I started using Ancestry.com 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 Ancestry.com’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, WeRelate.org, WikiTree.com, 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 WikiTree.com‘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.
- Archibald Owen Norval (1925-1985)
- Mary Margaret Hursh (1922-2009)
- John Wilson Norval (1887-1949)
- Annie Flood (1887-1950)
Note: Chris Whitten of WikiTree granted permission to use the logo on December 7, 2012.