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IN DEFENCE OF ANCESTRY 'HINT' AND 'POTENTIAL' SUGGESTIONS

Discussion in 'General Genealogical Queries' started by Bob Spiers, Apr 3, 2021.

  1. Bob Spiers

    Bob Spiers LostCousins Superstar

    I do think the 'Green Leaf' HINTS provided by Ancestry - along with POTENTIAL suggestions -have beeen getting a bad press in the Forum and wish to redress the balance. I believe they are more beneficial than the 'sheer waste of time ' others claim, and will try to explain why.

    First, let me digress (as is my way) to our lunchime breaks (my wife and I) when after a Sandwich and a cup of coffee (for me always tea) we rest. My wife to her crossword and I likely to a snooze in my 'Cumfy' Chair - "Not the Cumfy chair" -shades of Monty Phython - with legs elevated and back tilted. But I do not doze for long as it will be an unusual day when my wife does not seek help with her crossword..."A 7 letter word, of which she has 3 already and gives the clue of an Aquatic Mammal" (or whatever). My answer half asleep can sometime be quite erratic and draws the comment..."No silly, that has 8 letters and isn't aquatic"...and so on and so forth. Until that magic moment when my reply achieves..."YES" (said aloud)..." you are right so why didn't I think of that"? Say no more.

    Ancestry are attempting to provide the same help and like our own database of knowledge drawn from education and experience, their's is only as good as the the multitudinous inputs obtained from Trees entrusted to their safe keeping and the dexterity of Algorithm mixing and matching. Some they get right and some they get wrong ( and yes sometimes hopelessly wrong) but whoopee when they are bang on target. Here is a recent example of my own.

    Helping my new Senior Researcher friend piece together family members (siblings of his father) of whom he knows little, I began with a search (England based) and in doing so received a HINT about a Canadian Passenger List and was about to kick it into touch when something made me view the original. I found not just the person sought by name (a child aged 10), but with him two younger siblings. Alongside all was the annotation " Orphanage". Long story short (because it did take a fair bit of time and two way messaging) to establish he knew one of the girls was sent to Canada after the death of her mother, and although intended to be taken in by an Aunt, she had died and the girl ended up in a Canadian Orphanage. The siblings clearly ended up in the same Orphanage and one of his (brick wall type) mysteries was resolved. Well done Ancestry and the ramifications from that search result were quite remarkable and it all came from a HINT.

    Like others I have had absurd suggestions offered by way of HINTS and for that matter POTENTIAL offerings about this that and the other. Some were clearly nonsensical -wrong dates, names, places although to be fair I could often see the rationale behind the algorithm driven offering. It just needed my "degree of knowledge and experience" (as recently mentioned in a DNA subject posting) to allow me to make my own assessment..

    I personally enjoy Ancestry HINTS & POTENTIALS and take them all in my stride, and waste little time in assessing their bona fides. Some straight to the Scrap Bin; some deserving further investigation and YES (emulating my wife when I provide a right answer) when they are bang on target.

    Best advice is to follow the house buyers guide "CAVEAT EMPTOR" (Buyer beware) and apply the same logic. Check them out and rejoice when they enhance your research knowledge and 'bear with' when they do not.
     
    • Agree Agree x 2
  2. Helen7

    Helen7 LostCousins Superstar

    I agree with you Bob. As long as you treat Hints and Potentials as exactly that, something to be investigated and certainly not accepted blindly, they can be very helpful. Many can be easily dismissed for the reasons you state, while others are worthy of further investigation.

    When researching a relative of my husband's (admittedly fairly distant and only by marriage), Ancestry came up with a Hint that suggested she was a crew member on the Titanic. I initially thought "no way" especially as the woman was listed just with an initial and surname (and 'Mrs'), with no age given. However, further research showed it was absolutely spot on. Her occupation fitted with her 1911 census entry, and I was able to trace her life through other records after she survived the Titanic sinking and eventually emigrated to the USA. I even found a video of her being interviewed on YouTube! So I discovered something interesting that I wouldn't have known about but for the Ancestry Hint.
     
    • Thanks! Thanks! x 2
  3. At home in NZ

    At home in NZ LostCousins Star

    I am guilty as charged.
    Hints I can live with but for POTENTIAL, I think you mean 'Possible', I have absolutely no time whatever because when I do click on the offering I find the search has 'All Collections' and the first records listed are from USA. That is really annoying when you are almost certain the person was baptised, married or died in Ireland.
    I have never yet had anything like a 'hit' with these Possible records.

    Hints are annoying when they are incorrect but I do get the occasional 'hit' from them and do examine every one that looks likely.
    The most annoying thing about them is the sheer number that build up 'behind your back'. I have more Hints in some of my trees than there are people.
     
  4. Bob Spiers

    Bob Spiers LostCousins Superstar

    That amused me (especially the punch line) and quite agree the 'All Collections' bit it really taking the 'mickey'. If they cannot narrow it down further, then it should not be shown as a Potential. I also agree 'hits' (so to speak) are not really things associated with Potentials, as they can be with Hints, but when the potential turns out to be on track (as determined by me, not them), I am grateful to receive same.

    I also like your 'more Hints than people' comment and know exactly what you mean. I recently came across 42 Hits for one person, and wouldn't have minded but he happened to be just a 'passing ship in the night'. But, curiosity aroused I checked them out and after obseving the first half dozen, found he was not the person sought - but clearly someone loved him somewhere.
     
  5. At home in NZ

    At home in NZ LostCousins Star

    :D
    Thanks, you have a way with words too.
     
  6. Bob Spiers

    Bob Spiers LostCousins Superstar

    Only just spotted your correction to Possible, and at first wondered why that was as I only recalled Potential. However, having researched since, I see there are in fact 3 Hint types: the green leave HINT itself which leads on to other Hints; the 'Potential' (showing as such for a 'Potential' father and mother) and one just discerned (likely just never noticed before) 'Possible' Marriage Records.

    So that only leaves 'Perhaps' 'Probable' 'Plausible' 'Practicable' to go.;)
     
  7. Pauline

    Pauline LostCousins Superstar

    I haven't had a great deal of success with Ancestry hints, since they seem to fall either into the 'already have' category or the 'definitely not' category.

    I do always take the time to say why I am ignoring a hint though how much notice is taken of what I say, I don't know.

    The hints that really annoy me are those which show just names without any access to a place or dates, and I usually point out with these that there is insufficient information in the source to know if the record might be relevant or not. I think these come from FamilySearch but the format renders them completely useless.
     
  8. At home in NZ

    At home in NZ LostCousins Star

    I'd forgotten about the Potentials because I switched them off as all of those I looked at led to other family trees.

    When in a Profile, there is the Hints tab which contains the green leaf Hints. Those I can live with and have similar experience to Pauline although I do sometimes get new info.

    There might also be the Possible record which appears mid screen and looks like this:
    upload_2021-4-5_22-56-22.png
    Selecting the green Search takes you to the Search with the All Collections focus I mentioned in thread #3.
    Sometimes the Search reads Hint, and that is treating me like an imbecile :rolleyes:
    When you click on the X you are given choices for feedback. I mostly leave them blank now, I have better things to do with my time.
    Ditto with why I reject a Hint, I used to take the trouble with those but when you get something like 14 or 20 Hints per person it's too time consuming.
     
  9. PhilGee

    PhilGee LostCousins Member

    Unfortunately, I take that as a challenge! An example 'Plausible' hint relates to my 2gt-GF, one John Jones living in Swansea born ca. 1837 (before civil registration), who appears on the 1911 census. Without additional information, there is one death in 1914 that is an 'exact' match (and appears in all trees with said John Jones, as far as I can tell). If you try the basic test - 'Is there another match on the last census?', there is a second possibility who happens to match a burial at the appropriate time.

    That leaves four deaths a couple of years either side of 1921 which I hope to whittle down in the near future! My favourites at the moment are 1920 and 1923.

    As an aside, his place of birth in trees varies widely, though filtering census data by comparing "occupations" and using his children's names, it appears the 1891 census is correct (and his married sister is in the next household). The next big mystery is 'Who did he marry before 1860?' as he is a 'widower' when he married my 2gt-GM.

    Phil
     
  10. Pauline

    Pauline LostCousins Superstar

    Do you mean you click 'Other' and then leave the box blank? I don't seem to be able to dismiss the search hint unless I blob one of the options.
    A lot of the time I can just choose one or more of the specified options, but when going for the 'Other' option I make good use of copy and paste.
     
  11. Bob Spiers

    Bob Spiers LostCousins Superstar

    I no longer give choices for feedback and just X out the enquiry and it goes away.
     
  12. At home in NZ

    At home in NZ LostCousins Star

    Yes I do.
    Click the X, select Other then Submit.
     

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