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Exact Search

Exact Search

Posted: 1301703717000
Classification: Query
>>>Hi all, I've not yet been tagged as a greenie, but I am an Ancestry Search Product Manager. I should be flagged as such soon, but didn't want to wait for that to be done.<<<

Some of you may have seen the thread on the general board regarding exact search.

I'd like to see if we can use this thread to have a constructive dialog about how exact search "should" work (irrespective of old or new) on cases that are a little more fuzzy than the one cited in CandTFHA's post.

The reason I put should in quotes is because different people have different definitions of what constitutes exact. To start, I'd like to begin with a specific example I'm hoping we can discuss. After this one, we can bring up other examples for discussion. Sound good?

If you were to do an exact search for a "Lived In" location what records should that return (or what fields should that exact location be applied against)? Should it return only records that explicitly called out a residence location (e.g., 1930 US Census) or one that had an implied/likely residence location (e.g., "State Served" in American Civil War Soldiers category).

Thanks in advance for your thoughts,


Re: Exact Search

Posted: 1301705882000
Classification: Query

Before having a discussion on how EXACT search "should" work I believe it would serve everyone to have a detailed, in-depth discussion of how EXACT search presently works.

My feeling is that we can't really know what results we can get until we know how it presently functions. Once that is understood, then, and only then, can we understand what possible changes are needed to get us the results we really want.

I will add one thought- on a GLOBAL search the use of EXACT should be limited to only those fields that are common to EVERY database in ALL of Ancestry's collections.

Re: Exact Search

Posted: 1301706086000
Classification: Query
Also, before having that discussion, we need to know if there are plans to update/upgrade/improve/correct OLD SEARCH.

We've been told otherwise, and if that is still true, any discussion of OLD Search is a waste of time.

Re: Exact Search

Posted: 1301706460000
Classification: Query
Old search will never be updated, upgraded, improved, enhanced, or be more than what it is today. That was made clear quite some time ago.

Re: Exact Search

Posted: 1301709274000
Classification: Query
Hi John,

While I agree with Andy that we need to know precisely how Exact Search currently works, I will answer your question as posed.

If I searched for "Lived In," I would expect to see all records for which Ancestry currently creates a Residence event on a profile page (e.g. Census, Draft) as well as those records where "lived in" is likely, including birthplace and death place. Although it is possible that the person did not live in that exact location (e.g., hospital where born or died is in a different city, county, and/or state), as a researcher, I would want to start with that record and pin it down myself.

I hope that we can discuss many of the issues about "exact" search here. A better understanding of how the computer generates results will lead us to more productive discussions. Last year, discovering how certain databases are indexed and even categorized led us to an understanding of many changes that needed to be made. I think that some of those issues have been/are being addressed. Some of the date ranges assigned to various databases also caused problems by returning "exact" searches that were wildly far afield from the dates entered. I do not know the current status of this fix.

I'm looking forward to this discussion. It seems that it has been quite a while since Search issues have been addressed.


Re: Exact Search

Posted: 1301714185000
Classification: Query
Edited: 1301714542000
There have been two posts today in two threads, by 'tripthrutime' (John) which allude to the possibility of adjustments to the OLD search algorithm.

As always, Andy, when a question is asked of, and directed to, another poster - ESPECIALLY when that target is an Ancestry employee, your input is not warranted and is of zero value.

And just to show you, Andy, that your response is incorrect and therefore of no value - find and read the other thread.

Re: Exact Search

Posted: 1301717460000
Classification: Query

I suggest that *you* read John's post again...

John's exact words were:
While I can't promise anything right now, I can say that we are looking at ways to improve this (some might say "fix this") specific situation.
[End Quote]

Notice that absolutely *nowhere* in either post does he mention the word algorithm, only a possible improvement to the specific problem mentioned.

Re: Exact Search

Posted: 1301718820000
Classification: Query
algorithm - a precise rule (or set of rules) specifying how to solve some problem.

Re: Exact Search

Posted: 1301719419000
Classification: Query
Edited: 1301720449000

Several people have a hard time with the OldSearch vs. NewSearch thing.

Can you answer three very basic questions - to wit:
1) Do OldSearch and NewSearch both use the same search engine?
2) Do OldSearch and NewSearch both use the same search algorithms?
3).Does Ancestry have any plans to update, upgrade, improve, enhance, and//or correct OLD SEARCH?

Thanks for your time,


Re: Exact Search

Posted: 1301761979000
Classification: Query

"Before having a discussion on how EXACT search "should" work I believe it would serve everyone to have a detailed, in-depth discussion of how EXACT search presently works."

For the most part exact searches act as one expects for mosts fields and databases. Searching a single field for exactly what is entered. But not always, as this thread attests. The first variation on this is where you have the mixing of names we see here. Depending on the database, this may have to do with how the db was indexed at the time it was indexed, or through an attempt to make the records discoverable for secondary persons on the record. I'll tell you that the change did result in more of these records beign found, I know this is a frustration and I am hoping we can improve it.

The second variation has to do with the "Lived In" example I mentioned. In the talks I've had with passionate users like yourselves (and myself, for that matter) there does not seem to be a consistent take on whether "Lived In" should be explicitly called out in the record, or if implicit is okay. For the most part, old search goes by "implicit" lived in while the search that shall not be named goes with explicit (while Any event sort of covers the implicit). This is why I'm particularly interested to hear from you all on what you think this field "should do." Don't worry, I WON'T be changing old search on this, but from my perspective it is misleading.

"I will add one thought- on a GLOBAL search the use of EXACT should be limited to only those fields that are common to EVERY database in ALL of Ancestry's collections."

That would mean no exact search on global search for any field (because OCR databases are not fielded). Would you want to go that for? That is what is done on the simple search form for "the search that shall not be named" (ny new unofficial name for new search). What about caveat emptor?

@AGHatchett3rd & xandervan

You're both sort of right. We're not going to make any significant investment in Old search, but if I can throw you all a bone every once in a while then I will try to do so.


Thanks for your thoughts on the "Lived in" question. Your preference is similar to others (but not everyone) I've spoken to. My question to everyone here is whether you ever are specifically (there's that word again, sorry) looking for records that explicitly indicate residency (that is, you don't want to see ANY implicit ones)?

1) No, they don't
2) No, they don't
3) Depends on your definition of the word "does"... I think I answered this above. No plans, but if we find things that will provide significant improvement without stirring significant rancor and which may be fixed without significant effort, I will try to get it done. To be clear, though, it is very unlikely that many of those things will come up. The above issue could be the only exception, and I still don't know for sure we can do it.

Well, I think that covers everyone's comments so far. Time to enjoy the weekend. Thanks again for everyone's input. Keep it coming.

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