How long have you been on WikiTree and what do you spend the most time doing?
I have been on WikiTree for a little over four years, and spend most of my time sourcing and building biographies for people either connected to me, or family trees for friends. I am pretty happy with the presentation I have given to all my family up to four generations back, including other side branches and descendants and will start pushing back to working on profiles five generations back soon. I keep track of where I am up to, with lists of profiles that I am planning on working on next, on my own profile page.
I check daily for G2G posts about Australia, and try and keep up with the standard that we are trying to achieve for Australian profiles. I also eagerly search for activity on surnames I am following, and will make contact with new people researching the same names, or will check their work, to see if I can help find connections for them. If they are working in Australia, I will often source an unsourced profile for them, and create a basic biography, to help demonstrate how our profiles can appear better.
What brought you to WikiTree?
I actually started my genealogy journey a couple of months before starting on WikiTree, by starting on a couple of other family tree sites. When I would search Google for this or that ancestor, I often found listings for WikiTree, and liked not only that I could find someone else's work, but that often the profiles were connected to trees that I could view too. After this happened several times, I decided to join WikiTree for myself. The active community involvement on WikiTree, mostly trying to correct me at the start, was the thing drew me in, to making my home at WikiTree. That and getting sick of other sites constantly asking for money.
What is your favorite thing about WikiTree?
My favorite things about WikiTree, firstly is the contact that it has given me with cousins whom I'd never known. Whereas I have maintained accounts on other sites, and have only been contacted by one or two people in the last four years, I probably average a new contact every month on WikiTree, and maybe three out of four people contacting me, aren't even on WikiTree themselves, but appreciate the work I have put into profiles, and are wanting to give me more details to add.
G2G is also wonderful. The ability to be able to reach out for help, with anything, from research to understanding how to operate the site, to fun conversations about topics that are sometimes irrelevant but fun. The fact that people are always there, and willing to try and give a hand, or talk things through, is a massive positive attribute on WikiTree.
I also love that I get daily updates on my Tags, and love the Weekly updates, including all the topics highlighted, but especially the connection and relationship finder, which for me is probably one of the key things which makes genealogy fun. I also love all the many other features available from the menus at the top of my page.
If you could improve one thing about WikiTree, what would it be and why?
I think one of the most difficult things about WikiTree though, is the massive learning curve needed to use it, which I feel probably causes a lot of new users to quit. One of the things that I love about another family tree site, is that I have the App downloaded on my phone, and any time you wish to add something, you just press on the drop down tab to find what you are wanting to enter, and then you just put the details in. Of course, I think the downside of that other site is, that they have ended up with a lot of inaccurate work. So, as they say KISS. Keep It Simple Stupid!! Now, I can already see that this is already recognised, and WikiTree is already doing things to try and overcome this, which is good.
I think the other thing that annoyed me, was that living profiles could no longer be displayed, which is fair enough for private individuals, but seemed silly for extremely public figures, particularly those who still have profiles on Wikipedia, but are now unable to be presented on WikiTree.
What is an example of how WikiTree has helped you with your genealogy or how you’ve helped genealogy with WikiTree?
I think WikiTree has helped me to take sourcing seriously, having seen now how errors so easily creep in, because of sloppy work. I now don't consider it good enough to have just found a birth, death or marriage record, but want to see collaborating evidence from newspaper records or other records. I hope that I have helped genealogy, by providing a clear record for other researchers to be able to verify for themselves. I also hope that I have helped WikiTree, in that I now sing the praises of WikiTree to anyone who contacts me, because they have found a profile that I have built, which they are related to.
Any tips for someone just starting out on WikiTree?
For people starting out on WikiTree, go slow. Just build something nice for your parents. Then add to it your grandparents. Then continue to add to it, while checking what others have done. WikiTree has lots of great resources to help, so try everything in the menus, and see what you find. Create a post on G2G, stating the area you are working in, and asking What is the best way to find records in this state or shire.
For the last year, I have enjoyed, sometimes struggled, presenting an ancestor every week in the Ancestor challenge, but it was worth it. It was also great reading so many other stories. In this new year, I am hoping to dive in immediately to the Profile Improvement Project (PIP), to embark on the Voyage challenge, to see how I can yet improve my profiles more. I'm quite looking forward to it.