’s 2 Percent Speak Up’s 2 Percent Speak Up

A radio station I listen to in the car does a contest where you have to guess something like "The average person doesn't do this on Mondays until 11:16 a.m." (The answer was "smile." Depressing.) So my challenge to you is "Two percent of Ancestry...

A radio station I listen to in the car does a contest where you have to guess something like “The average person doesn’t do this on Mondays until 11:16 a.m.” (The answer was “smile.” Depressing.)

So my challenge to you is “Two percent of users have this in common.”

Can you guess what it is?

They use the Old Search. Remember Old Search?

It’s on its way out. sent the Old Search users a letter (read it on Dick Eastman’s blog) on Wednesday announcing that Old Search would be discontinued as a separate search experience within the next six months.

The letter asks for the users’ input into improvements that will bring together the Old and New search experiences into one search. It states that “Maintaining two systems limits the resources we can use to make improvements and increases the complexity of every improvement we try to make.”

New Search was introduced in 2008, and that’s the default you see when you log onto the site. It’s hard to even find Old Search—it’s a tiny link in the top right corner of the Search page:

The Advanced Old Search looks like this:

For comparison, here’s the Advanced New Search:

It’s easy to see why Old Search hung around so long: Those 2 percent who use it are extremely loyal to it, and vocal on Facebook (here’s one example) and the blogosphere (see the comments on Dick’s post).

Many of the Team Old Search comments I’ve seen say it’s more accurate and finds specific records faster, with better-organized and fewer irrelevant results, and that more people would use it if it were more visible on the site (and if Old Search users weren’t randomly rerouted back to New Search).

As for me, I haven’t used Old Search in a long time. My usual technique is to use the Card Catalog to find the specific database I want to search, then add a place (filtered to the exact place or to a county plus surrounding counties) and/or an exact year of a life event (such as birth or residence) with a range of plus/minus several years.

Are you on Team Old Search or Team New Search? What’s your take on this announcement?

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  1. I just checked my page and it doesn’t look like yours. On mine there is no button to switch to old search. Instead, there is &quot;get help&quot; and &quot;upgrade&quot;. I would prefer the old search method if I had the opportunity to use it. The new method gives me lots of hits, but VERY few I can really use.

  2. If &quot;Old Search&quot; does not appear in the upper right of the home screen you can go to &quot;search&quot; (on top bar); click &quot;search all records&quot; and then old search should appear in the upper right. I believe that if more people knew how to access it they would use it and prefer it to the new search that produces too many useless hits.

  3. Wow. I did not know the old search was still available!

    I’ve HATED the new search because of so many irrelevant results. Even with going back and redefining parameters I still get mishmash.

    Maybe Ancestry sells advertising by saying &quot;the average user spends XX minutes on the site&quot; So, the new search is good for Ancestry.

    I’ve been so frustrated with the search and have kept the minimal Ancestry experience for the direct Census linkage from FamilySearch.

    I just checked out the site and saw the tiny link to the old search and, you’re right, it’s on the search page and you sure would not notice it. No wonder only 2% use it! I agree that, if more people knew it was there, they’d use it. I’ll be going back to the old search. Thank you very much.

  4. I have become more and more concerned with the direction of ANCESTRY.COM, to the point I have discontinued my subscription. It seems they are focused on spreading more and more unreliable data for increasing cost. Since they became associated with My Family Tree, the program has suffered terribly, and does not work as well with Ancestry as it used to. I am still running V.16 and most genealogists will tell you they think that was the last good one. My personal opinion is that Ancestry would be well advised to make what they have work reliably and stop adding bells and whistles that return unreliable data in ever increasing volume!

  5. I have become so frustrated with the irrelevant results of my searches. I wish I had known about the availability of old search. Hopefully, will reconsider if enough members let their wishes be known.


  6. Count me among the upset 2%. 🙁 I come from a long line of pioneer ancestors who often moved to territories pre-statehood, early enough the government was barely there if it existed at all outside forts and outposts. While Ancestry has used some of the suggestions I’ve made via surveys (I’m sure echoed by others), they’ve only added them to New Search. The search results in New Search are often incorrect, not clean in appearance, and irritating to those of us looking for nuggets of specific information that is *new*, and not just a way to gather names. Cluster genealogy is complicated enough without having to wade through a hot mess.

  7. I am definitely on the OLD SEARCH team, and will be very disappointed when it is discontinued. I use Ancestry on a daily basis, and have found &quot;old search&quot; to be very concise and user-friendly. I tried &quot;new search&quot;, and was extremely disappointed. I am a professional genealogist, and the amount of time it took for me to wade through irrelevant searches would have done a disservice to my clients if I had continued using it. To discontinue Old Search is a very bad idea, and as other posters have commented, if it isn’t broke, why fix it.

  8. I’ve been a Worldwide Ancestry member for several years, using it virtually every day on a part-time professional basis, as well as for my own personal research. I began with the old search, but I can’t honestly remember having any problems when the new search was introduced – sure the format was different, but the Advanced Search box seemed to provide plenty of options, and I’ve never had any problems with it. Maybe it’s just the way I search, but I rarely find that I have to &quot;wade through pages of rubbish&quot; to find useful results.
    I’ve just tried three test searches (2 US, 1UK) using both the old and new search, specifying very limited information (first name, last name, birth year +/-2 years, birth state for US, or birth county for UK) and in each case I found that exactly the same results were produced, in exactly the same order.
    I also actually prefer the layout and appearance of the results page in the new search – I personally think that it looks much fresher and less cluttered, although I know that fans of the old search feel the same about that view.
    I also like the fact that you can specify siblings and children as relatives in the search options on the new search, whereas the old search only offers parents and spouse.
    I have found the help videos put up by Ancestry’s Crista Cowan particularly useful for getting tips on how to search, and I think sometimes it’s just a question of playing around with different tabs, buttons and options to achieve the best results. I appreciate that it may seem like a waste of time to have to do this, but I think it pays dividends in the end.
    I’ll be interested to see what the 3rd generation of search looks like, when it eventually is introduced. I’m sure that there will be those who like it, and those who don’t!