Help:Collaborative Family Tree

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A collaborative family tree, or single family tree, is one that we all share. It's not your tree or my tree. It is our tree — a tree for the entire human family.

We Collaborate

On WikiTree we collaborate on one family tree.

Genealogists have traditionally grown their own family trees. First on paper, and starting in the 1980s, on desktop computers. These trees could be shared, especially with close family members and cousins, but broad-based collaboration wasn't possible until the birth of the Internet.

The Internet made it possible to change how we think about family trees. Instead of growing separate trees, we can now work together in a fully collaborative environment. We can all work together on one tree that we all share.

Collaboratively growing an accurate, free, single family tree is the mission of WikiTree.

Although our community is growing a big collaborative tree, we still count our successes one person at a time.

There is a famous story about a man who came upon a child picking up stranded starfish on the beach and throwing them back into the ocean.

When asked why, the child replied, "The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don't throw them in, they'll die."

The man replied, "Do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can't possibly make a difference!"

The child picked up another starfish, threw it into the ocean, and replied, "It made a difference for that one."

Even though we can't possibly record and save every story of our ancestors, every one is precious. Every life story that we tell and preserve is a success.

We're One Family

A single family tree is premised on the idea that we are all related.

This premise does not require a belief in Adam and Eve. You only have to go back a few hundred years before many of us start to share common ancestors. When you include relationships through marriage, the connections really multiply.

Your ancestors have many other descendants. These are your distant cousins and they may have information, photos, and family stories that you don't have. Putting it together just makes sense. Sharing what we have and what we learn is one of the great joys of a collaborative family tree.

By working together, not only can we build more complete and accurate life stories, we have much greater assurances that our work will never be lost. On WikiTree, we know that our ancestors' stories will be accessible to all their descendants, now and long after we are gone.

Other Single Family Trees

There are other single family tree projects. The two most notable are the FamilySearch Tree, from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons), and Geni, a "freemium" membership site owned by MyHeritage.

It may sound ironic, but on WikiTree we don't think it's a bad thing that there is more than one single family tree. Technology is making it easier for our projects to connect with each other so that information can be freely shared and browsed. FamilySearch is especially open to working with us and others to ensure that the best information can be accessible to everyone.

Someday, content on one website vs. another may be virtually indistinguishable to casual visitors exploring their genealogy. What is distinguishable and significant to serious genealogists is the accuracy of that content. This is where the website and its community matter.

How do genealogists collaborate on the tree? How are conflicts resolved? Do the benefits of participation outweigh the very real difficulties of working with others? Do you enjoy participating in the community? Does it all add up to a tree that becomes more accurate and stronger as it grows?

Many genealogists think WikiTree is the best place for finding and collaborating with distant cousins and other genealogists. We have a highly developed collaborative culture — we've been slowly growing since 2008 — and a large cadre of committed volunteers who enjoy working with each other. It's all based on an Honor Code that enables our collaboration to be productive and enjoyable.

Will you join us?

Also see this YouTube video: The Collaborative Tree.

This page was last modified 19:36, 8 October 2021. This page has been accessed 614,329 times.