Thursday, July 5, 2012

Live Blogging my Survey on Hints

I received an email the other day from wanting my input on Hints.  I thought that I would share the questions and my response with my readers:

Q:  How would you describe your level of experience with family history? 
A:  I can help others.

Q:  How would you describe your level of Internet experience?
A:  I’m so good at it that I can help others. [as long as they are not IT folks]

Q:  How long have you been using the Internet to find information for your family tree?
A:  More than 10 years [20 years]

Q:  How long have you been working on your family tree?
A:  More than 10 years [24 years]

Q:  Do you have an online tree on
A:  Yes [Several]

Q:  Do you attach records that are suggested to you by Hints, i.e. those shaky green leaves on
A:  Yes [but not to my genealogy database on Ancestry Member Tree...only to the ancestral, shared database on Ancestry Member Tree]

Q:  Would you like help in knowing which Hint for a person you should start with?
A:  No [I can figure it out for myself...]

Q:  Would you like suggestions on which person you should work on next in your tree?
A:  Yes [I think I can figure it out, but this might be useful]

Q:  When you attach a record from a shaky leaf, what do you most hope to find? (Put in order of importance.)
1.  A new generation for my tree; parents I don't know about
2.  New people for my tree other than parents
3.  Military information about my ancestors
4.  Information on where my ancestor lived.
5.  A story about my ancestor
6.  Information about what my ancestor did for a living
7.  Physical description of my ancestor
8.  My ancestor's signature
9.  A photo of my ancestor
10)  Where my ancestors came from; what their ethnic background is.

Q:  When you look for information about your ancestors, do you: (choose all that apply)
A:  Use information provided by Hints; Use information from records I have found; Use information from records not on

Q:  Do you ever look for information on your ancestors that is not on
A:  Yes [What a stupid question!  We all know that has a limited selection of records...]

Q:  Do you understand how to get the information you find that is not on  into your tree?
A:  Yes [Enter extracted or transcribed information into Person, Place, Date, Source, Note and Media fields in my genealogy software of choice.  Occasionally update the Ancestry Member Tree via sync or GEDCOM.  It's the same process I use to add information into my genealogy software.]

Q:  In this Hint for a North Carolina death certificate, would you:
A:  Look at the image before I merge it into my tree [but I wouldn't add it to my genealogy database in AMT]

Q:  In the above Hint would it be helpful to see identified  (choose as many as apply):
A:  Information in the record that is not in your tree; Information that conflicts with what you have in your tree; Information that is the same as is in your tree

Q:  Do you have more than one family tree on If so, why?  Select all that apply
A:  I have different sharing settings for one tree vs. another (for example, one tree is public and the other is private); I conduct different types of research activities on one tree vs. another (for example, one tree is strictly for records-based research and the other is for un-sourced information) [I have a number of trees, my shared ancestry database for cousins/siblings/children; my genealogy database; several for research I've done for others; several that I am an editor or contributor or guest on]

Q:  What else would you like to see from that would help you find information to grow your family tree?
A:  More original source records!  Land deeds, probate records, court records, military pension records, city directories, historical newspapers, etc.

What would you have answered for that last question?  

From this survey, some people might think that is planning to "push" Hints to the subscriber using either the message system or the subscriber's email address.  

Copyright (c) 2012, Randall J. Seaver


bgwiehle said...

Because I don't have an online tree on Ancestry (yet), I don't see (and can't use) the "shaky leaves". However, I do follow up on suggested related records, shown to the far right of many records. And Ancestry does track what I've downloaded and corrected/commented. I wonder if the possible "pushing" of hints would apply to someone like me as well.

Jacqi Stevens said...

Randy, I pretty much agree with your answer to that last question (as well as much of the rest of the survey). Source documents are key. I especially value what I can find via historic newspapers, as I'm not just seeking to build a tree, but to get as 3D a picture of my ancestors as possible.

The frustrating thing, however, is that seems to have geographic gaps in their newspaper collections. There are a number of cities or regions I'm researching for which they do not have any newspapers--or the gaps in their publication distribution precisely (and frustratingly!) match the very dates I need.

The frustrating thing for me in that scenario is that I end up subscribed to a number of other online resources when I only wanted to pay for one...

So, for this question, I'd definitely agree with your answer, Randy: a wider spread of source documents addressing a greater variety of both places and dates.

mbm1311 said...


I would also add wanting more obituaries. My trees are private but when I choose a record it shows up on other trees as hints. I like that. I want to be accurate and would like other people to have the chance to look at the records I linked.

I have also benefited the other way. It's a hint and I don't have to accept it.

Gerry Sell said...

I am confused by this:

Q: Do you attach records that are suggested to you by Hints, i.e. those shaky green leaves on
A: Yes [but not to my genealogy database on Ancestry Member Tree...only to the ancestral, shared database on Ancestry Member Tree]

What is the distinction between your "genealogy database" on AMT and "the ancestral, shared database" on AMT?

The same confusion arises with respect to the question about the NC death certificate.