This post is not about Facebook so please bear with me.

Those of us who have fan pages on Facebook are constantly looking for ways to increase the chance that our fans see our posts. Facebook has a top-secret algorithm that is used to place items in the newsfeed of users. Exactly what is used in that algorithm and how it is used is something of a mystery and probably more random than I care to admit. However, I have a feeling that the following items are important:

  • day of week for the item
  • time of day for the item
  • whether certain key words are in the item
  • whether an image is used in the item

Those are items that I can track for content I create.


I have a feeling that there are other items that I cannot see that are impacting the algorithm that displays items for page followers. Those items could be:

  • number of friends the follower has
  • number of friends of follower who are also followers on my page
  • how many similar pages the follower of my page is also a follower of
  • gender of follower
  • age of follower

Some of those are things that I cannot track on Facebook. Yet they are probably important to the algorithm that I’m trying to, for lack of a better phrase, outsmart.

Our genealogical research is the same. There are certain things about an ancestor that we can learn because records were probably left behind that document those things (dates of vital events, parents’ names, residences, etc.). While there are always exceptions to how many records are left behind, these are often items that are ascertainable–after a certain point in time.

It’s those things that are more difficult to determine or measure that are the problem–much like certain aspects of my follower.

There are certain things about an ancestor’s life that frequently left behind no records (especially if your ancestor avoided legal action and left behind no personal effects).  Those things that we cannot track could have impacted our ancestor and his decisions in a serious way. There are individuals who are functioning under one “life challenge” or another. That challenge (alcoholism, drug addition, developmental delays, etc.) may have left no visible record behind and yet it could be part of what makes researching that ancestor so difficult. Our ancestor’s personal “life view” and way of getting along with others can impact his life and his records.

Let’s face it–if your ancestor was a general grouch who couldn’t say one civil word to anyone it can have an impact on his life and his interactions with others. Was your ancestor a functioning alcoholic who was able to interact easily with people or was he a functioning alcoholic who barely avoided interaction with the police. There are a host of other personal issues–any undocumentable and some not even really understood until recently–that could have impacted your ancestor and his family on a very personal and daily basis.

There may be a reason why your ancestor did not die near any of her children.

It’s those undocumentable things that can be confusing.

Have you thought about what they could be for your ancestor?



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