Long time readers may remember my “Don’t get hit by the train” series about The Cluetrain Manifesto and employee bloggers. In the last article of the series, “Employees: Don't Get Hit by the Train — Part 4,” I listed the blogs I knew about by employees of Ancestry.com and FamilySearch. In the 20 months since that article, I’ve come across a few more.
Reformed(?) Hacker is about technology, not genealogy. According to Naymz.com, site owner Lynn Monson is a “software engineer and architect at FamilySearch.org.” Monson describes himself as “Lead Architect, Unified System, LDS church.” In his most recent post, “Fielded search vs unstructured text,” mentions he’s having problems convincing product managers that Google’s single-box search form is inferior to the typical genealogy website search form, with boxes for given name, surname, birth date, etc.
According to Monson,
To date, I have not been able to convince the PM folks. They simply retort that “google does it, why can’t we?”. The numerous examples I respond with — demonstrating that google, in fact, does *not* do it properly — have been unconvincing. In addition, I happen to know, from a trusted source, that Google receives numerous complaints from genealogists over the behavior of their search engine on genealogical sources. The whole endeavor is going to come to a head soon. I need to find ways to convince them.
Yikes! That’s scary! It’s especially scary because New FamilySearch and Record Search Pilot already have anemic search forms. They only allow a single life event! You can’t specify both a birth place and a marriage year, as one might learn from a census. Perish the thought that they’re going to get worse! Don’t product managers monitor the market? Surely they saw the uproar over at Ancestry.com when New Search eliminated some fields from search forms.
Lynn, make them put Google to the test. Take a record site that Google has indexed and compare the search results using the site’s fielded search vs. a Google search with the “site:” qualifier restricting Google.
I have an ancestor named Paris Raymond. Google is especially fond of people with the given name Raymond. His hometown is Lincoln. Google is especially fond of a president by that name. His wife’s hometown is Paris, New York. When you have both Paris and New York in the same search, Google is absolutely certain you’re talking about major world cities. When it comes to my ancestors, Google blows chunks. (Can FamilySearch employees say that without offending one or more readers? I guess I’ll find out.)
And eBay? An absolute nightmare. I’d like to be notified if the family Bible ever came up for auction, but the flood of false positives wakes me up at night in cold chills.
I graduated from BYU in Family History and Genealogy in 2004. My areas of expertise include Spain and Latin American. Currently I work for FamilySearch as a Record Specialist. I hope you enjoy the blog!
Turner is an accredited genealogist. He previously worked as a Reference Consultant. He has taught Computers and Technology in Family History at BYU conferences and presented at genealogy conferences in the U.S., Spain, and Colombia.
Even though he’s a top-notch co-worker, I’ve never read his blog. Why? It’s in Spanish!
Tomorrow, a couple more blogs. Stay tuned…