Many genealogists have a love/hate relationship with Ancestry's hints. Those little shaky leaves can yield great clues, but like leaves in the fall, it can feel overwhelming when they start piling up. Here's how to manage those hints.
Ignore the Numbers
The most straightforward way to not feel overwhelmed with all of the hints is to ignore the number of them that you have. We've been conditioned to react whenever there is a number showing by an icon. (Personally, I don't like my phone telling me how many unread emails I have!)
If it bothers you to see that you have more than 99 new hints, just click on the leaf icon. The number will go away. (The hints will still be there, but you won't see the number.)
Keep Your Focus
Just when you think you've gotten to the end of the hints, Ancestry adds more. Ancestry doesn't give all of the hints for a person at once. Show some activity for a person (especially one you haven't worked on for awhile), and Ancestry will think you're now focused on that person... and give you more hints.
Rather than wading through all of the hints, focus instead on the ancestor that you're working on. (I don't know about you, but I don't have the time or the inclination to try to wade through more than 10,000 hints!)
Instead of working through my 10K hints in this tree, I'll take a look at one ancestor. When I go into my tree and look at the profile for one of my ancestors, I click the "Hints" tab so I can see the hints for just that person. Here's the page for my great-great-grandmother Lavada Jane (McKitrick) Mason. Now instead of more than 10,000 hints, I'm working with just 5.
An added benefit for working with hints from the ancestor's profile page is that you'll be less distracted by all of those other hints. Less distraction = better chance of staying out of the genealogy rabbit hole.
Randy Seaver at the Genea-Musings blog has a post about how to filter the hints by collection. If that's a method that will work for you, go for it!
Don't Just Accept
Another way that Ancestry's hints can make us go a little crazy is when they jumble up our tree. I've seen some real messes created when people just click "accept" and attach that record to their tree (or worse, add a bunch of people based on someone else's tree.)
I've written before about why you need to review a hint before accepting it, but it boils down to this: That hint might be wrong. Just because Ancestry serves it up on a shaky leaf doesn't automatically mean that it pertains to your ancestor.
Take control of your Ancestry hints and you'll make more progress with your research.
Take control of your Ancestry hints and make more progress with your #genealogy.