07 May 2014

Why Ancestry.com's "Suggested Records" Suggests Frustration

I meandered over to Ancestry.com to do a little work on Leander/Landon/Lee Butler.

A revisit to his 1900 census transcription on Ancestry.com made it clear why I personally find the "Suggested Records" frustrating and why I rarely use them. They require too much meandering to find anything on the actual person of interest.

The "Suggested "Records" section (boxed in red in the image below) include entries for Leanders in a variety of places and locations-some a distance from Missouri where he is enumerated in several census and other records.

The problem is that on this page, I have nary an idea of where those suggested records are located or what time period they cover. 1821-1989 is a wide range of years when compared to a human lifespan. Ancestry.com's "fuzzy search" pulls in records from a variety of time periods and locations in an attempt to "help." I can't change those "fuzzy parameters" on the "Suggested Records" so I really have no control over what appears there. I like control.

I also cannot see which of these "Suggested Records" I have already looked at--as in other parts of Ancestry.com, this is an excellent place where a notation that "I've seen it before" would be nice.

Honestly, I rarely use the "Suggested Records" section. There's two reasons for this:

  • I don't know how the results are obtained (inexact or fuzzy matches on my search terms are too unprecise for me and this just increases the chance that I see something I've already seen before).
  • I have no idea in what time period or location some of these results are in.
The problem is that quite a few searchers do use these results and they do link them to their people without giving any though to how reasonable the match is.

And all that does is increase the number of "trees" with questionable conclusions.
Post a Comment