Collaboration With WikiTree

Collaboration With WikiTree

I started using a little over 2 months ago and have been extremely pleased with the progress it has helped me make on mapping out our family tree.  I’ve been able to break through some genealogical brick walls and connect with half a dozen previously unknown cousins.  However, one of the aspects I find limiting is the lack of opportunities for collaboration with cousins that can’t afford or are not willing to pay for’s subscription service.  I personally feel the monthly fee is worth it giving how much I’ve gained and the extensive resources made available, but of course, not everyone agrees.  It is possible to invite people as guests to your tree and even allow them to contribute, but I was looking for a web service that would allow me to share ancestor profiles without requiring sign up and increase the likelihood that distant cousins will stumble upon shared ancestors in my tree.

FamilySearch,,, and many others offer a free service to build out and share your family tree.  After researching the options I knew about and reading this post I decided to try out WikiTree.  The first step is to create an account by clicking the register link at the top right-hand corner of‘s home page.  Initially you can only fill out your own profile (can’t add any family members), answer questions on the Genealogist-to-Genealogist Q&A forum, and request to be added to the Trusted List of a particular family tree to see details of an individual’s profile that are hidden to the public.  If you would like to enter your family tree (i.e. create new profiles) you have the option of “volunteering” to help grow the shared family tree and become a “Wiki Genealogist.”  An existing member has to approve your request and before you can enter any new profiles you must sign the WikiTree Honor Code.  It is an interesting way to try and limit the amount of incorrect or unsubstantiated data that is entered by casual “family historians,” and if it works, I don’t mind jumping through hoops.

The granular privacy controls are a strength of this platform, and I appreciate the ability to fine tune information sharing on an individual by individual basis.  The one thing I have committed to doing is creating the profiles manually (i.e. no GEDCOM import) and providing sources that back up my data.  This approach will slow the data entry process, but I think it worth taking the time to back up my assertions.  Thus far I’ve only entered four profiles and have not found any shared ancestors in another member’s tree, but I’m hoping that will change as I find the time to add more leaves to my tree.

WikiTree - growing the world's family tree
Join me @ WikiTree

Note: Chris Whitten of WikiTree granted permission to use the logo on December 7, 2012.

6 thoughts on “Collaboration With WikiTree

  1. Hi Frank! Welcome to WikiTree! I’m really excited that you decided to join WikiTree and I hope you are able to find lots and lots of cousins to collaborate with.

    I initially uploaded a GEDCOM and I’m now going back and rewriting all of the biography sections of the profiles to show sources and information. I have also been trying to add photos as much as possible as well.

    I also didn’t find any cousins initially when I joined in late 2010 and even last year, I just wasn’t finding many people. But all of a sudden this year, I’ve found a ton of cousins and finally been able to get the collaborative dream – it’s like they all decided to join WikiTree this year! I’ve made a lot of progress!

    Can’t wait to hear more of what you think about WikiTree!

    -Elyse Doerflinger
    WikiTree Evangelist

    1. Hi Elyse,

      Thanks for your comment and words of encouragement! I hope it won’t take two years before I find any new cousins to collaborate with, but I’ll keep in mind that it may be a while. The odds will no doubt increase as I add more leaves to my WikiTree.

      The manual entry process seems to be the best way to go, but there are times when I wish the community would accelerate the process of adopting a new information exchange standard to replace GEDCOM. The lack of portability between different genealogy applications (Reunion, FTM, Gramps, etc.) and web services (like WikiTree) means that an individual striving for accuracy has to commit a lot of time to data re-entry, consistency checking, and synchronization between each platform. If you were to add up all that time across the worldwide community it must amount to millions of hours that could have been devoted to new research or sharing.

    1. Hi Magda. Thanks for the greeting and comment!

      I was looking at your site, and I too have roots from a similar part of the world. I’ve traced the Hinek surname back to my great grandparents who left what was the Austro-Hungarian empire in 1904. Today the towns they were born in reside in Croatia.

  2. Hi Frank,

    I also use Ancestry and I love it! And just recently I’ve created a WikiTree account. I haven’t uploaded a Gedcom yet. I’ve only manually added some of my ancestors like you have. I’m still deciding on whether or not I will upload a Gedcom. We’ll have to see.

    I was wondering. Have you added your blog to the GeneaBloggers website yet? If not, I hope you do. It’s a great genealogy blogging community. Thomas MacEntee is the author of the GeneaBlogger website. If you’re interested, here’s the link ~


    1. Hi Jana,

      Thanks for stopping by. I can empathize with the dilemma you have over a GEDCOM upload vs. manual creation. It would be so much faster! : ) Unfortunately, a lot of the records I’ve seen that result from GEDCOM imports are a real eyesore.

      After a month I’ve added far fewer leaves to my WikiTree than I would have liked, but it was partly due to being away from home for 2 weeks during Christmas/New Years. I added a few people this week and will keep working at it.

      The main thing that is slowing me down is the time consuming process of writing biographical narratives and linking them to sources/footnotes. Part of that is simply due to the way MediaWiki works, but hopefully Chris finds ways to optimize the data entry efficiency over time.

      I was aware of the GeneaBloggers site but was holding off on submitting my blog. I haven’t finished several sections of the site and only published a few posts. I guess I should go ahead and submit the link.

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