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Request: wider date range for searches

Request: wider date range for searches

Posted: 25 Apr 2013 8:55PM GMT
Classification: Query
I would like to be able to set a range for event dates in the search forms to wider than +/- 10 years.

Often I have enough information to specify an event within 30 or 50 years, but not within 20. For example, I may know someone's name only from the father field of a death record for their child. Since the procreative range of men is about 50 years long, a 20 year range is way too restrictive. But leaving the birthdate blank gives all sorts of records for men born after the child's birth date! Or I may want to search a database of death records for all possible deaths of any of the 16 children of a certain family, where the birth dates of interest cover a range of 36 years and their possible death dates cover a range of 136 years. Again, +/- 10 years is way too restrictive for either field, but leaving them blank returns people who died before the earliest possible birth date.

Ideal would be a way to enter arbitrary begin and end dates including open-ended before and after; almost as good would be the ability to type an arbitrary number from 1 to 100 in the "+/-" field; for minimal programming effort, simply adding 25 and 50 (or 20, 30 and 50), to the popup menu of choices for that field would be very easy and still be a big improvement over the status quo.

Re: Request: wider date range for searches

Posted: 26 Apr 2013 5:23PM GMT
Classification: Query
If you have to cast that wide a net, you are not looking for enough background info to narrow it down first. If you are looking for someone with that wide of an age range, you may get 100 plus possiblities that you then have to narrow down - which means you then have to find background information to confirm you have found the right person.
That is not the most efficient way to find someone.

Re: Request: wider date range for searches

Posted: 26 Apr 2013 7:30PM GMT
Classification: Query
Teri,
Thanks for the suggestion. We'll look into making this change and try to get feedback from a few more users about it. In the meantime, if you REALLY want a wider date range, start by performing your search with a birth range of +/- 5 years. Then look for the part of the url/address that says "&msbdp=5" and change the "5" to whatever range you want. For example, "&msbdp=25" would produce a 50 year range.
-Dave

Re: Request: wider date range for searches

Posted: 26 Apr 2013 10:08PM GMT
Classification: Query
What a great work-around Dave, thank you.

It's surprising this is "news" to you. It was suggested and requested by many of us who participated in the beta search study back in 2010.

Every now and then, a product manager engages on the boards, as you have been doing in the past few weeks. The enthusiasm and promises to make positive changes is always short-lived. The question is, how long will you be around?

Re: Request: wider date range for searches

Posted: 26 Apr 2013 10:38PM GMT
Classification: Query
Edited: 26 Apr 2013 10:40PM GMT
My concern with a broader time-frame search - what will that do to the already obviously overloaded servers? Searching for someone across 20, 30 or 40 years, instead of 10, surely takes more processing power. We already get - all too often - "please check back later" and variations on that theme.

For me, I'd rather make 4 10-year searches that complete than try to make 1 40-year search that fails repeatedly.

Re: Request: wider date range for searches

Posted: 27 Apr 2013 3:48AM GMT
Classification: Query
I wouldn't necessarily call it "news" to me, but I certainly don't remember it being a highly sought issue from the 2010 discussions either.

If we were to only add 1-3 settings to the droplist for year range, what should they be?
Currently it is +/- 1, 2, 5, 10 years.
How about just adding 20? Or do you think we need to add more? (I actually don't know if this is significantly more taxing on the servers; if it is, as suggested by the other poster, that may be part of the reason we've shied away from having it in the interface.) There's also the issue of whether it is a search strategy worth encouraging others to do by offering. I suspect that people would be inclined to keep the range as tight as possible just so they don't have to cope with too many results, so probably not an issue.

I should also add a disclaimer that I'm not a product manager but a product designer and researcher (not that it necessarily merits a strong distinction). But I hope to be around for a while and I think the next 12-18 months will be good for search on Ancestry.com.

Re: Request: wider date range for searches

Posted: 27 Apr 2013 3:52AM GMT
Classification: Query
Do you tend to get the "please check back later" messages more often when you're doing more taxing searches? If so, Old Search or New Search or both?

Re: Request: wider date range for searches

Posted: 27 Apr 2013 4:02AM GMT
Classification: Query
One of the things I like about Old search is the ability to set a time span. I've had luck searching a name, location and date span using the exact search form in Old search, and I can't seem to replicate that using New search.

Re: Request: wider date range for searches

Posted: 27 Apr 2013 5:59AM GMT
Classification: Query
Dave has been around for a while already. I met him in Knoxville and I know he's been involved in running focus groups in the past. He and Tony collaborated in 2010 on the then new search engine.

Re: Request: wider date range for searches

Posted: 27 Apr 2013 12:42PM GMT
Classification: Query
David,

I get "please check back later" on a variety of different processes - from as simple as following a leaf hint or posting on these boards or even just trying to read the post someone else has made.

I mostly use New Search.
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