06 November 2012

More Restrictions Means More Matches?

Color me confused.

I am trying to determine if Sophia Trautvetter immigrated to the United States in the early 1870s. A search for individuals in Ancestry's "Immigration & Travel" databases resulted in over 14,500 hits as of today. That's more than I care to go through, but I was able to perform this wildcard search.

So, I decided to add part of Sophia's last name to my search. This should restrict the search more and reduce the number of results--hopefully to something more manageable than 14,500.

Apparently not.

Ancestry.com's search interface apparently decided that there were too many matches now. I'm confused as I thought that this search (with a last name added) would be MORE restrictive than the one with just the first name.

I've not been getting any answers from Ancestry.com to my posts about their searches, but we can always hope.

Meanwhile I'm off to review 14,500 matches in an attempt to find Sophia. Maybe I should just view the manifests one at a time the old fashioned way.

Might be easier.


Frances Elizabeth Schwab said...

I've often had the same problem and wondered why. I look forward to someone letting you know--be sure to share.

Bubba said...

I always get concerned when I get errors of this type, thinking that there must be something I'm doing "wrong" that I'm simply not noticing.

I usually do these things more than one time at different times of the day, just to make certain.

I'll post an update if I get an answer.


Randy Seaver said...

A search for Sop* Tr*v* yields one match with 1874 +/- 5

A search for Sop* Tr*v*r yields one match.

I get too many matches when I do a Sop* Tra* search.

I got too many matches with just Tra*!

But there are 1304 for a search of Tra*r and 2888 for Tr*r

Their system is messed up, I think.

Christopher said...

I don't know how Ancestry's search algorithm works, but it seems to be running a Boolean-logic 'or' search instead of an 'and' search. It returns the larger set of records that match 'sop*' OR 'tra*' instead of the smaller set that would be returned by 'sop*' AND 'tra*'. That's my guess, anyway. How to change that, I can't say...

Bubba said...

I'm inclined to think that Christopher is right, but it's really hard to say how they have the search set up as usually when I do searches of this type, I get FEWER hits.

A staffer at Ancestry.com has been made aware of the problem and hopefully we'll have some type of answer.