Prior to the latest "improvement" at Ancestry.com, the maximum number of search patterns I had to use to find more than 90 percent of the individuals who fall into this surname study we've been conducting for almost the past 8 was 3: abern*, abana*, & berne*. And once I had narrowed the search to a single census year, state, and county (which usually took no more than a day), the maximum number of screens I had to look at to extract citation data was generally no more than 2. Alas, with the latest "improvement", that has changed very drastically. The surname search pattern must now be an EXACT match with what's on the census (and I had collected well over 200 spelling variations), the maximum screens to acquire the cite data increased to between 5 and 7. Failing that, the older search patterns gain nothing at all and the new ones (the default) gain hundreds of thousands of potential hits, thus vastly decreasing the time one spends on ancestry.com's site in search of one's ancestor. Consequently, I cannot complete the extracted census records from 1790 to 1930 before the 1940 ones are available in less than 50 days, and I am now considering the complete removal from my website of what census records I have already completed. Any help I might give others will also be correspondingly diminished.
To say that I am far from pleased with this so-called improvement is a TERRIBLE understatement!