Exact searches to be exact
Ron Tanner said: Both Family Tree Find and Records offer an exact search. In Family Tree Find, click the advanced search at the bottom to see the exact check boxes. On Records the checkboxes are there.0
Paul said: At least it has been acknowledged previously that there are deficiencies in the exact match workings of FamilySearch itself. I find it very frustrating to get so many irrelevant results even if the exact match boxes are checked.
See comments by Robert Kehrer at https://getsatisfaction.com/familysea...1
Paul said: Having spent so many "wasted" hours recently in trying to find sources in FamilySearch for known individuals I thought it appropriate to raise this issue again.
Suppose I am searching for a common name in England, like John Harrison, whose middle name I know begins with a "W". Is it really impossible to create a search program that looks for the "literally exact" name required - e.g. John W Harrison, then lists these first, followed by John William Harrisons, John Wilson Harrisons, etc., and plain John Harrison results? It is a real pain having to look through pages and pages of "hits" for John W(.....) Harrisons and being presented with John George and plain John Harrisons before those John Harrisons with a middle name beginning with "W".
As described previously, it is bad enough that you can't search on an age range in collections such as the England & Wales 1851 and 1891 censuses, but some improvement is surely needed to help in finding exact matches in FamilySearch. The present system is fine for unusual names but when looking for Smiths, Clarkes, Browns, Harrisons, etc. you really need to be able to refine your searches in order to save valuable time.
(In the example below it is shown how that even if you know the middle name of "your" John Harrison begins with a "W" you still might have to go through hundreds of records to find, John W.... Harrisons, mixed-in with John Thomas Harrisons, etc. In a search for "John W" websites such as FreeBMD include John W, John William, John Wilson, etc. in their results. )
robertkehrer said: Paul,
We plan on enhancing the logic for the exact searches in the near future. It will honor the text you enter into the field as you entered it with the following exceptions:
1) It will ignore spaces. (ex de la vega = delavega)
2) It will ignore diacritics (ex. pena=peña)
3) It will ignore capitalization (ex. smith=Smith)
4) It will ignore punctuation (ex O'Brien=OBrien)
All other differences in the text entered will cause records to not be returned.
Each of these exceptions has been evaluated by expert researchers and is meant to balance the types of searches that would not be possible with the complexity of historical record curation and known cultural realities.
I'd appreciate your thoughts.
Paul said: Robert
Thank you for your quick response - I was still amending my text at the time!
Basically, I would be happy if I could enter, for example, " John W* " in the first name field and be presented with results for John W Harrison, John William Harrison, John Walton Harrison - but not John Thomas Harrison or plain John Harrison results. Alternatively, if the latter could not be omitted, I would like to see them further down the list of results.
Believe me, it has been very wearing, over the past week, trying to find the "correct" individuals with relatively common English names, as shown in this example. If I could have the results reduced to tens rather than hundreds (even thousands in some searches) I will be delighted at whatever method you might adopt to refine "exact" searches!0
Marek Klein said: I can see the exact search boxes, but the results do not correspond to the criteria given0
It seems this has been an ongoing user issue since at least 2015 (according to the comments). And here we are in 2021 and "exact" still doesn't mean exact.0
Paul W ✭✭✭✭✭
Whilst this feature is not perfect, I believe FamilySearch handles this type of search far better than, say, Ancestry or Find My Past.
The example illustrated at https://www.familysearch.org/search/record/results?q.givenName=john*&q.givenName.exact=on&q.surname=wright&q.surname.exact=on&q.birthLikePlace=sunderland*&q.birthLikePlace.exact=on&q.birthLikeDate.from=1861&q.birthLikeDate.to=1871&count=20&offset=0&m.defaultFacets=on&m.queryRequireDefault=on&m.facetNestCollectionInCategory=on shows what you should be getting back as results in a search for records relating to a John Wright (with of without a middle name / initial) born at Sunderland between 1861 and 1871. If you purely want birth event results, you can filter out the census ones from the options provided on the left hand side of the results page.
I know the expected results do not always turn out to appear as well as this, so perhaps you can provide examples of where your "exact match" searches are not meeting the criteria, to see if there is any other "workaround" that cuts out those "results" that do not conform to your expectations.
At present, just one more thought: have you found the use of wildcards to be of any help? See https://www.familysearch.org/search/record/results?q.givenName=john%20b*&q.givenName.exact=on&q.surname=wright&q.surname.exact=on&q.birthLikePlace=sunderland*&q.birthLikePlace.exact=on&q.birthLikeDate.from=1861&q.birthLikeDate.to=1871&count=20&offset=0&m.defaultFacets=on&m.queryRequireDefault=on&m.facetNestCollectionInCategory=on, where I have narrowed my requirement to include just those named John B Wright.
(Note: I have also added a wildcard after the place name, as - where there are multiple places in the world of the same name - a plain (say) "Sunderland" input, will not produce any results!)0