Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Another Ancestry.com "Old Search" vs. "New Search" Comparison

I posted Comparing "Old Search" and "New Search" Results on Ancestry.com on 28 June 2013 using Isaac Seaver (1823-1901) as my example.  There were many comments, and I listed most of them in Follow-Up Friday - Helpful and Useful Reader Comments posted on 5 July 2013.  This study, and others I've demonstrated in the CVGS Research Group and the SDGS Ancestry.com user group, show that the results obtained, when using exactly the same search parameters in the "Old Search" and "New Search" fields, are essentially the same - they don't miss any historical records and they are presented in almost the same order when "Ranked Matches" (in Old Search) or "Records" View (in New Search) are used.

Some people still do not believe me.  I've been challenged several times in meetings and in email (I won't mention names) that I must be wrong because the persons challenging me don't get the same results when they use "New Search."  I have refrained, until now, from saying "Apparently, you didn't use exactly the same search parameters in both searches.  I guarantee you that you will get essentially the same search results using 'New Search' as you would in 'Old Search' when you use the same search field entries.  It is operator error, not computer error."

Here is one more example, with a clear definition of what I put in the search fields in both "Old Search" and "New Search."  I will not use the "Exact Match" option:

1)  In "Old Search" I added these entries to the search box fields on the "Search" tab:

*  Clicked on the "Historical Records" tab (highlighted in green below)
*  Did not click the "Exact matches only" box
*  First & Middle Name(s):  Henry
*  Last Name:  Carringer
*  Birth Year:  1800
*  Birth County: USA (pick from list)
*  State: Pennsylvania (pick from list)



After clicking on the orange "Search" button, I received matches on the "Historical Records" tab (two screens shown):



There are 11 matches on the list above for a Henry Carringer (some with different spellings) -  below the above screens the matches went into other first names.  Five of those matches are the right person (my third great-grandfather, born 1800, died 1879).  Here are the first 11 matches for records that best match my search criteria:

1)  1860 U.S. Census: Henry Carringer, born 1800 in PA, in Mercer County, Pennsylvania.  This is my guy.
2)  1840 U.S. Census: Henry Carringer in Mercer County, Pennsylvania.  This is my guy.
3)  Philadelphia, Penn. Death Certificate Index: Henry Carnes, born 1800 in PA.  This is not my guy.
4)  1870 U.S. Census: Henry Carnes, born 1800 in PA, residing in Mercer County, Illinois.  This is not my guy.
5)  1870 U.S. Census: Henry Caringer, born 1801 in PA, residing in Louisa County, Iowa.  This is my guy.
6)  U.S. Civil War Soldiers, 1861-1865: Henry Carringer in PA.  This is not my guy.
7)  Headstones Provided for Deceased Union Civil War Veterans, Henry Carringer in PA.  This is not my guy.
8)  U.S. Civil War Soldiers Records and Profiles, 1861-1865; Henry Carringer in PA.  This is not my guy.
9)  1870 U.S. Census: Henry Carnes, born 1802 in PA, residing in Genesee County, Michigan.  This is not my guy.
10)  Web: Rootsweb Cemetery Index, 1800-2010: Henry Carringer, born 1801. This is my guy.
11)  Web:  Iowa, Find A Grave Index, 1800-2012:  Henry Carringer, born 1801.  This is my guy.

So, numbers 1,2, 5, 10 and 11 were the person I was searching for.  All of the other matches are logical matches to my search criteria, but were not "my guy."

2)  In "New Search" I added these entries to the search box fields on the "Search" tab:

*  Did not click the "Exact matches only" box
*  First & Middle Name(s):  Henry
*  Last Name:  Carringer
*  Any Event Year:  1800
*  Location: Pennsylvania, USA (pick from list)
*  Checked only "Historical Records" in "Collection Priority" area [this makes it similar to "Old Search")


After clicking on the orange "Search" button (not shown above), I received 510 matches.  Note that I'm on the "Records" tab, which is a list similar to "Ranked Matches" in "Old Search" (screens 2 and 3 above) (two screens shown):



There are 11 matches on the list above for a Henry Carringer (some with different spellings) -  below the above screens the matches went into other first names.  Five of those matches are the right person (my third great-grandfather, born 1800, died 1879).  Here are the first 11 matches for records that best match my search criteria:

1)  1860 U.S. Census: Henry Carringer, born 1800 in PA, in Mercer County, Pennsylvania.  This is my guy.
2)  1840 U.S. Census: Henry Carringer in Mercer County, Pennsylvania.  This is my guy.
3)  U.S. Civil War Soldiers, 1861-1865: Henry Carringer in PA.  This is not my guy.
4)  Headstones Provided for Deceased Union Civil War Veterans, Henry Carringer in PA.  This is not my guy.
5)  U.S. Civil War Soldiers Records and Profiles, 1861-1865; Henry Carringer in PA.  This is not my guy.
6)  U.S. Compiled Service Records, Post-Revolutionary War Volunteer Soldiers, 1784-1811:  Henry Carriger.  This is not my guy.
7)  Web: Rootsweb Cemetery Index, 1800-2010: Henry Carringer, born 1801. This is my guy.
8)  Web:  Iowa, Find A Grave Index, 1800-2012:  Henry Carringer, born 1801.  This is my guy.
9)  1870 U.S. Census: Henry Caringer, born 1801 in PA, residing in Louisa County, Iowa.  This is my guy.
10)  Iowa, Cemetery Records, 1662-1999: Henry Carringer, born about 1798.  This is my guy.
11)  Gazetteer and Business Directory of Crawford County, Pa. for 1874:  Henry Carringer.  This is not my guy.

So, numbers 1,2, 7, 8 and 9 were the person I was searching for.  All of the other matches are logical matches to my search criteria, but were not "my guy."

There are some difference between the "New Search" and "Old Search" results, including:

*  "Old Search" had 8 identifiable records named Henry Carringer (or similar), while "New Search" had 11 identifiable records named Henry Carringer (or similar).
*  "New Search" found MORE records for the desired name than "Old Search"
*  Both searches found the five records for "my guy," but they were in a different order.

Neither search found Henry "Caringer" in Mercer County, Pennsylvania in the 1850 U.S. Census because he was indexed as "Casinger" and age "36" by Ancestry.com.  I can understand the name spelling because it's difficult, but the age of 56 is fairly clear.

Neither search found Henry "Carriger" in Mercer County, Pennsylvania in the 1830 U.S. Census because he was indexed as "Carriger" by Ancestry.com.  The image is clearly "Caringer!"

Exact search results, or wild card searches, might provide different matches, but it would provide essentially the same results for Henry Carringer.

My conclusions include:

*  "New Search" found more applicable matches for the requested name, and different records, than "Old Search."
*  The number of matches found for "my guy" were the same records, but were in a different order in the Match list.
*  The Matches list put records for "my guy" near the top of the list.
*  The Matches list did not find records for "my guy" that had different indexed name spellings that did not match in Soundex.
*  Searchers are well advised to not totally rely on the "Global Search" results with only a name and birth year/place.  A wild card search and a wider birth year range would have found both instances of the missed records.

The URL for this post is:  http://www.geneamusings.com/2013/09/another-ancestrycom-old-search-vs-new.html

Copyright (c) 2013, Randall J. Seaver

4 comments:

Densie said...

I prefer Old Search because the way I have it set up is much more compact, enabling me to scan through it much more quickly than New Search. New Search requires much more scrolling through "pages" of hits, even when using the Category tab.

I don't think I find more hits with Old Search, it's about the same. Just much faster to do.

T said...

To muddy the waters and get a bit off topic, I got different results in a search, both when I was paid and when I wasn't, than did my cousin who had the world subscription even though we were both looking for people in the U.S. I got so frustrated with her because she didn't see the person I was talking about by giving directions such as third one down on the second page. Come to find out her results were never the same as mine.

Karen Sipe said...

You state that we are not to use "exact match." What happens to your search results when you do?

I almost always use exact match so it keeps more of the unwanted search people out of the results. This means fewer people to scroll through and faster easier searching at least for me.

Randy Seaver said...

Karen, I didn't state that we are not to use "exact match." For the purposes of the comparison in this post, I chose not to use "exact match" because many people search without even knowing about "exact search."

I will do a similar study using "exact match" checked.