Monday, April 4, 2016

Monday Mailbox: Ancestry Tree Search Broken

The Ancestry Insider's Monday MailboxDear Ancestry Insider,

Can anyone tell me why a tree I have at ancestry does not come up in a search for any of the names in it or even when I include the specific name of the tree in the box. I have much more documentation in my tree than any of the ones that are coming up. Is it because I'm not paid up?

Signed,
T

Dear Miss, Mrs., or Mr. T,

An Ancestry.com product manager, Jim Mosher, has revealed a situation that may explain your situation. On 16 February 2016 he posted the following message on the Ancestry Message Boards at Message Boards > Topics > Ancestry.com > Ancestry Site Comments > Public Tree Search Results.


1. The index for our Public Member Trees has not been updated since mid-November [2015].

2. The current indexing rules do prune people from the index. These rules eliminate unusually large people (those with thousands of events or hundreds of immediate family members); those without any sources; and those with only a name. This makes the indexing more efficient (and it is still a big job to process the multiple billions of people in the trees system). THIS IS A CHANGE from what we used to do, …but it DOES reflect the current system.

HOWEVER, we are investigating to see if something has failed with part of the tree index, and we are in-process of re-indexing the public member trees.

When asked about the situation, Ancestry did not respond.

Signed,
---The Ancestry Insider

29 comments:

  1. Surprised Ancestry didn't blame it on the browsers they were using, or another websites error as they don't have problems just us their users have problems with accessing their site, or our dna results have problems. But NOT THEIR fault.

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    1. Then I'm not the only one who gets all these excuses from Ancestry. If you point that out to them, they get furious, and do nothing but argue with you, or worse yet, tell you to report it through an email, which of course, is useless, because they don't even bother to look at those.

      One time, a supervisor actually acknowledged that they kept track of complaints made by phone, and with one complaint I had made several times, they said I was the first to report it - a whole year before, unless that, too, was a lie. I quit emailing and calling Ancestry, because I always ended the conversation feeling more angry and frustrated than I felt before I contacted them.

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  2. Oh, that is going to be popular! I have thousands of people on my tree. If I ever could not find it, I don't know what I would do. but it would not be pretty. My tree is extensive because I have sought to make connections others cannot or have not been able to make--I have lots of UK information for families in the US and Canada--and vice versa. I find I enjoy solving the puzzles more than the really in-depth archaeology some people like to do. I am careful and accurate, and I think very helpful, but it does mean my tree is huge and has many very distantly connected people on it.

    But what is their criteria? I can see those with only a name--not as sure about those without sources, since that doesn't always mean that tree doesn't have useful information, which they may have gotten out of, say, the family Bible and not sourced it. But to remove trees with lots of names and sources seems INSANE.

    I mean as in legally defined insanity.

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  3. So the problem is that they have too much data? Wow.

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    1. No. They don't want to spend the money to support all that data, which means they can pocket more of your membership fees.

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  4. I think it's a simple case of the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing. Ancestry is so big that no one person is aware of the whole picture. Other giants have the same problem. Microsoft, for example.

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  5. If you can't find a tree by the tree name, search by the username of the owner.

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  6. So, apparently if you have "too much" information or too little information your tree is eliminated from the Search. How silly is that? I certainly want to view trees with "too much information" and, I would also like to view trees with little information as they still may contain persons relevant to my tree and I can then contact the Tree owner to see if they know something new to me or to maybe I can help them if we have a common ancestor. I would have expected the answer to be something like, "Private Trees are eliminated from the Search". That would be understandable but "too much" and "too little" is ridiculous IMO.

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    1. When I search for surnames in public trees, I get far more trees where the owners dropped Ancestry altogether.

      They tried to tell me one time that the largest number of trees had only 2000-5000 people in them. My own experience with the trees I've seen is that the largest portion of them have 15000 or more in them.

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  7. The reason I have TOO much information and TOO many people is because I've done thorough search and the people I've added belong where they are. I always document as I go. It makes it much easier to add my documents and to source everything along with making sure that person is really in that family. I've seen the messes at ancestry. So if I make, say 10 trees, of say 200 people each and only put one source or photo on it, I have a better chance of them being indexed?

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  8. Jim Mosher specified that he was talking about public trees. It is *individuals* without sources that are not to be included in the indexing.

    Still open questions: are indexable private trees going to be treated differently?
    How is this new protocol (not indexing individuals that do not have attached sources) going to affect DNA matching?

    Trees can not be found by searching for a tree-name; there is no way to do such a search.

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  9. Ancestry Insider, I feel confused. I think this requires more clarification. Just exactly what will or will not be indexed, and how will this affect the average user? Geolover says it will just be individuals that are unsourced that will not be indexed, but what does that mean--what would that look like on one's tree or trees? Can you write a column explaining this more fully? What does it mean to "index" an individual--or not?

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    1. JudyBG, so far we know nothing more about the new tree-indexing scheme than stated by Jim Mosher as quoted above, unless Jim has given further explanation privately to some individuals.

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    2. I cannot understand that when the information is already in their data banks, and you can find it when you do a search, why doesn't it just stay there. We are told repeatedly, that once information is on the Internet it is there for ever and ever, so therefore Ancestry must have to remove it. DON'T TOUCH IT, leave it there, ADD more storage space. So, now Ancestry have saved time by not deleting stuff, they can FIX UP what they have wrecked. Index - (simplified) add a page or a line, just like if you were writing a book and decided to add a new chapter. I'm not overly "au fait" with computers, so I hope you get the drift of what i mean.

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  10. But I am asking a far more basic question. What does it mean to "index" an individual? Or a tree? When they do these upgrades, precisely what are they doing?

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  11. No reply. Oh well. Just thought I would ask...

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    1. I'm no computer whiz, but as I understand it, indexing means individuals put into the computer in such a way that they can be found by users. Like alphabetical indexing or numerical indexing or surname indexing. It's a filing system. When you go to a library looking for a particular book or topic of a book, you go to the index (old-fashioned card catalog) to look for what you want so you know exactly where to find that book on the shelf. If the book is on the shelf, but it hasn't been entered into the index (card catalog), you'll never know it was there, unless you don't mind going through all the appropriate shelves looking for it, which takes many hours to do, depending on the size of the library.

      As I understand it, upgrades are merely adjustments made in the computer program so it works more efficiently and/or expands the program to accommodate broader usage.

      Both require a commitment on the part of the company to serve their customers, and a financial expense, but that's how you keep and add customers, and enlarge your business, which means greater profits in the long run. The problem with today's larger companies is they tend to be very shortsighted. It's called greed. They look for shortcuts they think will put more money in their pockets. To some extent that's appropriate, but I've seen large corporations go bankrupt over the extended use of these kinds of shortcuts. A happy customer always comes back. Too many of these kinds of shortcuts make for unhappy customers, so what do they gain by their greed?

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  12. My tree is public, documented and small. Yet it does not show up in a search.

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  13. Judy - Each of our family trees are stored within Ancestry computers as part of a very large database. The technique used to search this database is to build an index of pertinent information (e.g, they process every entry in every tree to build a single list/index of all names in the entire database {in order} along with the data associated with each name) - then their computer can search more efficiently than if it had to process each individual family tree every time a search was made. If they haven't rebuilt the index since mid November (about 7 months ago), then any new tree (and any new data to an old tree) entered after November can not be found through a search! Ancestry used to rebuild the index every couple of weeks, so this current practice is a BIG BIG DETERIORATION OF SERVICE. I was worried when they abandoned their flagship software (Family Tree Maker), but this situation seems indicative of a far more serious issue at the company. As a point of reference, Google manages to update their index of the entire Web on a continuous basis (image how well their business would fare if you couldn't find anything newer than 7 months old!!). It sounds like the entire Ancestry business is about ready for hospice care.

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  14. I started with the Mundia site of Ancestry which was so easy to use. When they closed that down (due to Ancestry wanting to put more resources into one base) a lot of the information I had put in was lost, even though they said everything could be accessed through Ancestry at any time. Now they have changed the system myself, and others, have never had so much trouble. It is hard to locate members of a tree, very hard to make alterations and very frustrating to try and locate the information that you have entered for a person, they have found some lovely little hidey places to put the info - they don't even know themselves how to retrieve it. Doesn't matter what the complaint you put to them, they have an answer, which boils down to they are not at fault. (All of the previous posts are spot on).

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  15. According to the privacy page of personal trees, it clearly states that a public tree will be searchable and show up when someone does a search. After coming back from SLC with wonderful newly discovered documents for my immigrant ancestor, I decided to put up a public tree in order to share what I had found. When it did not show up in a search, I called to inquire about this.
    First I was told by Ancestry that the database is only indexed once a month. The next time I asked, I was told that I needed more documentation. Three months later my tree does not show up in a search even for Ancestry support persons.
    If this continues to be a problem, I might as well remove my tree.

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    1. Carol - as stated above, the last time the database was indexed was in mid November of last year. Your tree won't show up until they get around to indexing the database again. Things just keep getting better and better - - - -

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  16. Thanks so much. Great explanation.

    I am feeling very negative about Ancestry. What more can they do to their customers?

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    1. Well, they're reworking the DNA matches again. https://dna-explained.com/2016/04/19/upcoming-ancestry-dna-update-urgent/
      I removed mine a few months ago. I'm at 3 other sites and since genealogy is the "new" hot thing, it looks like that will probably end up being even more in a year or two. I don't care if ancestry.com shoots itself in the foot or not. I've uploaded my tree to every free site I can find. I'm "out there" for anyone who's looking.

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  17. What do they mean too much work!? The computers do all the work after they are programmed. Too big, too small? What kind of crazy @#$%^&* nonsense is that? I know I can't search by tree name but when I find something of interest, I note it down on a piece of paper, an envelope from a bill...anything that is handy. I also note the owner/username and the name of my interest so I can find it again.

    I also find Ancestry has more excuses for things than a six year old. I have on rare occasion gotten a very knowledgeable support person but most seem to have to "consult” with someone else.

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  18. I wonder if the citations from ancestry are the citations they are counting. It would make sense if that were the case. I don't have a majority of citations from ancestry because I don't use their data base much. If I can find what I'm looking for somewhere else, I will look somewhere else first. I am paid at findmypast until November but I won't keep paying at the same site year after year. I give them 3 years between subscriptions because that's about how long it takes for something new to show up.

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  19. Have you noticed how proud Ancestry.com are to let you know that they have found an ancestor for you. YES, I just put it in, of course it's a match in my tree. Also, some of the "Hints" they give you are so totally weird, nothing at all matches, well maybe the Christian name. If the 'team' was so busy, surely they would have picked all of this up. Different if it was just a computer that can't think for itself, doing the work. Hmmm!

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