"At the time Ancestry.com purchased Rootsweb, USGenWeb was one of the most valuable free genealogy-resources sites, with all manner of useful factual data, such as tables of County organization, maps . . . ."
A fair statement, and I have cited, on occasion, Rootsweb sources myself.
"Rootsweb hosts free web-pages utilized by such groups as historical societies and genealogical societies as well as individuals. Ancestry.com has no such function."
I see no reason why ACOM couldn't or wouldn't be able to provide that same opportunity under its own umbrella.
"The Rootsweb-side message boards to some extent may be marketing for Ancestry.com."
Arguable, I guess, but I'd venture that 99.9% of that forum constituency wouldn't miss a beat were it to be eliminated.
"The WorldConnect trees on Rootsweb are free, easy to use and accessible by all free of charge. They also now host ads for Ancestry.com 'hits', so are additional marketing."
Perhaps there's a legitimate argument here. If my reading of the general genealogical assessment is correct, no reputable genealogy website would wish to be associated with "WorldConnect" trees, no? Perhaps Rootsweb is being maintained to house that "nutty uncle"?
"Rootsweb hosts myriad mailing lists regarding locations, surnames and other genealogical topics. Some are more or less defunct, many are very active -- and since operated by email, do not require anyone to log in to a website to use as the Message Boards do."
This, IMHO, is a rather benign design aspect, rather easily addressed.
"And they usually operate when other parts of the Ancestry.com site is wonky. Ancestry.com, on the other hand, seems to have problems keeping its internal messaging and message-board alerts working at all."
Perhaps so, but drifting rather far afield here.
"While Ancestry.com has persistently eliminated resources at Rootsweb (halting the newsletter; cutting staffing; eliminating the excellent Rootsweb version of SSDI with its very useful search engine), but what remains is utilized and cherished by many. I use the town/county widget frequently. There are other items I use that I won't mention for fear that Ancestry.com will proceed to delete them, as well."
This is, I'd suggest, the "feather-ruffling" I alluded to. While I can empathize, I simply don't identify with it.