Querying a person in a GeneWeb base

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Persons present in a GeneWeb base may be queried through two main methods: id and names:

  • i=1234 GeneWeb internal id;
  • p=first_name;n=last_name (exact match);
  • p=first_name;n=last_name;oc=occurence if there are several homonyms.

The first case is not prone to ambiguity, but is somewhat obscure and non permanent. See the links page to create permanent links to persons in a GeneWeb base.

The last case is also non ambiguous, and will not be discussed further.

The interesting case is # 2:

  • a first general observation is required: in supplying first_names and last_names, accents are not mandatory (and are removed by GeneWeb for further processing).
  • if more than one person matches exactly the first_name/last_name combination, GeneWeb will display a page listing all the alternatives, allowing you to choose the right one based on some other detailed information such as the birth/death date of the spouse name.
note that if the person has multiple first_names defined (as opposed to first_name aliases, see the update page), then all first_names must be supplied.
note that an exact match is considered valid for a woman with her first_name and her husband's last_name.
  • if no person matches exactly the first_name/last_name combination, then the orthographic approximation algorithm of GeneWeb kicks in and performs the following:
vowels are removed, double consonants are replaced by a single consonant, and the resulting new first_name last_name combination is compared to the names of the base to which the same treatment has been applied.
Note that this is quite different from some of the approaches taken by some search engines, but "this is it"!!
After this process, if one or more person is considered a match, then the list possibilities is displayed as in the second case above.
  • in the case of a last_name with multiple components (as in Durand Couppel de St Front), GeneWeb will consider a match with each component (taking as a whole the part after the particle (see particles)).
  • the same approach is applied when querying for last_name only as supplied by the welcome page.

Comment: in the approach described above, exact matches hide away any other approximation. In order to reveal those possible approximations, a trick consists in creating a voluntary misspelling by adding an extra vowel to the first_name or last_name for instance, or a random particle to the last_name.

For instance, if your base contains persons with last_names Gautier and Gautier Sauvagnac, then querying for gautier will return only the list of persons and families corresponding to the first while querying for gautiera or gautier de will propose the alternative between the two last_names.