Thursday, April 3, 2014

Working With the Mocavo Sliders - Post 2: Answers to My Questions

In the post Working With the Mocavo Search Engine Sliders - Post 1 (2 April 2014), I showed the six different slider "Filters" that Mocavo currently has available.  I had some comments and questions about the settings, and listed them in the blog post in hopes that Mocavo could answer them.

I received an email from Alex Lindsay of Mocavo yesterday afternoon, and the answers were provided.  Here are my comments (in purple), and the Mocavo responses to them (in red):

1)    There were 91 results with the "Only Content" setting.  That's confusing to me.  I don't have a Keyword in the search.  Is the Location acting as a Keyword?  If I move the slider back to "Only Title" there are no results.
  • If you choose "Only Content" without typing a term in to the keyword field, then we use the other search terms you may have provided (First Name, Last Name, etc) and search only the content (not the titles) in our index. But you're right; it is a bit confusing that the label on that slider is "Keyword Appearance". I'll relay this to our development team and perhaps we can change that label to something like, "Search Terms Appear In:" or "Search Within:"
  • Regarding your questions about the first name and last name sliders, these features are actually still in development, and only employees and VIP members can currently access them. Since you are a VIP member, you got a sneak preview of these features! We do plan to launch these two features in the next few weeks, but they aren't quite ready for everyone to enjoy. In regards to your questions about them:
2)    How are First Names "Similar"?  I understand Initials and Exact.  Is there a First Name dictionary that chooses what is Similar?
  • For these matches we use Metaphone, Soundex, and a method that searches for Alternates like Bob=Robert
3)    How are Last Names "Sounds like"?  Is this a Soundex match only?  Or are other algorithms used?
  • For last names we use Metaphone and Soundex matches
4)    How does the Proximity setting work?  "Exact" is understandable.  How far is "Far"?   What are the three gradations between "Exact" and "Far"?"
  • One notch away from exact (the default setting) leaves 1 word in between your search terms. So you can search for Thomas Smith and we will show you results for Thomas Edward Smith
  • Two notches away from exact indicates you would like to allow 2 words in between your search terms. So you can search for Thomas Smith and would have results for Thomas Edward Jacob Smith.
  • Three notches away from exact indicates 3 words in between your search terms. So you can search for Thomas Smith and Kansas and still receive results for Thomas Edward Smith who lived in Kansas.
  • The Far setting indicates 4 words in between your search terms. So you can search for Thomas Smith and Kansas and you would get results for Thomas Edward Smith who lived in Hayes, Kansas.
5) "Keyword title" is clear for "Only Title" and "Only Content."  Does the intermediate setting search both Title and content?
  • You are correct. The intermediate setting searches both Title and Content.
6)  "Dataset Size" - what is "Small" and "Large?"  What does the intermediate setting do - search them all?  Or those datasets not large or small?
  • An example of a small database would be the Pamlico County, North Carolina, Wills Index (less than 500 records), whereas a large database would be the SSDI. The intermediate setting searches both small and large databases.
Little did I know that I had been provided VIP status and could see and use features still in development.  I try really hard not to betray confidences before the official release date of a feature, unless I discover it beforehand independent of a communication from the company.  So the name slider features probably won't appear for Mocavo users at present, but wait for the announcement and then you can use them.

The answers to my questions are logical and well-thought, out I think.  I like "playing with" search features, and these certainly provide an opportunity to have some genealogy fun.

At two years old, Mocavo seems determined to be a major player in the online genealogy world, which I welcome and appreciate.  It's come a long way in two years - starting with a useful genealogy search engine, then family trees, then over 300,000 datasets (adding about 1,000 each day), adding features to the dataset search, to who knows what's next.  I can hardly wait to find out!

The genealogy industry needs many highly competitive, hard-charging and forward thinking companies/organizations to provide online record collections, family tree databases, and educational features to genealogists all over the world.  Competition spurs innovation and adding content, and keeps subscription prices low.  

My thanks to Alex and the Mocavo development team for their quick responses to my questions and comments.  

The most recent Mocavo announcements about the sliders are:

*  New Search Slider: Proximity for Exact Search (2 April 2014)

*  Tune Up Your Engine with New Search Tuners (2 April 2014)

*  New Feature:  Individual Database Search Field Hints (2 April 2014)

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Copyright (c) 2014, Randall J. Seaver

Disclosure:  I have and appreciate a complimentary Mocavo Gold account.  Mocavo does not require me to write blog posts, and I try to be as objective as I can.

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