Press/Analyst Contact
D. Chaney


For Immediate Release


FamilyMessages.Org Extends Survivor Database Availability


Sunnyvale, CA --- October 12, 2005: FamilyMessages.Org will continue to accept updates to their Hurricane Katrina Survivor database through the end of the year. Based on overwhelming feedback from users of the survivor database who are still finding family and loved ones through the system, DCRE Labs (sponsor of the FamilyMessages.Org project) agreed to extend the deadline for accepting updates and changes to the existing record base. On October 5, 2005, a message was posted on the main page at indicating plans to shut down the database, due primarily to the increase in "false" updates, many of which were advertisements similar to those received in email SPAM.

"The increase in 'garbage' postings, such as ads for low mortgage rates, adult sites and a curious number of furniture store ads led us to believe that the site's overall usefulness had fallen off to the point of being a target rather than a resource.", said Daniel Chaney, developer of the site. "However, when we announced the plans to shut things down, we immediately started getting emails and phone calls asking us to keep it online. There were still people missing and, just as important, there were still people looking. So long as that was the case, we decided it was worth keeping things up and running."

So, instead of taking the site down, DCRE Labs modified the code to make it more difficult to post spam, including "captcha" technology, which is a program designed to foil automated posting systems. In addition, the more delicate postings, such as those indicating survivors who had been "found", are processed manually to reduce the chance of accidentally posting someone as being found who was in fact still missing. "We didn't want to take away anyone's hopes but by the same token, we didn't want to give any false hope, either. It was a tricky balance and in the end, we decided some things just shouldn't be automated." FamilyMessages volunteers now read and check out those entries before they are posted to the web-site.

DCRE Labs will keep the Katrina database open for updates at least until the end of the year before revisiting the issue. "We see now there is a continuing need and we remain committed to helping as long as we're contributing something useful."

FamilyMessages.Org is a non-profit, privately funded effort by individuals who donate their time, resources and money towards helping friends and family communicate with loved ones who are lost or missing from Hurricane Katrina (and other large-scale disasters.) The web site, programming, bandwidth and database support are provided free of charge by DCRE Labs.