Monday, September 10, 2012

Expert Q&A :: How to get the best from

This week we discussed how to get the best from Thanks again to Brad Argent from for joining us and giving us the benefit of his knowledge! Please find the transcript of the Q&A and links.

Don't forget our Expert Q&As happen every Thursday night on the Inside History Magazine facebook page.

When: 8:30-9:30pm EST | WA: 6:30-7:30pm WST | SA - NT: 8:00-9:00pm CST | Weekly on a Thursday night

Brad Argent is content director at Australia’s leading family history website, with more than 9 billion searchable records in its Australian, NZ, UK, Europe and US collections.

Top tips from Brad Argent:
  1. Make the most of wildcard searching; use an * and three letters either side or replace a single character with a ?
  2. Think outside the box you live in; if you keep getting a hint or search result that suggests your ancestor was in another country – check it out to rule it out.
  3. Use other people’s trees with caution – their research might not be as thorough as yours. Think of them as signposts on a journey – they point you in a direction but they shouldn’t stop you going there yourself to check it out.
  4. If you get stuck use the customer service line - 1800 251 838 – you pay for it so make the most of it!
Summary of links from:


Transcript of Expert Q&A - how to get the best from

Comment: IHM: Tip for tonight. Keep refreshing your browser to see the answers as they appear.
A. Jill: Last week I had issues - I just couldn't refresh. Fingers crossed for tonight

Comment: IHM: Fingers crossed Jill Ball, we did have issues with facebook last week. Our Expert Q&A with Brad Argent, from starts at 8:30pm EST. Tonight we’ll be discussing how to get the best from Please ask your questions in a comment below and Brad will answer in a following comment.

Comment: Linda: No questions - Just thank you Brad, as I won the door prize of an Ancestry subscription at Cranbourne. Be in touch soon. But needless to say - I appreciate the generosity of Ancestry!

Q. After 4 or years subscribed to Ancestry I have started taking note of people who are copying documents that I have on my tree. As a result I have made contact and this has opened many new doors for me. But I cannot get my mind around how to effectively/efficiently use message boards. Any tips?
A. Brad: Hi Geoff, Message boards are good if you target subject specific boards. The general boards can be a bit hit-and-miss in terms of activity. I often search the boards first before I post anything just to see if there isn’t already an answer waiting there for me.
A. Geoff: Yes I should give it a go.

Q. Frustrated that I can't get the search to narrow things down to just Scotland
A. Brad: Hi Megan, You should be able to do that either by selecting the Scottish filter (advanced search) or using the maps to narrow down your record results. If using advanced search make sure you select 'show only records from these collections' check box.

Q. From Bev Carver: I love Ancestry but I have three and four entries for individuals and don't know how to 'clean up' my site without losing precious information and references. Any suggestions?
A. Brad: Hi Bev, I’d need to know a bit more info to help you out specifically Bev, but you can always download you tree (export it as a gedcom flie) and then prune with impunity. If you make a mistake you can just upload your gedcom again. The best thing to do when you have site related questions like this is call the Customer Service people on 1800 251 838. They’re available between 9am and 10pm M-F and 10am and 4pm on the weekends.
A. Tamara: For Bev, I found the 'find duplicate' people function in FTM was really helpful to clean up my early mistakes resulting in split personalities across my tree. :)

Q. from Mary McAllister: Hi! Brad I have created one large tree with both Jock and I on it. I now want to do two seperate trees. Is there a way to do it without typing out all the info all over again. I thought of doing Jock's again and then deleting him from my tree.
A. Brad: Hi Mary, export the gedcom file and then use some family tree software (like FTM, etc.) to split the tree. Alternatively you can load it back up to Ancestry as another tree and then prune them both.
A. Mary: Thanks Brad.

Q. Brad, how do I print off a simple descendancy tree from Ancestry to pass on to elderly relatives? I do have Family Tree Maker but would like to do it from Ancestry.
A. Brad: Hi Carmel, there are print functions within the tree bit of the site but they're fairly basic and it's limited at a few generations. I use FTM to do all my printing as it has much more flexibility.

Comment: IHM: There's some extra tips on searching in Brad's How To videos on's YouTube channel ::

Q. Brad, any 'top tips' to get the most out of the ancestry site or anything interesting in the wings that we might want to know about?
A. Brad: Hi Tamara - thanks for the extra tip for Bev. I'll give some tips at the end of the session (and maybe let a cat out of the bag...)

Q. From Twitter: Is there a way to filter out US data from searches?
A. Brad: Hi Twitter, yes there is. You can use advanced search and select the country you want to look at and check the 'show only records from these collections' check box. This will filter out everything other than records from your country of choice. Currently there is no way of choosing more than one country at a time.

Q. From Australian Genealogy - Michelle Lucas Watson: In need of advice, while spending time on the Ancestry website I've discovered that someone has poached one of my photos, instead of just linking my photo to their tree they must have saved it and then uploaded to their tree. Should I politely tell them to take it off and link to mine or should I just leave it be?
A. Brad: Hi Michelle, you raise an interesting point. When you put something up on the site (any site) people might not respect your rights so think carefully before you put anything out there and if you do, assume that people will take it without your permission. As for your case in particular…If it was me I’d let them know that I was aware that they have it and in future if they want to use my stuff they need only ask.
A. Geoff: Re Michelle's point, I thught once we set up our trees as Public it is almost open season. The first time I found people using my photos and info I felt annoyed (so much hard work by me to get there) but then I realised that it is by sharing we accelerate our research results. If it is too sensitive I do not load now.
A. Arnie: Being fully aware that the purpose of "our-my" research as a family historian is to share what we find ... I find however, after spending literally thousands of dollars purchasing certificates; documents from various other sources both abroad and here at home; having subscriptions such as Ancestry; paying for my broadband etc. and as everyone knows spending an inordinate amount of time doing the research (which we really can't put a price on) I really get cheesed off when people who are supposedly related to me decide that they will just help themselves to all my hard work without at least asking permission. This is why my tree now remains PRIVATE. I realise that taking this point of view has restricted my chances of connecting with other GENUINE people researching the same families, but if they are really genuine about their research they will find a way of contacting me. I know that this sounds very mean spirited ... but all they had to do was ask first!!!!!
A. Chez: Hey Arnie... can you occassionally list it as a public tree.....find the contacts...then reset it back to private?! Then you would get the best of both worlds....I too feel the $$ issue, but I have found I only post info up not necessarily the certificates... however, after linking with contacts on ancestry as I always comment with the source details when I have the certificate/document in hand........we then share...and I save $$

Q. Are there any plans to make adding to your family tree via the ancestry iPad app available offline? It is currently read only offline but it would be great to be able to add to it when with people or doing research when you don't have an internet connection & sync it later (similar to how it works with FTM). If it isn't in currently on the 'to do' list', could it be suggested to your developers?
A. IHM: Good question Tamara McCloskey. Here's the link to the app for those that haven't seen it ::
A. Brad: Hi Tamara, have just sent your message to one of the guys in our product team. Not sure if it's on the list but it's a great idea.
A. Tamara: You can also pass onto your product team that the new version (4.0) is great. I have found it works faster, crashes less and it's great to be able to switch between the two different views (family & pedigree). For those that don't know, the app is available both for Apple and Android devices.

Q. I am an older person not too internet savvy and new to Ancestry, please what is FTM?
A. Brad: Family Tree Maker, Lorraine. It's Ancestry's software that lets you do so much more with your family tree. There are also other great products out there in the same category: Reunion, Brother's Keeper, Legacy, etc.
A. IHM: Here's the link to Family Tree Maker Lorraine Griffith ::
A. Lorraine: Thanks everyone, I have been tracing my family tree for 50 years, but have only just started using the internet and Ancestry, I am getting amazing results and am addicted.

Q. Is Ancestry looking at standardising subscription rates internationally so that residents of all countries get the same deal?
A. Brad: Hi Jill, thanks for asking that question! It's a challenge as we have to deal with currency fluctuations and the like (I'll save you the boring details). My advice is to shop around the various Ancestry sites (you can get to them using the drop down list in the bottom right hand corner of the home page) for the cheapest deal at the time, but beware - you may be getting a cheaper price but are you getting the records you need? Also, check the exchange rates when your subscription is due as a bargain on year can look much less attractive the next...
A. Amanda: Jill this topic was commented on recently on Ancestry Australia's Facebook page. Seems it is quite a bit cheaper at the moment to purchase a world membership from UK site, even with the exchange rate.
A. Jill: Thanks, Brad. I've had a UK sub for quite a few years (before the Aus one became available) and am sticking with it but so why does my browser default to when I type in
A. Brad: Hi Jill, Your browser defaults to the Australian site due to something called a 'hard IP redirect'. Just use the site selection thing at the bottom of the page to go to the UK (thought it shouldn't matter what site you use really).
A. Jill: Each year I have found it cheaper to buy a world UK sub even when the exchange rate wasn't so good - so if your ancestors like mine are mostly from the UK it is good to shop around.
A. Brad: It's always worth shopping around Jill - any money you save can go towards your Inside History subscription!
A. Jill: Just wondering, thanks for that Brad.

Comment: Wendy: Thanks Brad and Inside History Mag :)
Comment: Tamara: Thanks Brad & Inside History mag for a good Q&A tonight.

Q. lol, thanks Brad. We'll finish up now with a final question. Can you let the cat out of the bag about a new project or collection?
A. Brad: Coming in late October are the NSW Police Gazettes 1854 – 1930. These are fully indexed (not OCR) with Name, Date, Place and Event – about 1.5 million of them. In testing the collection I’ve found a number of my ancestors in there – both as victims and perpetrators. Fascinating reading just in time for you to gather enough evidence to spice up the Christmas dinner conversation.
A. IHM: Sounds like our sort of Christmas present! 1.5 million new records! Thanks again to Brad for joining us tonight! We’ll publish the questions, answers and links from tonight’s session in a blog post this coming week. Visit for a free 14 day trial or share your stories and ask your questions on
A. Rhett: That is great news Brad - I've been eagerly awaiting this resource. Just to comment on the notion of users 'poaching' and researchers feeling hard done by; the purpose of our research as family historians surely is to share what we find, is it not? Anyone who uses our information is most likely related, so we've helped family learn more by sharing what we know.

Comment: IHM: We’ll be here again next Thursday, 13th September from 8:30 – 9:30pm, with our next experts. Virginia James and Mark Raadgever from Trove will be answering questions on using Trove for family history research.
A. Brad: Love Trove. This is a session not to missed!


Read the previous Expert Q&A transcripts:
[1]  Thursday, July 26 :: How to get the best from Trove Australia
[2]  Thursday, August 16 :: How to get the best from BDM Certificates
[2]  Thursday, August 23 :: Getting the most from NAA
[4]  Thursday, August 30 :: Interpreting photographs for family history

No comments:

Post a Comment