Jim Mosher, who identified himself as on the Ancestry Product Management, responded in comment 16:
"The Member Services rep you spoke to was correct on several points:
"1. The index for our Public Member Trees has not been updated since mid-November.
"2. The current indexing rules do prune people from the index. These rules eliminate unusually large people (those with thousands of events or hundreds of immediate family members); those without any sources; and those with only a name. This makes the indexing more efficient (and it is still a big job to process the multiple billions of people in the trees system). THIS IS A CHANGE from what we used to do, so the statement of "only ever indexing those with records attached" is incorrect, but it DOES reflect the current system.
"3. The Member Service agent was also correct in that she cannot connect you to our development staff to "talk to a tech." There are escalation channels within Member Services, and they can (and do) bring up issues with our Product and Development teams, but they will not put you on the phone with the development staff.
"HOWEVER, we are investigating to see if something has failed with part of the tree index, and we are in-process of re-indexing the public member trees."
I found the comments about indexing the Member Trees surprising. I knew that they didn't index it every week, but to go three months without indexing it for new trees, changes to trees, etc. seems too long.
But even more surprising was the current indexing rules, especially those profiles without any sources, or with only a name.
I have many tree persons that don't have a source of any sort - either an attached Ancestry.com record or a source entered via a GEDCOM file.
I wanted to see if what Jim Mosher said is true, so I used my 3rd great-grandfather Thomas J. Newton (1800?-????) as an example. Here are the search results for him in the Ancestry Member Trees with an exact search on name and place:
There are 5 entries for the specific person, and 4 of them have one source, and one has two sources. The only provided source in any tree is "Ancestry Member Tree." When I "View" that source, they refer to one of the other trees.
What about my trees? I have three trees with this person in it, and I don't have any source attached to Thomas J. Newton. Here is the profile for Thomas J. Newton in one of my trees:
None of my trees with Thomas J. Newton have a source citation attached, and none show up in the search results for this person.
What about someone in my tree with sources? I will use Thomas J. Newton's daughter, Sophia Newton (1834-1923):
Here is my person profile for Sophia Newton:
On the profile above, I have 8 sources input from a GEDCOM file, and five sources from Ancestry.com attached records.
I did a search for Sophia Newton for the exact name and place in Ancestry Member Trees:
There are 20 matches for my search criteria, and 11 of them are for my specific person. All 11 have at least one source citation, and some of those are for "Ancestry Member Tree."
My three trees with Sophia have 17, 15 and 13 sources, respectively, and are listed in the search results.
My conclusions from this little study are:
* Ancestry Member Tree search results seem to require a source to be listed.
* Those sources can be "Ancestry Member Tree."
* A person's own tree's with sources will show up in the search results.
Here are my thoughts on the indexing criteria for Ancestry Member Trees:
* Profiles for every person in all trees should be indexed, no matter how many sources there are. While many tree profiles may not have a source, they may provide useful clues and contact opportunities to possible relatives and other searchers.
* The list of matches should be ordered according to how many sources are provided for the person of interest. That way, the (presumably) "best" tree information appears at the top of the list.
* A source listing an "Ancestry Member Tree" is fairly useless if there is no attached record on the profile. Why are they even considered?
* Ancestry.com should provide a summary of their indexing rules, and the date of the last index on a regular basis.
Thank you to reader Judy for pointing out the message board thread and the indexing rules.
Copyright (c) 2016, Randall J. Seaver