Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Taking Those Hints

Sometimes, when faced with an enormous task, the easiest way to start take the easiest way.

Since I've decided, during this sizzling summer week of stay-inside warnings, to go back to each of my family trees and spruce things up a bit, I climbed right up before thinking about organizing strategy. Now, at least, I'm realizing I need to grab some well-thought-out tactics for my approach. Why? Because I'm faced with a sheer mountain of shaky-leaf hints. Thousands of them. Attacking this problem one ancestor at a time will not bring about a quick resolution.

That was the way I was handling this project yesterday. It made sense at the time, since the two trees I was working on had such a small universe of entries. But I have two more trees to handle, and each of them claims upwards of ten thousand individuals. This calls for working smarter.

This, of course, is not a problem peculiar to my research alone, of course. I see by a recent letter to fellow genea-blogger Randy Seaver that others have complaints about keeping up with that constant barrage of oncoming hints. Seems every time another Ancestry subscriber gloms on to the same photograph being circulated among distant cousins, the hint pops up on each one's tree. And so, we enter a realm of perpetual genealogical Whac-A-Mole, deleting the hint once again in Sisyphean despair.

While there may be no escape from this dilemma, there is a shortcut to its resolution: head straight for the tree's drop-down menu and select "All Hints."  Then, systematically choose subcategories, such as "photos" and click "ignore" for each one you wish to poof into oblivion.

There is a caveat to this solution, however. It seems the faster you work, the more likely it is that the mechanism will choke up and simply refuse to cooperate. I've had to approach this task in waves, working through pages and pages of hints until the system insists I have no more hints to remove (clue: there are), then clicking over to another task and returning in a few moments, when suddenly, more hints are released from their cyber-cell to face my ruthless delete button.

Gone, with that determined effort, are the well-meaning comparisons to family trees of other researchers, the photos of distant cousins, the cute little avatars hobbyists like to use to decorate their trees—Confederate flags, maps of the counties of Georgia, DNA double helix sketches, banners that proclaim, "Second cousin twice removed." Poof. And poof again!

The sad part is that they will almost certainly be back, tomorrow. Reincarnated, re-issued, or whatever "re" the case may be, those genealogical dingle balls and gewgaws will surely reappear in my hints list as soon as someone else thinks they're cute, or useful, or who-knows-what-else...and adds them to her tree. Right on the spot for a person who just happens to also be in my family tree.

And the whole scenario will repeat itself all over again.

In which case, I've learned to wait a few months before attempting to clean house once more. After all, there will surely be another heat wave hit here before the summer is out; I'll need something to keep me occupied in air conditioned comfort then, as well.  


  1. It seems photo hints have been on the rise. I thought I was the only one frustrated with all the 'photo' hints. Especially photos of records that will come up as 'cited' sources provided by Ancestry and worthy of saving. Death certificates as an example.
    I haven't taken the step of changing my settings - just in case; but it's coming.

    1. While I may sound irked about these inconveniences of Ancestry hints, Gayle, I do have to summon up my best level of patience when it comes to that example. Yes, it may be annoying to receive a photo hint, only to discover it is of a record already provided by Ancestry...but sometimes, it is a death record not included in Ancestry's holdings. In a rare case like that--admittedly, part of a fast-shrinking sample--it turns out I'm quite glad someone thought to post that document.

      But for the most part, yes, it is tedious to go through what are, at best, redundant entries. Delete, delete, delete. Or ignore...

  2. Although I haven't changed my hints settings, I might have to--I'm barraged by "photos" like flags, heraldry banners, etc. that don't add anything to my research. Thanks for the "hint" about hints.

    1. It is frustrating to see a device which was originally intended to be useful morphing into the realm of the annoying. Still, I really hesitate to give it all up and silence hints. Besides, I think the curiosity would get the best of me--what am I missing?--but more importantly, with an ever-expanding universe of resources, how else to keep up with the newly added digitized material? It would be nice if Ancestry could at least flag their hint material as "user generated" versus "Ancestry-added" and allow customers to choose which type of hints they'd like to receive.

  3. Sounds like boring work, too bad there isn't some great software that would recognize duplicates of the deleted . Probably too big of a wish! I hope you are staying cool! :) We were about 74 today

    1. Oh, Far Side, I hope your cool 74 is a sign of good things to come!

      We still have one more day of increasing temps before the thermometer thinks of heading back down to the 90s. Looks like a good run of more excuses to stay put at my computer. I should spruce up a lot of my Ancestry trees by the end of this heat wave!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...