[APG Public List] Ancestry.com searches

Ray Beere Johnson II raybeere at yahoo.com
Fri Dec 4 07:54:57 MST 2009

--- On Fri, 12/4/09, Pat Asher <pjroots at att.net> wrote:

> While ANTRIM often appears as ANTRUM, neither soundex nor wild cards would 
> have helped in this case, unless I knew exactly how it had been indexed. I 
> ended up slogging my way through all the females of the right age (plus or
> minus 5 years) in the county.

     On the contray, A*m or even An*m searches would have worked. Yes, you'd have to work your way through a few variations of wildcard searches to cover a situation such as this, but planning and using that series of searches would be a lot less work than searching all females of the right age in the county (and what if her age as listed had been off by more than 5 years?).
     The ideal search engine _always_ permits maximum flexibility, in terms of search terms and combinations of those terms, and in terms of syntax and wildcards. (An A* search for females in the county would also have narrowed down the search.) In _any_ research situation, with the possible variables in our own knowledge, what we might need to seek, and the possible errors in recording, transcribing, and indexing the records, the wider the range of options, the more likely it is a search will succeed with minimal effort. (And one essential element of good research skills is understanding how to construct a list of possible search terms and strategies.)
     I've used many different search tools and search engines, and although I've seen one or two that actually managed to be worse than Ancestry, their search design is easily in the worst 10% of anything I've seen. But the majority of their customers are too ignorant to demand better, so they don't improve.
                         Ray Beere Johnson II


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