Join Michael in Salt Lake City Trip May 2007

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Exact vs. Ranked Searches at Ancestry.com



“Exact” search at Ancestry.com

“Exact” searching really means it will search for exactly what you tell it to—including Soundex searches and wild card searches. The other search (with the “exact” left unchecked) is the “ranked” search, where Ancestry.com tries to help you and give you additional things it “thinks might be matches.” Frankly, I am rarely happy with the ranked search. I like to know what I am searching for and I like it to do what it is told. Consequently I prefer the “exact” search option (so done by checking the “x” in the upper left hand corner). I am not a big fan of the “ranked” search because it makes it impossible for the average genealogist to know how the search was conducted and this makes documentation of research and “tweaking” of the search terms difficult if not impossible.

This is a blank screen with the exact box checked. Notice that the Spelling option appears where you can chose soundex, etc. In this search box you can enter wildcards, etc. and the search interface will do what you tell it to.




The box below is the “ranked” search with the “Exact matches only” left unchecked. Note that the spelling option does not appear from the drop down menu. This is the search where it tries to be helpful and you will get results for different last names, ages, etc. etc. If you are getting “stuff I did NOT ask for” chances are you need to check the “exact matches only” box and try again.






Don't get me wrong. I have Ancestry.com and use it daily; my research would never be the same without it. But the ranked search is not my thing.

© 2006, Michael John Neill

this page is http://www.rootdig.com/ancestry/