Are you a Volunteer or a WikiTree Genealogist ?

+18 votes
When I started five years ago, I pressed the "volunteer" button just because I wanted to add my lineage up to 1600's. I would quality myself then as being a Wikitree Genealogist.

With time, I started helping in different projects and ended up being a Leader.  And after being away for about a year, I was back.  I would consider myself now as a Volunteer.

Why asking people to join and volunteer when they just want to add their lineage to start with ? After a while, when they understand what is Wikitree, they will help growing the BIG tree and help others...

Why not ask them if they want to be a Wikitree Genealogist considering they have to sign the Honor Code...
in The Tree House by Guy Constantineau G2G6 Pilot (350k points)
edited by Guy Constantineau

8 Answers

+13 votes
Although I have a master's degree in library science, and although I am a competent researcher and good at citation, one thing I refuse to call myself is a genealogist.  If you'd asked me back when I joined if I wanted to be a Wikitree Genealogist, I never would have joined.
by J. Crook G2G6 Pilot (202k points)

As per the Exford Dictionnaries, a genealogist is a person who traces or studies lines of family descent.

And there are professionnal and amateur genealogists.  I consider myself as an amateur genealogist as I don't have the knowlage nor certificate to call myself a professional genealogist... and a Volunteer on Wikitree.

Thank you for sharing this J :)
Yeah, well, I don't consider myself an amateur genealogist. I am not a genealogist, amateur nor professional.
To my mind a professional genealogist is one who is paid for their work; an amateur genealogist is a volunteer who is not paid. I see many genealogists on Wikitree that have years of experience and are likely as knowledgeable as any professional and perhaps more qualified.
+16 votes
I think the term Volunteer confuses people and probably results in potential members not bothering to join. I would have taken less time to make my decision to be active on Wikitree if I had been asked to «Join» or to «Become a Member» or to «Participate». I find the «Volunteer» issue misleading and slightly offputting. I have also recently been trying to persuade a friend who is an experienced genealogist to join and she decided not to when she saw the complex joining process and the «Volunteer» question. This once again leaves me wondering if it is perhaps a cultural difference in how folks on opposite sides of the Atlantic respond to communication.
by Lynda Crackett G2G6 Pilot (630k points)
Yes. I agree with that, Lynda. But I don't consider myself a competent genealogist either. Being a 'member' of WT seems fine to me.
Member would certainly make it a lot easier to sell the concept here in England. There is a wealth of family history information held by some of the long term members of county family history societies. Many of these people have slogged away for decades building their trees and are slightly sceptical to online collaborative initiatives. Some might be persuaded to apply for membership, but many would be unlikely to volunteer.
Yes. my thought too.
I also think that the word "Volunteer" keeps a lot of people from Quebec away from Wikitree.
+14 votes
When I first joined WT I thought of myself as a volunteer.  Now that I have been here a few years I'm not sure what I have become other than addicted to this place.  I come here every day and try to add to the tree mostly to those somehow connected to me.

So what does this make me?
by Kevin Conroy G2G6 Mach 6 (67.9k points)
A busy member of this community working towards our common goal in your own way.

I do the same thing.
Right Rosemary,

we all do the same whatever we name ourselves.  But I know one thing... working on our family tree or helping in projects ... we are all members of this great community
+11 votes
I have been doing genealogy for about 25 years and have taken a fair number of courses to further my knowledge.  I will not call myself a genealogist because that sounds snobbish to me.  I think that asking people to become a Member (as Lynda states) is more acceptable that either Genealogist or Volunteer.
by Patricia Stockley G2G6 Pilot (123k points)

How does it feel snobbish?

Surely it only means that contributions made on this site  are freely made without expectation  of reward.

Sir William - to be a snob means that I think I am better than someone else.  If I am snobbish I will feel I am above the common person.
And why would your being a volunteer make you think you are better than someone else?
Sir William - I said I would not call myself a genealogist because that  may sound as though I am better than anyone else.  I think the word genealogist scares off a lot of new members because they may feel they are not good enough to call themselves a genealogist.   As for the word volunteer - I am fine being called a volunteer but I think that a "member"  would be a better choice of words.
I'd far rather call myself a family or even local amateur historian, I dislike the narrow field of genealogy and one of the great advantages of wiki-tree is the biography which enables us to move beyond that.

  I also would rather be a member than a volunteer which I think suggests some form of altruism. (as in volunteer blood donor, volunteer coast guard)
+9 votes

I have been an amateur genealogist for about 35 years and I volunteered on WikiTree about 4 years ago so I am an amateur Genealogist who does some of his work on WikiTree.

by Dale Byers G2G Astronaut (1.4m points)
+11 votes
I started out as a volunteer, just like you mentioned, wanting to add my family that I had researched from Ancestry records and my own relatives.

I was hoping to connect with ancestors from Ireland. Then interesting discoveries came about, I was not from Ireland at all, but from France and my relatives came and settled in Canada before coming to New England, in the United States.

But after my years on WikiTree and helping others research and finding more discoveries I feel I am a genealogist. Just like joining the military, they call you a soldier, or marine etc but you have to have training. I think WikiTree offers that "hands on training" and helps make us Genealogists  in our own right.  Thanks WikiTree and your volunteers and their expertise and willingness to go out of their way to help others!!!
by Dorothy Barry G2G Astronaut (2.5m points)
+7 votes
I would consider myself a member of this great cite and BIG INTERNATIONAL TREE of families. I am a very amateur family researcher. I really don't have as much time as I would like to have to do the indepth research needed and I sure don't have the funds to get out and travel the world to do the best research needed.

I am from the USA. I have been able to get information for my lines once my families arrived but as for their countries of origin and were they lived be immigration I have to go to the country to find out more. I am currently working on 4 different lines as three of them are lined directly to me. One is my Birth line through my biological father, the second is my adopted line, and the third is my mothers line. The forth I am working on is for my Half-brothers as they have a different father then me.

My mothers line and my adopted line are both from Germany. As far as I know my birth line is from Ireland, and the forth line is from Wales (I believe). Some of these lines I am not able to trace the spouses line to far back as there is no information to find. One instance is for my mom's mom. I have her father but after that nothing. I don't even know if he had siblings.

If you think you can help please contact me by private message.
by Chris McCombs G2G6 Mach 5 (55.6k points)
+6 votes

This should help explain the reasoning behind Volunteering: 


The section at the top links to the different membership types and what they mean, and the section at the bottom explains why we want prospective members to volunteer. It's intended to slow people down a little and help them consider their reasons for being here. 

by Julie Ricketts G2G6 Pilot (384k points)
I think that members probably understand this. The problem is that prospective members do not, so there is a risk of losing them before they get far enough to join. How many do we lose because we want to slow them down and make them consider why they want to be here before they even get a chance to see the potential benefits?

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