Tuesday, December 10, 2013

WikiTree - The Total Experience (don't miss it)

I just passed my second month anniversary at WikiTree, and if someone had told me how much I would learn, how much I would do, two months ago - I just would not have believed it. So here are some highlights of my unbelievable first two months in the friendliest community genealogy site ever:

1,000 contributions! I just passed that milestone. It means I have added to the content of WikiTree a thousand times: some have been bios that took hours to write and document; some have been a quick update of a single fact. With thousands of community members doing the same thing each day, WikiTree grows more beautiful all the time.

Another badge:

As you can see, I made at least 100 contributions in November. This is such a nice way of reminding us that every thing we do is important and adds worth to the community. Displaying the badges on our profiles shows others that we are active members of the community and participating in reaching our mutual goals.

I have been working on merges the past couple weeks. It requires prolonged focus and attention to details. The result which I did not foresee but welcome, is that my perception of individual lifespans and family relationships is more acute. Like any activity that is repeated, a deepened awareness of the nuances of the subject develops quickly and naturally. Also the technical aspect of the work becomes easier with practice. It helps that WikiTree has recently developed software tools that make merging duplicate profiles nearly foolproof.

As a member of the Profile of the Week group, I have read fifty-eight profiles in the past eight weeks. They demonstrate an amazing variety of humanity. Pioneering women in New Zealand; aristocracy in Scotland; transported convicts in Australia; bigamist in America; war heroes on every continent; the long-lived, the tragic, the resolute and the plodding - our mutual ancestors are remarkable and they have one thing in common - they left descendants to carry on for another generation.

The Profiles of the Week also demonstrate the research skills and creative presentations of their descendants in the profiles which are nominated. We see outline formats, narrative style, profiles with source document images attached, timeline format, those with old photographs that speak of different times and places. We read of family mysteries and of the losses and triumphs of every life.

It is such a privilege to be a voting member of the Profile of the Week group, and it is only one of many ways to participate in the WikiTree community. If people don't have time to enjoy a special interest group, they can just upload their GEDCOMs and work on their own path through the ever-growing tree at WikiTree. It helps to thoroughly understand the way WikiTree functions, what our goals are - it isn't complicated. It is written in our Honor Code and spelled out in the G2G forum.

The longer I'm at WikiTree, the more I use the G2G forum. My particular interests include the Puritan Great Migration, 1776 - the American Revolution, using sources and citations, merging profiles. I entered those in my personal tags list and get a report of any forum activity on those subjects. Today I found WikiTree members sharing valuable tips on sources and on citations.  What I  learn in the G2G forum challenges me to ramp up my standards for the work I do, because I can see possibilities that would not occur to me on my own. Learning does not take place in a vacuum, but in an exchange of experience and ideas. Following are links to try for yourself - see if you agree with me that there is value added in being part of a lively genealogy community.

Citing Sources - WikiTree develops templates for citations

Free Access to Scholarly Articles

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