Free Information at Ancestry.com
There is still lots of free info on Ancestry. In fact, recently two Census indexes have been added; the US 1880 every-name index, and the 1881 UK Census. The Message boards are free, as is the Ancestry World Tree. The My Ancestry Search Profile is pretty cool, and is free, although the results may point to subscription databases. The Learning Center is still free, which has loads of great articles. They also offer the free trial program, Family Tree Maker, although you do have to register to get that. Finally, the Research Registry is free for all.
Two census indexes for free searching: the 1880 U.S. Federal Census and the 1881 England, Wales, Isle of Man, and Channel Islands Census. The 1880 U.S. Federal Census is an every-name index and the last census available census for the 1800s. More about this: http://genweblog.blogspot.com/2006/07/1880-us-census-free-to-search-at.html. The 1881 census every-name index includes enumerations for England, Wales, the Isle of Man, and the Channel Islands.
Meyers Geographical and Commercial Gazetteer of the German Empire (Meyers Orts- und Verkehrs-Lexikon des Deutschen Reichs in German) now FREE at Ancestry: http://genweblog.blogspot.com/2008/06/meyers-ort-online-and-free.html
Message Boards: http://boards.rootsweb.com or http://boards.ancestry.com.
Ancestry World Tree: http://ancestry.com/trees/awt/main.htm
(database also accessible from Rootsweb: http://worldconnect.rootsweb.com
My Ancestry: http://ancestry.com/myancestry/
Learning Center: http://ancestry.com/learn/
Ancestry has a Research Registry, which is a way for you to connect with people working on the same surnames or families as you. Access the Research Registry through the Message Boards tab on Ancestry.com. On the right side of the page you'll see a box titled Research Registry. From here you can search for others working on specific surnames or add your own research profiles so that others can find you. Note that if you are not an Ancestry.com subscriber or registered site user, you will probably have to register your name and e-mail address in to access the Research Registry. This registration is free. Rootsweb has a similar, older database, the RootsWeb Surname List: http://rsl.rootsweb.com/.
And don't forget, since Ancestry purchased Rootsweb, that all of that fabulous material is still available free, thanks to Ancestry: http://www.rootsweb.com/. This includes all the 30,000 mail lists.
I have to admit, they seem to "hide" the free information, but it is there. I'm sure we all miss the "10 days for free on all new databases" that they did for so many years. Also remember, if you can't afford a membership, there are LOTS of library systems that subscribe, so be sure to check the website of your local or county library system. I have access to both Ancestry *and* Heritage Quest through my county library system.
Posting One (and only one) GEDCOM file at Rootsweb WorldConnect, Ancestry World Tree, and Ancestry Online Family Tree: http://valoriez.blogspot.com/2004/02/posting-one-and-only-one-gedcom-file.html
Search the White Pages at Ancestry: http://www.infospace.com/_1_2WLTOW042VVDHI__info.anstry/wp/index.htm
$$$ AIS Census Indexes at Ancestry: http://ancestry.com/search/rectype/census/ais/main.htm
Interview Questions: http://www.ancestry.com/rd/prodredir.asp?sourceid=831&key=A342501
Charts and Forms (incl. blank census forms, Pedigree/Ancestral Chart & Family Group Sheets): http://www.ancestry.com/save/charts/ancchart.htm
Rootsweb, and how to Use it: http://valoriez.blogspot.com/2003/12/rootsweb-and-how-to-use-it.html
Need to search list archives? Use Rootsweb Listsearches: http://genweblog.blogspot.com/2007/04/searching-list-archives-by-joan-young.html
Easy List Unsubscribing: http://valoriez.blogspot.com/2004/06/easy-list-unsubscribing.html
Sharing Your Family History at Rootsweb: http://valoriez.blogspot.com/2004/01/sharing-your-family-history-at.html
Valorie's Genealogy Lists: http://valoriez.blogspot.com/2003/12/valories-genealogy-lists.html
Adversity is like a strong wind. It tears away from us all but the things that cannot be torn, so that we see ourselves as we really are. - Arthur Golden