Mocavo is a search engine for genealogists. Over the past few months, I have used it a number of times and have always been impressed with the information found. Unlike other search engines, Mocavo limits its searches to approximately one million genealogy-related web sites and has "extra logic" that is good at finding surnames and locations embedded in free-form text, along with a number of other enhancements. You can read my earlier articles about Mocavo at http://goo.gl/XnVxN, http://goo.gl/Qli6Y, http://goo.gl/VQY4F, and at http://goo.gl/dTczp.
The software developers at Mocavo headquarters haven't been resting on their laurels since I wrote those articles. The company today is announcing a major new release of the product, and many of the changes strike me as major improvements. I don't know if the software developers at Mocavo qualify as elves or not, but they certainly have delivered a nice Christmas present for genealogists.
I have spent the past two days using the beta test version of the changes and have been even more impressed and am very excited about the new additions. Most of the new features are not found in any other search engine, and they are designed to enhance genealogical searches with unequalled intelligent capabilities. Will these improvements help find your ancestors? Nothing is ever guaranteed, but the odds certainly are improved with the new release.
I have spent years researching my family tree and especially in searching online for information. I have used Mocavo, Google, and most every other available search engine to find my family tree online. I thought I had exhausted the possibilities, except for an occasional new bit of information that appears online from time to time. Yet, in the past few days, I have found lots of detailed information about my ancestors, information previously unknown to me. After this week's online discoveries, I'll be verifying this information for weeks to come.
In fact, this week Mocavo even found pictures I had not seen before of one of my seventeenth-century ancestors' homes. The old homestead in France still stands, and someone placed several modern pictures of it on a web site I had never heard of before. Mocavo found the pictures easily. Perhaps other search engines would have found it if I had structured the proper search query. The thing that impresses me is that Mocavo easily found the pictures when, in fact, I didn't even know that the pictures existed. Mocavo did so without any fancy search syntax on my part. In effect, it said "show me everything you can find about this person" and it found the pictures, along with a lot of textual information. Best of all, Mocavo did all this automatically by first looking at a GEDCOM file of my ancestors, and then searching for information about each individual, one at a time.
For the first time, Mocavo is adding paid search options. Up until now, the search engine has been 100% free. Of course, the company sooner or later needs to start paying the bills for having a data center with more than 100 terabytes of disk storage and other hardware, plus some very high speed Internet connections, as well as paying the salaries of its software developers. There are no changes to anything at Mocavo that has previously been available: all of the things that have been available free of charge on Mocavo in the past remain free. The only charged services are some of the new features.
New Features Found in Both the Free Version of Mocavo and in the (Paid) Mocavo Plus
Many other search engines only work interactively. That is, a person types on the keyboard and the results are displayed on the screen within seconds. However, Mocavo has several new extended features that depend on background searches over a period of hours or even days.
Upload your family tree and Mocavo will search for you. The new Mocavo release includes the capability for users to upload a GEDCOM file. Over the following days, Mocavo will search for information on more than one million genealogy sites on the World Wide Web about every person in your file and will send the potential matches to you by email.
Free users and users of the paid Mocavo Plus service can both upload GEDCOM files to Mocavo. Users of the Free Mocavo Search will receive an email message once a week with information about three of the names in the GEDCOM file. Each week, a different three will be reported.
Mocavo Plus users will receive reports about ALL of the people in their GEDCOM files within 24 hours or so. In addition, Mocavo Plus users may choose to receive an email message once a day or once a week, each containing information about any newly-found information about the people listed in the GEDCOM file.
Both the free and paid background searches will search again and again forever, or for as long as the user wishes, looking for new information that has recently appeared on the web concerning the individuals listed in the GEDCOM file.
Publish Your Family Tree on the Web
Many people wish to publish their genealogy information online, making it easier for distant cousins to find them and to then share genealogy information. If you do not already have a web site available to you, Mocavo invites you and everyone else to upload a GEDCOM file to Mocavo. Adding your GEDCOM file will enable background searches as described previously. In addition, each user has the option of making the GEDCOM file's information available online for everyone to see. If the user chooses this option, the information in the file becomes visible not only to Mocavo, but to all the other search engines as well. The other search engines should be adding your information to their indexes. Should the user choose to not make the file public, all information remains private and only visible to the uploader.
Features Found only in Mocavo Plus:
The previous search capabilities on Mocavo have now been renamed "Simple Search." Those search capabilities are now supplemented by a new Advanced Search that is tailored for genealogists. Advanced Search is only available in Mocavo Plus.
Some of the features in Advanced Search can be found in other search engines, such as wild card searches and proximity searches (find two words that are NEAR each other, but not necessarily adjacent to each other. The degree of separation can be specified, such as "within five words.")
Wild card searches are great when spellings vary or when family names varied over a few generations. You specify a wild card search with an asterisk. For instance, a search for "Rosen*" will find occurrences of the name Rosen as well as Rosenfeld, Rosenfelder, Rosenfelt, Rosenfeldt, Rosenfield, and more.
Advanced Search also has capabilities not found in other search engines, including these:
Data extraction from free-form data: Unlike other search engines, Mocavo does a very good job of extracting data fields from unstructured data. In a statement in a web site of "Bridgett Murphy, b. in Ireland, d. 25 May 1871 in Minneapolis, Minnesota," Mocavo will determine that Bridgett is a first name, Murphy is a surname, "b. in Ireland" is a birth record listing the country of birth, and "d. 25 May 1871 in Minneapolis, Minnesota" is a death record with the exact date, city, and state of death. Most other search engines do not decode the “b.” as an abbreviation for “born” or the “d.” as an abbreviation for “died.” Mocavo makes those determinations every time. Even better, and not so obvious, Mocavo also figures out the county of death (which was not mentioned) and optionally will even search nearby towns in that county for records of the same person.
Advanced Search will even search by dates, something not possible with other search engines that index free-form text. Mocavo is also very good at decoding dates. It will decode 25 September 1871; September 25, 1871; 25 Sep 1871; Sep. 25, 1871; 9/25/1871; and other formats properly. Searches can be for exact dates or for the date plus or minus up to ten years.
First name equivalents: Mocavo's Advanced Search will include alternate names when searching for individuals. For instance, you might specify a search for Elizabeth Jones. Mocavo is smart enough to simultaneously search for Eliza Jones, Liza Jones, Lizzie Jones, Liz Jones, and similar variants. Any results for Elizabeth Jones (the exact name you specified) will be shown first, followed by the other possibilities.
Differentiates first and last names: Unlike other search engines, Mocavo often can tell that Elizabeth or Liza or Eliza or whatever name is found is a first name while Jones is a last name. This doesn't work 100% of the time, depending upon the context in which those names appeared in the original web page, but it does work a high percentage of the time. In fact, most other search engines never define any names, much less first or last names. In a normal sentence, such as "John Smith married Eliza Jones on 22 March 1876 in Hackensack, New Jersey," Mocavo finds those names with ease.
Even better, Mocavo even figures out that the marriage took place in Bergen County, despite the fact that the county name was not mentioned in the original web page. Mocavo can then optionally search nearby towns in the same county for matching records.
All the new features I have described are available now at http://www.mocavo.com
The free features previously found in Mocavo remain available to everyone free of charge. The new features found in Mocavo Plus are available for an introductory price of $79.95 a year if you pay for the year in advance. A monthly plan is available for $14.95 a month. Again, these are introductory prices. I suspect those prices will increase in a few weeks or months.
Further details are available at http://www.mocavo.com/pricing
Of course, any search engine is only as good as the information available on the World Wide Web. If there is no information available on web sites concerning your ancestors, neither Mocavo nor any other search engine can find something that isn't there. However, if the ancestral information is available on any genealogy web site, I bet that Mocavo will find it as easily or even more easily than any other search engine. I found Mocavo to be very efficient at uncovering information I had not seen before.
The new features of Mocavo Plus are impressive, to say the least. However, the software developers at Mocavo have hinted at even more features to appear in future weeks and months. I hope to write about the latest additions as they appear. In addition, Mocavo will have employees at RootsTech in Salt Lake City February 2 through 4 to demonstrate the features to everyone.
I'd suggest not waiting. Go to http://www.mocavo.com now and try them for yourself.