28 May 2011

Ancestry.com's Search Comments, etc.

Here's my take on Ancestry.com's search:

1) I like the proximity feature. However, I do wonder what map or database they used to determine what bordered what. Do they count counties and geographic locations that are "corner to corner?" I don't like not knowing how things are done or determined.

2) I hate the pre-filled boxes that come up. Absolutely do not like them. I would like to know why on a United States database, they cannot filter out non-US locations. Also like to know why they can't filter out United States locations when I'm searching the 1851 UK census. If you're gonna make that junk come up automatically, at least have it be from the correct country.

3) Get rid of the family member option on the censuses that have it and simply put "in household" of. I like the ability to search for siblings, don't get me wrong. However, there are times when Ancestry.com thinks the head of household is the parent when even the census indicates that they are not. Set this to "lives in the same household" and be done with it. Or at least add that option.

4) Improve the navigational structure of the site. There are databases on Ancestry.com I use regularly and I get sick of the navigational structure and the card catalog is a pain. I don't make bookmarks myself because they are a pain. If there is a database I've used before on Ancestry.com, I just google it to find it.

I like most of the features of the new search. But I do tend to get a little tired of being given new features and then being told to like them because we have them. Geesh--I'm not five anymore. And sometimes I really really wonder how many in the research trenches genealogists really test these new features out. Not people who were geeks first, but people who were (and are) genealogists first.

I also don't think the new features support the documentation of the search process. Not documentation of results, but documentation of process.

I also do not like it when databases are "updated"or added to with no idea of what's been changed or added. That makes it incredibly frustrating for a database I have already searched extensively to find that it has been "improved" or added to with no idea of what records were added. I've mentioned this complaint before, but I've never gotten any feedback on that complaint. And usually when I complain about something and fail to get a response, that usually tells me something.

Don't get me wrong, I really get a lot of use out of Ancestry.com. But there are times when it is very frustrating to be given "new improvements" without adequate details or changed search techniques and being told we should "like them and get used to them."