On FamilySearch Unchecked Focke Does Not Equal Fokke

One always has to be thinking and paying attention when searching. It also helps to never assume anything.

Searches on FamilySearch with the “exact box” unchecked give the searcher a broad set of results, more results than if an exact search was conducted. The results from an “unexact” search are based upon variants of the name. Those variations are usually based on the letters in the name and how they sound, common transcription errors, etc.

Supposed to be.


A search for Focke Goldenstein on FamilySearch (with the exact boxes unchecked) resulted in 33,897 results as of the morning this post was written.

A search for Fokke Goldenstein on FamilySearch (with the exact boxes unchecked) the morning this post was written resulted in 33, 825 results.

While the numbers are close that’s only a coincidence. The results are different despite the fact that the names are extremely similar.

As an additional test, I searched one specific database in the same way and reached the same conclusion about how FamilySearch searched for Focke and Fokke with the unexact box unchecked. The same results did not come up.

focke2 fokke2

One would think that an unexact search for on FamilySearch for Focke would bring about the same results as an unexact search for Fokke.

It doesn’t.



2 thoughts on “On FamilySearch Unchecked Focke Does Not Equal Fokke

  1. You missed statistics in your education. You needed to do four searches not two to check for variations. You need to do Focke in both with and without exact button; and you need to keep Goldenstein exact; then you need to run the same test with Goldenstein as the variable and with exact versions of Focke. That’s the only way you can really test the system.

    • The post was not about searching all variations of the last name. It was only about the first name and that Focke as a first name and Fokke as as first name brought up different results with the same last name. The point was that a search for Focke Goldenstein with the boxes unchecked and a search for Fokke Goldenstein with the boxes unchecked really should bring up the same results since the names of Fokke and Focke are not all that different.

      An unexact search for Fokke Goldenstein should bring up the same unexact results that Focke Goldenstein does.

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