I have done the search below more times than I can count...it's even in my presentations about searching Ancestry.com. Here is what I saw today:
1) I searched for First name = "isa*" and Last name = "sea*"
Too many matches. I used to get results with this search.
2) I added a birth date ("1823 plus/minus 2") and birthplace ("Massachusetts, USA"):
Still too many matches. I used to get matches with this specific search. When I did this last week, I had 172 matches:
3) I added a spouse's first name ("luc*"):
Still too many matches. I used to get matches (very few!) with this search.
4) I spelled out the first name = "isaac" and spouse's name = "lucretia" and left the Last name with the wild card "sea*":
5) Only when I spelled out the surname did I get matches:
6) My conclusion is that the Ancestry.com Wild Card Search algorithms have been corrupted, and the Wild Card Search feature is broken and unusable.
I sure hope they fix it, because wild cards are often the only way that researchers find records that have enumeration or indexing errors in them. I use them all the time - almost exclusively these days, ignoring vowels and some consonants. I get the right match much quicker using wild cards than by substituting name spelling variations one at a time.
Thank you to Michael for highlighting the problem.
The URL for this post is: http://www.geneamusings.com/2012/11/ancestrycoms-wild-card-search-is-broken.html
Copyright (c) 2012, Randall J. Seaver