Monday, July 31, 2017

Gina Comments on my Ancestry .com Quirk Post

I had a very helpful comment from Gina on my post " Quirk: The Vanishing Search Result" from 26 July 2017 saying: 
There are two issues:
1) The search result number is the number of times the surname appears in the collection, not the number of records.
2) If the surname you're searching for is not in the primary name field on any of the records, when you click through to the search results, you get no records found.
**Example of issue 1** 
1. Search "Social Security Applications and Claims Index" for the surname Gualco
2. Results say 67 records found BUT when you click through the search results, only 42 records are returned.
This is because there are 67 occurrences of the surname Gualco, not 67 records, and the search results only returns those records where Gualco occurs in the primary name field.
.....a.) That is, clicking through to the search results only brings up the 42 records where the Gualco surname occurs in the primary "Name" field although Gualco may be one of several names; for example: 
Beverly June Coleman[Beverly Jun Morley] [Beverly Balestri] [Beverly Gualco] [B Balestri] 
.....b.) There are 21 records for which the father's surname is Gualco
.....c.) There are 4 records where the mother's surname is Gualco
All told there are 47 records where the surname Gualco appears at least once, five of which don't show up when you click through to the results, which brings me to issue #2.
**Example of issue 2**
Using your Vivian Seaver example:
1. Search "Social Security Applications and Claims Index" for "Vivian Seaver."
2. Results say 3 records found BUT when you click through the search results, no records are returned.
This is because Vivian Seaver appears in the mother's name field on three records, not in the primary name field.
Hope this helps. 
My response:  Thank you Gina for your examples and conclusions.  I think you are correct as far as the "Categories" results are concerned (which is how I found it in the first place).

However, the "missing" Vivian Seaver records were found on the "Records" list of search results, but not in the "Categories" list of search results.   Although Vivian Seaver was not the primary name person, she was indexed and, logically, should be in the search results for both "Records" and "Categories."

For the "Records" search, they are trying to put the best quality results at the top of the search results list.    I was lucky in that the "missing" results were on the first page of the list of the "Records" search results.

All of the above implies that does a different search for the "Records" search than the "Categories" search.

I wonder if can explain this quirk?


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1 comment:

Bill said...

I ran into this same problem a couple of years ago. I wrote to customer service about it three times and got no response. I even went so far as to cancel my subscription for a while listing this problem as a major reason -- no improvement.

It looks as if Ancestry simply isn't interested in correcting this problem. Maybe they don't even recognize it as a problem. But it is a problem. It doesn't make any sense for a "Records" search and an identical "Categories" search to give different results, when the user would reasonably expect the results to be the same. And it makes even less sense that "Records" can indicate some number of matches, but clicking through shows fewer or none. That's confusing and frustrating and it makes us users wonder if the results we get can be trusted. Ancestry may think this is just a minor user inconvenience, but I suspect most database system engineers would call this awful DBMS interface design. It's a shame and should be an embarrassment to them. DBMS user interface design is a well-worked area and Ancestry ought to be able to do much better than this.

Thanks for bringing this up on your blog. You have a big voice and Ancestry seems to listen to you when they ignore the rest of us. Keeping fighting.

G. W Cox