Ancestry has two messaging systems: the main one in Ancestry.com and a secondary one in the DNA section of Ancestry. Both are broken, and have been broken to varying degrees for a very long time. They work somewhat well a lot of the time, but they both have issues.
First for the main Ancestry website inbox, if you don’t have a paid Ancestry subscription, you can’t send an initial message to somebody who hasn’t already contacted you. You can respond to anybody who contacts you through the main messaging system. For example, I have had a handful of people contact me that way and I was able to respond to them. Next, you should get an e-mail notice if you have a new message on either messaging system, but it’s hit or miss. Probably 25% of the time minimum I don’t get an e-mail letting me know that I have a new message on Ancestry. I check my e-mail’s Spam folder numerous times throughout the day as it loves to throw non-spam e-mails into the Spam folder. Now, if that’s not bad enough, when I look at my Ancestry Inbox, it frequently doesn’t show new messages even though I have one or more new messages. What’s the point of having a flag showing new messages if it doesn’t inform you when there are new messages? In my opinion, Ancestry should turn over their messaging system to GMail, Yahoo Mail, or somebody who is much better at managing a messaging system than Ancestry.
Because Ancestry routinely doesn’t let you know when you have new messages and most people don’t know this, don’t assume that a message you sent has been read or even seen.
Another bad side effect is last log-in date that Ancestry shows for somebody. Don’t assume it’s the last time they were on Ancestry. It’s the last time they logged in after logging out. Big difference. I used to rarely log out of Ancestry until somebody commented in a Facebook group about his phenomenon. I had somebody look at my Ancestry account and it showed I hadn’t logged in over five (5) years even though I was visiting my account almost daily. End result, every time I shut down my browser, it automatically signs me out of every account that I was logged in. Firefox has a bad habit of needing to be shut down a dozen plus times a day so I am constantly having to log back into every account I want to access (Facebook, WordPress, Ancestry, YouTube, etc.).
If you want to get a better idea of when a person last logged into Ancestry, check their recent activity. Have they added photos, information, or anything else that was recently done? If so, then they have been on Ancestry recently. Don’t assume they have seen your message or received an e-mail. For e-mails, most e-mail providers regularly send e-mails to the Spam folder and many people never look at their Spam folder. I only started doing it after a friend said they sent me something and I hadn’t received it because Yahoo threw it in my Spam folder. I have filters set up that should send certain e-mails to specific folders, but that doesn’t stop Yahoo from sending them to Spam.
Others suggest using Facebook to look for somebody and using Facebook‘s message system to contact them. The problem with this solution is many people don’t know that messages from non-friends going into a different folder on Facebook and unless you check it, you won’t know that you have a message from a non-friend. For example, I missed a few messages that are months old because I hadn’t checked the other folder. They renamed it to Message Requests from Other folder a while back, but it doesn’t let you know you have unread messages in it unless you click on the tab.