Friday, June 28, 2013

Twitter and Genealogy:
Ready to Take Off?



If you aren’t quite sure what I’m referring to, Genchat is the online genealogy conversation that happens every second and fourth Friday on Twitter.

That “fourth Friday” would be today.

If you live on the east coast, it happens at ten o’clock at night. For those in the Central time zone, the hour is nine. Denizens of the Mountain time zone—along with Genchat co-host Jen Baldwin—gather at eight p.m. And those of us far away in the beautiful lands of the Pacific coast, well, we join in at a more laid-back seven o’clock.

The online chats each have an assigned topic to cover—you can view the schedule for upcoming plans here—but other than that, are not rigidly formal in any way.

In fact, if you plan on participating for the first time, grab your hat, sit down and hold on! This fast-paced hour garners all sorts of great tips and ideas from your peers in genealogical research.

Since its inception on January 25 this year, Genchat has been co-hosted by the team at The In-Depth Genealogist and Conference Keeper. While mostly an event you can enjoy from the comfort of your own home, Genchat has even ventured out to coordinate a live chat from the National Genealogical Society convention last May in Las Vegas.

No matter where you are, I hope you set aside an hour to participate in—or at least sneak a peek at—tonight’s Genchat.

How to become part of the action?

First, be sure to sign up for your own Twitter account, if you haven’t already done so.

Next, if you’d first like to get an idea of what past Genchats were like, you can read through some archived conversations at Storify.

Keep in mind that, on Twitter, the way to aggregate posts on the same topic is to precede the search term with a specific symbol—what you may have previously thought of as the “pound sign” or “number sign” in Twitter lingo is dubbed a “hashtag.” Same symbol (#), different name. You’ll notice that every time someone enters a “tweet” in the Twitter stream for this event, it is labeled as #genchat. That way, in Twitter’s search bar, you can enter that exact string—“#genchat”—and bring up any past posts relevant to that discussion.

If you participate in tonight’s #genchat, you can do so via Twitter—but if you use that means of joining in the fun, for every tweet you write, you’ll have to remember to end it with the label, #genchat, so that it will be included in the conversation’s history.

Let me tell you a secret: there is an easier way.

I highly recommend that, before you participate in tonight’s #genchat, you first sign up for a special utility called TweetChat. This is a handy service that automatically enters that #genchat label, every time you add your comment to the conversation tonight, so you won’t have to go through the tedium of typing it all out, yourself.

Believe me, you will thank them! This conversation moves fast.

Signing up for TweetChat is easy, fast, and free. All you need to do is go to their website, follow their streamlined 1-2-3 steps, enter the #genchat hashtag in the box, and you’re in! If you already have a Twitter account, you can probably slam dunk that TweetChat signup in minutes.

Once that is done, at seven (if you are in the Pacific time zone) or eight (if you are on Mountain time) or nine (if yours is the Central time zone) or ten (for Eastern time)—or, hey, if you are one of those who have joined in from England or Australia or anywhere in between—be sure to join in tonight’s conversation on Cemetery Projects.

You’ll be amazed how fast an hour can fly by!  


  1. 10:00!! I might have to take a nap first.

    1. PS - the TweetChat site is down. They got too big for themselves, it seems, if I read the notice correctly.

    2. That's what it sounds like, Wendy. Hope you can still join in the conversation, though--looks like the hosts have moved it to a different website, based on what Jen Baldwin mentioned below. You can click through to get to the website here.

  2. You are tempting me to enter the twitter world, but I'm not quite ready.


    1. That's okay, Grant. When you're ready, you'll find it can be quite useful--and a great way to connect with like-minded people.

  3. If genchat is down - you can always cut and then paste #genchat into your tweet(s) as needed.

    11 PM. No wonder my ancestors moved to Texas!

    1. All the more reason to move all the way to California ;)

  4. Jacqi, thank you so much!

    Because of the problems last time with TweetChat I hunted down a new system to try, so tonight I'll be co-hosting from TWUBS: It looks very similar, but actually has more options so might appeal to a broader audience. Same goal though, to make the chat easier to participate in.

    We are looking to add more days (at earlier times for east coast and reasonable times for international) so don't give up on us just yet! Also, and this is the first we've said of it, we're looking at adding chats for each broadcast of WDYTYA and Genealogy Roadshow!

    This is an awesome post, and we really appreciate your support and contributions, Jacqi. Can't wait for tonight! ~Jen

    1. Thanks for the update, Jen. Will be looking for you via the new location at twubs.

  5. Sounds good! Thanks to your schedule link, I notice that the topic is "cemetery projects." I second the motion that #genchat is easy and lots of fun. If we are home by 10 tonight, I'll gladly be there.

    1. Hope to see you there tonight, Mariann, but certainly understand. You've had quite a bit of work on your plate lately!


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