Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

A Update

I taught a class about on Sunday evening at the Brigham Young University Family History Library and realized that it had been some time since I wrote about the program and my experiences with it. I also noticed that the number of Smart Matches on my family tree had exceeded 100,000 and my Record Matches stood at 16,307. I am apparently hopeless behind in evaluating and attaching these suggested records to my family tree.

I don't think I would ever have thought that I would be in a position to have more research leads than I could handle. Most of my research involves searching online and in microfilm records. For example, last night I spent four hours looking for records on microfilm in a specific parish in England and found about four records. The reason I was looking at microfilm was simple. The records are not yet digitized on any website I can find online.  But the contrast between the ease of accessing records from record hints on and my efforts in searching through microfilm is enormous.

Another interesting fact is that the number of individuals I have in my family tree on continues to grow. I have never been one to add names to my family tree simply for the purpose of doing so. But, I have noticed that many of the families I have neglected are being "fleshed out" by adding in all the individuals from U.S. Census Records and other similar records automatically found by the Record Match and Record Detective technologies.

Now, the same discussion points could be made about all of the other large online database programs that provide record hints. But the main difference, as usual, is both the quantity of records suggested and the accuracy of the suggestions. In all cases, searches initiated by the user are not as accurate as those suggested by the programs. In addition, none of the record hinting programs are infallible. The user always has to make an evaluation of the accuracy of the match.

The huge number, over 100,000, Smart Matches is astonishing but not very useful to me personally. I probably do have that many relatives, but the key here is which of this huge number of people do I really need or want to talk to? The answer is very few. However, there is a better method for dealing with both the number of Smart Matches and the number of Record Matches. The method is to focus on the people am presently researching. If these people have matches then those matches can be evaluated and added. If not, I can simply ignore the rest until I need them to add people to my family tree. In this way my research is driven by me rather than the automated programs.

I am still very impressed with the entire website and the company. I get constant positive feedback from users instead of the questions and concerns of a few years ago. I also find a number of people using as their primary database rather than using a local program.


  1. James, I feel lucky that my Smart matches are only at around 1,400. Even at that, I just don't have time to go through that many people to see if there is anything new to add to my tree. In the past I have checked a few on occasion but found mostly that the lines were very distant to mine and most of the researchers engaged were not related themselves to me. I think, to alleviate this problem I may have to (should) cut back on the number of people I have on the site. That might stop some of the traffic. The biggest bug-a-boo to MyHeritage is that no one could possible find the time or energy to confirm all the matches or risk end up having no time to work on other things. I don't know what the answer is to this dilemma.

    1. My answer is to focus on the individuals and families you are researching and ignore the rest for the time being until you need to use the hints for further research.