Newest Search Records behavior is insulting.
edited February 18, 2021 in Suggest an Idea
Juli said: I just input a search with a given name, a film number, and a birth year.On the results page, my input birth year of 1880 was nowhere to be seen, because the birth year search fields had been changed to 1875 and 1885.This is smarter-than-thou behavior of the worst possible sort. Please stop it.If I input 1880, for Heaven's sake search for 1880.Please.
Tom Huber said: Juli, can you provide a screen shot where the parameters were set by you and the year was converted from a single value to a range around that single value?
I suspect this has been in place for some time, but hidden in the background.0
Lundgren said: Thank you for your feedback.
You may be experiencing a change in the behavior that the site is now showing you what it is doing behind the scenes.
For many years, if you just put in a start range year of 1940, it would have shown you 1940 to 1940 but really used 1935 to 1945. That was done to allow users to get more results from records without exact dates. (US Census records and others have estimated birth years that frequently don't match the real birth year.)
Earlier this year the behavior shifted so that if you entered a start year only of 1940 it would auto populate an end year of 1940, but NOT expand the year out to 1935 to 1945 behind the scenes. This precise search causes some records to be missed. The same was true if you picked from 1940 to 1940 or just a start of 1940.
For a search without both ends specified, we have several options.
-We could do exactly what we are told and search from records starting at the beginning range and going open ended into the future. (Probably not what users want.)
-We can guess that the user only enters a start range they really want an end range that is the same as the start range. As noted this does not some records that are of interest generally because the year estimates on records. (This appears to be what you want.)
-When only a start range is specified we can automatically expand it out to a few years before and after the specified start range to pick up the estimated year records and show the user what we are doing. (To me, this feels like the best behavior because we still help out finding the records like last year, but we show you what we are doing.)
If the user wants to have 1940 only, then we will do that now. If the user specifies a start year AND an end year in the range then we will ONLY use that specified range. We will no longer expand it out +-5 years. This will miss estimated records, but that is what the user specifically asked for, so we will do that.
Right now there is an experiment in progress to determine if we should fill the end range with the start range, or if we should move the start and the end out a few years.
For your request, you want 1880 in the to and from values. You can now get the system to only use 1880 without expanding at all. To get the system to do a range of only 1880, fill in both the to and the from values with 1880. It should respect your request if you specify both ends of the range with 1880. If that isn't the case please let us know.
Thank you for your feedback!0
Tom Huber said: Hm. Looks like my suspicions were correct. It seems to me that I figured out this is what was happening in the past. It is good to know that I was correct.
I appreciate the response, Lundgren.0
Juli said: As always, the key is communication.
If there were, say, a little question mark next to the date fields that told us the behavior of the fields and our options, then expanding a single entry to a decade span would be fine. I wasn't putting an end date in because it had previously been my experience that it was a waste of effort: the search would bring up all sorts of things outside the range I specified. Not doing so is an improvement. Changing my inputs without telling me why/how is not.0
Lundgren said: I am not a user interface expert, but I can pass your concerns along to the team that does the user interface.
I can say that there are many more things happening behind the scenes than what we could communicate though info boxes.
As always, thank you again for your input.0
Adrian Bruce said: For what it's worth, my personal take on it is that there are two basic types of search customer. One is the experienced user who is looking for something specific. They are most likely to set filters on the type of records to be returned and on other aspects, and they will do so almost immediately. They will probably filter to specific collections very quickly also, though if there are only a few records returned, there will be no need to do that filtering to specific collections.
For this type of user, loosening their constructed filters and criteria automatically to add more answers because "correct" records are not found by their constructed search, is a counterproductive insult. We probably know that there are other records to be found - and we're not interested! We're looking for X and are not interested in Y, even if it's correct.
The other sort of search customer (and I'm deliberately using the c-word) is the one who isn't using a directed search but simply wants more information to add to a profile. They're not looking for immigration records, say, they're just looking for any correct data.
For this type of customer, loosening their input criteria and filters may make sense if it adds some more "correct" records to the result set than would otherwise be the case. However, even there, loosening may be counterproductive if it means that the user cannot understand what the system is doing. Then again, maybe they don't want to understand - button pressing is their limit. Another pointless aspect of loosening things so that more "correct" records are returned that would otherwise have been missed, is that unless these extra records are sorted carefully, there is no point adding a dozen extra correct records to a list of 200 if they appear towards the bottom of that list. Nobody will ever process 200 records looking for correct answers. Nobody. So why add another bunch if you can't guarantee getting them to the top of the list?
It seems to me that much of the thought about the search experience is going to support the 2nd type of customer. I'm simply trying to add to the discussion and make it clear that different users will have different wants. And yes, in reality, there is a mix between the two types - if I've just added a profile to FSFT, I won't be wanting to do a directed search immediately, it really will just be a case of, "Show me what you've got".1
Adrian Bruce said: Info boxes on the user interface wouldn't be there to tell us what's happening behind the scenes, but to tell us how to use the User Interface.0