It had been awhile since I used Ancestry's "New Search" so since "Old Search" is going to disappear soon, I started to explore a bit.
One of the first things I saw briefly got me excited. In addition to the standard Soundex, they offered a 'phonetic' search. So I thought I would try it out with the one surname of mine that has several different phonetic variations, but for which I feel Soundex is a complete failure. Soundex may have been a useful algorithm when it was invented, in 1918, but better algorithms have to be possible by now. Beyond entering the surname, I selected no other restrictions:
Here were the results:
When I found Ancestry's explanation of Phonetic Variations, I understood:
In other words: We know of other algorithms. We aren't going to tell you what those algorithms are except for one we randomly choose for an example. There may be others. There may not be. We're not going to tell you. You can't select to use any of these algorithms instead of Soundex. If we decide an algorithm might be appropriate for a particular collection of records, we might use it. We might not. We probably won't even tell you when we do. Selecting 'Phonetic' is really the same as selecting 'Soundex' unless we decide it isn't going to be for a particular search, and we get to decide, you don't. But if selecting 'Phonetic' makes you feel good, go ahead. That's what we're here for, to convince you to click on checkboxes that 9 times out of 10 won't do anything.
Note: I did conduct a Phonetic search on a collection of Jewish records, and a search on the surname "Kruvant" turned up no results when there were "Cruvant" records. See images below.
According to this Daitch-Mokotoff converter they have matching codes. Which means Ancestry chose not to use this algorithm for that search. What a shame. The one algorithm they do mention, and a collection they imply they might use it for, and they didn't.
(Cruvant, Kruvant, Cruvand, Kruvand, and Kroovant all have the same
Daitch-Mokotoff code - 597630. For my own personal research, I would
love to use this algorithm with every database at Ancestry. Ancestry claims that they have the algorithm coded into their software. Why can't
I use it?)
I realize this has nothing to do with the difference between Old Search and New Search, since Old Search doesn't provide you with the 'phonetic' checkbox. I suspect someone might be able to point me to a collection where the Daitch-Mokotoff algorithm is used, but that's not the point.