I am a complete newcomer currently in the overwhelmed stage with WikiTree.com
Here is my free association, stream-of-consciousness thinking on the home page:
#2 single family tree
#4 benefits for genealogist who sign the code (back to accurate)
Of these points, which would a new person be wondering about previous to getting to the page?
#1 free. Price can be a motivating factor -- certainly a make-or-break attribute for some % of people because of their monetary situation. Others may have various attitudes toward people making income and/or profit. Free also seems inclusive. We are used to sites such as Wikipedia being free.
#2 single family tree.
---> most people's previous experience with a single family tree
-- FamilySearch Family Tree (new, accessible interface)
-- OneWorldTree (old, search only?)
This invites making the phrase "single family tree" perhaps a hyperlink to a page that knowledgeably compares the three approaches -- for the purpose of orienting people. Getting context is one way that SOME people lessen overwhelm. Although it's only SOME people, it may very well be the sort of people WikiTree wants (people who build models in their head).
And this must be the key phrase.
What % of people arriving at this page will have heard of the Genealogical Proof Standard? Certainly very few. Of those, how many are drawn to it as a moth to the flame? Genealogy is in the boom phase of its boom/bust cycle, and the millions of people jumping on board are probably diluting, rather than increasing, the "caring about accuracy-ness" in the field. It is hard work to be accurate, and that skill isn't really called upon in most real life situations, where "good enough" has to be good enough, because life move on! We are, each of us, brilliant masters at making quick decisions with insufficient information. So a commitment to accuracy will, in many ways, be a willingness to swim against the tide, or take the road less traveled, or whatever aphorism applies.
So the accuracy thing -- it will be really interesting to see how it plays out in the way this site is organized. The Honor Code is impressive in addressing the issues raised. But, on the other hand, a Google search of wikiTree.com for "proof standard" yields fairly paltry results. So two questions: how can the archtictecture of the site itself work to support accuracy even more? and how in the world can the habit of accuracy be instilled in enough users?
My current, admittedly completely uninformed, suspicion is this: wikiTree has an alien feel, because open source ACCURATE knowledge is so alien to the human condition. Of course, there are many wikis out in the world. What is the state of the art in terms of moderation, participation, etc? This article raises interesting edviews: https://www.technologyreview.com/s/520446/the-decline-of-wikipedia/
How can wikiTree be simultaneously inclusive AND accurate?
#3 privacy -- the emphasis on privacy seems to be very wise. Sharing one's very personal relationships and information can be a vulnerable experience for a variety of reasons. Being able to choose how much and with whom is crucial to people feeling comfortable here, at least as far as privacy issues go.
#4 benefits to the genealogist
This hyperlink goes to a page called "Community Membership." It looks like a guild, these nested degrees of belonging. This is attractive and familiar. There's openness, but increased influence has to be earned.
So -- bewildered though I might still be, now I see the next step --> volunteering!
The aforementioned benefits -- hmmmm. If there is value in numbers, the value must be high indeed -- the list really goes on and on :)
WHERE TO GO FROM HERE:
I think the two steps below would increase the inclusivity factor at wikiTree:
- Restructure the benefits list, creating major categories and subcategories. Rewrite the benefit descriptions with a consistent (newbie) audience in mind, and provide the context needed by linking to the previously "known" world of that audience. How are the wikiTree benefits similar to other, more familiar, genealogy online experiences? How can that familiarity gently lead to the new, unique aspects of WikiTree?
- Lather, rinse, repeat for the idea of how to volunteer. Write up an introduction that takes people from a common understanding of what that word means, and transition that to what volunteering (if that's the right word) means here at WikiTree. Topics to address might be: skills being brought, skills to be learned, degree of comfort with x,y and z. Will the task be specific or open-ended? Are there little easy things to do? Are there longer-term put-on-your-thinking-cap type projects? Are there volunteer jobs where you get to know just a few more experienced people (probably the most appealing situation) over a few weeks? Is there any organized attempt at mentorship? Listing areas of interest does not really touch on the parts of volunteering that people really need to know about.
It is usually super hard to keep track of good entry-level volunteering opportunities in an organization. Which just means that it takes explicit and continued focus. Remind those in the inner circle of how great it is to get wonderful new people. And in exchange, they just have to be a wee bit intentional about appropriate tasks for newbies.
BYU's Family History Guide seems to set a standard for training in newbies.
In conclusion, I am excited by the idea of combining accuracy and inclusivity. I love the absence of vitriol. I love genealogy, and have spent quite a bit of time in the last several years at it. In that time, I've made many silly mistakes, and some stupid mistakes, and perhaps been a wee bit helpful once in a while. The "Van Meter on the Mayflower" family myth has resolved into a fascinating study in Dutch history and early Virginia homesteading... genealogy is an endlessy gifting endeavor that I humbly feel I know less and less about the more I know about it!