Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Answers to my MyHeritage Record Search Thoughts

In my post today, First Look at Record Matches on MyHeritage, I shared some of my thoughts and opinions and observations about the MyHeritage Record Search technology.  My cousin and geneablogger Kay Haden commented also, especially about the pay-as-you-go credits.

MyHeritage Founder and CEO, Gilad Japhet, responded to my comments and also to Kay's in a comment that I want to share in toto because it is important to all MyHeritage users:

Thanks Randy for this quick look.  Hopefully you will be able to take a deeper look soon.

A few comments:

1. The default filtering of one star means you will see matches with a confidence of one star or higher. Matches with less will be hidden in the interface, i.e. the weakest matches are hidden by default. Users with few matches who who are desperate for any leads can change that setting by lowering it, but things work well without changing the default.

2. Yes, ALL 40,000 people in your family tree were covered.

3. The indexing of the 1940 US census is still ongoing at MyHeritage. We are putting an emphasis on the quality of the indexing, not on getting it done quickly. So for now you will get Record Matches for some of the USA states, including New York and the others you mentioned. As we add more states you will receive new Record Matches automatically until the 1940 US census is fully indexed.

4. It is complex to explain how Record Matching technology decides which variables to take into account and when, it would take a long white paper to do so and the algorithms are proprietary. It would be great if you could comment later on the correctness of the matches that were found for you from your point of view as a genealogist, and the new information they allowed you to add to your tree, especially regarding newspaper matches which are unique. 

I can mention that matches are indeed flexible with names and synonyms, and various types of soundex are supported in matching, and information like year discrepancy is allowed, depending on other circumstances.

5. MyHeritage users do NOT need a subscription to any record collection providers. Only to MyHeritage itself (Data Subscription) or to have pay-as-you-go data credits on MyHeritage. MyHeritage users with a World Vital Records subscription receive a complimentary MyHeritage Data Subscription automatically (since we now own World Vital Records) so they not need buy anything else to enjoy Record Matching. For users who do not want to pay at all we provide free matches with all collections (as an extract) and full lookups of Find-a-Grave and Ellis Island matches.

6. You can count on us adding more USA census records soon and the UK census records, and other types of records. This is a focus for us. Our aspiration is not to be a rival to Ancestry but to provide a superior product and experience for the users. This may take us more time, but this time last year we didn't have any historical records at all, nor any search engine, nor Record Matching technology, so imagine what we'll have one year from now. SuperSearch and Record Matching work in 38 languages, not just English and 4 others. So users around the world who are not English speakers already have products they can use on MyHeritage. And MyHeritage provides unique content so that Ancestry users will find value in receiving Record Matches on MyHeritage, even if they already have a subscription on Ancestry. Many genealogists would appreciate additional information and new records and discoveries, especially when found automatically. also This comes with Smart Matches which also cannot be found on Ancestry. We hope that users will eventually want to make the switch (noting that a MyHeritage Data Subscription costs $76/year, less than a third of an Ancestry subscription which covers all the records).

An answer for Kay: the value in the Record Matches is in the matches found automatically for you. What you tried to do was not to "match" but to "confirm" a match which is to indicate that it is correct. The value in confirming is for marking matches from which you have extracted information, as you go through the matches and process all of them. Otherwise when having many matches you won't be able to easily remember which ones you've already processed. Find-a-Grave matches are free and we will apply a fix so that confirming them will be free too and will not require any credits.

My thanks to Gilad for his responses to our comments.  I am always impressed that Gilad responds so quickly to my blog posts (even late at night in Israel!).

Kay Haden noted in her comment that:

I also did match a record to one of my persons and nothing really happened... Nothing appears on that person's profile to reflect the match to the source of that record match. 

My response to her in email was:

From what I can tell, you have to add the information in the record yourself to the person's profile.  Same with the source citation.  This doesn't work exactly like Ancestry's shaky leaves work where the information and the source are added to your tree.

Disclosure:  I have a complimentary subscription to both and courtesy of MyHeritage, for which I am grateful.  However, this does not influence my objective opinions in reviews of these websites and their products.

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Laurence Fuller said...

It seems to me that My Heritage is not what they say they are!!, A few months ago they promised me that they would let me have 3 Years free membership, as they had brought out another website, and offered some that had a lot of Pedigree's on the site, free membership, It as been almost a year now and no free membership.

From Laurence F

Gilad said...

Laurence, you are referring to the acquisition of by MyHeritage. We promised its users a free 3-year subscription to MyHeritage. This was not forgotten, but was delayed due to our need to find a way to convert the trees in BackupMyTree to GEDCOM from their various native formats in order to import them reliably. This has been completed so you and the other BackupMyTree can expect to receive your free subscription during the next 2-3 weeks.


Laurence said...

Then i will look forward to that time, i had sent a email asking how thing where going with this setup, but i received no answer.


Anonymous said...

Well still waiting for My Heritage to deliver on its promise of the September 19th 2012, it will soon be time for the trading standards to be informed.