Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Dear Randy: Do You Ever Check Your Ancestry.com Hints?

On the Many More AncestryDNA Matches Now - and a Bug (Update: Fixed!) (posted 20 February 2014) post, reader Joe Lowry asked:

"Randy, I noticed your shaky tree hint number is really high! Do you ever check your hints, even out of curiousity? How long have you gone without checking them to get the number that high? Just curious."

The short answer is:  Yes, I do, but I don't obsess about it.  There is also an explanation.

1)  On one of the screen shots on the noted post, my Ancestry.com Hints indicated that I had 1533 unreviewed new Hints (in five trees).  If I click on the Hint list at the top of the home page, I can see a list of all of the Hints (well, 20 at a time), and when I click out of that list the number goes down to zero.  The Hints on the tree pedigree view or on a person profile page don't go away until after I've reviewed them.

2)  One of my current Ancestry Member Trees has about 42,000 individuals.  I replace this database every year or two because I keep adding content to my genealogy management program (RootsMagic at this time) and want to update my "cousin bait" tree occasionally.  For this tree, I don't access the green leaf Hints, or attach them to persons in the tree, or click on ignore the hint.  That would be a waste of time, in my humble opinion, because I will replace that tree eventually and get a whole new set of Hints.  

3)  I have another Ancestry Member Tree (my "Hints" tree) which has only my ancestral families in it (with about 7,400 individuals) which I use to add Hints to persons in my ancestral families. I review the Hints in this tree, and review them to attach or ignore them, especially for my ancestral persons.  Then I save the record image (if there is one) to my computer "Downloads" file folder, rename it with my file naming convention, move it to the appropriate Family file folder, and upload it to my genealogy management program as a Media item.  

I go through these Hints every six months or so in order to let them "collect" and then I review them in an orderly way using the Pedigree View in my Ancestry Member Tree.

For instance, here is a view from my "Hints" Ancestry Member Tree:

The screen above shows that Ancestry.com has found 263 more new Hints for me on all of my trees in the system.  

As you can see, I've reviewed all of the Hints through the 16 people in the generation headed by Benjamin Seaver on the chart above.  The view above is for ancestors of Elizabeth Keyes.  I will work on reviewing the Hints for her ancestors with shaky leaves sometime this week.  Then I'll move on to the next person on the list in the generation below Elizabeth Keyes.  

This "Hint" tree is the one I keep synced with Family Tree Maker 2014 and with the iPhone and Android apps (so that I can see what I have when I'm away from home without my laptop or desktop computers).

4)  The real challenge I have with this "Hints" tree is to keep it updated with new information not found on Ancestry.com.  I need to add information for my ancestors (I don't care that much about adding additional information for their siblings or siblings parents) on a regular basis.  So I add the information, either entering it using the keyboard or by merging a small GEDCOM file to my FTM 2014 database, and then sync it to the Ancestry Member Tree.  

5)  Joe asked how often I review the Hints.  It was probably a month or so when he saw my 20 February blog post.  263 more Hints appeared between 20 February and 25 February.  The current new Hint count is zero right now.

The URL for this post is:  http://www.geneamusings.com/2014/02/dear-randy-do-you-ever-check-your.html

Copyright (c) 2014, Randall J. Seaver


Russ Worthington said...


To your reader Joe.

I have over 8,000 hints on my Ancestry Member Trees (AMT). Like Randy, I don't check them frequently.

However, I just two blog posts on this topic, and it is how I deal with those hints.




One Hint at a Time is they way I work, and, for the most part, on my Direct Line.

Also, one difference for me, is that I follow the hints in Family Tree Maker 2014 (FTM2014) and not from the AMT hints.

Doing this way, keeps me in line and to go off following those hints that can wait.

Actually, some of those hints, in FTM2014 or in the AMT go away when I do work on the hint in my direct line.

I also don't look at hints from other trees, unless I am trying to determine a relationship or a location from some one in my tree, and a Hint points to another AMT. I don't use that tree, but look for hints from any citations in that tree or other names in that tree.

There are too many GOOD hints to try to keep up with all of them, for me at least. I tried to define my plan in those two blog posts.


Joe Lowry said...

Thanks Randy (and Russ) for your thorough follow up! I appreciate the entire blog post devoted to my question! I am an avid reader of your blog, Randy, and it has really helped me develop my own family history blog.