Wednesday, August 3, 2016

FamilySearch Hinting by Robert Kehrer #BYUgen #BYUFHGC

Robert Kehrer addresses the 2016 BYU Conference on Family History and GenealogyRobert Kehrer presented a session titled “Using FamilySearch Hinting” at the 2016 BYU Conference on Family History and Genealogy. Robert is the senior product manager for research technologies. I’ve written previously about some of the information, which I won’t repeat here. (See “Searching for Sources at FamilySearch (Part 1)” and Part 2.) Here are some new information items:

When you make a change to someone in Family Tree, or add someone to Family Tree, it takes a little while for FamilySearch to check for new hints. Today hints are recalculated in less than 15 minutes, sometimes less than five. It is counterintuitive, but the busier the tree is, the faster the hints are recalculated. They are working on getting the latency between changes and new hints down to less than a minute, perhaps seconds. Until then, when you make changes to the tree, check back in about a quarter hour to check for new hints. When FamilySearch adds a new record collection, it works differently. About every 6 to 8 weeks they take all the records and search for new hints.

There are a couple of things Robert’s team is working on. They are reworking the SourceLinker attachment tool. There is a lot of work going on behind the scenes right now to make it better and faster and easier to use. Lastly, they are looking at something that might concern some people. FamilySearch has some high quality genealogies—trees—put together in a high quality way. FamilySearch doesn’t want to represent these sources as the same quality as FamilySearch’s historical records, but at some point they will let you know when they have a hint in one of these high quality datasets.

One change under consideration is the ability to change tree data while attaching a record. The difficulty is allowing users to do this while still exposing the sources already attached to that fact.

Robert showed an example demonstrating how powerful hinting is. The name Speak was misindexed as Sipelak in a family in Missouri in 1900. The hinting system was still able to match up the record to the tree because of everything else that matched between the family in the record and the family in the tree:

FamilySearch hinting found the misindexed Sipelak family was actually the Speaks.
(Click to enlarge) 

That’s impressive.


  1. Very interesting information! Thank You!

  2. I hope you can help me. This is a bit off topic but here goes:

    Would you be able to provide me with a link to the familysearch "new records online" page? The old link that I used to use isn't working any more.

    Thank you.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Would the Historical Record Collection page sorted by Last Updated work?

    3. Karl Greenwood, thank you so much! That is exactly what I was looking for.

  3. Wow, hinting is amazing! Thanks for sharing.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.