Posted by on July 3, 2008 in Ancestry.com Site, Searching for Records

 DearMYRTLE’s Family History Hour

 Kendall Hulet, Director of Product Management for Ancestry.com, discusses the new Ancestry.com search in this week’s edition of DearMYRTLE’s Family History Hour genealogy podcast.

Kendall offers some tricks and tips for maximizing success in the new search and explains some of the reasons and development process behind the new search.

You can listen to the podcast on DearMYRTLE’s website here. (The segment with Kendall begins 12 minutes into the podcast.)

6 Comments

Linda 

I listened to the podcast and played with the new search screen at the same time. I came to the same conclusion that the new search screen is not efficient.

Ken compares an Ancestry database search to a google search. Actually, Ken, Google is better than Ancestry.com with the new search. At least with Google, you can put in boolean statement and narrow down the results considerably. But, it should be easier to narrow the results with Ancestry.com. Ancestry’s searches are across databases that have either fields of data that are nearly the same as the criteria fields or contain text that can use boolean searches and proximity searches behind the scenes. You were closer to that objective with the old search interface.

Not sure what a “strong search” is in your program. To me, if I do an exact search and if the data entered is included in the corresponding fields, it is a strong match. If for example, I enter James Hensel in and a location of Bureau, I would expect any any results that have “James” and “Hensel” in the name fields and “Bureau” in the location field to be considered strong matches because that is what I entered!

The results are inconsistent. I tried to search the 1910 census using a common search. I want anyone with a last name of “Zearing” in the township of “Princeton”. The old search (exact search chosen) returns 7 matches. The new exact search returns 0. If I turn off Exact search in the new search interface, I get 113! The relevant ones are not even on the top! The one on top “Rebecca J Zearing” doesn’t even contain Princeton anywhere in the location!

May I suggest that your test group compare the results from searches under the old method with the new method. I have found nothing today in my “playing” that makes more sense in the new search interface.

Regarding the multiple location option, it only works for non-exact searches but is allowed for input in an exact search. Why can’t you incorporate it into the exact search? For example, return: (Name = Name in database) AND (Loc 1 = Location in database or Loc 2 = Location in database) and set for unique so that if Loc 1 is a county name and Loc 2 is a state name, you don’t get 2 returned of the same county/state combination.

Please rethink this interface! It is nonsense!

July 3, 2008 at 4:55 pm
Jim 

Using the new search I was able to get exactly 7 matches on Zearing in Princeton by putting Zearing in the Last Name box and Princeton in the More/Keyword box and checking exact on both the Last Name and Keyword.

Generally, I have had success with exact searches by using the location to select only the state and using the keyword field to select the county or township.

July 3, 2008 at 6:52 pm
Steve 

“Generally, I have had success with exact searches by using the location to select only the state and using the keyword field to select the county or township.”

Just how intuitive is that?

July 3, 2008 at 7:22 pm
Linda 

Thanks for experimenting and sharing your way of searching. But it doesn’t make sense to have to use keyword when the comparible field (location) is within the choice of text boxes.

Under the old search, for census records, I have been very successful filling any combination of township, county, and state. I don’t recall ever using the keyword for census searches. Of course, the old search had 3 separate fields for location data. Under the old search, I only used keyword searches when the specific data field wasn’t available (i.e. with newspaper searches). Using keywords all the time would be like doing Google searches. Again, with databases that have specific fields such as Census records, a google type of search should not be necessary.

July 3, 2008 at 10:09 pm
Jade 

For explanation of Kendall Hulett’s conceptual framework of the relationship between the idiotic Tree thingie on the new Home Page and the new skin on the old Search Engine, take a look at the longish July 4th post here:

http://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/2008/07/03/follow-up-on-the-new-ancestrycom-homepage/

In essence, Kendall’s objective is to enhance a Fuzzy Search that links with your Tree.

If you
1) are interested in more than your pure ancestry,
2) have a Tree on Ancestry with more than a couple of generations in it,
3) want specific searches to solve specific problems, or
4) you use Ancestry for research on anything other than your personal ancestry

–then Kendall’s approach will not be applicable to helping you do specific research. His efforts may be frustrating what you want to do rather than helping.

This is what the new skin is about: an Experience rather than data research.

July 4, 2008 at 11:21 pm
Rebecca A Zearing 

I just saw this, anyone want to chat with me, Rebecca A Zearing, daughter of Wallace J Zearing, original family ancestors german swiss mostly located in Madison, Indiana. I can help with a lot of Zearing info.

Rebecca

October 1, 2008 at 4:42 pm