Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Ancestry.com wants us to create trees and not do individual searches?

Randy Seaver woefully noted recent changes at Ancestry in his post titled Ancestry.com Home Page Changes and Wild Card Search Frustrations. I think we're seeing a major shift in how Ancestry.com wishes to have people interact with the website.

To Ol' Myrt's way of thinking, the best way to provide context-sensitive search results is for users to have an Ancestry Member Tree.

Notice what's missing when comparing today's Ancestry.com "advanced" search box  on the home page and the screen shot Randy took on 12 April 2013 for his presentation two days later:

IMAGE: from Randy Seaver's blog post,
My red arrows and rounded boxes are added.

Specifically, the form now on the Ancestry.com homepage does not include search modifications such as:
  • adding multiple life events (to exclude people who didn't live in the same time frame)
  • adding the names of known family members (especially helpful when we know the spouse or children of an elusive ancestor)
  • gender (that makes it hard with my grandfather named "Shirley" and his father named "Alma")
  • race or nationality

What we are left with is a bland "advanced" research form that means we will spend significantly more time doing individual searches. The additional "length an individual stays on the site" may boost Ancestry.com traffic score, but will also boost frustration levels among researchers who know this new search is a giant step backwards:

Registered users should forget Ancestry.com's home page and click the "Search" option on the top navigation bar to find the old familiar search box, with the additional options to:

Restrict the search to any or all of the following:
  • Historical records
  • Family Trees
  • Stories and publications
  • Photos and maps

I do not know if researchers using this advanced form will experience the same wild-card search frustrations discussed in Randy's post about the home page search box

 A private Ancestry Member Tree may be your best solution.

When "de"selecting the default option "Allow others to see my tree as a public member tree" Ancestry.com advises:
What if I don't make my tree public?

  • When you choose not to share your tree, you potentially miss out on opportunities to collaborate with other members and grow your tree.
  • Even if you don't share your tree, other members can still learn if a specific deceased individual is in your tree, in addition to the birth year and birthplace of the person and your username (but no personal information about you).
  • They can then contact you anonymously through the Connection Service on Ancestry.com sites to request more information. Keep in mind that members who want to learn from your tree may also have helpful information about your tree to offer you in exchange.

Ancestry.com benefits by our posting online member trees, but so do researchers. Those trees provide the potential for more member-to-member collaboration and facilitates Ancestry DNA matches. Ancestry Member Trees may also be the only viable alternative to the poor Ancestry.com search algorithm challenges described by my esteemed colleague.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt     :)
Your friend in genealogy.

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