Posted by on December 8, 2010 in Ancestry.com Site, Searching for Records

Why have we changed the search form?

Over the past year, we have been working with a wide range of ancestry.com members, from some of our most experienced members to relative newcomers. We’ve had a lot of help (including over 10,000 responses to the preview we published in April: Preview of Changes to Ancestry.com Search).
Based on this feedback, we’ve been making some changes to the forms over the past months, and this week we’re beginning to roll out one of the most significant changes.

Really new to search?

We’ve created a tutorial on YouTube, How to Search for Historical Records on Ancestry.com to help those of you who are new genealogy searching.

What’s changed?

Previously, we’ve asked you to enter the name of the person you’re looking for, together with the birth and death dates and locations.

One of the requests we’ve had is for location to be more flexible – perhaps you don’t know where your grandparents were born in 1905, but do know they lived in Kentucky in 1960.

So we’ve added a single box that asks for any “place your ancestor might have lived”, and which searches our records for any life events that match that location, including birth, residence, marriage, military service and death.

Most importantly, in our tests with volunteer members, we found that in a number of cases, this change enabled us to surface relevant records higher in our results than was possible before.

Of course, you can still specify birth and death places by clicking on “Add an event”. In fact, these links give you a much more flexible way to add in any of the details you know about the life events or relationships of the person you’re looking for. We’ve tried to make it a little bit easier to enter as much or as little as you know.

Estimated birth year

To search the right collections, we need to know roughly the period of time in which your person was alive. To help us find the most likely records for a person, enter the approximate birth year, or click on “Calculate it” to make an educated guess if you’re not sure.

Show advanced and clear form

The links for advanced search and clear form are now located at the bottom of the form next to the Search button.

Looking for Old Search?

Old search is still there. Go to the search homepage : http://search.ancestry.com/search. Under the navigation bar on the right, you’ll see a link, “Go to Old Search”. Click on this, and you’ll be back on the Old Search form.

Happy Searching!

About Anne Gillespie Mitchell

Anne Gillespie Mitchell is a Senior Product Manager at Ancestry.com. She is an active blogger on Ancestry.com and writes the Ancestry Anne column. She has been chasing her ancestors through Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina for many years. Anne holds a certificate from Boston University's Online Genealogical Research Program, and is currently on the clock working towards certification from the Board for Certification of Genealogists. You can also find her on Twitter, Facebook and Finding Forgotten Stories.

136 Comments

Tweets that mention Ancestry Search: Improvements to Basic Search -- Topsy.com 

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Ancestry.com, Megan Richardson. Megan Richardson said: RT @Ancestrydotcom: Ancestry Search: Improvements to Basic Search http://bit.ly/fbzAan [...]

December 8, 2010 at 7:34 pm
Victor White 

I have joined Ancestory, Archives, and the other one I don’t remember but everytime I am doing searchs I end up a lot of time be directed to another website that I need to also join and pay more. I have spent over $200 joining all the sites associated with Ancestory and feel I am being scammed with all these additional charges to finish up on the searches.

Disappointed Victor White

December 8, 2010 at 7:44 pm
Andy Hatchett 

Victoria Re: #2

Just as one library doesn’t containe copies of all books published; so too, no one site has- or for that matter, will *ever* have- all records. That is the reality.

Ancestry has a great many records, Footnote has a great many records, FindMyPast has a great many records… some are duplicated, some aren’t.

It really all boils down to what type of records you want/need – and that is assuming that they are even online anywhere. Most records aren’t online at all but are stuffed in odd corners of every county courthouse and other repositories.

December 8, 2010 at 8:11 pm
James 

I’ve found that the Surname of an individual is frequently transcribed wrong, mis-indexed or translated. Finding these individuals typically involves giving the State and sometimes County locations, then using first or second name if known.

Regards,

December 8, 2010 at 8:39 pm
Peggy Lavern Wood 

Any one who thinks they may be related to me please email me and we’ll figure it out together. I have a lot of names and dates passed down to me, but really don’t know how to properly follow it.So in my so called golden years I want to know who in case I meet up with them again. I was born in Kansas,but now I’m in Michigan

December 8, 2010 at 10:39 pm
Mike Wilson 

Why does it no longer indicate (with a check mark)that a document is already attached to the person you are doing a search on when you go to “search for historical documents”? This was a real time saver but no more. Also, the right side panel of options for document categories is a lot less friendly.

December 8, 2010 at 10:44 pm
Andy Hatchett 

Mike Re: #6

It seems to depend on where you begin your search.

If you are in your online Member Tree and click “search for Historical records” then those attached to that person show a green checkmark.

If you are doing a search from the main home page the the green check mark doesn’t show untill you look at the “Record”.

So it looks like if you are searching for info on someone already in your tree it would be better to do if from their Profile page in the tree rather than from the main search form.

December 9, 2010 at 6:05 am
Andy Hatchett 

Peggy Re: # 5

This type of message is much better posted to the appropriate Surname Message board. It should also include specific names and dates of people you want information on.

As it is now, your message is much to vague for anyone to really offer any kind of help.

You’ll have much better luck if you try re-posting it at this link:

http://boards.ancestry.com/surnames.wood/mb.ashx

December 9, 2010 at 6:11 am
Dave Hill 

This is very frustrating. The basic old style search was an easy user-friendly search format, now I can’t find anything. My research has once again come to a halt. Please leave an option for using the old format.

December 9, 2010 at 8:09 am
dklart 

#9 Dave Hill

You can still use “Old Search” as opposed to “New Search”. Look on the right side of a search page to see which one you’re using.

December 9, 2010 at 8:15 am
cherann03 

This is not user friendly any more. I can’t go directly to my hints. The tabs don’t come down. I have no old search button on my program. This is not working for me.

December 9, 2010 at 10:31 am
Bob Sikes 

This system is too vague, too hard to get to the section you wish to check on. Some census forms are unreadable but thats the “census takers” hand writing, etc. Is it possible to darken the print on some of these ??
Now AOL is a getting a lot “slower” even with the DSL we pay for extra. It appears that AOL is trying to “force” you to buy another package for faster service all the time.
No way !! Go back to the original service format. Too many ads and pop-ups.

December 9, 2010 at 11:36 am
Jade 

Cherann, re your #11:

–You can go directly to your tree’s “Hints” list from your Tree overview page. If you have not bookmarked this, from any individual overview/profile page in your tree, click on “View Family Tree” link above the person’s large info-box, then on the page you arrive at click on the link to Tree Overview above the dark green link-bar. I recommend bookmarking the Tree Overview page, since Ancestry.com presently makes it a bit hard to find.

You can find a link to switch between OldSearch and NewSearch on the main Search page at upper right. To find this, just rest your mouse cursor on the “Search” part of the main navigation bar on any Ancestry.com page (except this one!) and click on “Search All Records.” Ancestry.com used to have this link on all search pages but they removed it (a few months ago restored it to some, irregularly).

Once you have clicked on which option you want (Go to Old Search or Go to New Search) any search (say, in a specific record group or from your Tree) will be in the selected mode.

December 9, 2010 at 12:10 pm
Ray Luke 

These changes are not working for me. My trees will not load. Sometimes I can change to the new version, then exit preview before they will load and sometimes it will not. I am not happy. I pay good money for good service,which I am not getting.

December 9, 2010 at 12:26 pm
Judy Frehse 

I can’t find anything I,m looking for. these changes are not any good, I shall find a new site, I can’t see paying for this jumbled up mess.

December 9, 2010 at 1:35 pm
Jim McGowan 

I wish there was a way to search married and maiden names. If you search from your tree members’ profile you cannot change the name field to reflect the married/maiden name, whichever is not showing. Oh, and if you happen to have both listed in the profile the search function will find nothing at all; it cannot fathom someone having both apparently.

Jim

December 9, 2010 at 4:55 pm
sharon kurth-obrien 

i have been looking for family for short time but find new items helpful as ever thankyou.

December 9, 2010 at 6:45 pm
Christine Kay 

Nooooooo. Now the old search is the last new search. I want the old-old search form back, I never liked the last new one. I don’t like the list format of the results. I liked the categories and the tabs across the top.

December 9, 2010 at 9:36 pm
Andy Hatchett 

Christine re: # 18

Old Search is still there.

1). Go to your home page

2). Click “Search in the menu bar.

3). In top right hand corner above the Ad it will say “Go to Old Search” or “Go to New Search”

4). If it says “Go to Old Search” then click that link.

5) If it says “Go to New Search” it means you are already in Old Search.

Whichever way you set it is how it will stay until you change it.

December 9, 2010 at 9:54 pm
Rebecca 

Print friendly on every page. Would love to be able to print the census out as a whole product instead of going page by page and save it that way. In fact it would be great to be able see and print everything at once instead of going page by page or having to click a thousand times to see every page

Thank You

December 9, 2010 at 11:15 pm
Andy Hatchett 

Why on earth would you want to print out hundreds, nay- thousands, of pages of census sheets that didn’t pertain to your family?? !!!

Seems to me it would be a huge waste of paper, ink, and time

December 9, 2010 at 11:19 pm
Tom Hendricks 

Yes I think the people transcribing records should be requied to take a handwriting class or some kind of prep before looking at actual records, and keying them in, I am grateful for there help but alternative to name spellings or possible changes might want to be considered–a help class before transcribing would required a elearning screen/online class on your part. But accuracy is your department right? Not quanity??? Hmmmm Some are not accustomed to the era in which they are looking–marking p’s and q’s. This may need some educating. 85% of my people have had bad transcribing I would say– I think another way to get feedback is to do a poll to see what is happening out there which would really help you see what number os people are experiencing, a simple two minute pop up screen about the form or general questions wouyld help greatly…plus it helps in the I want it now world.

I have been looking since 2002 so I know something about what I am talking about! One of your loyals–how about a gold star on my page!

In regards to James comment on Dec. 8th:

I’ve found that the Surname of an individual is frequently transcribed wrong, mis-indexed or translated. Finding these individuals typically involves giving the State and sometimes County locations, then using first or second name if known.

December 9, 2010 at 11:55 pm
MargeH - England 

Re #22

Where on earth would we be without the transcribers? No system is 100% foolproof and these people do it voluntarily – I just wish that I could develop the will to do more – maybe Tom could show us all how well he can do them. Whatever else they might be, the transcriptions are far better than spending hours and hours trawling through books and fiche at distant archives and libraries as we used to have to – not to mention the fact that some archives are totally inaccessible, eg across the other side of the world! I am extremely grateful to all those who have helped, and continue to help, to give us access to this information.

Re #18/19. MAJOR PANIC this morning!!! Thankfully found this answer and changed my settings. I find the “New Search” unusable. I am sure that it will be good for some people with the hints and links, whistles and bells, etc. For me, the old search offers much more in the way of flexibility to construct variables, and it gives back the results in a very compact and straighforward way. Horses for Courses. Please keep the options – and maybe to save any more potential apoplexies, a note on the front page might be nice.

December 10, 2010 at 1:13 am
Virginia 

Please, please put the birth field back. It’s such a pain to have to keep going to the drop-down for every person. It’s fine for other events you might want to add.

Make the place field option sticky. Every change to this field makes it go back to default.

And make the collection field sticky. Periodically it goes back to all collections.

December 10, 2010 at 10:05 am
Helen 

I can’t figure out how to use the new sites. How can I research just one thing at a time. I would liketo search census records for a specific county or state. How can I do this. Everything is just so much more difficult than it was 2/3 years ago.

Help!!!!!

December 10, 2010 at 12:16 pm
Helen 

HowcanI view specific records such as specific census records in specific states and counties. Please help

hrogers560

December 10, 2010 at 1:02 pm
Andy Hatchett 

Helen Re: #26

The best way is to go directly to that state or county page rather than use the global search form.

From your home page click on Search in the top menu bar and then scroll down to the map and click on whatever state you want- quicker and the search form is tailored for the particular database you use.

December 10, 2010 at 4:01 pm
helenevansstaas 

Who the heck is Andy Hackett, know it all. If he works for Ancestry then send each of us all the tips your giving out after each of us have had a problem. I would like the program to remember what I just entered so if I choose a different search I would have the choice of the info auto filling fields. I would like more information from New Jersey. pay them for their Vital Statistics. I would like not to get a 1000 names that have nothing to do with the person I just asked about. Its so funny I just emailed that address given out on Anne Mitchell, it said undeliverable and took me to some sit trying to sell me something. Helem

December 10, 2010 at 4:13 pm
Rina 

Thank-you Andy for detailing how to re-locate “Old Search”. If this facility totally disappears I shall definitely be cancelling my subscription, as the databases are useless without an effective search engine.

December 10, 2010 at 4:30 pm
Andy Hatchett 

Helen Re: #28

1). The name is Hatchett- not Hackett
2). I don’t work for Ancestry
3). The program does remember- all you have to do is once you have a list of search results just hit the “r” key to revise/refine your search.
4). As of this date, New Jersey seems to be unwilling grant Ancestry access to their vital records.
5). If you get something back in results then something about that person matches you search parameters so the parameters should be refined.
6). Anne’s address is amitchell@ancestry.com and it does work- she and I exchanged e-mail about 10 minutes ago.

December 10, 2010 at 4:51 pm
Andy Hatchett 

Rina

The problem is that people use global search waaayyy to much instead of searching the individual databases, each of which has a custom search form for that particular database.

Global searches cast far too wide a net.

As to Old Search going away- imho, eventually it will go, count on it. Not today, not tomorrow and maybe not in 2-3 years…but at some time it will be discontinued simply because it won’t be useful with the new databases. It is now a fly frozen in amber- there probably won’t be any more improvements as everything seems to be focused on fine-tuning NewSearch.

My advice is to use it while you can but you should really try to learn how to make NewSearch work for you. In the long term, it really is the only option that will be available.

December 10, 2010 at 5:00 pm
BEE 

I rue the day that happens……..
“old search” is so much easier on my “senior” eyes and brain!
“New search” is far too cluttered, and more complicated “in my humble opinion”.

December 10, 2010 at 6:26 pm
BEE 

Well, I supposed I should have said “I dread the day” – perhaps ancestry will “rue the day”?
but then again, all us “old fogies” will be in the minority, and the younger, more “computer hip” members who started with “new search” won’t know the difference.

December 10, 2010 at 6:37 pm
Mary Beth Marchant 

Re: printing out the whole of the census pages. Think of the cost for paper and printer ink. Wow, I started trying to do that several years ago because I was afraid that when I retired I would not be able to afford the Ancestry Subscription. I realized then what a huge chore that would be plus the fact that with 8×11 pages I could not read the pages anyway so I abandoned that project. Since I can still afford my subscription even though I am retired, it is not necessary anyway. There are times I do print out a census page but when I do I print the page a bit at a time until I have the whole page very large and then tape it together. I have done that for family reunions but only as a special project. I think the census images will be around for a long time since there are several web sites where they are available.

December 10, 2010 at 8:15 pm
Kenneth 

Please STOP worrying about things that are fine the way they are and START adding more useful records! You’ve already changed the way the search was this year, why did it need changing again?

December 10, 2010 at 9:42 pm
Virginia 

RE: Printing out census forms.
There is an alternative to actually printing the census page(s)…create a “dummy” printer…I have one called Foxit for my PDF Foxit program. The Foxit printer is set to be my “default” printer. I save the census (or WWI, WWII, etc) to my computer. Than open up the JPEG image file with Foxit and create a PDF file…it is easy to navigate…I can highlight the lines of the entries of interest; make notes; etc.

After Ancestry’s new and improved fiascos with several census years where they “washed out” the images, I was very happy to have the originals sitting safe and sound in my files.

Saves on ink, paper…and is there in case I do want to print it.

December 11, 2010 at 1:47 am
Don Cleary 

I LOVE the preview.

I also think you should have one membership price that includes everything, and stop nickel and diming us to death. At $165 a year, this should include the entire world of data bases.

December 11, 2010 at 12:50 pm
Jo 

#36 Virginia -
Which Foxit program are you using to open the JPEG image files?

December 11, 2010 at 12:51 pm
Scott 

If I run a historical check on ex. John Doe my g grandfather and I already have a 1910 census attached to my file the search will then show many many 1910 possible census matches. Why can’t it filter out those possible matches when I already have that information? I have suggested this in the past but have seen no movenment in that direction. The changes made in the past 3 years have not improved the search function but made it more difficult to narrow your search forcing you to filter through numerous unnneccessary information.

December 11, 2010 at 1:12 pm
Sherry 

I absolutely detest the NEW SEARCH. I have been on Ancestry quite a number of years, and it has nothing to do with age or experience…the OLD SEARCH yields more useful information – period. The powers that be at Ancestry need to find a way to integrate the best of the old with the new, or just leave it alone! On the OLD search I can type in a first name only or a surname only, even just a city on some searches…and I have found the majority of missing information this way. With all the poor spelling and incorrect transcriptions, the old search finds my people QUICKLY. With the new search, I get buttloads of error messages “too many results, try again”, etc.

I think you will find, when the OLD SEARCH disappears, many of your previously loyal customers will be going with it. We pay for this service, it should serve US. Many of the new changes just make it harder to find what you need. I get less and less happy with each new redo. Start listening to the complaints we are making!

December 11, 2010 at 4:24 pm
Virginia 

Re #38 Jo
I purchased Foxit Phantom…but you can also open a JPEG file with a free program: FastStone Image Viewer then save it as a PDF.

December 11, 2010 at 9:14 pm
Virginia 

#40 Sherry

I am in 100% agreement with you. Thank goodness I am now retired and can dedicate a lot more time to my genealogy searches…trying to tie up loose ends while Old Search is still in existence. Hate to think of all the time that would have been required if in the beginning I had to rely on this “New Search”.

Thru Old Search, when I enter a name…and hit “search”…the results are on one page with Census in one category (results listed by Census year)… Birth, Death Marriage in its own group…Military in another, etc. When I select a census year, for example, the information is shown in a easy to read and digest format…first names in one column, last names in another, ages all in a one row…locations all in one row. This makes it expedient to peruse through in search of my “quarry”.

But Ancestry is bent on prolonging the searches…my condolences to those who put up with the new search and the manner in which the results are presented.

December 11, 2010 at 9:53 pm
Dee 

I read every response here; and most are valid. Each time Ancestry.com hires a new programmer, we subscribers suffer because he/she is attempting to justify his/her employment.

My grandaddy had an old saying: Keep it simple, stupid.

But keep it simple as far as not having frequent changes. Several years ago, your page was perfect. Then, wham, it changed. I finally became accustomed to your change; and now, once again, it has changed.

Why is it impossible for Ancestry.com to understand that we pay good money to access your website? Why should I have to look at advertisements and not have the option of removing them? I am not interested in Facebook, Twitter, MyLife, or Footnote. If I were interested, I would go to those websites. If I wanted to give a gift, I would locate it on your website and should not have to look at it on my home page. Most of us can barely afford our subscriptions, yet you muck up the home page with advertisements. I dare say, you don’t need advertisers; and if you do, then our subscription fees are being misplaced by someone.

I am with most of the others; leave the option of the Old Search; and please, after you THINK we have become accustomed to your NEW changes, PLEASE DO NOT REMOVE THE OLD SEARCH.

Some of us are comfortable with what we’ve had. It makes the search faster, rather than having to learn all over again. Perhaps for computer programmers, it is a challenge. I have another word for it for genealogists, and you don’t want to know what that is.

I agree that transcribers are doing voluntary work. I think by Ancestry.com allowing us to provide the true spelling or alternate makes up for mistakes by transcribers. I also agree that voluntary transcribers save me from having to travel all over the country searching for documents. I thank the transcribers for the wonderful contributions they have made. They have made mistakes; but haven’t all of us.

I still don’t understand how, when I provide a Surname, several of the same surname will appear, then I must sift through thousands of surnames that aren’t even logical alphabetically or by soundex, then kaboom!, the surname appears, then more. Then I am afraid to stop searching in totally unrelated surnames, for fear that my surname will again suddenly appear.

Why, when I search Jim Jones, must I go through 5 millions Jim’s in newspapers, with no Jones attached?

I have been a subscriber of Ancestry.com for years, and have been very successful in my search. Why doesn’t Ancestry.com spend more time fixing that which is broken, rather than pulling a fast one on subscribers by changing the home page?

In spite of my complaints, I do thank Ancestry.com, even though I am paying to search for these documents. Dee

December 11, 2010 at 10:41 pm
Dee 

Well, I am amazed. After writing the above novel to Ancestry.com, I used your new search feature.

I entered John Stavropoulos:
the first name that appeared? John J Stopper. The second name that appeared? John Stafford. The third name? John Stavropoulos.
The fourth? John R Stafford
The fifth: John R Suver
John Sotebehr
John Shetland

After 4 more pages (50 to a page), there appeard a John G Stavropoulos.

This is not rocket science.

What is going on here?

Dee

December 11, 2010 at 10:58 pm
Dee 

One last comment, in most cases the surname results are by soundex, and not alphabetical. Is it too difficult for Ancestry.com to provide its subscribers with alphabetical surnames FIRST, then soundex surnames? If I wanted to use soundex, I would go to a free website.

Can’t promise this will be my last comment…sorry

Dee

December 11, 2010 at 11:20 pm
Andy Hatchett 

Dee Re: #44

I’m curious just what your search parameters were?

Using new search and entering only the name John Stavropoulos, the results I got was the entire first page was nothing but John Stavropoulos although there minor variations in the surname.

Here are my results:

http://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?rank=1&new=1&MSAV=1&msT=1&gss=angs-g&gsfn=john&gsln=stavropoulos&cpxt=0&catBucket=rstp&uidh=xd4&=y%2c0&cp=0&gl=ROOT_CATEGORY&gst=

December 11, 2010 at 11:38 pm
Benny 

I agree with everything Dee said in her first comment. Couldn’t have said it better myself. I too have been at this genealogy for quite a while and found a comfort zone in the way the searches WERE done before today. I had this thing down to a science and could find just about anything if it was there. Some of us are getting too old now to cope with learning new techniques in our golden years. And just because Mr Hatchett is some kind of computer whiz doesn’t mean the rest of us are as naturally intuitive. What ticks me off as well is that my subscription just rolled around for renewal a week ago, and now I am locked into a whole year of less than optimal use of it. What a rip-off!! I liked the way everything worked before – the transcriptions, the capability to make corrections, etc. Not thrilled about all the ads either. If anyone is at fault, it was the census takers in the first place – they couldn’t spell much less write. Didn’t they have to take a test or something to prove they were at least literate? Sure, there are some transcription errors, but I think the volunteers do pretty well. It makes a big difference when YOU know what name you are looking for. I must say Ancestry could do something to enhance some of those images. Also, when the heck are you going to get some records in there from the Western Provinces? – there’s nothing, I repeat, nothing but the censuses.
I need that :Old Search” button up there where it’s handy to get at. Would you please, pretty please, PUT IT BACK.

December 12, 2010 at 12:05 am
Andy Hatchett 

Benny Re: #47

I’m 67 years old and by no stretch of anybody’s imagination am I a computer wiz.

I am honestly puzzled just what new search form and what information Dee entered to get the results she did when all I did was put in a name and got totally different results.

I also fail to see how, with old search still available, you are locked into “less than optimal results”. As far as I know you can still make corrections, etc.

I do agree that the ability to switch between OldSearch and NewSearch should be on every search form and on every results page.

As to NewSearch and learning new techniques,
To paraphrase a certain advertisement…
“You can use me now, or use me later”

I’m of the opinion that it is better to learn it slowly now rather than be forced to learn it quickly later.

December 12, 2010 at 12:44 am
S. Mann 

I have been using Ancestry for years and find that the site gets worse and not better. It has not been user friendly for years. My husband and I both use the same computer and I am annoyed when his gen on Ancestry always pops up. I took mine off several years ago.

I really think all you you need to start over with designing this site. Thank you.

December 12, 2010 at 9:22 am
Ancestry.com has made big improvements to basic search | SpittalStreet.com 

[...] the link to the Ancestry.com blog for the details. You’ll also see the following link within the blog to take a tour of the [...]

December 12, 2010 at 10:02 am
Andy Hatchett 

Dee Re: #43

You said:
Each time Ancestry.com hires a new programmer, we subscribers suffer because he/she is attempting to justify his/her employment.

That just isn’t so. Most of the changes to search that have been made were planned 12-18 months ago. It was decided to phase those changes in gradually rather that one massive change that would dismay everyone. There have been a few hiccups along the way but by and large that original plan has been followed.

New programmers don’t get to decide what they will program. They program what they are told by the product planners and powers that be.

There are changes afoot- just check out this article.

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/ancestrycoms-product-plans-2010-12-10?reflink=MW_news_stmp

December 12, 2010 at 12:04 pm
Jade 

Dee, re: #45, “in most cases the surname results are by soundex, and not alphabetical. Is it too difficult for Ancestry.com to provide its subscribers with alphabetical surnames FIRST, then soundex surnames? If I wanted to use soundex, I would go to a free website.”

Since Soundex is an ~option~ within “Exact” for both OldSearch and NewSearch, the surreptitious insertion of Soundex results earlier this year was an exasperation for many.

You cannot turn it off unless you use a different “exact” function. This tends to defeat the usefulness of OldSearch in non-exact mode, which otherwise behaves predictably with no sneaky exclusion of databases that do not have entries for parameters that you have entered (one of the big drawbacks of NewSearch).

The ranking system ranks all ‘hits’ that fit the Soundex mode, including the actual surname you typed in, the same. This is why your target surname will be randomly mixed in with all the other Soundex-fit surnames.

There are some occasions where Soundex is useful. For me, that’s about 1/1000th of 1% of searches I do. For some names I have searched it is an exasperating, active interference with viewing results.

December 12, 2010 at 2:38 pm
Kate 

STOP Changing the search box!!! It was not broken. KEEP THE OLD SEARCH!!! PLEASE!!

December 12, 2010 at 4:16 pm
Deb Dressely 

Quit trying to fix what isn’t broken! These new improvements do not facilitate anything. They make searching for specific information much more time consuming! If I wanted to wander around websites perusing unrelated pieces of information, I’d go to google and wade though the gazillion hits.

Please bring back the sorted and segmented categories of information. I don’t want to scroll through census if I’m looking for birth records.

December 12, 2010 at 4:57 pm
Nancy Witzgall 

Well what can I say ..this new search is a pain one when entering the person I’m looking for I get more then 3,000 or more returns ..I liked the OLD SEARCH this allowed me to pin piont down the person by 50 to 100 hits which I could search by soundex and by first names est birth and state of birth only do to miss spelling that doesn’t come in the soundex maybe in a year I could get the new search down by right now no and for the years I have been with Ancestry.com with 11,700 + in my own tree and helping other family members with theirs and the many I have help who had posted on ancestry.com ….Yes you might be the best research company but I have gone over in my mind that this well my last month with ancestry.com if it doesn,t give me the choose to use the OLDER SEARCH instead of this newer search…I am should I will not be the only one …….Nancy

December 12, 2010 at 11:46 pm
Diane 

I definitely like the old search. The new search is not user friendly. In the old search, when you entered a surname, you got all the results by category on one page. Then if you wanted to look at a specific item you just selected it. Then you could narrow your search from there. Or you could narrow your search by state right from start. With the new search, when you enter a surname, you have to add the event if you want a specific state that they lived in (knowing where they were born or where they died doesn’t really help in alot of searches) then you get results that you have to scroll through, then edit, and scroll through, or edit again, and so on. The new search is a waste of time.

December 13, 2010 at 7:56 am
J. Fulmer 

Just keep the “Old Search” option and I’m a happy camper. There is absolutely no question that it is the best!

December 13, 2010 at 8:24 am
Maggylil 

Tom – #22

Yes I think the people transcribing records should be requied (REQUIRED) to take a handwriting class or some kind of prep before looking at actual records, and keying them in,(FULL STOP NOT COMMA) I am grateful for there (THEIR) help but alternative (ALTERNATIVES?) to name spellings or possible changes might want to be considered–a (SPACES BEFORE AND AFTER HYPHENS)help class before transcribing would required (REQUIRE) a (AN) elearning (E-LEARNING)screen/online class on your part. But accuracy is your department right? Not quanity??? (QUANTITY) Hmmmm Some (NO CAPITAL SINCE THERE IS NO FULL STOP AFTER Hmmm) are not accustomed to the era in which they are looking–marking p’s and q’s (NO APOSTROPHES AS THESE ARE PLURALS NOT POSSESSIVES). This may need some educating (EDUCATION). 85% of my people have had bad transcribing I would say– (SPACE BEFORE HYPHEN) I think another way to get feedback is to do a poll to see what is happening out there which would really help you see what number os (OF) people are experiencing, (SENTENCE MISSING ONE OR MORE WORDS) a simple two minute pop up screen about the form or general questions wouyld (WOULD) help greatly…plus it helps in the I want it now world.
I have been looking since 2002 so I know something about what I am talking about! (REPEAT OF ABOUT) One of your loyals–how (SPACES) about a gold star on my page!
In regards to James (APOSTROPHE MISSING SINCE THIS IS A POSSESSIVE) comment on Dec. 8th:
I’ve found that the Surname of an individual is frequently transcribed wrong, mis-indexed or translated. Finding these individuals typically involves giving the State and sometimes County locations, then using first or second name if known. (COMMENT MISSING?)

December 13, 2010 at 12:14 pm
Regenia Hope 

The search results format is horrible. This listing format is not easy to search or read. How can I get the search results in the old format?

December 13, 2010 at 1:44 pm
Rachelle Young 

I have been a subscriber for some while, but I may cancel my ancestry.com subscription if this new system is not fixed.

I AM UNABLE TO ACCESS RECORDS THAT WERE READILY AVAILABLE TO ME IN THE PAST.

More than just your form has changed, and it has changed for the worse.

Frankly, if this is what I found when I first signed up for ancestry.com, I would never have kept my subscription.

December 13, 2010 at 2:39 pm
Diane Nielson 

I AM UNABLE TO ACCESS RECORDS THAT I FOUND EASILY YESTERDAY! THIS IS ABSOLUTELY STUPID! IT MAKES ME SO ANGRY I WANT TO SWEAR! YES, I’M YELLING, WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE? I WILL CANCEL MY SUBSCRIPTION IF YOU DON”T LISTEN TO YOUR CUSTOMERS.
EITHER RETURN TO THE OLD SEARCH OR WE WILL ALL GLADLY QUIT.

December 13, 2010 at 4:21 pm
Rachelle Young 

FOLLOWUP ON POST 60.

LOST SUBSCRIBER

I went to records saved on my computer and pulled up a copy of the printable version of a couple of census reports saved in Word. Other family members were hyperlinked, and in the past I could click on that hyperlink and the entire census record would come up again in ancestry.com. Now what I often get is ‘No Record Found’.

In other words, you have made a hash of your entire system, not just your search form. I can’t find records that I could easily access before and your system will not complete links it completed in the past.

I am going to try to finish up a couple of projects in the next couple of weeks [if it is even possible] and then I am going to cancel my subscription. I don’t want to keep paying while you muck about trying to restore your system and customer confidence, assuming you are going to make the effort.

Sorry, you have lost me as a customer.

December 13, 2010 at 5:30 pm
E Nelson Dean 

I have tried several times to go back to the “Old Search” per Andy Hatchett’s message #19.

I am able to get to the Search screen which clearly shows “Go to Old Search” button. Have attempted several times to click the “Go to Old Search” button with no results.

When I get to the search screen I am shown as NOT signed in. Have attempted to sign in but get the same screen.

Are others able to get back to the “Old Search” screen?

Nelson Dean

December 13, 2010 at 7:45 pm
Andy Hatchett 

Nelson Re: #63

What browser and operating system are you running?

December 13, 2010 at 8:45 pm
Carol A. H. 

I use OLD SEARCH 99% of the time. I have XP, IE8. Ancestry has not as yet been able to say they totally support IE8. If I could get back to IE7, I would.

December 13, 2010 at 11:36 pm
BEE 

I was willing to try “new search” now and then, but with all the frustrations noted, I’m not taking any chances, and just stay in “old search”.
Other then the subject of “maintenance” or the site being down, it’s interesting that a blog about improving “new search” generates the most responses, and the majority of those writing, BEG to have “old search” kept, and NOT messed with – I wonder why??

December 14, 2010 at 6:53 am
E Nelson Dean 

Re: Andy #64

I am using IE8 and Windows 7 Home Premium.

Am getting the same results this morning:
Get Home screen which shows me signed-in.
Go Search screen which does not show me signed-in. Attempts to sign-in fail.
Can see “Go to Old Search” button. Attempts to get Old Search fail.

December 14, 2010 at 8:43 am
Andy Hatchett 

Nelson- It is known that Ancestry still has ‘issues’ with IE8.

You might want to try the latest version of Firefox (3.6.12) and see if it makes a difference.

I use Firefox and am having no problems.

December 14, 2010 at 9:25 am
TonyC 

I think we have a problem Ancestry – UK birth record search – first name Patricia, last name Williams born between 1935 and 1945 displays 1,923 entries. All entries are first name Patricia however the last name is wrong – the mother’s maiden name on all of them is Williams.

So the search is ignoring the search last name of Williams.

Not good enough – not good enough at all.

TonyC

December 14, 2010 at 1:27 pm
Charitylds60 

I do not like how the home page keeps changing the format to start a search!! I manage to find what I am looking for but often am confused when the format changes. Is there a way to choose the format that I prefer from the past.

Please help me.

December 14, 2010 at 1:28 pm
Andy Hatchett 

Charity Re: # 70

See post #19 above.

December 14, 2010 at 5:53 pm
Paul Murauskas 

Bring back the old search. It has always been said, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

I am more comfortable and more successful looking at your data with my own methods. Especially using mis-spellings, so often used, by the illiterate census takers that had handwriting of barbarians. I am perfectly secure in the thought that there was never any qualifications for census workers. “Don’t worry, if you only finished grammar school we have a job for you!”

December 14, 2010 at 7:27 pm
Bob Esch 

I agree that Andy has been of great help, and I add my thanks to him for his thoughtful and useful suggestions. I came to the blog today to see what happened to “old search” and found out when I read Andy’s comments. I now like to use “old search” as well as “new search.” In some cases the new search is more direct, but in others, the old search allows you to come in through the back door — quicker than the “new search front door.” I too vote for allowing for the toggle switch on each page, so one can choose either search.

I hope too that some of the old promises come true in the new year, like making the “family additions to trees” available to all the census years – not just from 1880 on up. Doing the tree additions one name at a time gets tiresome very quickly. That would be worth more to me than all the other “cutesy” options we are being asked to embrace. Too many new things, make the adjustment to them, time consuming.

Best Wishes to the community, and again, Thank you Andy.

December 14, 2010 at 9:21 pm
Andy Hatchett 

Bob Re: # 73

How could Ancestry make “family additions to trees” available for pre 1880 census years when the census states no family relationships?

All the pre-1880 show are the names of people in a particular household. While other sources may indicate a familial relationship the census itself certainly doesn’t.

The only way Ancestry could make this work properly would be to copy each household member into a tree as an unlinked individual and leave it up to the tree owners to decide exactly what the relationship was.

December 15, 2010 at 12:31 am
arlene miles 

Anything new is a challenge…more instruction on how-to would be useful.
Maybe if the two or more databases with the same information and title were merged the search results would be more relevant. The catalog list is way too big to search if you don’t enter the correct title.
Keep up the good work,folks have to realize that not everything is online and if it were, they would have something else to complain about.

December 15, 2010 at 2:12 pm
Jean-Guy Momy 

I entirely agree with the previous comments that stated “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it”. Today I accidentally lost the “Old Search” and was presented with the “New Search”. I just cannot replicate my old searches with this new one.

My searches deal primarily with the Quebec Vital Records the “Drouin Collection” and today has been somewhat of a nightmare searching that collection using the new search.

I’m of the opinion that users should be given the option of using the OLD or the NEW and this option should be in the User’s settings. This way one would not have to keep going back from the new search to the old search.

Jean-Guy Momy

December 15, 2010 at 3:32 pm
Jean-Guy Momy 

Well, I was able to go back to the Old Search, but it sure does not work like it did before. I have a particular case where I want to select a particular family name for a given parish in Quebec Vital Records (Drouin collection), and as of now this does not work. The search gives me thousands in the results and displays all of the Montreal parishes for that specific family name, and not the parish that I specified in the search.

Ancestry – please fix this. Thanks

December 15, 2010 at 3:50 pm
Andy Hatchett 

Jean-Guy Re: #77

Are you going to the Drouin collection and using the search form there (see link) or are you using the main search form?

http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=1091

December 15, 2010 at 4:15 pm
Raelene 

I WANT the OLD SEARCH back. Simpler is much better!!!

December 15, 2010 at 6:32 pm
Andy Hatchett 

Raelene Re: #79

Old Search has never gone anywhere to begin with!

See post #19 above.

December 15, 2010 at 7:11 pm
Jean-Guy Momy 

Re: 78 Andy Hatchett

I was using the:
http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=1091

I searched for “Boileau” (surname – exact)
and “Montreal (Notre-Dame-des-Neiges)” in Place or Worship or Institution – exact, and the search gave me all of the Boileau in Montreal. They were ranked by date if I remember correctly.

My next search was “Boileau” exact and instead of using the “Place of Worship or Institution”, I typed “Montreal (Notre-Dame-des-Neiges)” in KEYWORD.

The search resulted in 6,925 (or so) but it placed all of the BOILEAU I was looking for a the beginning of the results (all 69 of them).

I previously forgot to mention that before the “NEW SEARCH” I was using the Old, Old Search.

I really don’t have anything against changes, but the changes should at least give us the same functionality that we had before.

December 15, 2010 at 7:28 pm
Jan 

When I try to use the drop-down location menu in doing a search, “Dayton, Greene, Ohio, USA” is the default for Dayton, OH. Dayton is NOT in Greene County; it is in MONTGOMERY County.

December 15, 2010 at 8:01 pm
Andy Hatchett 

Jean-Guy Re: #81

I’ve found the following method to be useful when using the Drouin Collection.

Pick which Volume you want and then to see everyone of a certain surname in a certain parish…

Enter Surname (exact)
Enter Any Event (exact) but enter only the parish name.

In your case:

Boileau
Notre-Dame-des-Neiges

Such a search returns 89 people (including spouses who married a Boileau)

December 15, 2010 at 8:28 pm
charitylds60 

Thank you Andy. I appreciate your response and help. I am getting “old” and it’s hard to make changes–even in the little things!! I am sure that your instructions on “19″ will help others as well.

December 15, 2010 at 11:13 pm
Jade 

Jan, your #82 — Part of Dayton is in Greene County as well as in Montgomery County.

December 16, 2010 at 8:17 am
Jean-Guy Momy 

Andy re: 83

Thanks Andy. That works out really well.

December 16, 2010 at 8:22 am
TonyC 

REPOST of my #69 – the problem is still there – will someone do something about this obvious error in search.

I think we have a problem Ancestry – UK birth record search – first name Patricia, last name Williams born between 1935 and 1945 displays 1,923 entries. All entries are first name Patricia however the last name is wrong – the mother’s maiden name on all of them is Williams.

So the search is ignoring the search last name of Williams.

Not good enough – not good enough at all.

December 16, 2010 at 10:15 am
Jade 

Tony your #69 and #87, there is obviously a problem with the search form for “England and Wales Birth Index: 1916-2005.”

Using the form for the collection I get a completely different and wonky result (the one you describe) from what I get on the Global Search form.

The results (in OldSearch mode):

From Collection search form
http://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?rank=0&f1=Patricia&f0=Williams&sx=&f16=&rg_f8__date=1940&rs_f8__date=5&f3=&f17=&f2=&gskw=&prox=1&f4=&f5=&db=onsbirth84&ti=0&ti.si=0&gl=&gss=mp-onsbirth84&gst=&so=3

From Global search form, advanced (name Patricia and surname Williams both exact, place of birth England exact, birth range 1940 +/- 5 exact), collection Birth, Marriage & Death:
http://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?db=ONSBirth84&so=2&rank=0&gsfn=Patricia&gsfn_x=1&gsln=Williams&gsln_x=1&rg_81004011__date=1940&rs_81004011__date=5&81004011__date_x=1&gsbco=3251%2cEngland&gsbpl=1%2cAll+Counties&gsbpl_x=1&gsbst=&gsbst_x=1&gsbCounty=&gsbCounty_x=1&gsbCity=&gsbCity_x=1&gsbTown=&gsbTown_x=1&_82004013=&_82004013_x=1&_82004014=&_82004014_x=1&_82004015=&_82004015_x=1&rg_81004021__date=&rs_81004021__date=0&81004021__date_x=1&gsmco=1%2cAll+Countries&gsmpl=1%2c+&gsmpl_x=1&gsmst=&gsmst_x=1&gsmCounty=&gsmCounty_x=1&gsmCity=&gsmCity_x=1&gsmTown=&gsmTown_x=1&_82004023=&_82004023_x=1&_82004024=&_82004024_x=1&_82004025=&_82004025_x=1&rg_81004031__date=&rs_81004031__date=0&81004031__date_x=1&gsdco=1%2cAll+Countries&gsdpl=1%2c+&gsdpl_x=1&gsdst=&gsdst_x=1&gsdCounty=&gsdCounty_x=1&gsdCity=&gsdCity_x=1&gsdTown=&gsdTown_x=1&_82004033=&_82004033_x=1&_82004034=&_82004034_x=1&_82004035=&_82004035_x=1&gs1co=1%2cAll+Countries&gs1pl=1%2c+&gs1pl_x=1&gs1st=&gs1st_x=1&gs1County=&gs1County_x=1&gs1City=&gs1City_x=1&gs1Town=&gs1Town_x=1&=%2c1%2c+%2c%2c%2c%2c%2c%2c%2c%2c%2c%2c%2c1%2c+%2c%2c%2c%2c%2c%2c%2c%2c%2c%2c%2c1%2c+%2c%2c%2c%2c%2c%2c%2c%2c%2c&gskw=&gskw_x=1&_8000C002=&_8000C002_x=1&_8000C003=&_8000C003_x=1&_80008002=&_80008002_x=1&_80008003=&_80008003_x=1&_80018002=&_80018003_x=1&_80018003=&_80018002_x=1&gsts=34&sbo=1&sbor=&prox=1&UseAdvRQuery=1&AdvSrch=1&db=&ti=0&ti.si=0&gss=angs-g

December 16, 2010 at 10:46 am
Aileen 

I’d just like to say that I am enjoying the new search. Yes, it takes a bit to learn about it but I appreciate the improvements. It is not likely that anything will stay the same forever, so we should always expect change to happen eventually. I guess that is now.

I understand, though, when others prefer the old ways, but I just thought I’d mention that some of us like the new ways, too.

It’s nice that there is still an option for people to use whichever way they are comfortable with, though.

December 16, 2010 at 10:49 am
TonyC 

Jade re #88

I’m so happy you got the same results, I thought I was going to be told that my computer wasn’t the right shape or to clear my cache – or some other inane suggestion ;)

Yes – the issue is qith the search from that particular collection – try Patricia Jones – over 3000 entries.

TonyC

December 16, 2010 at 11:03 am
Ann Webster 

These changes are terrible, or I am really missing something. Please, go back to the old format. At least we could understand it and see it without having to roll the mouse all over the screen to see one name at a time. You charge way too much money for this program. If you do not make some better changes, I will not renew.

December 16, 2010 at 11:40 am
Andy Hatchett 

Ann Re: # 91

I don’t understand what you mean when you say:

“without having to roll the mouse all over the screen to see one name at a time”.

Can you give a link to an example?

December 16, 2010 at 12:51 pm
Andy Hatchett 

Dick Eastman’s blog has article about searching well worth reading- particularly useful for newbies.

http://blog.eogn.com/eastmans_online_genealogy/2010/12/how-do-you-research-online.html#more

December 16, 2010 at 3:27 pm
Victor Pope 

Everyone needs to give the new search a chance. As a formal software designer, I know how hard it is for people to accept changes. At first they hate it and later after usage, they realize just how much better it is. Yes, possibility may contain bugs; but after recognizing it from great customer feedback they will usually fix the problem in a short time. I personally like all the new enhancements.

December 16, 2010 at 6:14 pm
Catherine Fields 

I am a long time user of Ancestry.com and over the years have many found techniques to navigate the system successfully. I am now completely baffled why Ancestry.com did what it did with the ‘new search’ functionality. The old search provided much better results and flexibility – the new search is very frustrating… I am unable to find an individual in the census record that has been mis-indexed. As MANY of Ancestry’s census records are not indexed properly most of us have found ways to navigate and find individuals by first name only (or surname only) in a state or locale that we expect to find them. With the new search functionality we no longer have this capability. Try finding Daniel Parrish (b. 1818 NY) or his wife, Harriet Parrish (b. 1822 VT) in the 1860 census in San Francisco who lived in San Francisco in 1860. Sadly, Ancestry does not have their surname indexed correctly and with the new search function it is now impossible to find them or any individual with a given name, surname, similar birth year or birth location in the City of San Francisco. (And yes, Daniel Parrish and his wife Harriet Parrish DID live in San Francisco in 1860, that is a fact)… Perhaps you have the time to search the entire city of San Francisco district by district, but I don’t. Needless to say, I am very disappointed that the new search functionality is so inflexible and that despite the link, the old search access is no longer working.

December 16, 2010 at 11:31 pm
Carol A. H. 

#95 Catherine:

I agree with you totally. Because of bad indexing in many records, it is more difficult, sometimes impossible to find some records in the new search. The old search is still available. It’s on the beginning search page in a very tiny font on the upper right hand side just under the gray menu bar. It will show “Go to Old Search” or ”New” if you are in the old search already. If you can’t find it by going to “Search” and JUST clicking on that (don’t choose anything in the drop down menu), then call Ancestry. 1-800-262-3787, 10 am to 6 pm Eastern time in the USA. They will help you. I rate telephone help with an A-. They aren’t perfect, but they really will try.

#94 Victor:

I have really given the new search a good try (and still try). The old search seems to be MUCH MORE intuitive and faster. I can’t explain why it works so much better than the new. I’m NOT a programmer or software designer, but I am a long time user of computers for genealogy and I really can ferret out records on Ancestry or on the Internet in general. I use the same logic I used to use when we did not have records online. It serves me very well. I find what I’m looking for if it is on Ancestry or available on another site.

December 17, 2010 at 1:56 am
MargeH 

Victor #94

I think that the whole point of the New Search v Old Search argument is that there is not a “One Size Fits All” solution. (I am an Old Search fan although I have looked at and tried the New Search and can appreciate that it will help some people.)

I am not a programmer, however I am a professional researcher and analyst,(not linked to genealogy) and was previously a computer auditor as well – therefore I am well used to adapting to new programming implementations! A large amount of my research and analytical work involves extracting information from computers and formulating the results using computer programmes.

One of the basic tenets of research is trying to identify the format of the data you are searching for in order to obtain the optimum results. Using a single search of the correct spellings / dates / locations etc, and then basing your findings on the information returned, is a very dangerous practice.

**But identifying what information you have gained and its relevance to the information you are looking for is as important as anything.**

The Star rating is confusing. By entering an unusual surname and a county of birth (England) on a specific data set I got a small number of matches back. All fulfilled the criteria I had specified, therefore I expected that they would be 5 star. Wrong. They were 3.5 star.

ID 2448 on the Ancestry Help section states:

A star ranking from 1 to 5 indicates the likelihood of a match to be the name you seek (or a relative of that person). If you see a 5-star match (), it is almost certain to be the person you want, while a 1-star match () is possible to be whom you seek, but highly unlikely.

However, my search puts a different angle on this. By this star system, I could be led to believe that there were better matches out there that I hadn’t found because the information I had entered was incorrect/incomplete. (Actually, there were no further matches possible on that search.) I don’t think that the Star rating should say that “this is almost certain to be the person you are seeking”, but rather “this is how good a match these results are to the search criteria entered”.

So basically, what I am saying is that the act of Searching is only one part of it. No matter what Search Engine you use, the results have to be displayed in an easily understood format. This means that the simpler they are, the better. Not everyone has the same level of understanding although this does not mean that they are not capable of just as effective research. Programmers should not assume that everyone has their level of understanding of information interpretation.

PS There is a note on a blog entry by Tony Macklin that states “For those of you who are using “old search”, we are not proposing any changes.” (See http://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/2010/04/20/preview-of-changes-to-ancestry-com-search/) Please keep it that way.

December 17, 2010 at 5:44 am
TonyC 

UK Birth Index issue still there, reported to Ancestry Support – however I would have thought that as Anne is the search product manager and is ‘touting’ the improvements in the basic search that this forum was a good place to get sometrhing done quickly – guess nobody is listening.

Try this link – http://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?rank=0&f1=Patricia&f0=Williams&sx=&f16=&rg_f8__date=1940&rs_f8__date=5&f3=&f17=&f2=&gskw=&prox=1&f4=&f5=&db=onsbirth84&ti=0&ti.si=0&gl=&gss=rfs&gst=&so=3

1,923 entries for Patricia Williams born 1935-1945, exact search, no mothers maiden name entered into the England & Wales Birth Index 1916-2005 collection. First retruned entry Patricia M Abbott!!!

If you can’t trust a simple 1 collection search how can you trust a complex ‘new search’?

TonyC

December 17, 2010 at 10:13 am
Jade 

MargetH, your #97: “ID 2448 on the Ancestry Help section states:
“A star ranking from 1 to 5 indicates the likelihood of a match to be the name you seek (or a relative of that person). If you see a 5-star match (), it is almost certain to be the person you want, while a 1-star match () is possible to be whom you seek, but highly unlikely.”

That explanation is just a falsehood in real terms. With the covert addition of Soundex matching in Default searches (OldSearch or NewSearch), the same Soundex equivalents are ranked the same. Yet “Smith” in no way equates to a variant of the “Sandy” surname you may be looking for. Computers are stupid, and when some product managers’ decisions are incorporated in code, “garbage in, garbage out.”

December 17, 2010 at 12:14 pm
TonyC 

This is the ‘response’ from Ancestry support to the inane results from a direct search:

Thank you for your email.

The way the Ancestry.com search is set up, you’ll get back the “next best” results of what we have indexed on the site. For example, if you search for John Doe in the 1930 US federal census but he doesn’t exist, however, Jack Doe does, you might get his information. The same goes for birth dates, spouse names, children, etc.. The reason for this is in case the people doing the search input the name/dates incorrectly, the person on our end indexed them incorrectly or the census/record taker took down the information incorrectly we will show you what best matches the search to get you the closest match possible. If the person you’re looking for doesn’t show up on the first couple pages of a search, it’s usually safe to assume that they are either not contained in the database you’re looking at or they are indexed incorrectly in that database.

You are free to try an exact search on any database, however, this often limits your results in a fashion that is undesirable for most users. Here is an link that provides an example of using the exact search settings on the database you specified for Patricia Williams.

Anne – please help – looking for Patricia Williams exact in one collection should find Patricia Williams especially if they exist – this is getting beyond a joke.

December 17, 2010 at 3:08 pm
Debra 

Thank you Mr. Hatchett for explaining how to get to the “Old Search” page! I agree with Rina (#29)! If we ever lose the old search feature, I will seriously consider cancelling my subscription. I could not find anything using the new search; records I had found in the past were not showing up. Thank you, again, Mr. Hatchett for all of your technical support!

December 17, 2010 at 10:06 pm
Rick 

Please bring back the old search form. The new search is terrible and slower. I work a lot with census records and loved the capabilities I had before. I could quickly search for a certain surname in a certain county, for example. Now I have to with difficulty and many clicks get to the year I want, then I have to enter the name, skip past all the junk I don’t ever use, then get to the county name and type like Franklin, Virginia, but then even then I have to wait for it to find “Franklin County, Virginia” amongst all the other Franklins in the world. Too busy! The search capabilities are not nearly as robust. Please give us long-time customers the old search back. Other sites are coming along with much of the same data but they are easier to navigate. Thanks for listening.

December 17, 2010 at 11:23 pm
Andy Hatchett 

Rick Re: # 102

Old Search hasn’t gone anywhere- see post #19 above.

December 18, 2010 at 2:54 am
Bekko 

TonyC: #100 (and earlier!)

Er, the UK Index of Marriages 1916-2005 is equally stuffed up.

I guess in response to a certain UK website who are touting their MarriageMatch™ technology, Ancestry are now displaying spouses’ names in the search results. That’s great (not before time!), and will make searching for a particular marriage so much quicker. Unfortunately, entering the name ACKROYD, for example, only returns all the people who *married* an ACKROYD!

http://search.ancestry.co.uk/cgi-bin/sse.dll?rank=0&f1=&f0=Ackroyd&sx=&f10=&rg_f11__date=&rs_f11__date=0&f3=&f13=&f2=&gskw=&prox=1&db=onsmarriage1984&ti=5538&ti.si=0&gl=&gss=mp-onsmarriage1984&gst=&so=3

As for Ancestry’s inane response, “you’ll get back the “next best” results of what we have indexed on the site,” how about giving us the “best” results as well … you know, results of the actual name being searched for.

If I wanted “next best” results … uh … I wouldn’t tick the “Exact matches only” box!

:-P

December 18, 2010 at 8:00 am
Lita 

Once more they have change this site, I hate searching on the new site. This new one is really making what used to be easy, now is very hard.
I’m really going to rethink if i want to stay with Ancestry.com.
I want to go back to the Old Search, which was much more easier to use.

December 18, 2010 at 2:24 pm
Andy Hatchett 

Lita Re: #105

Both this blog and the Ancestry Message boards are littered with instructions on how to get to OldSearch- See post #19 of this blog article.

December 18, 2010 at 3:40 pm
Dewey Cornell 

This new search does not work right for me. I specify the state where my subject lived and I get records from a dozen different states. I try to narrow down the search in various ways and nothing happens. I get names that are not at all the same name. Jansa is not Jones. It is maddening to get that message to refine my search and yet when I do so, nothing changes.

December 18, 2010 at 8:27 pm
Dewey Cornell 

This new search does not work right for me. I specify the state where my subject lived and I get records from a dozen different states. I try to narrow down the search in various ways and nothing happens. I get names that are not at all the same name. I specify a year of death and state where it occurred and get all sorts of different years and states. It is maddening to get that message to refine my search and yet when I do so, nothing changes.

December 18, 2010 at 8:57 pm
Nancy Edwards 

New search format is VERY disappointing. I don’t understand why you changed it since it used to work very well and was also user-friendly. But not anymore.

Also, I was meaning to let you know that the results format you changed earlier this year is also very confusing.

Don’t mean to gripe here, but you really should test market these changes more than you do, or only make a change if it was complained about by a majority of your regular users.

December 19, 2010 at 4:29 pm
Judi Slauson 

I am sorry to say , I really have nothing good to say about the new search format. To make it worse, when I have opened the home page in the last two days the new search format is up and there is NO button to switch to the user friendly old search. When I search for a name in a certain state I don`t want a search a 100 thousand results for it. and to only have it keep suggesting that I add more Information. I would not need your service to begin with if I had all the information. I have been using your service for eight years now and have always enjoyed it, as well as endorsed your site. But if the case is that you plan on fazing out the old search. How could I endorse a product to a newbie if it is so confusing and frustrating to people who have been working with it for years? I really hope this is not the case.
Thank you for listening.

December 19, 2010 at 9:45 pm
Andy Hatchett 

Judi, Re: #110

The link to switch to OldSearch isn’t on the Home page. It is on the main search form.

Click “Search” in the main menu bar and then in the upper right hand corner- in *very*small letters- is a link that toggles to OldSeach or NewSearch (depending on which search you are presently in).

December 19, 2010 at 11:52 pm
MargeH 

It should be a pretty simple exercise to copy the hyperlink for the Old Search on to the front page, just above or below the Search box, where it can be easily found.

However, since the point of bringing in the New Search is to get people to use it – otherwise it will have been a waste of time and money to develop it – don’t hold your breath.

So far, I have not seen any responses from Ancestry to the comments on this blog. (Andy Hatchett (see #30)is not connected to them.)

Why not?

December 20, 2010 at 2:30 am
Andy Hatchett 

MargeH Re: #112

I’ve found one easy way to have it always handy is to just bookmark it in your browser.

December 20, 2010 at 2:36 am
MargeH 

Andy – re #113

I followed the instructions to change it, and checked I always went to Old Search for all of my bookmarks (quick links to 50+ individual databases) so I am a happy bunny.

However that first day, when everything had changed and I couldn’t find the easy link, threw me into a bit of a dither. I have been using Ancestry for about 10 years now, so I have been through numerous of its incarnations.

A Home Page link would be nice and would defer a lot of the negative comments on this blog. But of course, it would not encourage people to try the New Search.

December 20, 2010 at 3:02 am
Loretta 

Mine is a general frustration with the ongoing changes at Ancestry. Researching used to be a joy. Now it’s a frustration. Response times are much longer than they were when I started this project three years ago. Even the wee hours of the morning are slow. Seems slow whenever Ancestry is developing and rolling out something new. I’m tired of learning new “stuff”. Don’t keep defaulting me to your choice of searches. I want the search option I had six months ago (old old, old, whatever). I’m tired of clearing my cache and removing cookies. Stop denying access and telling me someone else is logged on when it’s 3:00 am and my family is asleep. Eliminate the indexes to the 1860 U.S. census and give me the actual census. Yeah, now that you mention it, I’m probably one of those who uses the global search too much. But it’s soooo easy, so few clicks. My subscription just renewed automatically, so give me simplicity or give me Andy Hatchett!

December 20, 2010 at 5:04 am
Andy Hatchett 

Loretta, Re: #115

I’m confused. You said:

Eliminate the indexes to the 1860 U.S. census and give me the actual census.

Images of the 1860 are available – and without the indexes we’d have to scroll thru every page looking for what we are trying to find.

To browse or search the 1860 Census just go to this link:

http://search.ancestry.com/iexec/?htx=List&dbid=7667&offerid=0%3a7858%3a0

December 20, 2010 at 5:27 am
Jean-Guy Momy 

I am still struggling with the “New Search”. I progressed??? to the New Search after using the Old Old Search for many years, and I still can’t get all of the old functionality that I had. I deal mostly with the Drouin Collection as most of my ancestry is in Canada. Here are some of my difficulties:

1. How do I get to display either birth, marriage or death for a particular person or surname in a given parish?

Any help on this would sure be appreciated.

December 20, 2010 at 11:30 am
Joyce 

Please bring back the old Ancestry. These new changes are absolutely terrible. This site is now so cumbersome to use in every category. You’ve now taken 10 steps backwards and made Ancestry tedious to use.

December 20, 2010 at 11:55 am
Loretta 

Andy – Re: 116

More specifically, over the last few months, when I run the “naughty, naughty” global search, my results have been coming back with actual census data for years other than 1860. I’ve been getting just the index for 1860. Then have to run a separate search for 1860. Never used to be the case.

December 20, 2010 at 5:28 pm
John W Bishop 

Who is ANDY HATCHETT? Why should some individual do all this talking for Ancestry when we pay good money for there response.I’am 73 years old and don’t like to be messed with.I called Ancestry about problems with new search and they pretend as though no one else have problems.Ancestry MAN UP !

December 21, 2010 at 5:12 am
Andy Hatchett 

John Re: #120

Andy Hatchett is a paying subscriber and has *never* claimed to speak for Ancestry. Andy speaks only for himself.

He is retired, passionate about genealogy, and has the time to spend trying to help people solve any problems they may be having.

December 21, 2010 at 5:31 am
John W Bishop 

Andy:You must spend more time on the blog than doing genealogy.I don’t need a response as I won’t be looking in here again.God Bless have a Merry
Christmas

December 21, 2010 at 9:37 am
J. Fulmer 

Well, at this point we have over 120 comments collected (and almost all are negative) about NEW search roll-out, yet there has not been even one response back to us on this blog from Anne Mitchell acknowledging our “pain”. I guess we’re just talking to the wall !!

December 21, 2010 at 10:31 am
TonyC 

Re #123

While not defending the ‘new search’ I find I have to add this comment:

Anne did respond offline to my earlier posts regarding the UK Birth Index problems which is not really related to the new search complaints on this blog.

TonyC

December 21, 2010 at 11:43 am
Jade 

J. Fulmer, #123, “. . . we have over 120 comments collected (and almost all are negative) about NEW search roll-out, yet there has not been even one response back to us on this blog from Anne Mitchell . . .”

This blog post from Anne was about rollout of a new and somewhat simplified “NewSearch” global non-advanced search form.

It is difficult to tell if ~any~ of the posts are about that specific item. There are indeed some posts about many other gripes, some related to New vs. Old search, but whether any of the posters in that subject-realm had experienced the revised search form of the present topic is unclear.

December 21, 2010 at 12:26 pm
BEE 

I had occasion to {old}search for a Maine census for two different people last week. Neither turned up as the name was spelled. on one, the first name was spelled incorrectly, the other the surname had an added letter. In my 8yrs of {old} searching, I’ve learned a few tricks, and in most cases, if the document is there, I can find it. Many times, just dropping the surname works, as it did this time. In the case of the first name, I changed a letter in the middle of the name to what I guessed it might be Lydia to Lidia. Both census I was looking for came up right to the top of the {old} search list.
Since I now had what I was looking for, I decided to see what would happen with “new search” {not that I’m that computer-literate, but I assume this would be the latest “roll-out”?} – although I don’t think I would have tried it if I hadn’t learned how to find my way back to “old search” by going to the “search” drop down and clicking “search all records” – it was pretty scary to not see it anywhere else on a previous try with “new search”!
My first attempts got this response: “Your Search returned zero good matches” – I continued to add/subtract information. Eventually, it brought up the same information I that I had found with far less work using “old search” .
This is now the 126th entry on this blog discussing the subject of “new vs old search” – that must say something!

December 21, 2010 at 5:12 pm
Andy Hatchett 

Bee Re: #126

What is says is that there are a bunch of crabby old folks who think the world should stand still just for them!

*HUGE GRIN*

Relax folks- it is a joke!

Just wanted to wish everyone a Happy Holiday Season and a Joyous New Year!

December 21, 2010 at 7:55 pm
J. Fulmer 

Andy:

1. If we’re paying good money and are dissatisfied with the service then I feel we have the right “to crab”, as you put it.

2. In front of Anne Mitchell you keep saying that the demise of “old search” is inevitable, as if you know something we don’t. Your negative speculation is not helpful.

December 21, 2010 at 9:49 pm
Andy Hatchett 

J. Re: #128

It is *not* speculation!

Anyone who attended the Knoxville FGS would have heard Ann say in front of a room holding 600+ people that she would *not* promise that OldSearch would be around forever.

Do you really think Ancestry’s going to invest this much time, energy, and resources on NewSearch just to keep OldSearch around when NewSearch reaches its design goals??

It just *ain’t* gonna happen- period!

December 22, 2010 at 12:03 am
BEE 

I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy New Year, and “Happy Holidays” to all those celebrating other holidays at this time of the year.
I would also like to thank ancestry.com for all the wonderful connections I have made with my membership. While I do keep my trees “private”, I have met many people through the “contact” feature, including a second cousin and others that I continue to keep in touch and share information after sharing our email addresses.

December 22, 2010 at 6:12 am
J. Fulmer 

#129
The Knoxville FGS meeting was 6 months ago last August. Since then there has been huge continued customer discontentment with New Search and their roll-out “fixes”. I think Ancestry will “come to their senses” and find a way to keep Old Search. It is still early and at this stage I see no need to project a resigned attitude toward this.

December 22, 2010 at 7:54 am
Andy Hatchett 

J. Re:#131

The Knoxville FGS was in mid August, 2010- approx. 4 months ago.

The postings to this Blog constitute an infinitesimal percentage compared to the overall membership.

I happened to be in one of the focus groups in Knoxville and over 70% of that group preferred NewSearch to OldSearch.

You may be right- they may keep OldSearch…
but oversall odds (based on effeciency, resource allocation, etc.) are against it.

New Search development is hampered right now because they have to make sure any changes don’t harm OldSearch in a terminal way. Once NewSearch reaches a state of development where it is as effective as OldSearch then OldSearch can be terminated and NewSearch be improved in ways that can’r presently be done simply because OldSearch is still around.

December 22, 2010 at 11:45 am
Anne Mitchell 

The change we rolled out had nothing to do with Old Search, it was an update to the Basic (non advanced) New Search. Some of you may have found yourself in New Search, but Old search is still there, and you can switch back to it on the search page as described in comments on this blog.

And for an experience user, I would recommend New Advanced Search. Now, I know that some of you prefer Old Search, which is fine, it’s still there and if you are finding records, then that is the goal! :-) But Advanced New Search has a lot of powerful features.

Will Old Search go away? Probably someday. It’s there and we have no timetable on which to remove it, but we also don’t maintain it.

For those of you that use Old Search exact, I do recommend you try New Search advanced and explore the name and location filters. They are much more powerful than exact search. Also, you can change your results to list by Category instead of Relevance, and drill down from there.

Happy Searching!

December 22, 2010 at 11:55 am
Carol A. H. 

For all who prefer the old search (me included), we will just have to work faster while it is available.

The NEHGS just changed to American Ancestors and I subscribe to it. I’m sorry to say they have changed a lot and it is NO LONGER as fast and efficient as it once was , but like Ancestry, you have to go where the records are. We are captives of our time.

December 22, 2010 at 1:38 pm
Andy Hatchett 

Carol Re: #135

As my nephew’s history teacher once told his class…

“You either move with the times or are left as roadkill when time marches on!”

;)

December 22, 2010 at 1:41 pm
J. Fulmer 

Remember it’s all about the money!! And as a business I just don’t believe Ancestry.com is going to do anything really stupid like dump Old Search.

Anne, glad to hear from you on this! I’m glad you realize this topic really is worrisome to many of us long-loyal customers.

December 22, 2010 at 3:44 pm