Posted by on October 18, 2010 in Ancestry.com Site

Today we are announcing a new “Labs” area of Ancestry.com. This is a separate site where we can give you a sneak preview of new ideas and concepts for helping family history research (but that are not yet ready for prime time). Most importantly for us, it gives us a chance to hear feedback directly from our most passionate users.

Right now, Ancestry.com Labs will be linked only from relevant blog posts, but in the future, it’s possible we may introduce a permanent link from the Ancestry.com main site.

The projects we will place in this area may be in beta (like Ancestry Wiki) or they may be early prototypes. Some of these may make their way into the main Ancestry.com site, others may not. Much depends on your feedback.

The first prototype that we’re launching today is codenamed “Person View” and we’re testing two new ideas:

1.     Person consolidation – can we group records and trees together in a way that exposes the relationships between records in a completely new way?

2.     Web records – can we find records on the web that match your query (from outside of Ancestry.com’s collections), and then link you directly to them?

You can access Person View from the labs website through this URL: http://www.ancestry.com/labs and you can see a quick demo of how Person View works here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vtgw8RnRHAI. Please give it a try and let us know what you think.

About Person consolidation:

Person consolidation allows you to access our collections in a completely new way. Our aim is to search our records and trees to find a matching “person” and then give you direct access to the records that support the facts about that person  – many factors affect whether this works well – the time period, the location and whether the person is already represented in our trees. We want to experiment with this across as wide a range of people as possible, and we’d love to hear whether it works for your ancestors.

About Web records:

Across the web, the number of sites that are transcribing and publishing historical records is growing all of the time.  Many of these are freely available. Person View helps you find links to sites that contain records matching your search.

However, in providing access to these, it’s very important to us that we are respectful to the publishers of these websites. We’d like to be completely transparent about how we intend to do this:

  • Our goal is to make it easy for our users to find websites that have records they may be interested in, and to make it easy for them to visit these websites.
  • To do this we will build an index of essential information in the record (e.g. the website link, the matching name, date, place), and make this available to our users through our search tools.
  • We will always strive to follow web industry standards for website crawling permissions.  For example, some sites contain a robots.txt file telling search engines (such as Google) not to crawl that site.
  • We will put in place processes to remove the content from our search index if the website/content owner requests, with the goal of doing this as quickly as possible. We will clearly publish how to contact our team to do this (our contact us page has more details).
  • We may allow our users to save a reference to the record to their family trees, but whenever this information is later presented, we intend to give proper attribution, with a clear reference or link to the site from which the index data came.

We welcome your feedback on any aspect of the experience, and look forward to hearing from you. There is a feedback link on the right hand side of every page of the Person View site.

If you are a website owner, and want to see what other content owners are saying, please visit our publishers message boards (you will need to have a free registration with Ancestry.com to post on this board, but you can browse what people are saying without being registered). If you think we should be including your website in the search, or if you wish us to remove your site from the web index, you can email our team directly.

We’d love to hear from you.

The Ancestry Labs team

78 Comments

Ancestry.com Announces Ancestry.com Labs | GeneaBloggers 

[...] just announced its “labs” feature where Ancestry.com users can test drive or get a preview of new [...]

October 18, 2010 at 4:50 pm
Tweets that mention We’re launching Ancestry.com Labs – and we’d love your feedback -- Topsy.com 

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Ancestry.com, ACoffin, Juliet Hambro, Marian Pierre-Louis, Shauna Hicks and others. Shauna Hicks said: Will take a peek later @Ancestrydotcom We’re launching Ancestry.com Labs – and we’d love your feedback http://bit.ly/dgqW3y #genealogy [...]

October 18, 2010 at 5:03 pm
worshacf 

Before you launch something new, fix whatever the problem is with the green return arrow that continually shows a different name than the person being worked with? It’s been going on too long.

Your new Labs area might be interesting to take a sneak preview of what ancestry staff is considering for the future.

But personally I’m not interested on whatever ancestry staff finds on the web. I pay membership to your company, for the quality records in your data base (wishful thinking perhaps). If I want something else from the web I can go there and research for free.

I generally work with two windows open at the same time anyway, one open with ancestry to work with people in my tree. The other window is open so I can check Wikipedia and other websites such as Canadian Genealogy websites, or Find A Grave at the same time I’m working on my tree.

October 18, 2010 at 5:10 pm
Jade 

Is date bracketing supposed to be working?

For Ananias Hudson, d. 1772, Sussex County, Delaware, I should not be getting results for a purported MD immigration record in 1775 or two items in “Indiana Marriages 1800-1941.”

Are these, er, tips taken from:
–what some have saved to their trees for this person
–what others have save to their trees for one individual out of the strange results consolidation of at least 3 different persons (in 66 trees, it says)
–just more faulty search-engine retrievals?

October 18, 2010 at 5:13 pm
BEE 

Sorry to sound like a complainer, especially when I have found so much information on ancestry, for which I will be eternally grateful, especially people I’ve met and correspond with, but
I do hope when that green return arrow is “fixed”, we will get some kind of notice? While I often “clear cache and history”, I don’t always “shut down and reboot” – so it would be nice to know when I have to do it so that this “fix” is “fixed” on my computer?
Dare I mention those WWI Draft cards in PA?

October 18, 2010 at 5:21 pm
Randy Seaver 

Good job on this, Tony. It seems to find the right person every time. But, for me, that’s probably because it’s based on Family Trees, and my tree has all of my ancestors in it!

It also worked well at my Beginning Computer Genealogy class today with beginners – two people found their target persons in a Family Tree and now have a cousin to contact!

There is a psychological thing here when the right person pops up at the top of the list – lookee here, their information is online! Of course, we weren’t searching for the right Thomas Smith or John Brown!

I think what I like best is that it works FAST! Much easier than clicking through a Family Tree.

I have shown my own search for a grandparent and commented on the Person View in http://www.geneamusings.com/2010/10/ancestry-labs-and-person-view-first.html.

When will Web Records be enabled? Will they include blogs, message boards, etc.?

October 18, 2010 at 5:23 pm
emmlee 

Not sure i like the idea of linking to outside sites if this includes trees people have put on personal sites and i’m not sure they’d appreciate it either.
And unless the search actually looks at the details for your person and doesn’t look at outside information in unrelated countries or states, it wont work. Can you imagine how many “john smith” links could appear?
I’d like an opt in for this – because i probably would not use it – i’m quite good at searching all by myself
I’d like to see you concentrating on fixing existing problems on your site before introducing new features.

October 18, 2010 at 5:31 pm
Jade 

Folks should be forewarned that if they use the “Feedback” link to the survey, and have more feedback during the same internet session, they are likely to get a message that they cannot submit feedback because they have already taken the survey.

October 18, 2010 at 5:32 pm
Tony Macklin 

Thanks to everyone who has commented on this – the vast majority of the team are certainly still concentrating on the core site, both fixing issues, and working on improving the core search forms. Ancestry.com Labs has been developed by a small team with the aim of learning how our technology can be improved for the future.

Randy, thanks for the comment – web search is currently live, however, this is a prototype, and it looks like your search for Frederick Seaver may have uncovered an intermittent data issue. We’re working on this now (for a view on how this works with other records, do a search for a Morgan Bell Edwards, born in 1885, with web records only checked)

Jade, thanks for this, and on the date bracketing – this version of Person View does not support exact – but we’ll be collecting feedback on this.

And you’re right we had that problem with past feedback forms – we’ve made some changes with the aim of solving this problem for the Person View feedback form – please let me know if you encounter it.

Thanks

Tony

October 18, 2010 at 6:28 pm
Kirk Sellman 

I’d love to help, but I don’t have a subscription because I’ve been unemployed for the past 15 months. It sounds like a wonderful tool, and I applaud ACOM for having the courage to allow feedback in the middle of ongoing projects. Good luck.

October 18, 2010 at 6:40 pm
Sherry 

I think this is a great idea as long as you do not focus on the trees. There are so many local websites with vital images that are free to view. If this is going to be about linking trees, I nix the idea as there is enough “out there” already.

I persoanlly think you are moving in the right direction. There has been so much duplication of effort as of late. If you could consolidate this, the sub would more than be worth it, whether it comes from your sources or off-site sources.

Thant being said, you do need to fix what you have already. Ontario records are missing second pages in births and marriages. I do not know which genius decided to skip these second pages….they only include where born, what date, where married, what witnesses. Would really like to see you fix that first.

Many thanks for all that you do,

October 18, 2010 at 6:42 pm
Jade 

Tony, thank you for your #9 (no number) regarding dating and “exact”.

Do you mean to say that the date entries on the search form do not have a purpose?

While the search results included several post-mortem marriage records in wrong location, it did not return the single relevant item in Ancestry.com databases for this person (entry for his will in Calendar of Sussex Co., DE Wills).

Or is their purpose only to retrieve Tree items (in the case of Ananias Hudson d. 1772 the combined tree item included an individual with much later death date)?

A search for the same person, trees only, also retrieved tree-composites for two persons by different first names and non-1772 death dates.

Names are not “exact” either? The search engine did retrieve the same results whether the first name was spelt Ananias or Annanias, which is a good thing.

But this is confusing.

October 18, 2010 at 7:16 pm
Sleuth 

Initial thoughts:

a. My name is being used at the top of the page in lieu of my ACOM username because. . ??? I would much prefer to have my ACOM username appear as the default for all online purposes. This is not a social site.

b. In using the Person View to search, I note that even when selecting only web information, the result is a mixture of misinformation contained in ACOM trees. The word “city” is used to describe a location that is a “township” and appears identical to information results when “family trees” is selected. Coincidence??

c. I will reserve comments on the Person View concept until you have completed some fine tuning. Some of the additional information is not responding to a click at this time.

d. I agree with Sherry, above, that it would be better if information from ACOM public trees would be omitted from results. Some of my kinfolks are known to include erroneous and unsubstantiated information that is copied and spread by other kinfolks without question. Many others complain of similar concerns on the Message Boards. ACOM should set some standards for the quality of information included in search results. In my opinion, ACOM public trees do not qualify.

October 18, 2010 at 7:46 pm
Nick 

Ancestry Labs is a great idea, keep the new prototypes and betas coming. Person view is helpful; it’s a quick way to look at the potential ancestors from older generations that I’m not yet ready to put in my tree. I think linking to outside sites is a great idea, whoever brought that up… consolidating info from other sites would make my online job much easier.

October 18, 2010 at 9:57 pm
Valerie 

So far, the only problem I see is that I’m not turning up any web results. I know many of my ancestors are featured on websites and/or blogs, but I’ve yet to get a single web results for the 10 or so ancestors I’ve tested.

October 18, 2010 at 11:15 pm
Andy Hatchett 

Valerie Re:#15

Remember, this is a beta preview. I think if you read the help file on the new Person View page you’ll understand the lack of Web Results.

It isn’t that a global search will be made of the net but rather that different sites will be chosen and added over time as quality sites are found- at least that is my understanding of it.

October 18, 2010 at 11:35 pm
Carol A. H. 

I know you are going to keep adding feature after feature; and so far I won’t be using any of them. All I ask is don’t screw up the system while you are doing it. In the past 3 years I have had enough disasters and near disasters with Ancestry to last me the rest of my life.

I really wish you would take care of problems in the databases like missing images, bad scans and the like. Also please do a better job on indexing the city directories that you so favor as “1940 substitutes.” And the newspaper indexes are worse. There is no way any of my ancestors would be mentioned in millions of articles. I’d be lucky to find one, but the system thinks my people are everywhere all at the same time. Please use some of your new resources (money) to fix databases.

OCR STINKS!!!

October 19, 2010 at 12:43 am
Gary Berlucchi 

The design and ease of use is very nice. Since this is still beta, I’ll offer a few suggestions.
1. Offer a link to these beta sites on the Home page under “customize my home page”
2.Show the family tree that is the most relevant first ie the tree that has the most source information that was originally obtained and not copied from another tree.
3. When selecting a tree, a pop up box appears: also show the contents of my Tree for comparison. Also show the number of sources in the pop up for this person.
4. When selecting a source record, it would be nice to know if I already have this record saved for this person.
That’s it for now. Thanks for offering this new search.

October 19, 2010 at 6:55 am
Spencer Curtis 

The link to see the demo is not working.

When you click the link,

http://www.screencast.com/users/loracle/folders/Jing/media/5fa8f147-a555-4e7f-8eb5-996259153b20

it takes you to this URL, and we are getting this error:

“This content is currently unavailable. Please contact the content owner for more information.”

October 19, 2010 at 9:15 am
Tony Macklin 

Thanks all for additional comments

Valarie #15 and Andy #16 – Andy’s quite right here – we’ve only just started including sites, so it’s certainly not comprehensive today – but we wanted to be as clear as possible to everybody about what we’re doing, and how we’re planning to do it. We’ll be increasing this over time (in fact, this announcement has already resulted in interest from owners of websites, which we will be considering as we expand the range of sites included.

Spencer #19
Thanks for letting us know – we’d also just become aware that we’re having so much interest in this video that we’d overwhelmed our original provider. It’s now available on Youtube – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vtgw8RnRHAI. The link on the blog post above should also now be changed to redirect to the youtube site.

October 19, 2010 at 9:55 am
BEE 

Sorry to continually be “off topic”, but that green arrow return is getting tiresome, unless it’s been corrected, and I have to “shut down and reboot”.
On a positive note, God Bless all those involved in the World Archives Project!
I was checking out some family names on the “Selected U.S. Naturalization Records – Original Documents, 1790-1974(World Archives Project)” for PA, and to my amazement, I found my American-born grandmother!
I have my grandfather’s original documents, but because the birth year of their youngest son was incorrect, she had to to “petition for naturalization” and give an “oath of allegiance”!
My grandmother died long before I was born, so it was really special to see her signature. Thank you all “keying” participants, and ancestry.

October 19, 2010 at 11:57 am
Jeff Ford 

Just on my brief trial with it, I am not very impressed.

October 19, 2010 at 12:11 pm
Kay Richardson 

All are great ideas, hope it works ok for everyone. I must be off the air for a period of time on Ancestry but will be back to join in on these new endeavors for my Zivley, Wallace, Witcher, Pendleton, Taylor, Lee, Hampton, Cooke, Richardson and my many other families that sought to make the Americas their home, side by side with my American Indian families.

October 19, 2010 at 2:01 pm
Mariana 

Well, I like the concept. I think there’s a lot of possibilities to improve visualization.

The data was pretty messed up for me – lots of duplicates, lots of incorrect entries from other people’s trees, etc.

Also, I love the map idea, but I wish it were bigger and I wish it scrolled with me when I go down the page. Otherwise, I hover over fact number 31 and I can’t see the effect on the map any more.

I think this has good potential!

October 19, 2010 at 3:03 pm
Andy Hatchett 

Mariana Re: #24

In the lower right hand corner of the map is a small icon that looks like a monitor with 4 arrowheads at the corners- click that and the map both enlarges the map and allows it to be scrolled.

October 19, 2010 at 3:23 pm
Connie 

I like being able to see all the incorrect information from trees consolidated and knowing immediately how many such trees there are. I also like having a way, finally, to find the date when trees were uploaded and modified, although ideally that would be for the person searched, not for the entire tree.

There remain major problems, however, like lack of web results, and the typcial fuzzy search results (e.g. searching for Andrew Sheets born 1780 results in the first person listed being Henry Sheets). Never mind that another ancestor has been magically transported from Missouri to Pennsylvania for his death 5 years before he actually died (two individuals of the same name are telescoped together is some trees and for whatever reason, the incorrect trees take priority over the correct).

October 19, 2010 at 4:25 pm
Jeff Ford 

An addition to my earlier comments. This is a colossal waste of time, effort and money. Those things could be better spent on improved searches, tighter quality control on current records and more records. What about easier ways of adding audio and video files? The current method is pure torture.

October 19, 2010 at 5:20 pm
Andy Hatchett 

Tony Re: #20(unnumbered)

I’d like to offer two suggestions for the Person View feature.

1). I feel that there should be a list available to the members listing the websites the the Person View pulls from. This would enable them to see what websites are actually involved.

2). A small blog enter each time a website is added to the Person View “program”. This would let member know of new additions as well as act as a plug for the web site which might encourage more websites to join the program.

I’m not quite sure just where the best place on which of the Person View pages would be to display this info but I figure your team could work that out.

;)

October 19, 2010 at 5:26 pm
Betsy 

I have not encountered “beta” projects before, so don’t know what I’m supposed to say. HOWEVER, this seems to have some good potential.

What is the intended idea of action we might take if we encounter dramatic mistakes? I suppose that’s a good question for any family tree explorations.

It certainly scavenged out a great deal of focused material and made it available in an orderly fashion.

I do not think this is a waste of time or money. Many people deal with their searching in many different ways. I for one do not add video or audio to my tree, so FOR ME, that is a waste of time and money.

October 19, 2010 at 5:56 pm
Jade 

Betsey, #29 you say “What is the intended idea of action we might take if we encounter dramatic mistakes? I suppose that’s a good question for any family tree explorations”

Ancestry.com has no intentions at all regarding incorrect material in trees. What users put in their trees is entirely up to each one.

There are many threads on the message boards where some complain about inaccuracies in trees. Some resent material they think is erroneous about some of their own ancestors. Some want others’ trees to be accurate and with evidentiary source-citations so they can just copy from them and not have to do the research themselves. There are other viewpoints as well.

Inaccuracies in others’ trees will not contaminate the fact-based material in your tree unless you copy from them. It is nearly always a waste of time to try to get others to correct mistakes unless you develop a collaborative relationship with them.

But somewhere in some corner of the internet, someone else is surely copying the same wrong stuff and adding it to their tree (there are so many tree-hosting sites these days). This is endemic on the web, which so readily allows spreading falsehoods as well as sterling genealogical work.

Usually the best we can do is make our own little corner as accurate as we can.

October 19, 2010 at 6:30 pm
Mariana 

Andy – thanks for the #25 tip – I like that!

Now the only problem I see with the maps is that it seems to be confusing the information somehow. My grandfather, who was born in Sicily and live in Boston his whole life, shows up in Kansas! When I look at that record, there’s no mention of Kansas. So I don’t know where the map got that.

October 20, 2010 at 4:09 am
Mariana 

ahhh, wait… I think it just centers on Kansas when it’s USA in general

hmm, that’s a little weird.

also happened in Itlay. He ended up in Abruzzo. There shouls maybe be another way to deal with that… like the whole country is highlighted or something

October 20, 2010 at 4:13 am
bromaelor 

Very disappointing! Same old story!! Nice bells & whistles, pity about the shoddy content!

October 20, 2010 at 9:03 am
Robin 

I typed in my Dad’s name (he is LIVING). The view at the top says “Living name)” but then ALL his information is available a click away down in the search return area. I then typed in the same search, omitting my Dad’s first name, as if I was actually researching him, not knowing his first name. The same information came up, giving all details of a living person that I thought was supposed to be unavailable. In other words, I have found absolutely no record of my Dad on ancestry, all the information that is there, I put there from personal knowledge and thought it was private. In this person search format none of that information is now private (my tree is private) Please concentrate on making what you have perfect, this didn’t impress me at all and did worry me about privacy issues. Thank you.

October 20, 2010 at 9:08 am
worshacf 

I typed in my LIVING cousin, my LIVING son, my LIVING husband, and myself.

Robin #34 is correct. All these people should not have shown.

October 20, 2010 at 10:24 am
Virginia 

#34, 35
WOW…I just searched on some individuals with a private tree…the living on the trees are not only showing up…but also THEIR photos are being displayed.

Hope Toni is monitoring this board…you have a very serious problem.

October 20, 2010 at 10:52 am
Andy Hatchett 

Re: #34, #35, #36

I recently posted this to one of the message boards but it seems appropriate to post it here also for those that don’t read the message boards…

[QUOTE]
I would hope everyone playing with the Person View Beta has read the help file attached as it is very… well, helpful.

In particular- if you note errors.

[QUOTE] Why does Person View sometimes show wrong family members or other incorrect information?

Person View uses automated computer algorithms to determine which family members and records match for a person. Sometimes the algorithms generate incorrect results. If you see an example of incorrect information, please send a message to PersonViewHelp@ancestry.com explaining what you saw. We will use your input to help improve the algorithms.
[END QUOTE]

If everyone playing with it would report any errors they comes across it would really be useful in fine tuning the thing.
[END QUOTE]

It would also be helpful if a screen shot was attached.

October 20, 2010 at 11:31 am
Jeff Ford 

>I for one do not add video or audio to my tree, so FOR ME, that is a waste of time and money.

#29, Betsy. All I said was that the METHOD of adding audio and video is torture. Given the technology available, why can’t it be easier? If you want to add or not is up to you. Have a nice day.

October 20, 2010 at 11:59 am
Tony Macklin 

Thanks for everyone who has commented on this board relating to living people.

A change was made last night to some of the underlying databases, which caused an issue with the display of data in Person View (we first saw this issue earlier this morning). It did not affect the main Ancestry.com site.

We have now made a change which should have resolved it. Please let me know immediately if anyone sees any recurrence of the issue (tmacklin@ancestry.com).

We apologize for any confusion caused

October 20, 2010 at 12:41 pm
PamDj 

I entered the name of an ancestor I’d been searching for, and not surprisingly data from my own tree showed up. However, the birth country was listed as Northern Ireland. It is Ireland in my tree. Also some other records (nothing to do with my own tree) also showed up as being Northern Ireland when they are, in fact Ireland.

Ancestry, please get your geography right. Northern Ireland is a COMPLETELY different country to Ireland. Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, whereas Ireland is not, it is an independent country, nothing to do with England, the British Isles, Northern Ireland, Great Britain, the United Kingdom or any of the other common misconceptions!

I’d just like to add that this isn’t a political statement of any kind, just a desire to have the correct countries attached to record details!

October 20, 2010 at 1:01 pm
Walter Clayton 

1) In concept Ancestry.com Lab is a great concept. I have hollored loudly and long about the absolute mess made with FTM 2008, 2009 & 2010 because you did not have real genealogists doing real Genealogy test them thoroughly and fix the things real genealogists do and need (like Genealogy Reports that are 100% editable w/o headers & footers) instead of focusing on hype and features for beginners.

2) Re living persons. Within the last 45 min (now 4:15 EST) I typed in the name Owen Dewitt Bearden b.1868TN and one of the things that came up was a record of a Bible Page from one of my Cousins Trees that they felt should be private and thus they made it so. But it showed anyway. Not a real issue because the person they thought is alive is not, but it shows the privacy issue still exists.

3)Focus on fixing the known Ancestry mistakes. I believe it is STILL true we cannot make changes to our Ancestry Profile which I notified Ancestry of many months ago and again last month. Still would not update a week or so ago. My current searches find people in 1930 Census records less than 10% of the time they are there. When I open 1930 Census to search directly, I find them easily. Something is wrong with the Search Algorithms related to 1930 Census.
4) This might be a good idea if 2) were done first and IF SMART searching of web info was done. Free databases with great info exist. Systematically find them and include. Ancestry has little incentive (& sometimes is not allowed to have them) to include them before. This has the potential methidology to make them accessible. I, like another poster, keep 2 windows open with 1 to make certain internet searches. But I have no idea many of the wonnderful free database sites are out there. Letting your smart search engine use them would be a big plus!
5) If you could find an algorithm to search trees that eliminates all of them that are not heavily Sourced with “real” records and eliminate all of them unsourced or sourced merely refering to other Trees, you could make a order of magnitude improvement in the use of Trees by others. This is probably a pipe dream, but put on your thinking cap sometime and see where it might lead. It is impossible to eliminate mistakes from bad genealogy, but that is the one thing that might make the biggest improvement with the smallest effort.

October 20, 2010 at 2:25 pm
Jade 

Walter #41, section 5) “If you could find an algorithm to search trees that eliminates all of them that are not heavily Sourced with “real” records and eliminate all of them unsourced or sourced merely refering to other Trees, you could make a order of magnitude improvement in the use of Trees by others.”

Those who want real evidence should not be looking for it in trees. It exists in the actual records repositories: courthouses, archives, manuscripts collections, etc. Possibly 1% of all trees on the web, including Ancestry.com, are significantly based on evidence.

Ancestry does not distinguish in its indexing between trees and other sources that are linked to trees. Many of us give the source citations in the “description” rather than in the peculiarly formatted Ancestry.com tree source-citation pages. These are not noted at all in the Ancestry.com indexing.

Ancestry has taken to calling trees “evidence” for this and that, which is a very wrong notion.

Interestingly, in the PersonView format, “records” shown are only those already attached to trees. And when you click on the composite of Ancestry.com trees, the only items for which a source is given for an event are items from Ancestry.com databases, even if some Tree owner has carefully cited an actual record source (such as a County’s marriage records) rather than one of the junk IGI-type composites of family group sheets and miscellany, such as the “Millenium File.”

This is part of the reason PersonView is fast.

October 20, 2010 at 3:11 pm
Robin 

I have another concern. I typed in my 2 g grandmother, Sarah Greenleaf b. 1859, Maine. She, of course is not living, but her information came up, what I had added (my tree is private) as well as what other people have added (I think it was info from twelve trees). Fine, but the picture I added of her from my private tree is there for anyone else to right click and save. I do not appreciate this at all. What is the point of having a private tree? Please address this issue as well. Thank you.

October 20, 2010 at 3:17 pm
Andy Hatchett 

Robin-

IMHO, neither Person View nor any other search should pull images from a private tree.

Those should only be able to be seen by people invited to that private tree by the owner.

October 20, 2010 at 3:45 pm
Robin 

Andy, I’m sorry, I don’t know what IMHO means, but are you saying that when I did this search, the picture came up because your site KNEW that it was me searching, AND that I was the one that added that picture of Sarah, so it displayed it for ME, but noone else would get that picture display? Thank you.

October 20, 2010 at 4:30 pm
Virginia 

#43 Robin
Robin if you do a search for Sarah Greenleaf you will find she is on at least 3 PUBLIC trees with her photo.

Virginia

October 20, 2010 at 4:39 pm
Andy Hatchett 

Robin Re: #45

IMHO=”in my humble opinion”

Ancestry isn’t “my site”; I’m not an Employee or part of management of Ancestry, just another user who owns a few shares.

What I was saying is that I don’t believe Ancestry’s search engine should even have access to any of the private trees other than the name index (and only then if the tree owner so chooses)and even then should show only the names- no other info.

October 20, 2010 at 5:33 pm
Jan Murphy 

One of the survey items for Person View feedback asks if we have made any new discoveries using Person View. I think it’s highly likely that the answer will be “no” for all except the very newest users. Person View doesn’t seem to do anything different than the search we already have, except insert another level of obfuscation between the user and the search results.

October 20, 2010 at 10:06 pm
Carol A. H. 

Well…I actually tried it with several names and different relatives. I learned nothing. I missed out on the “living people showing up” panic, but then all my people are dead. So I guess that doesn’t count. I’m unimpressed. Totally! It isn’t that it is bad, it’s just boring and uninformative.

October 21, 2010 at 2:04 am
BEE 

I know this issue has been mentioned before, but apparently, nothing is being done to improve the problem, unless no one considers it a problem?
Searching “Historical Records” brings up the name of the person I’m researching, but the actual document has nothing to do with this person, other then his first name, and the state he was born appears throughout.
Do I take the time to open the other five documents to see if it is the person I’m researching? Because I believe it’s highly unlikely, I won’t bother.
Is there an answer to this problem?

October 21, 2010 at 6:35 am
Jeff Jahn 

their should be a way to exclude our own trees tied to our acct from a search. Nothing more frustrating to do a search only to get 10 hints from your own trees.

October 21, 2010 at 9:00 am
BobNY 

WARNING: THIS IS LONG AND DETAILED, BUT IS EVIDENCE OF MY FRUSTRATION WITH ACOM’S THROWING STUFF AGAINST THE WALL TO SEE WHAT STICKS

Once again, geography is going to be the downfall of an ACOM application. Get rid of the drop-down menu for the event location until you guys understand geography and consistency. Right now any attempt to use the drop-down for New York County, NY is an abomination.

I searched for John Smith throughout in an attempt to eliminate bad name searches and just focus on the location. For example, since you only get 10 matches in a records search, I searched for both John Smith born in New York, NY (a city/state combination) and born in New York, New York, NY (a city/county/state combination). As soon as I have typed the first two words, down drop 17 options:
1. New York, USA
2. New York City (All Boroughs), New York, USA
3. New York Mills, Oneida, New York, USA
4. New York Mills, Otter Tail, Minnesota, USA
5. New York County, New York City (All Boroughs), New York, USA
6. New York, Sussex, Delaware, USA
7. New York, New York, New York City (All Boroughs), New York, USA
8. New York, Westchester, New York, USA
9. New York, Caldwell, Missouri, USA
10. New York, York, Nebraska, USA
11. New York, Yuba, California, USA
12. New York, Saint Catherine, Jamaica
13. New York (Bronx), Bronx, New York City (All Boroughs), New York, USA
14. New York (Kings), Kings, New York City (All Boroughs), New York, USA
15. New York Port, New York, New York City (All Boroughs), New York, USA
16. New York (Queens), Queens, New York City (All Boroughs), New York, USA
17. New York (Richmond), Richmond, New York City (All Boroughs), New York, USA

None of them – REPEAT – none of them represents either the city/state or the city/county/state combination that I wished to search on. At first glance, #5 might be the closest to what I was looking for. But, New York County is co-terminus with just one borough of New York City, viz., Manhattan. So, All Boroughs directly contradicts the county/city/state combination in #5.
But, let’s search in it anyway to see what happens.
Name: John Smith
Born (from the drop down): New York County, New York City (All Boroughs), New York, USA

The place of birth of the resulting 10 hits, in order:
- New York, New York, New York City (All Boroughs), New York, USA (which actually corresponds to #7)
- Long Island City, Queens, New York City (All Boroughs), New York, USA (not my entry and not a drop down choice)
- Long Island City, Queens, New York City (All Boroughs), New York, USA (not my entry and not a drop down choice)
- Bloomfield, Ontario, New York, USA (???????)
- Brooklyn, Kings, New York City (All Boroughs), New York, USA (not my entry and not a drop down choice)
- Queens, New York City (All Boroughs), New York, USA (not my entry and not a drop down choice)
- Queens, New York City (All Boroughs), New York, USA
- Hempstead, Nassau, New York, USA (??????? + the fact that Nassau County did not exist at the time of this John Smith’s birth)

Using drop down location #7 gives exactly the same results. NOT ONE HIT FOR THE LOCATION SPECIFIED.

Some of the others are even worse. Try #8, Westchester County. The 10 hits give birth places as follows:
Orange County: 2 hits
Queens County: 2 hits
Dutchess County: 2 hits
New York, USA: 4 hits
WESTCHESTER COUNTY: 0 HITS

ACOM should be embarrassed to even have this as a Beta.
==============================
BTW, will you ever be returning the ED descriptions from the 1900 census that disappeared in April 2009? Last I heard (about 6 months ago), you were looking into whether it was a real issue or not. Let me assure you, it is a real issue. It was originally real for your having done it in the first place as part of your “improvement” of the 1900 census. Now it is also a real issue with regard to just ignoring it in hopes it will go away.

October 21, 2010 at 9:59 am
Jeanne 

Well, you want to hear from me, good!!! I have plenty to say. Why not clean up the mess you all have made, instead of adding more to the site. I have not been able to open a census page all day, all I get is less than half a page with jumbo type. I pay full subscription and you can bet your bottom dollar, it will not be renewed in December. It seems every day, there is a new screw up on here. Somebody needs to get their head out of the sand!

October 21, 2010 at 1:58 pm
Andy Hatchett 

Jeane Re: #53

Are you by chance using the latest FireFox update (version 3.6.11). There have been some messages indicating that super-sized fonts, etc. are happening to some users who have updated to the latest version.

October 21, 2010 at 5:08 pm
Jeanne 

No using Explorer and no updates, this started this morning around 7am, still like that.

October 21, 2010 at 5:41 pm
Tony Macklin 

Thanks everyone who has given us feedback on the labs page – both on this board and through the feedback questionnaire.

The web results issue, identifed earlier on this board, has now been fixed, and you should now be able to see the details of all web records, and click through directly to website that contains these records (nb where possible, we will link directly to the original record. In some cases, depending on how the website has been set up, we may send you to their search page and you will need to run an additional search. We would especially appreciate feedback on whether you find this useful).

To search for just web records, de-select “Ancestry records” and “Family Trees” at the bottom of the search page.

There are still a few issues with web search that we’re aware of (eg direct links to rootsweb sites are not appearing in the record details) and we’ll be working on these.

In addition, we will be adding more web records over time, so please keep checking back to see whether we have anything new that is relevant to your research.

October 21, 2010 at 5:47 pm
Bob 

Sorry to be off-topic, but when I try to open one of the census records for an individual in my tree, the record appears extra large, and also has no way to scroll the record for viewing it. Has anyone else experienced the same problem? Maybe it’s just me.
Best Wishes to all.

October 21, 2010 at 8:59 pm
Andy Hatchett 

Bob Re:#57

It isn’t just you. There are posts here on the blog as well as some message boards about the problem.

October 21, 2010 at 9:38 pm
Bob 

Thank you, Andy, I have been checking all my defaults in the mean time, and couldn’t find the change. At least now, I know it’s not just me.
Best Wishes, to a true friend to Ancestry members.

October 21, 2010 at 9:58 pm
Jeanne 

#57

Bob it has been like that all day for me, from 7am and currently still does not work.

October 21, 2010 at 10:33 pm
Bob 

#60

Jeanne, thanks for reassuring me that I’m not alone in this problem. Whenever I find a problem, I come right to this Blog, and usually there is someone to help remedy the problem. Communication and suggestions are the key to keeping a website running properly. Looks like it will take a while for this one though. Best Wishes to all who are frustrated at times.

October 21, 2010 at 11:12 pm
Tony Macklin 

Bob, Jeanne, Andy

I’ve been trying to replicate the problem you’re seeing on the censuses – could you post a URL/details of a record I can look at to replicate it?

thanks

Tony

October 21, 2010 at 11:32 pm
Jeanne 

Tony, I will send you a print screen via the email you have listed if that is okay

Thanks

October 21, 2010 at 11:43 pm
Andy Hatchett 

Tony Re: #62-unnumbered

Sorry my message to Bob wasn’t clear. I’ve not actually encountered the problem but have seen postings on the boards from others who have.

October 22, 2010 at 12:01 am
Jeanne 

#61 Bob

Supposedly it is a Microsoft problem, click on the broken page at end of your address bar and it should fix it.

Jeanne

October 22, 2010 at 9:59 am
Bob 

#65 Jeanne, Thanks for the information; that worked! I owe you one!!

October 22, 2010 at 11:31 am
dklart 

I fail to understand why this search tool is being tested.

During the beta testing of the New Advanced Search tool a few months ago, (some users signed up to do this), my first thought was new users would be very frustrated trying to use it. Compared to Old Search, it has so many bells and whistles that a simple search is impossible. It’s just too complicated. The learning curve to use it effectively takes a great deal of time. Newbies who are buying the “just start looking” feel bamboozled when 30,000 results are returned and their ancestors aren’t on the first page.

This search tool being tested appears to be a dumbed down version of Old Search, and geared to newbies. Is it meant to replace Old Search somewhere down the line?

October 23, 2010 at 8:02 am
Jade 

dklart, your #67 — “This search tool being tested appears to be a dumbed down version of Old Search, and geared to newbies. Is it meant to replace Old Search somewhere down the line?”

It is a dumbed down version of searching trees.

Search results are much dumber than OldSearch, so I hope you are really really wrong about its projected use. It ~is~ a lot less confusing in results than NewSearch, but since the search does not search all Ancestry.com databases it would not be a welcome replacement for OldSearch or for NewSearch.

Ancestry.com has not disclosed its projected application. If you want my guess, contact me privately. frostfree12 at yahoo

October 23, 2010 at 10:32 am
Andy Hatchett 

Jade Re: #68

My guess is that the long term targets are all those non-Ancestry web sites.

The ability to search family trees and Ancestry’s offerings were probably added so as to have data available before the off-site web sites come on line and really aren’t the true focus of this feature -sort of an online equivalent of the Web Search feature in Family Tree Maker.

October 23, 2010 at 12:37 pm
Richard L Morgan 

Ever heard of GenSmarts.Co now version 2? Genealogy.com had sold it, not sure it was ever supported by Ancestry.com – One problem, it actually works.

Genealogy.com reached where Ancestry.com has finally arrived today – and quickly became useless?

October 25, 2010 at 10:32 am
Dave 

Nice blog, Tony. New lab is pretty cool…

October 26, 2010 at 12:26 pm
Jo 

I think it’s useless and a waste of time.

October 27, 2010 at 10:31 am
Kathy 

Before adding new fefatures, PLEASE fix what you already are to offer that doesn’t work! Ancestry.com is toatally useless to me now since the feature where FTM and Ancestry communicate with hints is not working. Tech support says “they are aware of the problem”, yet will not give me any kind of timeframe for the issue to be resolved. The money I have spent on Ancestry.com is totally wasted as this is the most important feature to me. If I cannot be given a reasonable time frame for the fix (has been about 10 days now) I will cancel my subsription to ancestry.

October 28, 2010 at 4:55 pm
Robin 

I again used this to search (no more privacy issues, thank you) and got NO new information. I would like a question answered that I have had for a while. When I have a John Smith, born in Anytown, Any State USA with supporting documents attached, why doesn’t ACOM’s search engine limit the search results to people that match John Smith in Anytown, Any State? I get results from everywhere USA plus a couple hundred European results thrown in, when nothing I have entered suggests this person ever left the USA. Why can’t, with today’s technology, search results be much more targeted and relevant? Thank you for listening.

October 29, 2010 at 4:48 am
Andy Hatchett 

Robin.

The short answer to your question is that the basic global search form was never meant to perform an exact search.

There have been several Blog entries and postings on several of the message boards that go into detail about this over the last year or so.

I rarely use the global search. I decide what information I need and then, using the card catalog, try to find the database that such information would be in. I then go to that database and use a filtered Advanced search to do an exact search. I’ve found this much more successful. I may have to do a few more searches but I get less non-applicable results to sift thru so in the long run I save time.

October 29, 2010 at 9:56 am
Andy Hatchett 

Robin,

In my previous post I mentioned several blog entries concerning your question.

Here are the articles you might want look at to get a more complete picture of what is involved when a search is done.

http://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/?s=exact+search

October 29, 2010 at 10:51 am
Kathy 

Gee Tony, Being head of search, I thought for sure you could give me an answer to my problem – #73. NO ONE at Ancestry will give me an answer, just when do you expect this problem to be fixed? All I hear is “we’re aware of the problem”, no one will even tell me if they are working on the problem, let alone when it will be fixed. If we are talking days, I can wait, but it has been two weeks now and I don’t like paying for what I can’t use.

November 1, 2010 at 1:21 pm
Tony Macklin 

Hi Kathy Re: #73 and #77,

Thanks for posting, and I’m sorry to hear you’re experiencing issues.

We’re aware of a couple of problems affecting FTM that will be fixed in our scheduled Maintenance later this week

As this is not the focus of this post, I’ll be contacting you directly by email to get more details of the issue you’re experiencing, and to make sure it will be resolved by these changes.

regards

Tony

November 1, 2010 at 3:30 pm