[[Editor's Note: This post was written by Pamela Lloyd, one of our members since May of this year. She's awesome and active in our WikiTree Profile of the Week and Family History Photo of the Week Projects. Pamela has her own personal blog: Searching For Roots and Branches.]]
When it comes to genealogy, I love to try out new sites, always looking for that perfect experience that offers me the best possible means of discovering more about my family. But, while I love to try out new software and sites, I don’t have deep pockets, so I’m especially on the lookout for resources that are free or have very low cost.
I’m also a fan of Wikis and the collaborative approach to collecting and organizing information. Anyone who’s ever used Wikipedia knows that, despite the fact that academics don’t consider it a credible source of information, it often provides an excellent overview of a subject, as well as providing a list of useful reference sources on the topic. Plus, Wikis provide a way to organize information in collaboration with other researchers, allowing for a level of partnership that is often missing from other means of doing genealogy research. So, from the moment I first discovered genealogy wikis, I’ve loved the idea of being part of that collaborative process.
I’ll admit it wasn’t love at first sight. I do like my flashy interfaces, and WikiTree isn’t fancy, but, there was a lot I liked about WikiTree, right from the start, most especially the Honor Code. The Honor Code reflects a focus on collaboration and accuracy, while acknowledging that we all make mistakes. It tells members that they are expected to be courteous, and to respect the privacy of others’ personal information. It emphasizes the importance of source material in a number of ways, including the importance of following copyright laws, giving credit where credit is due, and the absolute necessity of citing sources. And, finally, the Honor Code acknowledges that the entire point of WikiTree is, within the context of genealogy, to “increase the world’s common store of knowledge.”
So, on a “test” basis, I signed up, agreed to the Honor Code, and uploaded a GEDCOM reflecting a small pruning from my family tree. I soon found that one of the best things about WikiTree is the Thank You option. It seems that just about anything I do gets noticed, and when it does, someone sends me a thank you. Sometimes, it’s just a quick click of the Thank You link for that action, but often enough it’s someone dropping by to comment on an ancestor, to say “Hi,” to invite my participation in a joint project (G2G and the WikiTree Profile of the Week on Google+ are two of these). Or, and this is the best thing ever, especially since I’ve posted only a very small percentage of my entire tree, to say, “we’re related!”