Friday, June 22, 2012

Searching on World Vital Records - Some Problems

Having received the same email as Chris Paton concerning the MyHeritage SuperSearch (see 

MyHeritage releases SuperSearch search engine), and after being a "good example" in the recent MyHeritage press conference (see MyHeritage Announces Record Matching Feature), it is apparent that MyHeritage will be adding some record searching features for their family tree customers, and I'm fairly sure that these search features will involve WorldVitalRecords, which MyHeritage purchased several months ago.


I wondered how global searches on www.WorldVitalRecords.com worked out - what options are there, and what resources are found.   I've recently posted U.S. Census Records Summary on WorldVitalRecords.com and England and Wales Census Records Summary on WorldVitalRecords.com to cover those record collections.

On the WorldVitalRecords home page, I entered the name Isaac Seaver in the search fields, and added 1823 to the Year field, with 0 years range, and "Exact" in the "Match Type" field.


I clicked on the orange "Begin Search" button and received 8 matches in five collections:



The collections with matches were:

*  Find-A-Grave Photos (2 matches)
*  Find-A-Grave (1 match)
*  MyHeritage Trees (3 matches)
*  Book:  Genealogy and Lineal Descendants of William Wood Who Settled in Concord, Mass. in 1638 (1 match)
*  Book:  History of the Town of Medfield, Mass. (1 match)

The two matches in Find-A-Grave Photos were listed as Paul A. Greiner (1907-1997) and Mildred G. Shough (1908-1997):



I clicked thel ink for Paul Greiner, and it took me to the Find-A-Grave page for him:



Needless to say, this is not Isaac Seaver born in 1823...I checked the cemetery for any Seaver entry on Find-A-Grave and there was none.  Obviously, the search engine is finding a wrong link.  The same thing happened with the other match.

I clicked on the link for the Find-A-Grave collection, and saw:



The record is for John A. Seelig (????-1960) in Evergreen Cemetery in Leominster, Mass. where my Isaac Seaver (1823-1901) is buried.  Again, the search engine is finding a wrong link.

The 3 matches for MyHeritage Trees found my own database, and two others with Isaac Seaver born in 1823.

The William Wood Genealogy book found another Isaac Seaver (this one was 1808-1892):



The other Book match for Medfield, Mass. found my Isaac Seaver marrying Lucretia Smith in 1851 without a birth year listed.

It appears that the Book matches find the name, but don't use the Year field to narrow the search.

The WorldVitalRecords search also found 8 Google Book matches for the name and the year (one match listed the right Isaac Seaver and the year 1823 in the next line).  That is actually a pretty useful search - I saw several entries that I had not seen before.

I decided to see how many matches I would obtain if I expanded the Year search to plus/minus 5 years.  There were 15 matches in 9 collections, including three Massachusetts Vital Record Books.  Interestingly, it did not find Isaac's 1823 birth record in the Westminster, Mass. book, although it found two marriages of other Seaver guys.

What about a search with no Birth year?  There were 82 matches in 26 collections.

A search without a Birth year and with "Soundex" matches rather than "Exact" matches produced 776,692 matches in 17,967 collections.  These searches seem to find any of the search terms on a page, and not necessarily matches with all search terms on the page.  Again, this looks like a significant problem to me.

Frankly, I'm disappointed in the WorldVitalRecords.com search results.  This is a mature record collections provider.  The issues noted above should have been ironed out years ago.  In my opinion, the problems here on WorldVitalRecords will affect MyHeritage's reputation and usefulness.

Disclosure:  I have a complimentary WorldVitalRecords.com subscription, and a complimentary MyHeritage Plus subscription.  The gifts I have received from both organizations have not affected my objective review of these sites.


UPDATE 25 June:  I talked to MyHeritage and WorldVitalRecords personnel today on the phone about the Find-a-Grave link problems, and they assured me that it was a temporary problem that I stumbled across on 22 June.  The Find-a-Grave matches for Isaac Seaver now go to the correct pages on Find-a-Grave.

The URL for this post is:  http://www.geneamusings.com/2012/06/searching-on-world-vital-records-some.html

Copyright (c) 2012, Randall J. Seaver

3 comments:

Rorey Cathcart said...

Randy,

In the last few months, as I began setting up my pro-gen business, I have purchased several subscriptions I could not afford personally. WorldVitalRecords was one of these. I have tested searches on everyone from my best to worst documented ancestors and everywhere in between. I have been sorely disappointed. Some of the records were no brainers and they did not come up in the searches.

The Google Books feature as been the only value I have found in the site. I know these books can be found by searching Google directly but usually not without wading through many irrelevant listings. Still that feature alone does not warrant the price tag.

I posted a 'WorldVitalRecords’ (is it worth it) topic over at In-Depth Genealogist forum bank on May 30th. I only had one response but that user too expressed disappointment.

At this point I am unlikely to re-subscribe to this service after the year is up.

ammasdtr19 said...

World Vital Records is a fraud site posing as a genealogy site to fleece consumers. Please read consumer reviews and do not give them your credit card number under any circumstances! After you sign up, even for a trial, you are agreed to fine print auto-charges that are non-refundable and that even your credit card company cannot dispute. I am changing my credit card number after dealing with them. Save yourself from this con artist site!

Anonymous said...

I had indicated that I did not wish automatic resubscribing to WorldVitalRecords. It, however, did resubscribe me last month. I have an email that says it is canceling my sub. We shall see. What bothers me is that it resubscribed me after I had told them No!