NamUs question

I have a question about NamUs that I’ve wondered about for a long time and I wonder if someone who reads this blog can answer for me:

When you search for something on NamUs — say, the first name “Sharon” — and come up with a list of results, and click on one of the cases on the list, it has two numbers at the end of the URL. One, I think, is the actual case number, which never seems to change. Sharon Kay Leinart (missing from Tennessee since 2013), for example, has the number 20176. But after that case number is a / symbol and another number. Like, I just searched for the first name “Sharon” and clicked on Sharon Leinart’s case among the results, and it lists the second number as 22. So her entire URL (as I write this; I’ll get to that in a moment) is https://www.findthemissing.org/en/cases/20176/22.

It seems to make no difference what the second number is: if you change that number to 23, or 21, or 1985, the MP you come up with is still Sharon Leinart. And if you remove the second number altogether, it also makes no difference: the URLs https://www.findthemissing.org/en/cases/20176 or https://www.findthemissing.org/en/cases/20176/ still produce Sharon Leinart and no other person.

The second number also seems to be different every time I search. I have learned to remove the second number when I bookmark NamUs cases for my “to add” folder, because otherwise, https://www.findthemissing.org/en/cases/20176/23 and https://www.findthemissing.org/en/cases/20176/22 or https://www.findthemissing.org/en/cases/20176/anyothernumber come up as separate bookmarks when they all point to the same MP. My bookmark for Sharon Leinart is therefore https://www.findthemissing.org/en/cases/20176.

My questions

  1. What does that second number mean?
  2. Why does it change every time you perform a search for that person?
  3. Why is there at all, since it’s not necessary for people to see the casefile?

This is not a big deal, it’s just a curiosity of mine. Can anyone familiar with the workings of the NamUs database, or computer databases in general, enlighten me?

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3 thoughts on “NamUs question

  1. Shari Salem-Kizziar July 21, 2016 / 6:25 am

    It is the number of their position in the list. When I search for Sharon and click on the first name in the list the number 0 shows up. At first I thought it was some kind of counter but it seems to just be the order they are in in the search list. The number will change when another Sharon is added or if they are in a different search list.

  2. Justin July 21, 2016 / 10:43 am

    I had assumed (though I didn’t think about it much to be honest) that it was the number of times her case file was updated on NamUs by the administrator, though some of the numbers seem pretty high for that.

  3. Dan July 25, 2016 / 4:13 pm

    As the other posters have mentioned, the second number has to do with the placement in the list when you search. You can see the second number (or parameter) is not required. If you enter the URL for your example without the second number, it loads fine (https://www.findthemissing.org/en/cases/20176). If you actually change this number to any other number, it also works (https://www.findthemissing.org/en/cases/20176/42) exactly the same.

    The numbers that are placed for the second parameter appear to be a zero-based count of the order of the records (starting 0, 1, 2, 3…) and are used for the search. You can leave them off, it makes no difference. You can actually see this have an effect, as if you click on the heading for a column of search results (such as Date Last Seen), then click on the same person in the list, the second number will be changed to reflect their position in the differently sorted table. I honestly don’t know why they do it this way, as it’s kind of a sloppy way to handle front-end data. But this is a pretty old table display method, as it doesn’t appear to have changed since 2008, while web-design technology has.

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