29 July 2014

Ancestry IS watching you!

Did you know that Ancestry, as part of its mission to "facilitate discovery of relevant person’s records and the construction of family trees," watches the search terms you enter and analyses them to improve their overall search?
If you enter a last name Ancestry compares it to your searches in the next 30 minutes identifying pairings as possible name variants.
Ancestry also finds pairings by looking at your trees and comparing names to those in the records you attach.
The company uses a method analogous to machine language translation to refine the pairings.
Read a full report here, not for the faint of heart, and a less-technical summary here.

1 comment:

Gail Roger said...

Knowing how to misspell names to find records of interest has always been a part of a professional genealogist’s domain expertise.

What makes this statement particularly ironic for me is the consideration of how many Ancestry records have eluded me for years due to their own inaccurate transcriptions. The name, as they point out, may indeed be the key field used in identifying person’s records in databases, but confirming the right record - particularly when the name has been mis-transcribed by Ancestry - requires knowledge of dates, places, and family members.

I don't intend to sound bitter, because I have made some truly thrilling discoveries using Ancestry databases, but I am increasingly worried that newcomers to Ancestry may be deluded into thinking that all you need is a name.

As for the Big Brother aspect, well, I've used Facebook and Amazon, so this isn't a surprise. My heart does faint at the full report, and the link to the less technical one doesn't appear to work for me.