1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.
  2. If you're looking for the LostCousins site please click the logo in the top left corner - these forums are for existing LostCousins members only.
  3. Both the main LostCousins site and this forum have been upgraded to that you can log-in securely. If you are not automatically taken to the secure site simply add https:// at the beginning of the URL.
  4. Only registered members can see all the forums - if you've received an invitation to join please register NOW!

Ancestry Public Trees versus Private -an invited Referendum

Discussion in 'Comments on the latest newsletter' started by Bob Spiers, Feb 10, 2018.

  1. Pauline

    Pauline LostCousins Star

    Specifying the county rather than a specific parish doesn't seem to help if there is no birthplace entered, though sometimes people without a birthplace entered show up when I search with England as the place. Other times, people are only showing up in a search if I don't specify a place at all.
  2. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    No, I wouldn't expect it to. Ancestry could do better (and so could those who upload the trees in the first place, although it's much simpler for Ancestry to fix).
  3. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    Just try doing that and you'll soon see how impractical it is! Unless you are very precise in your search you'll get thousands of results, perhaps millions (remember you're searching on a surname, no forename, no date of birth) - are you really going to open each one to find out if they are DNA cousins?

    The way you search a few thousand trees (ie your DNA matches) is very, very different from the way you search tens of millions of trees. Or should be - as ever, you have to be flexible to get the best results.

    There are some quirks in the way that Ancestry's search works. But you most certainly can search by surname and place at the same time.

    Sadly there are lots of anomalies in the way that the Ancestry site works, some of which have been raised in recent newsletters, others will be in the next newsletter. But if a search works most of the time that's better than nothing.

    Fortunately it is rarely necessary to search by both surname and place when you're only searching a few thousand trees.
  4. PhilGee

    PhilGee LostCousins Member

    I did say:

    Though I think that Ancestry's interpretation of "exact" seems to be "any 3 characters in the right sequence" :eek:

    I think that's enough "off topic" from me. Anyone got comments on Bob's original posting!
  5. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    But you don't want to search your DNA matches by forename or date of birth - that would be a very poor strategy. The aim of searching by surname (or by place) is to identify from the 10-20,000 matches the few hundred who have in their tree relatives with the same surname as the ancestors in your tree.

    None of this is off-topic because it's exposing misunderstandings about private trees. How can we discuss the pros and cons if we don't know the facts?

    I accept that we're also straying into techniques for analysing DNA matches, but since there are now many more people who have tested their DNA at Ancestry than there are Ancestry subscribers, it's hardly a specialised niche, and most of the emails I get asking for advice about Ancestry trees are from people who have tested their DNA.
  6. Bob Spiers

    Bob Spiers LostCousins Star

    Thank you Phil, I don't think we are off topic so much as to say I began with the Mississippi river, and we are now navigating one of its many tributaries...just watch we don't end up in the Big Muddy River (and yes it is real)!
  7. Bob Spiers

    Bob Spiers LostCousins Star

    That doesn't say a lot for other Ancestry researchers and I believe the ones you allude to are few and far between and best left to their own devices. Hints are what they are and I use them a lot and am grateful for them. It is the work of a moment to bypass those that have no relevance for whatever reason: wrong place; wrong time; wrong names, et al. I just choose 'IGNORE' and move on, concentrating on those that could be (and often are) relevant.

    Hints are after all computer generated discovered from within Ancestry's huge data base , and which - apart from 'Ancestry member Trees' (where idiosyncrasies can lurk)- are reasonably on target and great time savers.
  8. Bob Spiers

    Bob Spiers LostCousins Star

    I accept this fully on the basis that any tree is better than no tree at all, and it still astonishes me that people have taken the trouble to get a DNA test and have no tree to link to. It has to be the false lure of ethnicity and how disappointed most people will be if that was their prime reason for taking a test.
    Yes perhaps, but in my defence I reiterate I am promoting a Public Tree over a Private one in Ancestry when used for genealogical research; not just for linking to a DNA test. That is where I hang my hat and of course accept you take the polar opposite position.
  9. Pauline

    Pauline LostCousins Star

    It's very difficult to assess the proportion accurately, as although I fairly regularly browse through Ancestry trees (not just for DNA purposes), I tend to look only at those containing my ancestors & relatives, so not a random sample. It's also the case that where I do find a tree with ludicrous and impossible information, that information has frequently been copied to numerous other trees, further skewing my impression.

    In general though, when looking for a particular person, I might come across a few trees containing rational and seemingly correct information about the person and their ancestry, another few with very little information (and there's nothing wrong with that) and then, all too often, the greatest number displaying the same obviously wrong information.
    Well, I guess we will all have differing experiences of this. I have yet to be offered a hint offering information that I wasn't already aware of, though on one occasion a hint did alert me that I had omitted to enter details of a marriage found relatively recently. I live in hope that an Ancestry hint will break down one of my long standing brick walls, but it hasn't happened yet.
  10. Bob Spiers

    Bob Spiers LostCousins Star

    I think Pauline it is a question of expectation. I cannot in all truth recall a Hint even half way solving a brick wall, and doubt I ever will. The best one can hope for is finding a full BMD date or putting a name to a middle initial. I am occasionally also surprised when a Hint reveals a Census that had eluded me on a search, sometimes for ages and not unknown failing to find in FMP. If that Census goes on to reveal new information, then it is bonus time. I suppose the old adage applies: "he who expects nothing is never disappointed"

    I have mixed thoughts when checking Hints for other Member (Public) Trees who purport to have the same ancestor. Yes there one can come across the occasional crackpot, or slightly misguided person -just pray not yourself and that can (and has) happened - and then voilà, your instinct tells you have likely found the real McCoy (whoever he was). If on further investigation -and hopefully communication - you discover your instinct was right, then 'God bless Hints' I say. Otherwise Hints are just another day at the office.;)
  11. PhilGee

    PhilGee LostCousins Member

    I'm on Pauline's side of the fence here!

    Whilst I agree with:

    this is another matter

    Just because I haven't found "suitable/actual" death data, why does a person with UK only records/references get (what seems like) 70% plus USA related hints?

    Apart from the last phrase, this is my perception; though I have seen one tree where, in the space of a few weeks, a birth near Manchester was followed by a baptism in Essex and a (correct) entry in a census taken in west Wiltshire - the place referenced in all the other family records, almost certainly a "hint acceptance" error.

    or that they did, in fact, emigrate before 1841 even though you cannot find the data :)

    That's the benefit of the Ancestry "members corrections" to transcripts!

    (Oh! yes I have changed the picture in line with Peter's rules)
  12. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    I think you have to remember that a lot of test kits are given as presents, particularly Christmas presents.

    People who have not done any research into their family tree are likely to accept the ethnicity results - why wouldn't they? And for someone living in a country made up of immigrants it might well be all they want to know at this stage in their lives.
  13. Bob Spiers

    Bob Spiers LostCousins Star

    Likely because you have opted out of a localised UK & Ireland search catchment in favour of 'All Records'. I know I have been there and had to change the default back to UK & Ireland. Mind you that more usually happens when you conduct a general search, but could affect Hints.
  14. Tim

    Tim Moderator Staff Member

    I believe, from my experience of using hints, is that they actually come from other Members (both private and public) Trees. There is no other way Ancestry can join the dots between a name you enter into your tree and that persons censuses, or a single marriage or a death.

    This exactly what I would do if I had a vast amount of family trees in my data base. If a name matches then suggest the facts from those trees as a hint to the next user. As others have mentioned, I also use ignore a lot, but what would be really nice is if Ancestry used these ignores to detect possible errors and feed these back to the original submitters.

    I have my tree private. People often contact me about people in my tree. Having a private tree stops the non researchers from blindly adding similar names from your tree into their totally different tree.

    Ancestry have their definitions for Private and Public trees here. You will note that what you enter in private trees is findable in searches.

    If your tree is public:
    Other users can view all content in your tree except information about living people and notes. Other users can also see your username or full name depending on your account settings.

    If your tree is private:
    Other users cannot view the contents of your tree. However, limited information about deceased individuals in your tree (name, birth year, birthplace, and any documents you upload) will appear in search results within Ancestry Community sites. For example, if you upload a picture of a deceased family member to a private tree - while no one can view that picture from your private tree, search results for that individual might show limited information for the uploaded photograph (such as the name of the picture and the ancestor the image is tied to). If the searching party then tried to view the photograph from the search - the site would tell them that the image is in a private tree and that they would have to contact that user directly to view it. A user could then contact you anonymously through the Ancestry messaging service, and you can decide whether or not to respond or give them access.

    If your tree is unindexed (hidden):
    Other users cannot view the contents of your tree and its contents will not appear in search results within the Ancestry Community. For example, no information about a document uploaded to your unindexed Private tree would show in a search. You can change your Private tree to an unindexed Privacy by clicking “Trees,” choosing a family tree, and then selecting “Tree Settings”. On the “Privacy Settings” tab select the “Also prevent your tree from being found in searches” checkbox.

  15. Bob Spiers

    Bob Spiers LostCousins Star

    I don't recall you taking that charitable stance on ethnicity before, but the point about receiving a DNA test as a Christmas present is a valid one, and many giving same might think that is what the recipient is interested in; and perhaps they may well be.
  16. Pauline

    Pauline LostCousins Star

    I can dream! However, I am not seriously expecting Ancestry to solve a brick wall for me every time I log in - but it would be nice to be offered the occasional useful hint. I have not included census entries in my Ancestry tree as I have records of those elsewhere, and I don't expect Ancestry to know that and stop offering census hints (I only have to ignore them once). But I don't see the value of being offered multiple hints for the same marriage from different data sets when I already have that marriage entered. Nor do I really get why I am being offered such hints as a 1911 census entry for someone whose 18th century baptism, marriage and burial I have already entered.
  17. Pauline

    Pauline LostCousins Star

    I have unticked the box to receive hints from other trees, although doing so doesn't seem to stop hints relating to uploaded images and stories. I was also under the impression that Ancestry is matching names to historic records - that is, doing a search of all their available records in the same way I might do myself - and then offering hints based on the results. But I may be under the wrong impression. :)
    If there was some other way of stopping people from blindly hijacking my family in this way then I would happily make my tree public.
  18. NicolaP

    NicolaP LostCousins Member

    Tim is correct that Ancestry Hints are based on what Ancestry records others have added to their trees, and I believe they have to be added to at least two separate trees to be included as Hints. Hints from trees simply relates to individuals and not to records themselves that others have added to their trees. This explains why so many records are not provided as Hints, something I've noticed on both my Aunt's trees which I have access to and a friend's tree which I host on my Ancestry account.
    • Thanks! Thanks! x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
  19. jorghes

    jorghes LostCousins Member

    One of my ancestors emigrated to Australia in 1839/1840 (left England in 1839 and arrived in 1840), and thus does not appear in any UK censuses. However, there are plenty of trees which have added various census entries for him - there is a similarly named individual who has a wife with the same name, and people seem to ignore the fact that he (my ancestor) was born in Portsea in Hampshire, not Telscombe in Sussex (birthplace of those census documents). A lot of them also add a bunch of children also born in Sussex to their trees, which is strange to view when you take a look.

    As for Public v Private trees on Ancestry, I have both. I have a single large unwieldy Ancestry tree which is public and includes every member of my extended family whom I have so far found, which has helped me find records I hadn't considered, find birth and death records that no other "public" tree has managed to find and allows those with DNA matches to attempt to judge their relationship with me. (There are plenty of people on that tree with unknown names - both first & last, and missing birth/death dates). There are most likely errors in that Public tree. I don't shy away from it, and deleted a bunch of people from a spurious marriage earlier this week - I had someone with two wives when in reality there were two different individuals with the same name. A lovely member of the wider Ancestry family (and always a possible cousin of mine, relationship at this point unknown) pointed out the mistake and I happily edited it (and had a long email conversation while it was happening and managed to help her add some information to her tree at the same time.)

    I also have a bunch of private trees which I share with my wider family. Most of these are much smaller and have (hopefully) much fewer errors. Most of those are unsearchable, because most of the time any information I have found is already in the large Public tree anyway!

    Two points-
    One for public trees - I have so far found more cousins through Ancestry than I have through Lost Cousins (no harm to LC, I think it's a brilliant idea, but I am still only 1 cousin from it, with a bunch of relatives by marriage). One of my cousins I found because they were sharing a multitude of photos that had belonged to their grandparent - and my great-grandmother's family was incorrect on their tree. One I found because I'd accidentally added an incorrect photo somewhere, and they recognised the people. The last two, I found through DNA matches and their public trees. I think I have discovered almost 10 various cousins across Ancestry and DNA links from both sides of my family - Australian, British and Canadian cousins through my father's side, and a bunch of 3rd cousins in Canada, Australia and the UK on my mother's. I once had a conversation with a cousin who had sent me a message because I added a photo from his tree to mine and he wanted to know the connection.

    One for Ancestry's Hints - I have also found the multiple hints for the same event across different record sets trying, but it has come to my attention that often those different record sets often have different information - for example I have had 2-3 records pop up for the same marriage, and while 2 will share just the year, 1 will have the actual date. It is similar for some baptism records. Often some of the cemetery records (particularly those from the US for some reason) also include information about parents, spouses and children that you might not have had previously.
    And even thought some of the hints have been spurious (see above example of my emigrating ancestor whose Ancestry profile keeps randomly adding census hints), the majority that Ancestry offer are correct. Occasionally above and beyond information that I already have - sometimes they offer a correct census record with a married name before you've found the marriage index, etc. Frequently Ancestry will also generate new hints for ancestors you have already "cleared" the hints for - either by adding or ignoring, and it may not have been something that you have previously found.

    But in the end, I have learnt a lot through trial and error when it comes to Ancestry hints. Occasionally when I get back to that leaf of my tree, I prune, remove and correct information I may have incorrectly added previously. And the unfortunate thing is, a lot of people do not get onto Ancestry knowing how to judge good hints/good records/good trees from bad ones. They have to learn and removing all information from them in the way of private or unsearchable trees is not going to help. (My profession is leaking through here).
    I look at it simply. My tree is correct as I can make it, and I prefer that there is something correct on offer as a point of comparison if nothing else.
  20. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    Me too, but I've done it without having a public tree. I've also found more cousins through Genes Reunited, where all trees are private trees. But I've spent many, many more hours searching trees at Ancestry & Genes Reunited than I've spent using LostCousins.

    (Off topic: a good proportion of the cousins I've found through Ancestry were in fact LostCousins members, and often had been for many years - they just hadn't completed their My Ancestors page.)

    Unfortunately Ancestry recently degraded the search results for entries in private trees - you used to be shown the same (or similar) information as in search results for public trees. They're now closer to what you get at Genes Reunited, so a second search might be necessary to confirm that it's the same person.

Share This Page