Thursday, March 6, 2014

What I Want in a Search Engine

Copyright 2014, CABS for Reflections From the Fence

You may have heard the thunder, the roars, the pain. has finally killed off the "Old Search".  Now it is the "New Search" with some enhancements borrowed from the "Old Search".  Social media has been screaming for hours.  Even yours truly got in a lick, err, word, or two.

Some researchers have already cancelled their subscriptions, for good reasons, the best of which, may be, "if the research is not fun any more, then I am moving on".  I respect that reason.

There is a campaign to start emailing "A".  I applaud those that do so.  Good luck.

Other than the few comments I made on social media and this post, tossed together in a case of exhaustion and stupor, I don't think I am going to do much.

I am not going to cancel my subscription at this time.  I am, as I said,  "not ready to bail and cut off my own research to spite them, but, I am sure you will all hear my screams of agony when I get doing some heavy duty research."

Sitting here in Tana this evening, reading all the screaming and yelling, I asked myself, just what it is it that I want from a search engine/data base.  The answer:


Simple, eh??

Let me type in Wallace Lashbrook, born ca 1851 in Illinois, and click.

Give me Wallace Lashbrook born ca 1851 in Illinois.  Don't be giving me the Wallace Lashbrook that was born in Michigan, or a Wallace with records from the UK.

If I ask for Wallace Lashbrook born ca 1851 living in Minnesota for any census enumeration, that is what I want.  I don't really care about lots of other hits for residences in Missouri, Michigan or Louisiana.  If I want to broaden my search limitations to include other states, I can do that.  But, if I want Minnesota that is ALL I want to see.

What I want is excellent indexing, so when I search, I get what I seek.  Ashbrook is only Ashbrook IF it is actually written that way.  Sashbrook, in my many years of researching Lashbrook, has only rarely been recorded as Sashbrook.  It was Lashbrook written with fluid pretty handwriting.  That is NOT a "S".  Tis a "L".  Look close.  Learn to read the old handwriting if you are going to index.

Yep, I just want RESULTS!

Fix the indexing.  Fix the search engines so that they really give me what I want.

Both are flawed at "A" right now.  They have been.  For years.

And, yep, I will probably keep on researching at "A" and paying that subscription fee, which keeps going up, even tho the indexing is NEVER improved and the search engines are FLAWED, cause, to be brutally honest, they are one of the big players.  If I want to continue to do online research instead of dragging Man, Jolly and Tana to every courthouse in the union (which I would love to do, but, face it, is totally unreasonable and just is NOT going to happen), then, I sorta need "A".  That said, I went two years with no "A", and ya know what, it just was NOT that hard to do without.

Yep, I just want RESULTS!   Fix the indexing, fix the search engines, fix em so I don't spend frustrating hours trying to figure out where you tucked away Wallace and his kin.

RESULTS!!  Simple.  "New Search".  "Old Search".  Whatever "Search".  Just give me RESULTS!!

* In case you may have wondered, yes, indeed, there is a Wallace H. Lashbrook, I maintain his Find A Grave Memorial.

** Disclaimer time:  I am a paying member/consumer at  I have always paid for my subscriptions.  They have not asked me to review their services, good or bad service.  They have NEVER asked.  You will note I have no monetizing on Reflections.  There is a good reason for that.  I don't feel it is ethically correct to make $$ off an ad for a company and then slam them when they don't perform well.  See my Disclaimer page for more details.


Kristin said...

Where have I been all day that I am just hearing about this?? Searching on A is where and I couldn't have pinpointed what is wrong with their search engine better if I'd written your post myself. I just what what I asked for.

Lynne Carothers said...

I am by no means as accomplished a researcher as you are. I, too, have an A membership but I have always been so frustrated with the search feature. I just don't get why I specify "Massachusetts" as an exact match and I get results from all over the country. I have looked at their online videos and taken a webinar to figure out what I am doing wrong. It is good to hear that maybe, just maybe, the fault is not with me!!

Yep, I just want RESULTS as well!

Great post.

Carol said...

Good luck to you both, Kristin and Lynne. Let's all pray and hope they can fix the "New" search. I happen to know that both of you are intelligent beings, proving my point, if intelligent beings cannot get result there is something wrong.

Martha said...

You hit the nail on the head. I can't understand why you get unrelated searches when you click exact. I would love to find another company that gives better results, but, as you said, A is one of the big players and they have a huge amount of records (if you could only access them).