Peter Wood wrote this week and offered a suggestion that I have not seen before. He described a better method of searching for people on RootsWeb, Ancestry.com, or even on Google and other search engines. Peter finds that adding one more letter onto the end of the name improves the number of correct "hits" and reduces the number of "false hits."
Searching for people that cannot be found in the "usual" locations such as Roots or Ancestry?
Often users are not aware of, or know about the "Advanced Search" option in many search engines such as Google. The work-around for that is to use quotations in the search box, as an example "John doe". Of course, it is NOT case sensitive, so a poor typist like me does not have to worry about capitalization. What this does show, of course, are "hits" for every John Doe, whether living or dead, including articles on or about said person.
What I found from bitter experience - and I took the "Graduate Course" at the "School of Hard Knocks" after scrolling through sometimes thousands of articles to look for a genealogy site - was to add a space and a "b" in the search box. Please notice there is NO period after the b, as in "John doe b".
Now I get a much greater response of just genealogy sites where people have decided to post their genealogies on their own web sites. I have found that using just the "b" gave the best result as it is both an abbreviation for birth or born and also finds all three versions. I have found many interesting genealogy sites this way.
The drawback, though - and it does warrant consideration - is that the search will not find John A. doe if only "john doe b" is used. My recommendation is to use as full a name as is known at first, such as "john Alexander doe b", then gradually reduce the middle name down to a more common format such as "john alex doe b", to "john a. doe b". The period is important to its basic format "john doe b" and as a last resort, "j. a. doe b". If you are still having difficulty, it also is wise where a middle name is known to reverse the first two names and repeat this process. If one is really desperate, use the very basic "doe b".
Thanks for the suggestions, Peter!