Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Finding Meaningful Ancestry Hints

One of the things I like about having my tree on Ancestry is the shaky leaf (Ancestry's way to tell you that it found something that may be of interest to you). I love when a hint pops up to let me know that Ancestry thinks it has found a record for one of my ancestors.

That said I also find the hints annoying. I hate receiving hints for English birth registrations when the person was born in Indiana. I hate getting all excited that there is a new hint only to find the hint about the wrong time and place.

Of course when I get a hint that a family moved west and it matches everything I know about the family and they disappeared from the town they were born, I love them. Without these hints I would never have tracked down a number of my ancestor's siblings who went to the frontier.

In the process of cleaning up my database, I also wanted to clean up my Ancestry hints. I had been putting these off for a long time. The main reason was that as of January 30th I had 522 hints. Way too many for me to process easily.

What I found was that most of these hints were for matches to other trees on Ancestry. Although I find these trees to be helpful in giving me a direction to take when I get stuck, I never add them to my tree. I needed these family tree hints out of my shaky leaves so that I could find the records hidden within those 522 hints.

Ancestry started Member Connect at the end of July in 2009. Member Connect gives another place on each person's individual page to make connections to others researching the same person. You can see what sources they have used and what information they have that you don't.

So why does Ancestry continue to add family trees to their hints? I wish that they would discontinue this duplication. Plus I hate that it makes it seem that you should just add unsourced information to your tree in order to get more people added.

I went through my Ancestry hints and got them down from 522 to 18 by manually ignoring each family tree hint. 18 actual records that I need to analyze and add to my tree if they are a match. 18 records that might break down a brick wall. 18 records that are useful to my research and my time.

How did I get the number so far down? I told Ancestry to ignore all of the family tree hints. That information is still readily available to me through the Member Connect section. I don't need it in two places.

I wish that I hadn't had to waste my time to find the good stuff when there seems to be an easy fix.

Disclosure: I was not paid by anyone for this review. These are my own thoughts and desires to see some changes.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing your method for refining searches. Ancestry has issues in this department. Maybe as a public company, they'll make improvements in that area as well. Until then, we'll have to spend hours weeding out irrelevance and improving our own search results, since Ancestry can't design a search platform to do it for us.