subscribers were to ‘overwhelm’ tech support with emails complaining about the unacceptable ‘service,’ Footnote would get the message and immediately do what is necessary to restore its service to full functionality. Just a suggestion.

  17. Free offer has definitely affected the availability of Footnote for your paying customers. I can’t say I’m happy about that. Footnote is usually pretty fast in terms of response times and hopefully you find a solution to your problem quickly.

  18. As of Sunday morning 7/9/09, full service is restored to this fantastic site and all is right with the world! THANKS, Footnote!

  19. I am not able to get into the free 1930 census I have tried Sat and Sun and today Monday morning and no luck. Can you tell me if the system works with dial up Aol?

    Thank you

    Ann

  20. I agree with all of those regular subscribers who have PAID for a subscription. I am not one of them, but I sympathize.

    I signed up for the free 25 days, to see if I might want to subscribe. NOT. I want out !!!!!!!! Don’t even think of asking me for $$$.

  21. I can’t even view the free census. I’m told I have to subcribe.

  22. I did not know of the free 1930 census until I subscribed to Footnote. I have viewed one out of 5 or 6 doucments that I wanted to see. I hope this problem is solved. I only subscribed a month to see if I would like Footnote, but so far I can view anything. Sad, sad for Footnote.

  23. This free access is fantastic and very helpful. It’s a shame it’s affected paying members.
    I found ancestors almost immediately but can’t seem to find anywhere that I can suggest an amendment. One name in an ancestor’s family is ‘illegible’ but I know who it is and the name is quite clear.