Tuesday, July 26, 2011

More About Collaboration

Yesterday, I briefly mentioned using wikis to collaborate with others on publicly laying out your family tree. In that article, I was primarily focusing on tagging photos. Today, I want to add to that thread. There are several online sources besides those I’ve already mentioned—sources suited to sharing and further developing the research conclusions you’ve already attained. Here are a couple resources I’ve gleaned while wandering through others’ genealogy-related blogs. Though I haven’t yet used them, now that I’ve found them, I’m taking a serious look.

The first wiki I saw was named, predictably, WikiTree. With a motto, “Growing the World’s Family Tree,” WikiTree bills itself as “100% free for everyone.” Their home page is filled with clickable links to everything you need to know about what is contained in the site and how you can augment their holdings. A thumbnail sketch of how to use the site briefs you on the basics, but for the tediously-inclined researcher, it gives you everything-you-ever-wanted-to-know and more on how to set up your own page and become a “project manager” on their site. Below those basics, you have the option of searching in their site for pages already established for your relatives—you can either hunt and peck through their alphabetized directory of over two million profiles, or be direct and to the point by using their search engine.

I like to play around and explore, so I took the hunt-and-peck route. Not being sure of what I’d find, I selected some of my better-researched surnames, like Broyles (where I did find a page for an ancestor several generations back), Boothe (where, sadly, William Alexander did not show his face), and Metzger (where, surprisingly, I found no direct line names). Encouraged by what I saw on the surname directory listings, I threw caution to the wind and searched for my lesser known appellations with abandon, but was predictably disappointed to not uncover the likes of Aktabowski or Gramlewicz. Perhaps I am the only one seeking to remember them?

Another site with wiki capabilities is WeRelate. This is an organization-within-an-organization, as it is sponsored by the Foundation for On-line Genealogy, in partnership with the Allen County Public Library. I’ve been to the Fort Wayne, Indiana, library—my few days researching there made me wish I was retiring to Fort Wayne—so I can vouch for their good name.

WeRelate comes with oodles of help pages, including video tutorials for those bleary-eyed researchers who would rather, this time, be shown than told. However, in an initial (and admittedly quick) search, I wasn’t able to find the same family surnames I had located in WikiTree, and maneuvering seemed less intuitive. In their defense, the website developers mention that WeRelate is still in a beta phase, and (along with several other great genealogy resources), they are mentioned in a recent issue of Family Tree Magazine. This is definitely a place I’ll be taking more time to explore.

My main idea in pursuing wikis is that I want to get the word out about what I’ve found in my family history research. I want to correct errors, of course, and glean from others, but mostly, I’d love to connect with those interested in the same lines. And you never know—this might just be the opportunity to bump into that long-lost cousin.

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