Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Ready for Ancestry's Old Search to go away?

Screen image from Ancestry's New Search PreviewI've seen a lot of pronouncements from some of you that you plan on sticking with Ancestry's old search. Unfortunately, it may not be around for too much longer. Given that you will be forced to the new search at some point, have you identified what needs to fixed, changed or improved? Did you provide that feedback?

Ancestry is using a survey to evaluate New Search. Click the Tell us what you think link at the top of a New Search page to participate. Note that question 5 allows multiple responses.

Please leave some comments here, as well. Intelligent comments, please. In my opinion, stupid comments damage the chance of getting things fixed or improved. I'll pass them on to the powers that be. Want some examples of intelligent comments? See Randy Seaver's this month and last.

Lastly, come by my website and take part in a poll: Is New Search ready to replace Old Search?


  1. Please, say it ain't so!
    Your readers, Ancestry-blog readers, and many others have already written so many clear, reasonable and almost totally unfavorable comments about the new search, all of which I agree with.
    The new search has so many problems, where to start? (1) Too many false "hits" in general, (2) "Exact" searches don't find known data/hits, (3) Search limits (on Exact or non-Exact searches) seem to be useless (e.g. date parameters) (4) new GUI takes up too much screen space, requires too much scrolling and mouse-clicking to view and open/close search fields/boxes (5) the annoying pop-up "hints" drive me nuts (6) and most of all, why can't search results be SORTABLE?
    In a nutshell: the old search had problems, but it produced better, more accurate results (with fewer irrelevant hits) and the GUI was easier, more ergonomic and faster to navigate. Don't force your users, especially regular, daily users, to switch to an inferior search engine. Streamline it, get rid of the eye-candy and make it work, please!

  2. Reed,

    Thanks for your comments.

    May I encourage you and everyone else that takes the time to leave a comment to give one or more examples of each problem. I'm afraid without examples, most of what you've contributed doesn't give me any traction.

    Thanks again for your help,

    -- The Ancestry Insider

  3. I find the new search quite frustrating. Like reed said, it's too flashy, and isn't as accurate as the old search. Some things are nice, like searching with the names of children and siblings, but other things are just plain bad. For instance, the SSDI search page used to let you search for an EXACT death date, and an EXACT birth date, even without a name. The new SSDI search only lets you search by year. It's a grave oversight, and one that is likely repeated in other collections. I'm using the old search as long as I can, unless they can fix some of these big issues.

  4. Here's an example of the "exact" search problem.

    On the old search (using exact for all areas) and entering: Willis Craft, USA, Georgia, 1809-1875 I return multiple results from census records, birth/marriage and military records, as well as newspapers and story/history/memoir results. Many of these results are for the correct person.

    Now, with the new search. I put in the same information - nothing more, nothing less. The only results I get back are for Family Trees. No census results... nothin'.

    Now, if I tweak the search criteria I'll get more results - but why should I have to change the way I search when the old way works? Why isn't the new search finding the other results when the search criteria is the same? If it ain't broke...

  5. Well, I guess I should leave a post in favor of new search! I like the new Ancestry search. It's faster and I love being able to drill down in the search results. It's easier to find databases that I didn't even know Ancestry had. Previously, I had to scroll through an endless list because I couldn't narrow the "Card Catalog." Now, I can stop bookmarking specific database search pages because I can find the one I'm looking for. I love how it fills in names based on my tree and on known locations; it saves me time! I also save time because it doesn't let me put in parameters that aren't useful for the database I'm searching. AND it keeps me from making stupid spelling errors.

    The "exact" search could probably use a little tweaking. Honestly, when I say exact, I want EXACT, so don't give me results from a different county when I said I wanted EXACT on a particular county.

    Thus far, the only things I need is sortable data. I already sent a message through the site to say so.

    To be honest, Ancestry's major problem in search has always been that the data is not always transcribed well (or at all). The new project where they will let the users help transcribe will really help.

    Maybe it's because I'm young (29), that I LOVE the interface. I don't see it as useless eye candy and as far as the searches that I've done, it's easier to use and it works better.

  6. In response to:Given that you will be forced to the new search at some point, have you identified what needs to fixed, changed or improved? Did you provide that feedback?---Why should a paying customer be expected to use my time to find the bugs and report them? This is not a free site where everyone joins together to help improve.

  7. Dear Donna,

    (sarcasm warning)

    Way to stick it to the man!! Forget your own self interests are also in the line of fire! Collateral damage is the price of... Of what? "Beware them both, but most of all beware this boy!"


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