What's the best way to find and collaborate with a professional genealogist on WikiTree?

+14 votes
Hi WikiTreers,

I've been thinking of hiring a professional genealogist. I never get time to work on my own tree. When I'm at the computer, I feel guilty if I'm not working on improving WikiTree.

I know the general advice is to find a professional who specializes in the region where your family is from. In my case this is New England and Nova Scotia.

But I want someone who's also very familiar with WikiTree. I'd want them to directly add whatever they discover here.

Do we already have a category for professional genealogists on WikiTree? Should we? Should we have a badge? That would certainly make it easy for me to find someone.

We do have the Research Assistance and Local Volunteer badge, but this is specifically for unpaid volunteers.

I don't want to ask a volunteer for help. I'm willing to pay, and my expectations would be very different than they'd be for a volunteer.

I doubt we'd want to mix volunteers and professionals in the same categories. I suppose the bottom-level categories could be different, e.g. in the Nova Scotia Research Assistance category you could have one subcategory for volunteers and one for professionals.

I imagine some WikiTreers might have a problem with professionals advertising themselves on WikiTree at all. Or being paid to contribute. Isn't that against the spirit of WikiTree? Heck, we actually require contributors to "volunteer."

I don't know. I'm sure others have thought about these things and maybe it's already been discussed.

What are your thoughts?


in The Tree House by Chris Whitten G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)

Gosh, Chris, if I knew those regions of New England and Nova Scotia, I would help you just for the fun of it. Maybe our experienced, working genealogists will see this message and give you some good recommendations privately. If you ever find you have ancestry in Hungary or Slovakia,or even some parts of France,  I can do it smiley

I think it's a shame you need to ask.  I think us Wiktreers could collectively do it as well or even better than a professional.  Post what you would like to know.  We'll get on it, provided there are others of my mind, if not, I'll get started on my own.  We'll connect you to Adam and Eve.....well maybe not that far back....but let's see....

Since you and I share a fair amount of ancestry and not everything that our family has uncovered is on WikiTree, I'd like to review the areas where we are really stuck. I just had some luck with two "brick walls".

I used to have an address for Nova Scotia researchers - I'll look for it. We seem to be really brick walled out there.

Do you want me to continue to add our common stuff to WikiTree?
I think it would be a great idea to have a "list" of individuals that are certified genealogists that are familiar with WikiTree.  This would really help out with brick walls and such, for an individual who is willing to pay for services that a professional genealogist can provide.  It should be made clear that these services may be fee based and that Wikitree is not providing these services, just a list of those who qualify by being familiar with WikiTree and also are certified.  AND, I think a badge to that effect would be appropriate.
Vincent, thank you!

A big thank you to Doug Lockwood too, though he hasn't posted here. (He already started adding to my tree! And I feel a bit guilty about it, though I know he helps strangers every day.)

Becky, um ... YES!

Nae, I think you're right that a simple badge for professional genealogists is the way to go. I'll add it to the to-do list.

7 Answers

+13 votes
Best answer
Chris, I understand the time constraint part for sure.

But conflating the two roles, and tweaking any WikiTree badges or any such to accomodate such a thing would be terribly problematic.

Some profiessional genealogists do their profiessional work outside, and are also on WikiTree to one extent or another for the fun of it. Others would not get anywhere near any collaborative Internet site, but would be happy to produce the paid work for you.

So trying to combine the two roles you are seeking is like asking for somebody to get paid to to prepare your taxes, and then for the same person to do your office filing. The are two different tasks entirely.

So my advice is to go ahead and hire a profiessional genealogist, as you would any other professional.

And then when they turn the work over to you, you can put somebody on your Trusted Lists whom you trust, to integrate all of that sourced data. But they should be a family member, or even somebody unrelated but willing to be paid to do it, whom you trust and respect.

But I would certainly not formalize any such paid role in WikiTree, because that kind of insults the rest of us, who volunteer our unpaid time because we want to.

That said, I see no problem at all with you simply posting in G2G Requests for Genealogy Help, "I would like to pay a person who is very familiar with the workings and guidelines of WikiTree to upload and integrate my professionally sourced tree, since my personal time for this is limited. Please contact me privately if you are interested."

You would run the risk of bruising the ego of anybody you turn down, but like any job interview, that's how it goes.
by Steven Mix G2G6 Mach 4 (41.4k points)
selected by Foster Ockerman
+7 votes
Hi Chris Ive been researching my family tree for about 2yrs now, really understand what youre saying about time. I have noticed on this site, I think it was in the tree house, that there was an experienced geneologist offering HELP. I t might be a good idea to ask a mentor to guide you to the appropriate person. I have recieved some really expert information on my family and it hasnt cost me a penny. I feel that paid or not paid info is just the same, as long as it is correct. Also i have had really good one to one help with finding my relatives on [http;//familytreecircles]  and the site i use all the tiime is [https;//familysearch.org.]  Hope this helps
by Susan Garth G2G5 (5.1k points)
+10 votes
Hi Chris.  In my simple mind the basic concept of how you do your genealogy doesn't seem much different from how you do the other tasks in your life, such as mowing the lawn, painting the house, changing the oil in the car, or treating your illness.  If you have the time, the interest, and the knowledge, you can choose to do it yourself.  If not, you can choose to hire it out, and how you get it done is nobody else's business.

Here I think you're suggesting that the professional would have a somewhat broader role.  He would be a site member, would create and merge profiles, request access to trusted lists, and generally interact in various ways with us hobbyists.  I can see that some might have a problem with that, particularly if he were critiquing the work of non-professionals.  But if there is full disclosure of status, and no special privileges for a paid contributor, what would be wrong with it?  And personally I wouldn't care if that ad for cruise ship over there right now got replaced by an ad from a professional genealogist.  So what?
by Dennis Barton G2G6 Pilot (408k points)
Chris,  Perhaps you can clarify?

Are you hiring a Professional to post your personal genealogy to Wikitree or hiring a Professional to work with others on Wikitree.

If it is the latter, having a professional on Staff that could Advise might be very useful, I would need to think on this more.  Perhaps like a Lineage Society that has professionals on staff to verify applicants?

If it is for your own genealogy, go for it.
+8 votes
I've hired a professional genealogist to do land record research in a distant state. I got a report. I don't have a problem with the concept of then paying that professional to submit my report via a Wikitree Profile. They're still volunteers. They're volunteering to submit information in a non-traditional manner.

If you didn't tell us, we'd never know.

A category and advertising? Those I'm not so sure of. And how many of us ever actually use professionals, that wikitree would need a list.

I went to the state genealogical society website, found a list, and chose one near the place I needed the research done.
by Anne B G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)
edited by Anne B
+5 votes
While it sounds like you might be suggesting that wikitree identify those members who are professional genealogists (and certainly that could be done with a Category or Badge, right?), I would recommend that you separate the two. That you, for example, use apgen.org as a place to go to search their directory for professional genealogists who have expertise in the area you're focused on.

Why does it matter if that professional have wikitree experience? Seems like it would be more important that they have the skills and experience to research the surname/location/era that you're most interested in...
by Jillaine Smith G2G6 Pilot (775k points)

"Why does it matter if that professional have wikitree experience?"

Jillaine, I read that Chis wanted two distinct things:

1) a professional genealogist to reserach his lineage, at pay.

2) a WikiTreer *person* who can successfully collaborate with other WikiTreers in order to add the professionally-sourced lineage to WikiTree, with all that entails, which is not minimal. That part would also be at pay, in Chris' vision of it.

I think he envisioned a simple two-in-one deal, :)

As I see it, 1 above is relatively simple. But 2, as perfomed also by 1, not so much.

Right, Steven. Perhaps mixing the two is not the right idea, and I really just need to find more time to do this myself. Just never seems there are enough hours in the day, but that's a problem everybody has.
+3 votes
Chris, you have a unique role in WikiTree, and I don't think it is necessary to hide that.  Building on the idea of several interested people volunteering to work on your genealogy, one idea would be to have a specific Chris Whitten's Ancestors Project.  Don't even need to worry about trusted lists -- I'm sure you've got your immediate family up to great-grandparents identified, and earlier than that it's all public information.  The project would work backwards in time, but beyond your great-grandparents they'd be working on people who are lots of other peoples' ancestors as well, so they'd be making general improvements to WikiTree in the same way as researching the profile of anybody else who isn't necessarily your ancestor, but who you've volunteered to improve the profile of.
by Jack Day G2G6 Pilot (356k points)
You're very kind, Jack. Thank you. :-)
+3 votes

Hi Chris,

Your goal of having a 2-for-1 deal can be done. Stuff like this is being done all the time, but in other areas. Let me describe how this model works.

I work in Open Source Software. There are many people who volunteer their time to work on various projects. They do this because the like doing it. They volunteer their time, and contribute the source code that they write to projects.

Many of these software engineers get to be really familiar with the Open Source Software project that they are working on. They become experts in it. In many cases, companies will hire them, specifically to continue to work on the same Open Source Software projects, that these companies are then leveraging. These engineers are then doing work-for-hire, on stuff that they used to just do volunteer work on.

I hope you can see how this model can work for genealogy and WikiTree.

You are asking for someone who knows how to do professional-level genealogical work, but their output is put here on WikiTree. These two goals do not conflict, as others suggest. You would be paying said genealogist for their time and research capabilities, not for some proprietary output report. That is a different approach. Any professional genealogist who is not ok with having their output put here on WikiTree should be avoided.

By the same token, perhaps another route is a volunteer-going-pro. It might be better to seek to pay someone who is already a volunteer here, who knows how WikitTree works, but is skilled enough to go to the "next level".

I strongly disagree that these have to be separate roles. There are whole sections of the economy who are already used to a collaborative environment for their work, both volunteer-based that turns into pay-based.

Remember, it would be about paying for their skills and time as a service, not for some proprietary report.

by Eric Weddington G2G6 Pilot (234k points)

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