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

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Questions about

I received the following from a reader:
I'm pretty good with software, and I work with large databases (and sometimes matching them) for a living. But I'm still flummoxed.
1a. You wrote: "You are only really interested in the people you are actually researching. So, I suggest ignoring the rest unless you are actually researching the person in the match. " -- one of the trees that's a match says it matches over 135 folks in it. Are you suggesting I look over those 135 to see if it's somebody I'm researching?
1b. If a "confirm" a match to this other tree, what, exactly, have I done. Am I making a statement regarding all 135 folks? What if, e.g., I think that half of the other tree's data is good, and half isn't?
2. I long suspected that "Record" matches is where I'd get the bang for the buck. Today my record matches appeared. I found that I had "9 matches in Texas Births, 1926 - 1995" -- so I pulled that up and . . . . none of those nine folks are even _in_ my tree! All nine appear in somebody else's tree who, for some reason, I am allowed to access. How did that happen? OTOH, when I go to my own tree and lick on "Record Matches" -- I get: "There are currently no Record Matches in your family site. Please come back to check this page soon as we are continuing to search for you. " It's been 2+ weeks, for whatever that's worth.
Either the documentation is really sparse, or I can't find the "real" documentation to what's going on.
Might you readers be having similar problems?
As in some of the responses I have received in the past, this one raises a number of unrelated issues. Let me be clear, right from the start. I am not on the staff nor do I work for I have written and spoken favorably about the product and for very good reasons. I do not find the operation of the program overly complicated or difficult. All I can say about the product comes from my personal experience. I find the program fabulously useful.

Now, to the questions raised. I would also point out that trying to answer questions such as these without the benefit of actually seeing what is going on with the database is difficult and may be impossible. I have worked through several similar issues with people at the Mesa FamilySearch Library and I have found in every single case that the difficulties originated with the GEDCOM file that had been uploaded to create the online tree. In most cases, after examining the file, I have recommended that they delete their file and re-load a new "clean" GEDCOM file. Each time, if they did this, the problems they attributed to the program disappeared or were solved (however you want to view them).

In the first place it seems this reader is complaining that the program is doing too good of a job. He is upset because he has 135 matches. AND? Like I said to him previously, if you aren't interested in examining the matches, ignore them. If you think that their might be some value, you have to decided whether or not you want to examine them. The program has done its job and left the decisions up to the user.

The next question has nothing to do with the first. The program says that 135 of the folks in the other tree match people in your tree. If you believe this, you can confirm the matches. If you don't, you have two choices, either ignore the suggested match or examine it and decide it it is valid. From my standpoint, I would simply spot check the match to see if the other tree had any listed sources, if not, I would ignore it, match or no match. Most of the time, a tree without sources is not worth my time.

I simply have not got enough data to even respond to the questions about the Record Matches. I defer to my earlier statements about solving similar problems by fixing the GEDCOM file data. This is something that cannot be done without looking at the file being uploaded.

The Support page has a Help Center, Forums and Video Tutorials. My reader doesn't indicate if he has tried any of these avenues of support. The Support Center link is at the bottom of the startup page.

Over the past year, since the previous RootsTech 2013 Conference, I have fielded a lot of these questions here locally. So far, all of the people who complained to me have the same continuing complaint, too many suggested sources to work through. This is not really a complaint. All it really says is that the program is doing what it is supposed to do. I repeat, I can only answer from my own experience.

Today's complaint from a patron at the Mesa FamilySearch Library about was interesting. Upon examining the person's complaint about the program not working, we found that she had not uploaded a GEDCOM file but only put in three names. She had no family tree for the program to work with. Excuse me, if I get just a little exasperated with some of the complaints. This is probably a good reason why I should never get a job in Customer Service.


  1. I have to say this isn't about MyHeritage, but I have greater empathy for your reader because of it. I ran an experiment this month in using FamilySearch Family Tree (FSFT) in order to see what other people were talking about. My friends took a very limited case study (a case of a missing parent) and tried to track down the parent in FSFT along with the records for the family. What they found was an unmitigated mess of endless variants, what my husband dubbed "super people" in which multiple unique individuals became one (one poor woman had 42 husbands within 2 years!, and endless confusion over the sheer volume of the data in front of them.

    So I have empathy for the person with the 135 tree matches. And yes, we worked through all of the thousands of entries for this one small family, corrected all of them, merged all the correct variant people correctly, and separated out the individuals that had accidentally been merged. It took us a long time and a lot of work, but it made me really see how the volume of data can be a real problem to someone say, who's been doing their genealogy on paper for a long time and/or does not use a current family tree software.

    But to your reader, the best part about hints/matches is that they are just that. Hints. And they will stay there forever until they are deleted or matched. You can do 5 a week for the next seven months and you'd have all 135 dealt with. You can steadily and patiently work through all of them and none of them will expire, laugh at you, or do anything other than sit there. These are the kind of situations in which the people who are collecting the information for their family and the people who really enjoy genealogy are separated. As one who enjoys genealogy, after I get over that overwhelmed feeling, I'm the kind of gal who would patiently wade through all the matches and see if any of them have anything of value to me.

    1. Thanks for your thoughtful response. I have the same opinion.