Genealogists spend a lot of time in front of a computer researching or buried deep in archives and repositories looking for original documents. It can be lonely at times. Networking is important for two reasons: it helps with the social aspect of the work and it also broadens your knowledge by sharing with others. This series will talk about all the different ways you can network with others for collaboration and research.
Email is very useful for networking. Not only is it an inexpensive way to communicate, but attachments of digitized document and photographs may be sent in a quick and efficient manner. And, while it possible to message others in social portions of applications, many times people will ask to email privately instead. Many times a polite, courteous introduction can lead to a wonderful exchange of information.
These may not be “in vogue” as much as they were 15 years ago, but mailing lists are still in use. Probably the most widely regarded are the lists indexed by RootsWeb.com. When last checked there were 32,740 lists in their archives! Each list has an administrator. Subscription is easy by either sending an email or visiting the administration page for the list. It is just as easy to unsubscribe by following a similar process. Some lists also allow for browsing and searching of the archives.
In the same vein as mailing lists, message boards are not what they once were but they are still in use. Our friends at Ancestry.com have over 25 million posts on more than 198,000 boards. It is possible to look up boards by topic, name or keywords. Ancestry has them categorized by locality or topic as well.
These work like bulletin boards. Someone posts a question on a board, and other people answer. The Q&A responses are threaded together so that the reader can keep the subject together.
Many times genealogists and researchers want to help each other with clarification and correction of online records. This can happen in several places.
For a WorldConnect tree, it is possible to add something called a “Post-em”. Think of this as a digital sticky note. We have added a link to the instructions for adding one here. Adding this type of sticky note is helpful for entering corrections, additions or any other information you think would be helpful to other researchers. The caveat here is that the person who submitted the family tree to the WorldConnect Project has the ability to remove your Post-em. They own the file after all. Still, this can be one means of collaborating with and helping others.
On Ancestry.com, collaboration happens through the use of comments. If you comment on someone else’s tree, anyone who can see that tree can see your comment. Ancestry provides instructions for how to do this in their Support Center.
We encourage you to look for ways to collaborate when you are on genealogy sites. Whether through comments, or adding annotations to individual records, you will find a richness in the online community.
Family Tree Databases
We have already mentioned Ancestry.com and RootWeb.com as two family tree databases where collaboration and networking happens. Another is FamilySearch.org. This website has a section where you can message other people. Instructions can be found here.
We hope we have given you several ideas for networking with other researchers. Perhaps this list has inspired you to look further into more ways to do this. If you have additional suggestions to add, please include them in your comments on this post.