Friday, December 16, 2016
Desperate to Rid Yourself of
Those Shaky Leaves? Try Hint-Be-Gone
I don't know whether there is a correlation between the number of people assembled in a pedigree chart and the number of hints assigned to said tree at Ancestry.com. I do know, however, that for my maternal tree at Ancestry—now numbering well near ten thousand entries—my hint count is perilously topping twenty thousand. That makes it just over two hints per person. And that's after several go-rounds on purging the extraneous.
Not to be outdone, my mother-in-law's tree—also at a formidable nine thousand some-odd individual entries there at the same website—is staggering under the weight of another eighteen thousand hints. It seems like only yesterday when I did another spring cleaning there.
Since I am on Ancestry.com at least once a day, it isn't unusual for me to receive those requests to take part in a survey by the independent company Ancestry hires to do their customer satisfaction checks. You'd think I'd remember my hint avalanche when they ask for any other suggestions for making life better at Ancestry.com. But I don't. I'm so ecstatic over being able to locate documents that would otherwise take ages to stumble upon—like ancestors who moved from state to state as if they were the nineteenth century's precursor to the jet age—that I forget there are a few rough edges to the system still needing attention.
Not that I'm an avid fan of inbox-zero thinking, but from time to time, I just wish I could obliterate those shaky leaves. Most of the ground-breaking discoveries I make at Ancestry, I hooked by going fishing on my own. A good deal of those shaky leaves showing up in my trees rank somewhere between "Gee, thanks for saving me that step" and "Oh, duh!"
I usually save those mind-numbing hint-cleaning sessions for moments when I'm otherwise having some down time. For the past three weeks—getting over the flu only to be smitten again by pulling out my back—I've had plenty of that down time, indeed. Plenty of time to open the "all hints" section on the tree's drop-down menu and click through "ignore" oh, a few hundred times at a whack.
It's times like that—perhaps in a febrile delirium—when I dream of the ultimate tonic to solve this nagging problem once and for all. Don't you wish for a handy-dandy answer to runaway hint counts? Imagine: the next time yet another new subscriber logs on to Ancestry and spots that quaint photograph of Aunt Mary's British tea set and adds it to her tree, you won't have to scrub your own tree clean of this intrusion once again. This time, you'll have...drum roll...Hint-Be-Gone. One click and all unwanted photographs—and their specific multiple iterations—will be refused, in perpetuity. Not ignored once; ignored each and every time the photograph meme comes knocking at your genealogical door.
Alas, Hint-Be-Gone was only the result of a fevered imagination; there is no such product. Perhaps it was a good thing that that Ancestry survey came knocking at my door when it did. By that time, I had recovered, was in my right mind (or as close as can be gotten, considering the circumstances) and seated at my computer, enjoying my favorite online pastime.
The good life can sometimes suck all criticisms away—much more effective than having one's mouth washed out with soap. But it sure would have been nice to stash some Hint-Be-Gone in the genealogical medicine cabinet, just in case.
Above: Undated nineteenth century advertisement for Scott & Bowne's Palatable Castor Oil; courtesy Wikipedia; in the public domain.