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Exact search in Old Search

Exact search in Old Search

Posted: 1 Apr 2011 1:58PM GMT
Classification: Query
In a number of collections, in my case the UK BMDs 1915 onwards even if you check exact and provide a first and last name the list returned includes non-exact results. Example John Smith born 1916 England, returns a large number of first name John but not Smith, the mothers maiden would have been Smith. That is not an exact search.

Re: Exact search in Old Search

Posted: 1 Apr 2011 2:44PM GMT
Classification: Query
Acom is going to come here and say they are no longer supporting or updating Old Search. Which is fine. But what is not fine is that they gutted some of the functionality of OS presumably in an effort to induce customers to go ahead and switch to NS.

As an example, in OS in the *Family Trees tab*, they removed the ability to add a spouse or parents as part of an advanced search. Now note the following: yes you can still have those search parameters in OS on the *historical records* tab. But *not* in the family trees tab. However one used to be able to do that.

But the overall point of this thread is that Acom has tinkered with the exact search algorithm in OS *after* foisting new search on the masses and in a manner that does not produce a truly exact search. But I predict that they will come here and try to say that one "should" be searching such and such a way, which is arrogant beyond belief since the cubicle clone product managers do not have a good grasp of genealogy search methodology.

Exact search means exact in all ways. Period. Even if it has (in the opinions of those pushing NS) some unintended bad consequences.

Re: Exact search in Old Search

Posted: 2 Apr 2011 12:18AM GMT
Classification: Query
>>>I've not yet been tagged as a greenie, but I am an Ancestry Search Product Manager. I should be flagged as such soon, but didn't want to wait for that before replying to this post.<<<

Thanks, CandTFHA, for your post and for your example. It's a pretty good example of an admittedly poor user experience. FWIW, it came from the desire of being able to help people find the other people associated with a record (in this case the birth mother). Reason notwithstanding, it's not great. While I can't promise anything right now, I can say that we are looking at ways to improve this (some might say "fix this") specific situation.

I am in the process of evaluating how exact search does and should work and would welcome other specific examples (different in type than this one) of where exact search doesn't do as some might expect. Please be sure to include enough details for me to reproduce your query (including a URL, too).

Thanks,

John

Re: Exact search in Old Search

Posted: 2 Apr 2011 12:58AM GMT
Classification: Query
"While I can't promise anything right now, I can say that we are looking at ways to improve this (some might say "fix this") specific situation. "

Are you aware that the OP specifically referred to OLD Search?
Does your response specifically refer to OLD Search?

Re: Exact search in Old Search

Posted: 2 Apr 2011 1:50AM GMT
Classification: Query
"Are you aware that the OP specifically referred to OLD Search?"
>> Yes

"Does your response specifically refer to OLD Search?"

>> Yes, when I said "specific" I meant specifically to the specific issue about which the original poster was kind enough to give enough specific details for me to understand it was specifically about OLD search and not about the search that will not be named.

All kidding aside, I am looking at something that should help this query on OLD search. I'm optimistic enough to mention it, but as mentioned don't know enough yet to promise anything.

Re: Exact search in Old Search

Posted: 2 Apr 2011 3:18AM GMT
Classification: Query
"Yes, when I said "specific" I meant specifically to the specific issue about which the original poster was kind enough to give enough specific details for me to understand it was specifically about OLD search and not about the search that will not be named."

Could you be a bit more specific?

More kidding aside, thanks for the quick response.

Re: Exact search in Old Search

Posted: 2 Apr 2011 8:43AM GMT
Classification: Query
Edited: 2 Apr 2011 8:45AM GMT
The problem of Exact search not working exactly covers loads of the records on ACOM. I am very pleased that it seems to be being looked at at last. If John B goes to the Search drop down and looks through a sample of the births marriages and deaths he will find tons of examples where exact does not mean exact. Good luck John, you will need it.

Re: Exact search in Old Search

Posted: 2 Apr 2011 12:45PM GMT
Classification: Query
One of the problems that the original poster may have encountered is not a search engine problem but an indexing problem.

For databases that are keyword indexed, rather than by forename/surname, when the user asks for 'exact' forename/surname, the search engine algorithm can only interpret the request as for forename and surname on *same page*. For some databases (say, California Voters Registrations), using the keyword field (where it exists) with surname/forename or forename/surname in quotes sometimes retrieves a desired record where the name fields are nearly useless.

Fixing this requires fixing underlying indexing.

Re: Exact search in Old Search

Posted: 2 Apr 2011 1:53PM GMT
Classification: Query
  
Exact old search for the UK BMDs (and LMA parish registers) had worked perfectly well for years. If you entered John SMITH in the first/surname boxes, that is what was returned — everyone whose first name(s) included John and with a surname of SMITH, and no-one else.

About October last year (?) it changed overnight with no warning or subsequent comment whatsoever. The EXACT search was made *fuzzy* so that all the Johns whose mother's maiden name was SMITH or who had spouses named SMITH were included in the results.

I kept thinking it was just a glitch and in time it would be fixed. I've now come to the horrible realisation that Ancestry might think it's a feature.

Please make EXACT search EXACTly.
  

Re: Exact search in Old Search

Posted: 2 Apr 2011 2:23PM GMT
Classification: Query
Morning John
Thanks for the response and commitment to look into this which will hopefully lead to a commitment to fix the problem. Oh and thanks for the sort of vague explanation of specific :)


Let’s use a better example, one using an ancestor of mine. And first let me say that ‘Old Search’ starts out quite well, it’s when you start to drill down that the errors start.


Old Search main screen. Enter James Ingham England Lancashire in the 4 available data fields and select exact from the drop down – enter.


This gives the wonderful Old Search overview of where records are for that individual and an indication of the number in each database. The collection we’re going to look at is the England & Wales Birth Index:1916-2005, you’ll see from the list there are 144 entries and they are all James Ingham from Lancashire, some may have James as a middle name but that is totally acceptable.


Now we think that we know roughly when James was born sometime between 1915 and 1925, so we choose to refine the search, and another point, why do we have to type the name in again?? So we do retype the name and leave Exact in the drop down and leave the ‘exact matches only’ checked – wow 2 Exact Checks Type 1920 in the birth year, 5 in the +/- box and choose Lancashire from the drop down and leave all other fields blank – hit search.


Now we only have 27 entries – oops the first 6 are not Ingham neither are the last 7, there are only 14 actual James Ingham records in that 10 year period. Ingham is not a really common name, and I don’t even want to start on another ancestor – Taylor. But just for grins I did James Taylor on the same search – 576 entries I didn’t see a James Taylor until page 5 (50 per page) – entry number 244.
Old Search starts out really well and finds all James Ingham; it’s when you try to refine the search where it quickly deteriorates.


TonyC
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