Monday, June 19, 2017

Dear Randy: Can You Answer These Ancestry.com Questions?

A reader, whose name I don't know, contacted me in email yesterday asking several questions about dealing with Ancestry Hints.  I will add my responses after each question:

" I'm wondering if you would be willing to answer a couple of questions about Ancestry for me.They are driving me crazy. I'm hoping there are some settings in Ancestry to help with these annoyances. 

"1.  Once I have accepted or ignored a hint or photo, the same ones keep coming back over and over and over again.  Is there any way to at least put those that have already been decided on at the end of the list, or see on the hint list that it is one I've already looked at?  How do you handle this problem?"

My response:  The Hints (Records, Photos, Stories) that Ancestry provides for persons in YOUR Member Tree are from searches in the largest 10% of the Ancestry databases are from searches for your tree persons in those records and in other Member Trees.  If other persons have attached a photo for your person, you will get a Hint.  If 10 persons have added that Photo, you may get 10 Hints for the same photo.  I Ignore these duplicate Hints, after checking the Media gallery for my person  - just a click on the Hint list does the trick.  The Hint is still on the Hint list but in the Ignored list rather than the New or Accepted list.  I don't think there's any way to change the order of the Hints.  You can check the Accepted Hint list for your tree person to see if you have the Hint you are dealing with.

"2.  Is there any way to limit the hints to a narrower band of relatives?  I am getting things like (exaggeration) the mother-in-law's cousin's great aunt of an 8th great cousin 10x removed.  It won't be long and the hints will be meaningless because they include the whole world.  Or, again, is there a way to move these more tangential relatives to the end of the list, a way to prioritize?"

My response:  I don't think that there is a way to do this on the long list of Hints for all the persons in your tree.  If you only want to concentrate on Hints for specific persons in your tree, you can go to each person's Hints and deal with them one Hint ant a time.  

I will point out that if you are getting a Hint for your mother-in-law's cousin's great-aunt etc. that you must have that person in your Ancestry Member Tree.  The Hint engine will eventually try to deal with every person in your Ancestry Member Tree whether you like it or not.

"3.  When I get a page of hints that have disappeared, does that mean the data is no longer available?"

My response:  I think that is the case.  I've noticed some removed Hints on my Hint list and I think that the specific database involved was removed from the Ancestry search engine.  I would like to know what I missed but they don't tell us.  Ancestry.com, like other record providers, have a contract with the record supplier that govern when records from the supplier can be displayed.  So all or part of a record database disappears occasionally due to contractual issues.  An example is the New Jersey Wills and Probates collection where Ancestry removed the pre-1803 records because they did not have permission from the New Jersey Archives to display them.  

There are two ways to deal with the Hints for specific persons in your Ancestry Member Tree:

1)  You get a long list of Persons with new Hints (Records, Photos, Stories, and Member Trees) when you click on the "View People With Hints" from your home page (in the "Recent family tree activity" section).  I usually restrict this list to only Records but sometimes I explore the Photos and Stories.


2)  On the Hints page for a specific person, the Hints on the "New" list can be reviewed and "Accepted" or "Ignored" or noted as "Undecided."  If you don't select either "Accept" or "Ignore" or "Undecided," it stays on your "New" list.


As you can see, I have a very long list of  unresolved Hints.  The first image above tells me I have, for my current tree, the following:

*  All Hints:  53,061
*  Records:  37,481
*  Photos:  5,783
*  Stories:  703
*  Member Trees:  9.094.

I'm fighting a losing battle with all of this, and Ancestry provides more Hints to me every day.  Two days ago, I had "only" 37,435 Records Hints, so they have added 46 Records Hints over the last two days.  That's pretty typical for me, with a database of 43,004 persons in my Ancestry Member Tree.

At least once a week, I spend an hour or two and go through these NEW Hints and try to add the record information to my RootsMagic database as long as they are actual records or reliable indexed records (vital, census, military, etc.).  I click either "Accept" or "Reject" on each to take them off the "All Hints" list.  Sometimes, I go to a random page of the Records Hints and work on those also.  I figure that I will never zero out these Ancestry Member Hints in my tree.

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Copyright (c) 2017, Randall J. Seaver


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1 comment:

Kay said...

What I don't get is why Ancestry puts a This Hint No Longer Exists notice in the Hints List. If it no longer exists, fine - but then it isn't a Hint and should not be on the list! That's just foolishness that needlessly bloats the Hints list and makes it more difficult to wade through, rendering it less useful.