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March 10, 2014

A Lot of Gnashing of Teeth over New Search vs Old Search

A Lot of Gnashing of Teeth over New Search vs Old Search
Approximately one year ago, warned users that they would be eliminating the Old Search Engine at year's end. Meantime New Search was online and users were encouraged to use it, get used to it and be ready for Old Search to disappear.

Last Monday Old Search was removed from the website.  The predictable happened. The same genealogists who moan and groan every time any website makes changes (Facebook comes to mind...) were once more front and center. Complaints ("New Search sucks!" "I hate New Search") and threats ("I'll unsubscribe if they don't bring Old Search back!") poured onto Facebook and other Social Media.

But let's look at the facts. According to only 3% of their users were still sticking to Old Search when both options were available. Also, no matter how much a vocal minority claimed that Old Search was better, it wasn't. New Search is more powerful and can do so much more than Old Search.

Yes it is a new tool. There is a learning curve. It doesn't work the same way as Old Search. But we all had over a year to learn how to make the best use of it to deliver the results we are looking for. And there are several excellent tips and videos on using New Search that are available to help the transition.

So why are some genealogists refusing to give it a try? I believe it is because deep down we don't like change. And the older we get the less we like it! One of my Facebook friends said he was cancelling his subscription to Ancestry because using New Search was frustrating. I bet it was equally frustrating when he learned to do long division or ride a bike or swim or drive a car. But I also bet he persevered and learned how to do it.

And for those who are threatening to unsubscribe or who have already done so in protest, that's what my mother always called "Biting off your nose to spite your face". Yes there are many wonderful genealogy websites out there. And yes, FamilySearch has so many databases you could spend weeks going through them. But Ancestry has many databases that are not online anywhere else. So I truly don't understand why anyone would deliberately cut themselves off from accessing every possible database they could.

I use New Search. And I like it. I have no problems narrowing down my searches to get more relevant results. If you want to learn how to use New Search, please have a look at these wonderful tips that Randy Seaver has been posting and the Videos that Crista Cowan has put online.

Start with Randy's post Ancestry Drops "Old Search" - Hysteria Ensues He has links there to his helpful tips for using New Search. Then pop over to YouTube for one of Crista Cowan's videos Smart Search: Tips & Tricks

You might also check out my July 2013 blog post Old Search vs New Search - Your Chance to Submit Feedback. It's too late for feedback but you can read the explanation from and follow their links for tips and suggestions.

Just because something is new or different doesn't mean we all have to ignore it or get angry, or cry out "why do they have to keep changing things". It's called progress. And without progress we would still be using smoke signals as a method of communication instead of email, texting, telephones, Skype, iPhones, Video Chats, Magic Jack and more.  And who knows, those genealogists who are refusing to accept New Search might just surprise themselves with how great it is if they gave it half a chance.


Anonymous said...

We just participated in a Google Hangout "Monday's with Myrt" with a guest panelist, Amy Johnson Crow from She gave a good explanation of the "New" search which has actually been out there for about 5 years all together. Here's a link to Myrt's Community where you can click the link for the Hangout dated Monday, March 10, 2014:

Amy said...

I guess I am lucky that I never knew what Old Search was! I've been doing this for less than a year, so I've only known New Search. Works for me!

Anonymous said...

SOMETHING is wrong with any
search tool that will simply not pull up a surname when set for exact search. When you know for a fact people by that name were living there. So yes, it does suck.

Johnny Cure-dents said...

You can say what you will, neither Old or New Search are are up to the propaganda Ancestry lavishes on its site. Check just two "exact" boxes -- any two will do -- and not only do all hits dry up, but you are told ''no records available''. And how many times have I searched Ancestry where I pay, found nothing, and then tried FamilySearch where I don't pay. At FamilyS I finally find what I am looking for, then plug in the exact dates and places at Ancestry and BINGO!, all the records suddenly show up! Why should we pay for "search engines" of that miserable quality? So gnashing of teeth is justified but it shouldn't harp on the Old and New dance; there are plenty of other more serious problems at Ancestry, problems that should have been solved with the money used instead for the Old-New razzle-dazzle.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the "cutting off your nose to spite your fact" remark. I'd forgotten that one, but it is extremely apt. I've been using the new search since it came out. I used to have trouble figuring out how to use filters. The new search engine was a great tool for learning how to create and use filters.

Lorine McGinnis Schulze said...

Anon - If you are not finding any hits on your surname when using Exact Search then why are you ticking that box?

Also, names were often spelled or recorded or indexed incorrectly. That is why wildcards are your friend!

Use wildcards (* and ?) on Ancestry to replace letters and you'll be surprised what turns up

Lorine McGinnis Schulze said...

Johnny Cure-dents - please read my response to Anon - if you are not finding what you want on Ancestry, then you are not using the search engine to its full capabilities.

Use wildcards to offset names that are not spelled correctly in the original record (Smyth instead of Smith for example) or have been badly indexed. (Limpson for Simpson for e.g.) It is NOT the fault of the search engine, it is the fault of the user.

All you need to do is learn the ins and outs of every search engine you use. They are all different

rottenralf said...

The problem is with ancestry's notion that more is better. You don't have to look any further than the surname boards. Go to a board, any board. What is the default on the search box? It is search the entire site. If you are already on a surname board you want to narrow down the focus, not increase it. Ancestry's mindset is the problem. A search should narrow results, not increase them. Narrowing the results should be the default, not the thing you have to jump through hoops for.

Mountain Mama said...

If it ain't broke - don't fix it. If it is, fix it right.

Ancestry has NOT fixed it right IMHO. I have an opinion on why they have so very many problems compared to sites such as FamilySearch and FindMyPast. Off shore programers who don't understand common naming conventions and parameters such as dates of birth and death. It is the only possible explanation for the sh*t on the wall search results I consistently get. Ancestor born 1630, died 1692, first result is an 1880 US census - HUH???

And I do understand wildcards - as a trainer I taught the concept.

Anonymous said...

I have been a customer with Ancestry since day one. The new search sucks. It's that simple because I'm a network administrator.

Unknown said...

Its hard to take someone serious who defends when they are one of your financial sponsors. Tainted review. I'm sure you will not publish this comment.

Lorine McGinnis Schulze said...

Likewise "unknown" I generally don't take seriously those who don't leave their names on a comment.

However allow me to clarify. is not a "sponsor". They don't pay me to write about them or their products.

They are one of several ADS I put on my blog and websites. Many websites have ads. It does not mean that website is bound to say only positive things about whatever company ads they carry.

My opinions on my blog are my own. I like Ancestry. I like New Search. You are entitled to your opinion. I have no problem with readers disagreeing with me!

But don't call me a shill. That I do find offensive.

Anonymous said...

Ancestry does have issues. I called their help desk because photos located would not download to my computer( as opposed to my familytree maker) These systems are supposed to work in concert. In spite of the clearly labeled download to my computer feature that did not work the teck. stated the program/ancestry were not designed to work that way. Also if familysearch has an easily located name it should show up following the leaf. I should not need to open ancestry out side my familytreemaker and enter the name for search to locate that name.

Lorine McGinnis Schulze said...

Dear Anonymous - why do you and other "Anonymous" posters not sign your comments with your names?

If you have an opinion, stand behind it! Sign your name otherwise those of us who are not afraid to stand up and voice an opinion WITH OUR NAMES SHOWING, will be taken more seriously.

Lorine McGinnis Schulze said...

To Anonymous re photos not downloading etc.

It never ceases to amaze me that many subscribers want perfection. They have a long list of items that they believe are necessary.

Yet I see a lot of Ancestry bashing when money is mentioned. I wonder if people realize just how much $ it costs to hire the best programmers, the best web designers, etc etc.

Sorry but I"m just sitting here shaking my head.