Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Effectively Using the "View People With Hints" Feature on

Believe it or not, I don't think that I have EVER clicked on the "View People With Hints" link right there on my home page to the right of the information about my "active" Ancestry Member Tree.  So I clicked on it today...and wished I had done it before!  As far as I can tell, it's been there since 2008 or earlier.

Here is the link shown on the home page:

When I clicked on it, the screen showed two tabs - one for People and one for Hints.  I have 7374 people in this tree, and there are 27,700 hints.  The screen below shows the top of the list of all People with hints on the right side of the screen:

I could filter the results by First name or Last name, or by alphabetical last name, or by searching for a specific name.

On the left-hand side of the screen above, there are other filter options, ,including:

*  All Hints (27,700)
*  Record (19,786)
*  Photos (1528)
*  Stories (622)
*  Member Tree (5764)

I decided to look only at the "Record" category, which showed me a list of Hints from records:

This list is divided into several categories - hints added in the last day, hints added in the last 7 days, hints added in the last 30 days, hints added in last 90 days, and hints added more than 90 days before.  I like that separation - if I reviewed these on, say, a 30 day interval, I could efficiently add content to my own family tree.  That would be more efficient than clicking on the green leaf hints semi-randomly in my tree pedigree view (which is what I've been doing).

For the top Hint on the list on the screen above, I clicked on the dropdown arrow next to the "Review hint" and noted that I could Review the hint (see how it compares to what I have in my tree, and then Accept,  Reject or Ignore the hint); View record; View all her hints; View her profile (on my tree); View her tree (on my tree).

I clicked on the "View record" link for the top item on the list on the screen above - an 1830 U.S. Census record for John Rinchart who is the person that thinks married Christina Able in my tree (and probably because someone has added John Rinehart as an alternate name in the index):

I have no idea if Christina (Able) Rinehart is included in that census record or not, but I know that I did not have that record attached to John Rinehart who is also in my tree.  It may not be "my" John Rinehart in my tree, or it may be.  I need to make that judgment.

Having found a record, I prefer to click through to the record image and Save it to my computer, add an appropriate file name to the image, put it in the appropriate Ancestor file folder, add an event to the person in my RootsMagic database, create a source citation for the event, add the media item to the person and tag it to the event, etc.

Other researchers would click on the "Review Hint" link and accept, reject or ignore it as they choose.  If they Accept the Hint, then the Ancestry Member Tree will include the record on the person in question.  In the case above, it would be to Christina Able, not to John Rinehart (until I find the Hint for John Rinehart).

Scrolling down, I saw two familiar names from the California County Marriage Records I wrote about on Monday - Vivienne Pettit and Lawrence Blanchard.   Between them was a great grand-uncle, Everett Glens Richmond (1875-1917):

Hmmm, the Hint offered for Everett Glens Richmond (1875-1917) says Everett Gleason Richmond married in 1924 to Ethel Nissen.  Here's the record summary for it:

Since I know that Everett Glens Richmond died in 1917 in Connecticut, I figure that he didn't marry Ethel Nissen in 1924 in California.  So that Hint got rejected quickly!

What about the "Photos" Hint list?  Here is the top of that list, filtered for "S" surnames and "Most Recent" Hints:

In this case, a distant Kemp cousin has attached gravestone photos from my AMT to my father in his Ancestry Member Tree.

After reviewing all of the options provided by this feature, I realized that I need to define some "Best Practices" consistent with my own standards for adding content to my database in RootsMagic.  But I also want to attach records to my Ancestry Member Tree.  What should I do?

I decided that I would review these Hints and:

1)  Download only actual record images to my computer files, and attach the media, along with an event and source citation, to persons in my RootsMagic tree.

2)  Accept Record hints from indexed record images into my Ancestry Member Tree.

3)  Reject Record hints that do not apply to the person in my AMT.

4)  Ignore Record hints for persons in my AMT that are from indexes (e.g., the AGBI or Millennial File).  These hints might lead me to another database that would have an image, however.

5)  Not accept, reject or ignore Photo or Stories hints because I don't want to infringe on another researcher's copyright.  However, if it's an image or story from an out-of-copyright source, I will try to find it online and add it to my database.

6)  Ignore all Family Tree hints, although I may follow the hint to see if the linked tree has mroe information than I do about the person, and follow the trail in that tree to find more sources and record images.

If I was starting out with a newly added tree, this would be a great way to populate it with records and sources.  I could concentrate on one person at a time, and visit the "View people with Hints" on a regular basis.

However, at this time in my AMT's life (with 7374 persons and lots of Hints already accepted) it might be more efficient to concentrate on one family at a time, so I might want to list the Hints by People rather than by Hints added in the last NN days.  I may just concentrate on Hints for my ancestors, and not my ancestors siblings, in order to reduce the work load a bit.

The user has the option to see the recently added Hints in some ordered set (last day, last 7 days, etc.).  I wonder if just searched for those persons in my database, or were they searches of only the most recently added or updated databases?  Why did the Christina Able record show up on the "Last day" list?  Did Ancestry search this database only in the last day?  Or did someone add the alternate John Rinehart name recently that made it pop up?

The Everett Glens Richmond match above shows some of the pitfalls that can be encountered.  The middle name wasn't exactly the same, but what if only the middle initial had been used in the record?  If I didn't know that he had died in 1917, I might have added the marriage to my database.

All in all, I think that this is a very useful feature on   It is "push technology" where they offer you the Hints (in several different formats) and can be very helpful to find more records for your tree persons.  The user still has to be discerning - is this a record for the tree person of interest - and collects or attaches the record using defined standards.

How do you deal with the Hints on your Ancestry Member Tree?  Do you follow Hints from within your tree pedigree or person profiles, or do you use the "All people with Hints" system noted in this post?  What are your standards for accepting Hints and attaching them to your Ancestry Member Tree?

The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2014, Randall J. Seaver


Anonymous said...

When you reject a hint today, it will be there again and again and again when you work on that later. I have not found a way to make those hints really stay in the rejected pile. Any hint (!!!) on how not to see those hints again unless you want to later on? Thanks! Annick

Geolover said...

If you have more than one tree on the most efficient way to cope with 'hints' is from the List of People page for a given tree. The list of hints is a separate tab, which is what you went to (for one tree) from the so-called 'home page.'

There might be a rush of 'hints' whenever indexes the trees. They've repeatedly promised to do this weekly, but it's usually several months between indexing. They must have just done it on Feb. 18.

T said...

If I have examined a photo or document from another tree, either through a hint or by searching, I always "add it to my tree" because then that person gets the credit for finding it. It's not fair to search other's trees, take the source of their research and find it your self so you can down load it and put it on your tree as something you found. Of course you found it. AFTER they told you exactly where it was. By all means research and make sure it's your person but don't download the exact same thing and call it your research. If it weren't for a very few people who had something to lead me down the right path I would still be spinning my wheels over a few ancestors. I wonder how far I would get asking them for assistance if all they had to do was look on my tree and see I had hijacked their research, calling it my own. When I find something really worthwhile, I send them a note and express my appreciation. It makes both out days.

Anonymous said...

Randy, likely you know this, but if not, if you "ignore" a hint, it still stays with that person in your tree. If you go to Hints while looking at their profile, the possible categories are Unreviewed, Ignored and Accepted. This can be good if you are uncertain of a hint. It allows you to easily go back and reconsider it later if new information comes to light on that person.

treetracker said...

I would probably have a meltdown of epic proportions if I had as many hints outstanding as you do. My OCD demands that the total be under 100. But, I seem to hover around a thousand more or less at any point in time. I've found the easiest way to deal with them is to select view Family Tree> Family View. Then I can pick them off one by one as a family. If I get tired/bored, I check the photos or stories hints.

Best advice, do a few at a time. If I do too many, I tend to file them in the ignore pile. And, unless the tree is really from outer space I will add because that's how the photo hints come my way.

Word of caution. By all means give the original poster credit for the "find" by linking. Just verify that the photo was not borrowed from another site before you do. I never add grave photos for instance unless I am sure they did not come from Find A Grave or Billion Graves. Sooner or later your photo will disappear after a takedown request has been received by Ancestry.

Jana Last said...


Thanks for this tip. I didn't know about it before. In fact, I didn't even have my family tree showing up on my start page. Now I do, thanks to customizing it.

I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in my Fab Finds post today at

Have a great weekend!