26 January 2011

What I'd Like From Ancestry.com

I'll be honest--I don't personally get all that excited about being able to interact with other users of data at Ancestry.com. I've sent emails to MANY others who've saved the same images or records that I have. I hear back from very few of those researchers. I have had some success with seeing other records that have been linked to that same record. However, those always have to be checked as some researchers really just grab "close" matches and assume they are the same person.

What I would REALLY like to see at Ancestry.com is a way to really work effectively with the search results. Now there just is NO real way to work with and analyze the results, particularly eliminating the false matches or the results I have eliminated. Here are some options that I would like to see explored:
  • The ability to tag matches as ones that are negatives with perhaps a box or some set of options for me to indicate to myself why I think it's a negative match. If options are not possible, at least a comment box where I could type a short note ("wife wrong name," "wrong kids," etc.). I don't think I want others to see my notes.
  • The ability to download results (not images, just an excel type file) so that they can be manipulated in some type of spreadsheet or database. I'm not asking to be able to download all entries in the 1850 Ohio Census, but a limited number of matches to my search so that those results can be analyzed.
The way the site is now, when there is someone I cannot easily find it takes FOREVER to wade through the hits. If search terms are changed or altered, it is exceedingly difficult to go through those results as well.

When someone is easy to find, Ancestry.com is great. When they are not easy to find, it's not always so easy to use.

Some names are so mispelled, etc. that fancy search algorithms are not going to find them and some wading through results is necessary. It is just that the way I interact with the negative results now is cumbersome and slow.

Faster searches, corrected names (when corrected by someone who really has not researched the family), enhanced social "interaction" with users, enhanced interaction with other databases and images, and "improved" search algorithms isn't going to help me find Peter Bieger in the 1850 census.

I need a way to really interact with my search results and right now it simply isn't there.