"only my Watchlist" Search option is impaired

+5 votes

The "only my Watchlist" Search option should be very useful for common names.  Unfortunately, it seems to be needlessly crippled.  It only works if the name shows up in the "first 100" that are displayed.  Otherwise, there is no match.  I would think a simple technical fix could be implemented.

The workaround is to try to filter your results using other parameters to get it below 100.

asked in WikiTree Tech by Kerry Larson G2G6 Mach 7 (76.1k points)
retagged by Ellen Smith

1 Answer

+3 votes
Hi, Kerry --

I'm happy to take a look and see if I can recreate what you're doing, but I need a little more information.

Can you give me an example including the name and/or profile ID you were searching?

There might be another way to find what you're looking for.
answered by Julie Ricketts G2G6 Pilot (254k points)
Hi Julie,

The problem is that my example won't work for you because we have different Watchlists.  I used William Barry, who has 1263 matches.  For you to recreate it, you would need to include a very common name from your Watchlist that gives you more than 100 matches and the one you want not listed in the 100 displayed.

As I mentioned, using other parameters to filter the list below 100 will give a match, but you have to remember something else like a birth or death date.  Clicking 'no' for 'surname variants' also reduces the list.

I would think this could be fixed with a fairly simple programming change.

I understand Kerry. :-)  

So, I click on the Find menu and enter only the name "John Clark" and also click on "only my Watchlist" where it says "Search of all of WikiTree?" I'm not getting any hits. However, I know there is a John Clark in my Watchlist.

Is this the problem you're seeing?
Yes, sounds like you've reproduced it.
OK. So, yes, I agree that this doesn't seem to be working the way you would think. It's odd that it doesn't work for names with a large number of search hits, but it does work for names that have fewer occurrences. Fortunately, there are better solutions that will help you find what you're looking for.

If you just want to find that name in your watchlist, it's quicker to just sort your watchlist alphabetically.

If you're searching for potential Matches, you'll get the best results by using Search for Matches from that person's profile menu.

I can report this as a problem, but it's not likely to be high on the priority list. With a one-man tech department, programming changes are never as simple as we want them to be. ;-)
Just looking at the Watchlist is a simple alternative.  I only have 307 entries.  I wonder what it looks like for those PMs with 5000+ profiles!

I agree this particular example is not the highest priority.  It does seem that many deficiencies in the search engine have been reported on G2G, but I haven't looked back through to see if there are common problems.

Thanks for your help.
I think it's one aspect of a wider issue.  For instance. if I search for William Barry, 1263 matches, then sort by birthdate, I don't get the 1st 100 in date order.  Currently I don't see William Barry-2281 1400-1480, but the gaps might be semi-random.

Obviously the 100 limit bites harder as the site gets bigger, but the killer is fuzzy matching.  It's good in the matchfinder, with a tight filter on dates.  It's good with a fairly standardized name like Fitzgerald, where the variants have little effect on the numbers.  But often you have to stick to exact names.
You're welcome, Kerry!

And, yes, as RJ points out, the search engine is very complicated. There have been a lot of tweaks over the years that have made it better, but there's always room for improvement. :-)

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