How is the best way to deal with all these possibilities

+5 votes
136 views
I feel like I have the "pinball" direction for WikiTree. Add some family members, see something else go that way, add a little here, a little there, etc.

How to decide? Right now I have maybe a thousand ancestors to enter or see if they are already entered. Or do I do the Quaker projects, or add DNA designations, or do sources, or label or work for badges, or? Or? Or?

Could someone suggest priorities? Thanks.
in The Tree House by Claudia Scarbrough G2G6 (6.0k points)
retagged by Ellen Smith
When in doubt, I tend to sort by limiting factors. What is the resource that is most likely to disappear or remain undiscovered by later researchers. Newspapers are getting more and more searchable, magazines rarely, private publications such as family genealogies practically never. Websites rarely last ten years. If you find relevant videos, do a transcription, formats are ephemeral.

Especially with new people I try to encourage them to start with family photos, personal correspondence, family stories, etc. whatever information you have that may never make it to Wikitree otherwise. A barebones profile is fine as a placeholder. Interview and record (at least audio) your elders.

The government data will still be there when you want to add it. Just drop a link in Research Notes or Sources if it is right in front of you but don't want to fully process it at the moment. The paint is going to break down long before the canvas.
Thanks. Hadn't really thought about the fragility of some sources. Good info.

4 Answers

+6 votes
Personally, before I got a computer that could handle 80 tabs open at once, I made a list of all the sources I found for each person that would tempt me to go off my path and go back to them later. My first goal usually is to connect a profile to the World Tree if possible. If it's not, then it's to just go back as far as I can, and then go and build out the tree horizontally.

So, let's say you have a grandmother. You look up her sources, and you find her in a census with her siblings and parents. Oh look, more sibling sources, how exciting!.... write those down, make a profile for her parents, focus on them. Then you find a source that lists their parents, along with their siblings, maybe a probate record... source it on the parents and their parents, write it down in a notepad file for the other siblings. And then keep going back until you can't anymore or until there are profiles someone else made that link up. Once they're connected, go aaaall the way back to the beginning of that list you made and start working on those siblings of your grandparents and working down their trees (their children, their grand children, et cetera), until your notepad list is empty, and then work your way up again. Of course, add to the bottom of the list any more temptations to wander off track. You might never actually empty that notepad list, but you'll always be busy and having fun researching and sourcing.
by G. Borrero G2G6 Pilot (104k points)
G. Bartomeo laid out a great approach, but don't forget to work on what motivates you the most.   

In three years I've input over 2000 profiles. I found after I had become VERY familiar with inputting my profiles on WikiTree,  it was time to hone my skills.  I started using categories and using more advanced methods of in line referencing sources.  (At first,  I just listed my sources and wrote very few biographies.)  There's a lot to learn but don't try to do everything at once,  get the basics down pat,  so you don't feel like you're struggling every time you work on a profile.   Then layer in more skills.  (For me,  I became very interested in posting Civil War stickers and creating categories for units my family served in......)  I made it a priority to scan old family photos and post them to profiles.

I still have a lot to learn,  but that's part of the fun too.   The more skilled WikiTree members are constantly adding great features and they're willing to help us learn.

I have two modes of operation.  1)  I'm not really learning anything new but am inputting profiles, enhancing sources, posting pictures, writing some bios.... this is automatic and can be accomplished during my low energy times  (like when I'm hungry.)    2)  When I have high energy and patience I try to learn something new or work on my brick walls. (This is when I'm NOT hungry.)

And eventually, I've tried to layer in WikiTree  organizational goals,  like the Source-A-Thon.... etc.   But I'll admit it's time to improve my game in this area.

Just one approach.   You'll know what works for you!
G, that's exactly the way I work.  Instead of using a notepad for the extra sources, I put a comment section (seen only on the edit page) at the end of the profile I'm working on.  In there, I put all the transcribed data from all the records I found while researching for the profile.  I find it very convenient to have all that at my fingertips as I work.  When I'm done, I leave that comment (which I title SOURCE DATA) for the convenience of anyone else who ever looks at the edit page.  All the sources I found for other family members are also there, for me to move to the new profiles when I'm ready to add them.
+8 votes

We all have this problem and end up finding our own solutions to minimize the gridlock of wanting to go too many directions. I have a few things I do to  focus. 

  1. Work on getting all my ancestral lines back to arrival in North America with as much documentation as I can find and include all marriages, not just the one I descend from.
  2. Starting with recent generations, add in all children, their spouses and children of each ancestor. Improving documentation as I go.
  3. Work on a special project of interest
I set aside days where I only work on one project at a time. For example, today is reserved for working on #1 and I'm sorting out some of my French Canadians to get them back to Quebec with sufficient documentation. Tomorrow I work on #3 which is creating profiles for all World War I soldiers from New Brunswick who were killed in action (this was a sidetrack after finding details on my paternal grandmother's brother). 
The key is to find a process that works for you. I just find it better to focus on one thing at a time and force myself to not flit from one thing to another since that always leads me to not getting anything done.
by Doug McCallum G2G6 Pilot (424k points)
+4 votes
Be flexible and do whatever you want to do. If you try to lay down too rigid a plan it will feel more like work than enjoyment. Follow the leads that motivate you and when you are about to disappear down a rabbit hole make a note of where you need to come back to so you can pick up again later.
by Lynda Crackett G2G6 Pilot (630k points)
This I can live with. Thanks.

Enjoy. That is the main thing smiley

+2 votes
I have a huge family tree, with lots of sources that was a personal tree, on genie, and ancestry. I decided to merge all to Wikitree and I faced the same conundrum as you.

I decided to start with my mother's matrilineal line as that is the one with the most information.  I decided to go back 5 generations. I tried to  not venture too far off my direct ancestors and their siblings. I made very few connections to pre-existing profiles.  Than I switchesd to my mother's patrilineal line and hit a dead end at the third generation. I moved to my father patrilineal line and in 4 generations it was complete and it did not connect to any prexisting profiles. It was exciting but kinda lonely as I hoped to collaborate and expand my tree. Finally it was my father's matrilineal line and I hit pay dirt. Tons of connections and I kept working on it much longer than the other 3 lines.I was really excited and frustrated by collaborating.  Lots of discrepancies to decipher. When I reached the first American immigrant I went back to my mom's matrilineal line and connected the dots and got back to the first immigrant. Hit a brick wall and tried very hard to break it, but finally got a clue. Still not positive those connections are for real, but it was truly the most gratifying thing I had done so far.  Now to my mom's patrilinealline with multiple dead or confusing ends. Its a part fo the tree I largely ignpred because I just couldn't get very far. But with Wikitree I had a new advantage. I laid out all the possible directions the tree could go and with the help of others was able to eliminate all but one. Than the most amazing thing happened, my DNA linked to one of the people in that family. I discovered my great grandfather was a bigamist as was suspected. Suddenly a whole new world of family opened up.

So to summarize that long answer - I started with a skeleton tree and keep expanding it. I rarely go past my New World immigrants, but I I keep expanding it wider and wider. I've gotten some amazing stories about my ancestors from distant cousins. Collaboration is what makes genealogy exciting for me.
by Susan Fitzmaurice G2G6 Mach 4 (42.8k points)

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