The success of WikiTree is based on its community of dedicated genealogists but there is a small team that supports the community.
Please note that this is not for "customer service." As a free, volunteer-based website, we don't have a customer service team to answer questions. If you have a question ask it in our community's Genealogist-to-Genealogist (G2G) Forum.
For more personal one-on-one assistance, a volunteer mentor may be able to help you.
Paul Bech, Project Assistant
Long before becoming a team member, Paul Bech was one of our earliest active volunteers. He helped pioneer the usage of free-space profiles and categories, created the Genealogy Help section, leads the Australian Convicts and First Settlers project, and took it upon himself to create this video introduction to using WikiTree.
Paul has been tracing his genealogy for over 40 years. He focuses on his Oxley and Standen lines (both from Kent, England; came to Australia in 1839 and 1841), and his Hayes, Wall, and Bech families (from Korsor, Denmark).
His wide range of other interests include photography, astronomy, "bushwalking" (that's Aussie-speak for hiking), cycling, bowling, and science fiction.
Erin Breen, Community Assistant
"I've always been passively interested in genealogy," Erin says, "but I took an active interest several years ago after my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. She (and many of my cousins) believed that her grandmother was Cree, and I felt compelled to find out before she forgot entirely. Spoiler alert: Great-grandma was not Cree. Just Scottish with a tan and high cheekbones. Sourcing my information didn't make me popular among family mythologists, but I was hooked. I'm a huge supporter of the Global Family Reunion because of the benefit to Alzheimer's research."
Erin describes herself as "a big ol' nerd of all trades. You're just as likely to find me at Maker Faire, as a tagalong to a hacker con, or at a film festival as you would a genealogical conference. People who know me describe me as 'indoorsy', but just because I'm not scaling a mountain doesn't mean I'm not outside. (I use a lot of sunscreen walking to places of obscure historical value!)"
Abby Glann, Leader Liaison and Project Manager
Lead·er: A member of the core group of volunteers on WikiTree who lead projects and have special powers and responsibilities.
Li·ai·son: A person who helps organizations or groups to work together and provide information to each other.
Communication and coordination are constant challenges in a rapidly-growing, decentralized community. Abby Glann's role on WikiTree is to help Project Coordinators and Leaders communicate and coordinate with each other, and with the WikiTree Team.
When not herding cats, Abby herds sheep, goats, chicken and children. (Abby and her husband operate a small family farm and homeschool.)
She's such a sci-fi/fantasy fan that she gives the farm animals names like Chewbacca, Thorn, and Princess Pi, and came close to naming her daughter Eowyn, for the Lord of the Rings character. Can you imagine a poor girl growing up with that name?!
Eowyn Langholf, Forest Elf
Calling her a Forest Elf enables us to be vague about her responsibilities. This is important because she does so ... darn ... much ... including an overall responsibility to make sure that things that need to get done by the team get done. If we wanted to be more professional-sounding we could call her a team manager or general manager.
One particular thing she does is manage GEDCOM imports. Indiscriminate GEDCOM imports would be the one sure way for WikiTree to become just another dark and confusing forest of often-copied, poorly-sourced family trees instead of one collaborative, ever-improving tree.
We've designed lots of technical systems to help make sure that GEDCOM imports don't overwhelm community collaboration. But the most important part is the human element. An experienced wiki genealogist needs to look at all GEDCOMs before any WikiTree profiles are created from them. Namely, Eowyn.
She has many years of genealogy experience, starting at a young age when she was tagging along with her mother who was volunteering at a family history library, and including three years as a professional genealogist.
Eowyn is incredibly cheery and positive, which comes in darn handy when dealing with an irate new member demanding to know why their 50,000-person family tree that stretches back to Adam and Eve can't be imported.
As mentioned, GEDCOMs aren't all Eowyn does. That's really just the start of it. Using some sort of elven magic, she somehow finds time to edit and write for our blog ... host our Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, and other social networking pages ... greet and mentor new members ... act as an Arborist and G2G integrator ... initiate and lead a bunch of projects ....
We've stopped trying to track everything she does. It's a fool's errand for a mortal.
Julie Ricketts, Volunteer Coordinator
Julie helps the Volunteer Coordinator Project with its mission to personally introduce new members to projects and project leaders. If you're not sure where your help is needed — and your help is needed here, no matter your level genealogical expertise or WikiTree experience — just ask Julie.
For more about Julie, see her "Meet Our Members" interview from shortly before she joined the team.
Aleš Trtnik, Independent Project Developer
Aleš Trtnik has only been active on WikiTree since 2015 but his contributions have been immense, and he's opening up new possibilities for the community every day.
Aleš has leveraged his background in big data to analyze WikiTree's public database in creative ways. The center of his work here is WikiTree+ and the Database Errors Project. Although the project is based entirely on Aleš's work, it's not just his exceptional technical abilities that make the project special. He listens to other members and attempts to give them what they need to improve our shared tree.
Aleš started the Database Errors Project as a volunteer with no official connection to WikiTree, and is continuing to run it independently.
As a team member, he's ranging across the entire landscape of our operations. He's finding innumerable ways to contribute, including with GEDCOM processing and search. We don't know where his work will lead, but we expect that when the history of WikiTree is written, Aleš will be described as a transformational figure.
Chris Whitten, Founder and President
Chris has been leading online communities since 1994. The first was a non-profit organization for connecting libertarians. In 2002 he started the collaborative Q&A site FAQ Farm, also known as WikiAnswers, which later became Answers.com and one of the top 20 websites in the world.
In 2008 Chris dedicated himself to the ideal of a single, collaborative, free family tree — something to connect the human family and to make learning about your genealogy completely free and accessible to everyone. This is a lofty ideal, but it's not just puffy fluffy rhetoric. The WikiTree community is now making it a reality, and Chris has pledged to keep WikiTree free. He works hard alongside all the WikiTreers who share the mission.
Chris's own ancestors are from New England, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland — before that, all around Northwestern Europe. He grew up in Massachusetts and has lived in New York, Chicago, and London. He now lives with his wife and daughter in the far northern suburbs of New York City.
Chris is open and communicative with as many WikiTreers as possible. Improving WikiTree requires intimately knowing users and understanding what they need. Feel free to send comments, suggestions, and ideas to Chris. Criticisms too. Of course, WikiTree is Chris's baby and he'll be sensitive about perceived insults. Any serious criticism is best preceded by flattery.
Brian Casey, Chief Technical Guy
Brian is our system administrator. Our lead programmer. Our hacker-in-chief.
Brian's programming experience goes way back to his Commodore 64. He can proudly boast that programs he wrote for that system were published in COMPUTE!'s Gazette. Literally, published. This 1980s print magazine published programs in their machine-readable form.
If you only read human languages you're probably more familiar with Brian's other published works, such as "The Spectroscopic Orbit and Subsynchronous Rotation of the Herbig Ae/Be Star TY CrA." Not human-readable enough? Then you've certainly seen his bestselling novel, Eclipsing Spectroscopic Binary Systems in Love. (Just kidding.)
Brian has a Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of Wisconsin. Lest you think this genius never gets outside, he's also an avid soccer player. And he enjoys time with his family researching their Irish roots.
Contact the WikiTree team at email@example.com.
For personal messages you can also use chris@, abby@, eowyn@, erin@, paul@, ales@ or julie@. Please do not send the same message to more than one of us. If your message isn't for one person in particular, use info@.
If your message doesn't have to be private use G2G instead. G2G, our genealogist-to-genealogist community forum, is where most questions are answered. Since we're such a small team — and we have to keep it this way to be a 100% free website — members generally answer each others' questions.
- ↑ Definition credit goes to Merriam-Webster. And to Leader Maggie for pointing it out, and thereby subtly correcting Chris's spelling of liaison.
- ↑ Calling Eowyn our Forest Elf, we realize, is too cute by half. The half being the fact that Eowyn in Lord of the Rings is a human, not an elf. This was pointed out to Chris not by Eowyn, or Abby, but by Lianne. Not only are our team members genealogy geeks, for some reason (coincidence?), most of them are sci-fi/fantasy geeks.
This page was last modified 13:36, 28 March 2017. This page has been accessed 30,158 times.