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# Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Ancestry.com Launches Ancestry Labs, Person View
Posted by Diane

Ancestry.com has launched a new section of its site called Ancestry Labs, a website similar to FamilySearch Labs and Google Labs, where Ancestry.com can test ideas and gather your feedback on them.

You can see a demo of how Ancestry Labs works here. Leave feedback by using the green Feedback tab on the left side of the Ancestry Labs site.

“The projects we place in this area are likely to be early prototypes, and although some of them may make their way into the main Ancestry.com site, some may not,” reads Ancestry.com’s announcement.

The first idea at Ancestry Labs, called “Person View,” includes two components: 

  • Web Records: This feature searches for your ancestor on the internet, shows you basic information (name, date and place) from web pages mentioning your ancestor, and links you to those pages. Sites searched include free databases such as the Western States Marriage Record Index. In a demo in August, project manager Brian Hansen said Ancestry.com is attempting to avoid duplication by not searching the same collections that are already included in Ancestry.com databases.

If this sounds familiar, it’s because Ancestry.com offered a similar search in the maligned Internet Biographical Collection, which was pulled down shortly after its introduction in August 2007 amid copyright and other concerns. The difference is that the Internet Biographical Collection actually cached web pages’ content and displayed the results on Ancestry.com, so traffic wasn’t directed to the site and the content’s creator wasn’t credited. 

Ancestry.com is hoping to avoid the same mistakes with the new Web Records view. “In providing access to these, it’s very important to us that we are respectful to the publishers of these websites,” the announcements says. “We will always strive to follow web industry standards for website crawling permissions ... We will put in place processes to remove the content from our search if the website/content owner requests, with the goal of doing this as quickly as possible. We will clearly publish how to contact our team to do this.”

  • Person Consolidation: This way of viewing Ancestry.com search results groups matches by person, rather than just listing each result. The search algorithm decides whether records are for one person, and your results show a person’s name with links to categories of records—Ancestry Records, Family Trees (with no living people included) and Web Records—for that person. Click one of those links to see more links to view each record in that category. The search results also list a person’s family members, and you can click these names to see that family member’s records. 

Person View gives you just the first 10 matches to your search. The advantage is that it Person View simplifies your search results, but the algorithm can make mistakes by grouping together records for two different people, or displaying one person as two different people.

Here’s my first PersonView search for Henry Seeger:

And the first match, which consolidates content about Henry Seeger from 15 Ancestry.com family trees (no Ancestry Records or Web Records were found for this Henry). It lists people the search engine believes to be in Henry's family (I'd have to look at each tree and decide whether I think they're all really related to Henry). Clicking on a name, such as Henry’s son Charles, will perform a new search for that person.

Clicking on Henry’s name brings up a timeline of events from those trees, with a little map showing places mentioned in the trees: 

Links on the right bring up information about each tree and let you save the event to your tree:

If your matches contain Ancestry Records, the timeline will link to information from the record (a WWI Draft Registration card, in the case below, was the source for a February, 1873 birth date): 

Web Record matches bring up similar basic information, with a link to the site that has the record (you can't yet save Web Records to your Ancestry tree): 

Click Comments to let us know what you think of Ancestry Labs and Person View.


Ancestry.com
Tuesday, October 19, 2010 8:06:23 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [3]
Thursday, October 21, 2010 12:42:43 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
A note to Ancestry.com: Person View looks extremely promising. Please make this available as soon as possible. At a time when discretionary income is tight, this is the type of feature that will make an Ancestry subscription worth it's price.
Cheryl
Thursday, October 21, 2010 1:22:45 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Remember what it was like when New Search came onto the scene? I tested it by searching for records I knew were on Ancestry, which I had already found with Old Search. Many times, I couldn't find those records using New Search. Person View seems like more of the same, a way to show quick results, and to obscure the records that are not easy to find. (It also has a similar look and feel to the Family Search beta -- coincidence?) Also, while Diane notes in her article that Ancestry doesn't intend for information on living people to be displayed in the results from Family Tree searches, on the Ancestry Blog several people have commented that information for living people is being revealed. Instead of Ancestry's endless wheel-spinning as they try to make things "easier" for the user, I'd rather they reveal to the user why the search algorithm thinks this is a match, and offer the user explicit directions to refine a search (e.g. for a WWI Draft Reg 'search for matches in the 1910 / 1920 Census' or 'find other men with this surname in the same county').
Jan Murphy
Thursday, October 21, 2010 1:36:58 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
I played around with this and as with many of Ancestry's other attempts at improving search options (new search), this is a waste. There is too much page space wasted resulting in scrolling and more drill down for trial and error than necessary. They also don't link to the original image (i.e. census). By this beta, you have to save to shoebox and then open it up there. I also can do a whole lot better web searching on my own. It really doesn't encourage good thorough research methods.
Linda
Comments are closed.