Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Sorting Out Hints and Suggested Records

While I was at the SCGS 2015 Jamboree last weekend, I heard Crista Cowan say that:

*  Hints are found by searching 10% of the databases on with 67% of the indexed records.

My analysis:  She didn't say that they were the 10% that were largest, or most popular, so I don't know which, if either of those, is correct.  With over 32,000 databases at present, that means about 3,200 databases are searched to provide Hints to persons in an Ancestry Member Tree.

*  Suggested Records are generated when the record that the user is viewing has been attached to an Ancestry Member Tree.  

My analysis:  This has always confused me...why I received a raft of Suggested Records for one person and not another, or why there were no Suggested Records when I viewed one search result, but there were Suggested Records when I viewed another search result for that person.  Sometimes, the list of Suggested Records is short and sometimes it is long depending on the search result for that person.

I decided to see if I experienced this.  

1)  I used a person in my Ancestry Member Tree with not many Hints and with none attached to my big tree.  I clicked on the "Search Records" link in the profile of my aunt, Geraldine (Seaver) Remley (1917-2007). The search from the AMT profile is conducted as a ranked search with every bit of known information (birth, death, marriage, parents, siblings, spouses, children) on the profile on the list with a "Broad" category, except the surname which is listed as "Maiden Married" name (e.g., "Seaver Remley" in this case) as "Exact, Sounds Like, and Similar."

Here is the top of the Search results found (in the "Records" list, not the "Category" list) - note the sliders on the left-hand side of the screen:

Further down the list are some record images (from an uploaded image) and more records, including SSDI:

And further down the list are some matches from the School Yearbooks collection:

2)  To test the presence of "Suggested Records," I clicked on the first match at the top of the list, for "Massachusetts Marriage Index, 1901-1955, 1966-1970" database:

There are no Suggested Records on the right-hand side of the screen.

3)  I clicked on one of the matches in the "U.S. School Yearbooks, 1880-2012" database:

Again, there were no "Suggested Records."

4)  Next, I clicked on the match for Geraldine S. Remley in the "U.S. Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014" and saw:

Now there is a whole list of "Suggested Records" for Geraldine, including the Find A Grave Index, 1920 U.S. Census, the 1940 U.S. Census, the U.S, Public Records Index, and Obituary Daily Times.

5)  Why did those "Suggested Records" appear on one match, and not on the other?  I think it was because one or more other Ancestry Member Trees had the SSDI record on Ancestry attached to Geraldine's profile in their tree, and also had the other records attached to their tree.  The Ancestry search engine then said, "oh, look, that AMT has these 8 records attached to this person so I will list them as 'Suggested Records' for this search result."

Apparently, no one has attached the Marriage Index entry or the School Yearbook entries for Geraldine (Seaver) Remley to her profile in their Ancestry Member Tree.  Hence, there are no "Suggested Records" when those search results are reviewed.

For the record, there are 20 Ancestry Member Trees for Geraldine (Seaver) Remley (1917-2007), including three of my own.  When I looked on the trees with a lot of attached records, I saw all of the items on my "Suggested Records" list above were from trees that also had the SSDI record attached.

Did I interpret Crista's comments, and my interpretation of them, correctly?  If not, I'm sure someone will correct me!

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Sharon said...

I think the only "suggested records" that show up are those that someone else has connected to their family tree. If the person did not attach those yearbook records, they won't show up as "suggested." At least that's my take on this affair.

Jan Murphy said...

Randy -- Re: "Hints are found by searching 10% of the databases on with 67% of the indexed records." I suspect that if you had a list of the most popular databases and a list of the biggest databases, there would be a lot of overlap of those two sets. The largest databases have the most opportunities for users to get hits on them, so if they are the "low hanging fruit" and easy for people to find, that also means they are more popular. That would be true even before the hint algorithm offered those "easy-to-find" records to people.