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Reviewing "Hints"

I've been a paid member of for the past 20 years, and although I have my rather large family tree hosted on their website, I have been finding that this particular genealogy website is becoming less and less helpful.

Aside from the constant "buggy" site - you often have to refresh the site several times at a sitting before the details that you have painstakingly entered actually take - I find the onslaught of completely useless "hints" to be more annoying than ever before. It's not just the volume of useless hints such as country flags added by other users for people who match your own family, but completely inaccurate and useless garbage hints the come in unchecked.

Having a paid membership on Ancestry is not cheap - $259.98 a year if you purchase a 6-month membership ($129.99 per 6 months), and for that type of money I expect their computer algorithm to know that a "hint" for a family member who I have listed as having lived between 1629 and 1689 in England would not be a reasonable match for someone with the same name that lived between 1895 and 1960 in the United States! Yet daily I get these useless and annoying (it takes time to delete these hints...and that's IF Ancestry will allow you to delete them) hints and the frequency of this particular type of hint seems to be increasing. So far writing to Ancestry to complain about this "feature" has yielded no response, let alone any improvement.

I have a similar problem with "hints" that are for people with completely different names or sexes. How does this happen? Where's the quality control at Ancestry, or are they just throwing anything and everything at us hoping that something will stick?

It's no wonder that most other family tree hints are such a nightmare! I think that a lot of people using this site are just anxious to fill in as much information as they possibly can, and in the process they fail to review and research the details that they are adding to their family tree. I see the incorrect information entered into family tree hints so often that I now usually just ignore and delete the hints altogether, or if I do find some information that makes sense, I add it in manually - never using the automatic pull-over of information to my tree as this too has its significant drawbacks as it often fills your tree with unwanted or incorrect names, dates and other information. I even have direct family members that I see doing this and their trees are full of incorrect information. Maybe it's just me, but I find the lack of attention to detail to be infuriating.

We all make mistakes of course, but some of us spend the time to try and minimize the mistakes. If I am not 100% sure of the information contained in the "hint", I mark it as a "maybe" so that it is saved until I can verify the information before adding it to my tree. Building an accurate family tree is not a race, and I wish more people would keep this mind instead of blindly throwing in whatever information or hints they find, like they are rushing home from work on a Friday afternoon eager to start their weekend.

Hopefully will pay attention to the obvious defects of their system and correct them - SOON! My personal membership comes up for renewal soon, and at this point I am seriously considering downloading all my saved information, deleting my account, and transferring my information into an extensive Word document. That's a lot of work, but at least when I am done I will know that the information that I have entered will be useful for future generations, not a bunch of misinformation.

That's it for my rant for today :). Please take your time, carefully validate your family tree information and, most of all, take your time. Your descendants and fellow genealogists will be grateful that you did.


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