If you have read my blog for a while, you probably have guessed that I do not view genealogy as "easy" or necessarily "fun." Fun and easy are overworked and overused in too many ad campaigns to be much use to me anymore. What is either fun or easy is open to personal interpretation. That is one reason the title of a recent blog post from FamilySearch.org entitled, "Family History Research Keeps Getting Easier!" caught my attention. But fortunately, the content of the post has important news about an important development in FamilySearch.org technology, so I can ignore the reference to "easy."
Now that my fussing is over, I can talk about what is going on. Basically, FamilySearch.org is implementing some form of the same type of technology that has been available for some time from Ancestry.com and MyHeritage.com. That is, automatic search capabilities. In both of the other large online programs, this technology is far superior to individual searches conducted on limited information by individual users, when it works. You will notice the qualifier here. This technology can also be a constant bother if it does not work. There are several other online database or family tree programs that suggest sources but their accuracy in linking that suggested source to one of your own ancestors is so poor, the suggestions become nothing more that additional background noise from the Internet.
Now, what about FamilySearch.org? We will have to wait and see. The blog post states:
FamilySearch will soon release a feature called “hinting.” With this powerful tool, the site will automatically search for records that match people in your family tree. When you go to an ancestor’s page we will show you what we have found just for that person amongst our vast collections of records. That’s right—FamilySearch does the searching, and finding, for you!
The high quality matches the site finds will automatically be provided in the new Record Hints box added to the ancestor page in FamilySearch Family Tree. No more looking through hundreds of search results. The system does the heavy lifting for you!!! It really is that easy!
When launched, this new hinting feature will go through the vast FamilySearch database of records and find the records for you that hinting thinks might be about your specific ancestor. Just click and confirm the ones that are correct! We think you’ll be impressed.One thing about this type of search program needs to be remembered. These searches only work with Indexed records. Many, if not most of the records presently on FamilySearch.org exist only as images with no indexes. Any automatic search capability will only search the indexed records, leaving the resot of the searches to be made page by page through the images. Additionally, there are many of the records that are only partially indexed. No technology yet exists to search the handwritten records of the past.
This is a big step for FamilySearch.org and they are to be highly complimented. This is also a difficult field to enter when two other major online databases have already developed sophisticated technology of their own. Perhaps this new search technology is one of the trade-offs received from the partnering agreements?