I have tried using the filters to narrow the search results both at the top of the search RECORDS page and on the right navigation. The filters do not get applied, meaning no data is being restricted.
Well, I can see that this comment didn't appear to get any HELP at all. I run into the same thing all of the time, where I try to narrow a search down to an EXACT last name, or date of birth, or spouse, or just about any other filter. BUT, they don't appear to work as the results returned are still in the thousands! WHat are we doing wrong?
I'm sure an Exact search on a surname was not working earlier today, but when I tried just now I had no problem. In general, I have found the filters work fine. Occasionally there are a few results at the bottom of the list that do not match the search parameters, but I'm quite happy with the way FamilySearch works - especially compared to Ancestry.
There are lots of complaints on this issue, but very rarely are examples provided, which would allow other users to test to see if they could provide advice that might improve these unsatisfactory experiences in searching.
Examples, please, not just negative comments!
The input methods can get confusing on FS. I think often, people are so busy fighting the interface that they don't notice that they've put the wrong parameters in, and that's why they're getting weird results.
For example, I have had it happen several times now where I put in a date range of "X to X" and get results all over creation ("for some definition of 'between' that I am not familiar with") -- and then when I'm about ready to write it up here in Community, I discover that I put the dates not in the Birth field as I meant to, but in the dratted Any field that Will Not Go Away. (You can keep closing it until you're blue in the face; it'll always come back, unpredictably but inevitably.)
The difference between filters and search parameters will never be easy to grasp, and people will always use the one word where they meant the other, so it's hard to tell from what's posted what exactly went wrong. But here are some thoughts.
- Did you forget to click "apply" on a filter? If you drill down to a birth decade and then decide to filter by place of birth instead, it will not remember or apply that decade.
- Turning on the "exact" boxes (by engaging the slider at the bottom of the right-hand panel) is only step 1. You also need to individually check the box for each text field that you want to match exactly.
The right-hand panel contains search parameters, not filters. The top part, where you put in names and dates, defines what to search for. The bottom part -- "Add Record Options" -- defines where to search. Filters, in contrast, apply after a search has been made. They help you sort through the results by showing you only the ones that meet a criterion.
In addition to the timing, parameters and filters also differ in their logic. Parameters are generally treated as a logical "or": if you tell it to search for Anne born in 1880 with a father named Steve, it will match Anne born in 1880 to Steve, but also Anne born in 1870 to Rupert, and Mary born in 1880 with no father named. Filters, on the other hand, are a logical "and": if you filter for births in the 1880s and birthplaces in Continental Europe, then the list will only contain entries where there is a birthdate in the 1880s _and_ a birthplace that the database categorizes as continental Europe. Births in the 1880s in the U.S. and European births in the 1870s will both be excluded.
On a practical level, the distinction doesn't always matter: whether you told it to only search in Zimbabwe (using the Record Options), or to only show you records from Zimbabwe (using a filter), the result should be a list of records from Zimbabwe. But when you decide to tweak your search, or when you're getting unexpected results, it helps to keep them straight.
I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one that finds the dates I enter wind up in the wrong fields. Even when I'm being VERY careful, and have made sure to open the birth or death range, my dates wind up in the "any" field. I don't think it is ALWAYS my error.
@DaveCorson The best thing to do if you are having problems with a search, is to post the URL of the search result list, explain what you were trying to search for, and explain what results you expected to see. Anyone can click on the URL you post and see exactly what search criterial and filters you applied and see the same results you saw, even the FamilySearch engineers, and can then evaluate as to whether is it a problem with how you set up the search or a problem with the search engine.