Ancestry.com has released a feature intended to make it easier to deal with the thousands and tens of thousand of results returned when not using Exact search mode: search sliders. “Search Filters,” as Ancestry.com calls them, are located in the upper-left corner of the search results page.
For each search term users specify, they can broaden the number of results by moving a slider to the left, or narrow down the number of results by moving a slider to the right.
Five positions are available on name sliders. Names can be set to return matches that are
- Not exact [Left most position. Returns the most results.]
- Exact, similar, sounds like, and initials
- Exact, sounds like, and similar
- Exact and similar
- Exact [Right most position. Returns the fewest results.]
The six positions for date sliders are
- Not exact
- +/– 10 years
- +/- 5 years
- +/– 2 years
- +/– 1 year
The positions for locations, using a U.S. city as an example, are
- Not exact
- State and adjacent states
- County and adjacent counties
The number of positions for locations can be less, depending on the location. In fact, if a location is not selected from a drop-down list at the time it is entered, the only positions available are Not Exact and Exact.
“Not exact” basically means the results may not match the search term at all, but matches other criteria so closely that the result may still be a match. This might be the case for a previously unknown nickname, for example.
The feature opens up in a friendly way the advanced search options that are available as drop downs beneath fields in advanced search mode. (See the illustration to the right.)
While I didn’t see any help information in the few minutes I looked at the feature, I know that the various terms are defined in help windows designed for the advanced mode drop downs. Help is available for names and places. How the slider works for dates is pretty obvious.
In a private briefing with members of the social media press back at the NGS Conference in May of last year, Ancestry.com first broached the concept of search sliders and showed us some mockups. It looked like a great idea so I am glad to see it come to fruition.
For more information about search sliders, see the Ancestry.com five minute video, “Start Small, Go Big – How Sliders Can Improve Your Searching.”