Thursday, July 7, 2011

My Love/Hate Relationship with Collaborative Genealogy

Two heads are better than one, right? That’s the basic concept behind collaborative genealogy—that, if we work together, we’ll all learn more about our family history.

For years, I’ve had a family tree on RootsWeb’s World Connect project, and I have a public member tree on From time to time, I’ve had people contact me about information I have posted. Sometimes it’s to ask a question, sometimes to provide me with additional information.  

The message boards on RootsWeb and Ancestry have been helpful. Posting queries and searching through boards have provided information and clues to follow up. I even met a cousin through a message board who really helped advance my research on the Spurlock family. (RIP, cousin Ernie, I miss you!)

FamilySearch has an excellent collection of genealogy lessons, location guides, and discussion forums all providing opportunities for sharing and learning about genealogy. 

A few months ago I took the plunge and uploaded my GEDCOM file containing some 9,500 names to WikiTree with the hope that it would open new avenues of research. And it has! I love it! I’ve met some distant cousins (virtually) and our combined knowledge of our family connections has increased. 


A couple of times in the last few months I’ve been poking around on other sites looking for information and discovered that people have just copied one of my WikiTree profiles, pasted it into a word processing document, and posted it as a “story” attached to their trees. Aarrgghh!  

These folks are missing the point! If we don’t make the effort to communicate with the individuals who have posted information, it’s not collaborative genealogy. And we miss an opportunity to expand our collective knowledge. 

I believe collaborative genealogy is one of the keys to solving our brick wall problems, and I will continue to post information on my trees and on my blogs. But we still have to communicate with each other to get the results we want.

For more information about working together, check out the Geneabloggers’ BlogTalkRadio episode on Collaborative Genealogy and the Legacy Family Tree webinar “Leveraging the Power of WE” (available free for a limited time under archived webinars).

© 2011 Denise Spurlock, Ancestral Trees Research

1 comment:

  1. So true! I love working and communicating with my "research cousins." But there are less encouraging experiences. On Ancestry, I use my own format for place names, and I can see that people are already copying branches wholesale - and I never hear for them.