Synergy tools

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The Members' Websites Project was initially designed to be a way to preserve and archive the surname study for members of the Guild. It has turned out to be much more. Because of the richness of the research contained inside each MWP website, this has become a database treasure trove for all that seek surname matches. The word "synergy" is used on this page to encompass the collaboration now available between surname studies. Using database mining tools, we can now explore across many MWP TNG sites, looking for common surnames, families and locations.

The "surname cloud"

Surname cloud.jpg
As you work on your surname study, it would be interesting, even useful, to know whether your surname shows up in another Guild member's research. There is such a resource, in the Members' Websites Project (MWP) websites, at least for the TNG Type 3 sites. This is a good example of using synergy to work with others on your surname records.

The "surname cloud" is a website tool that will do a search for you, looking for matches across all the TNG family trees and then report results back to you in an intuitive display. You can look for matches to your surname of study, for variants of a surname, or even for surnames not yet registered.

To start, go to the [Analytics of One-Name Studies] website and click on the "Synergy" item on the main menu, then on the submenu item "Surname cloud".

Search for a surname

Search results for surname = Aitchison
As an example, we will look for matches to the surname of Aitchison.

In the upper-left corner of the page, there is a grey box for the search item. Start typing in the surname of interest. As you enter in characters, a pop-up window will display a list of potential matching surname sites that contain those letters in the surname of interest. Either click on a surname in the list or continue typing. If you do not see the desired surname in the pop-up list, it has not yet been registered for a TNG website. But, you can type in any surname, whether registered or not. Click on the Search button.

The surname cloud tool now goes to the back-end TNG database and does a query for all instances of that surname.

The surname cloud

See the illustration, on the right. These are the cloud search results for registered surname Aitchison. The displayed surnames are all of the TNG sites that contain at least one match to your search request. The size of the text indicates the size of the returned results. The text colour and placement is just random on the page.

In this example, the surname "Tarn" is larger than the others; it has twice as many Aitchison surnames. Once the Aitchison and Tarn researchers compare notes and update their TNG websites, this will change. Note: the Aitchison website is not shown in the cloud; it has been excluded from the searching because, we know it already has matches.

Hover your cursor over any of the surnames. A pop-up display will show the count of the searched surname inside that registered surname TNG website. If you now click on that surname, you will be taken into that member's TNG website, to the surname Search Results page, where you can see a listing of the matches. If there is only one match, you are taken directly to the individual's profile page.

If you find a mismatch between the surname cloud count and the TNG Search Results page count, that might be caused by privacy settings. The surname cloud count sees all of the matching names in a TNG website. However, a TNG site may restrict visibility of persons living or private, and they will not show up on the Search Results page. Contact the owner of the TNG website for further information.

The surname graph

Surname search results as a graph
If you prefer, you can see the same results as a graph. After a search on a surname, scroll down the results page, past the cloud results. This result is for a search on surname = Smith. The graph might be an easier way to see the smaller returns and the relative size of results from different surname sites. By hovering over any horizontal bar, you get the same pop-up information and the ability to go to the desired surname site.

Expand your search

What else can you use this display tool for, in your research?

How about variances of surnames? If your surname is "Howes", you can easily search for close matches, such as Howe, Howell, House and so on. Because you are now searching outside of a registered surname spelling, the registered surname website will be included in the search results. The registered surname site may dominate the cloud display, so use the graph display instead.

How about famous people? For fun, search for your favorite history character, war hero or Hollywood celebrity. Our members' websites have (Winston) Churchill, (Horatio) Nelson, (Tom) Hanks, (General) Eisenhower, (Jane) Austen and many more.