Help get this topic noticed by sharing it on Twitter, Facebook, or email.

Improve searching by name in the Family Tree

The search or "Find" feature for the Family Tree needs to be improved. Often I resort to finding a person on ancestry.com first and then searching them on FamilySearch with the additional info I've found because FamilySearch can't prioritize name-only searches properly. It has a hard time when the name is very close, so when spelling varies it can be near impossible to find someone already in the tree.

The image below is a prime example. I searched "Edwin S Poulsen" with no other information entered. Top result? Edwin L Poulsen. Yet further down the list I see an Edwin Swen Poulsen. Why is that not the top result?



Another example. I recently searched "R. C. Merrill". The top results are people whose names in the tree are literally listed as "R. C. Merril". Fine. But then I see Mrs. R. Merrill, C. C. Merrills, Philemon R. Merril, etc. as I scroll through the following pages. But the system doesn't seem to recognize that "R" and "C" are initials and it gives me very few results of people who simply have names that start with R and C, the best match being "Ray C. Merrill" who doesn't appear until the 3rd page, after people named James, Mary, Harold, and Hyrum. And I'm sure there's more but they don't show up, either!
2 people like
this idea
+1
Reply
  • The Search and Find are two different search routines that run against different databases.

    The Search facility runs against the indexed information of the Historical Records collection, including the indexes provided by several partner sites, including Find a Grave.

    The Find facility runs only against the massive tree that is FamilySearch Family Tree and will provide results only from that database.

    There is at least one other search routine that is used and that is the one used with the help center.

    We have been told by FS folks that all of the search routines will be reworked so they are more consistent in the way that they work. We have not been told what the features will be or when they will become available.
  • (some HTML allowed)
    How does this make you feel?
    Add Image
    I'm

    e.g. happy, confident, thankful, excited indifferent, undecided, unconcerned kidding, amused, unsure, silly sad, anxious, confused, frustrated

  • The Search and Find are two different search routines that run against different databases.

    The Search facility runs against the indexed information of the Historical Records collection, including the indexes provided by several partner sites, including Find a Grave.

    The Find facility runs only against the massive tree that is FamilySearch Family Tree and will provide results only from that database.

    There is at least one other search routine that is used and that is the one used with the help center.

    We have been told by FS folks that all of the search routines will be reworked so they are more consistent in the way that they work. We have not been told what the features will be or when they will become available.
  • (some HTML allowed)
    How does this make you feel?
    Add Image
    I'm

    e.g. sad, anxious, confused, frustrated indifferent, undecided, unconcerned kidding, amused, unsure, silly happy, confident, thankful, excited

  • This reply was removed on 2018-08-14.
    see the change log
  • This forum was having problems and prevented us from properly seeing what we were doing. Responses were posted each time we hit reply and yet we had no access to the message thread, only the original entry. I was able to delete only the last copy.

    Regardless, my response applies. The search routines are not the best, but the order of the results comes from a grading system. It is very coarse, which is why similar results are going to be in a mixed order.

    Hopefully, the reworked search system will go a long way to resolve that problem, but keep in mind that as more and more indexes are added to the system, only about 10 percent of newly digitized materials (both from films and also the some 300 teams in the field working with original records) are being indexed. Even then the amount of potential records will continue to increase. Any system is not going to be able to provide a detailed response order when that many records are involved.

    Look at what you get when you perform a Google search, and those results are skewed by Google to favor their advertisers, and not the entire internet. FamilySearch does not favor any records over any other, unless you purposely limit the results to a specific collection, a specific time frame, and/or a specific location. But even then, the results are going to be mixed. It is not uncommon to find what you are looking for in the first three pages of results (with the results set at 75 per page).
  • (some HTML allowed)
    How does this make you feel?
    Add Image
    I'm

    e.g. sad, anxious, confused, frustrated indifferent, undecided, unconcerned kidding, amused, unsure, silly happy, confident, thankful, excited