Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Testing the WeRelate.org Wiki/Genea-Networking site

Denise Olson at the Family Matters blog related her experiences with the http://www.werelate.org/ web site in her post titled "WeRelate Update. " In her post, she showed several of the screens the user encounters when they use the Search facility.

I went to WeRelate and decided to upload my Seaver surname database on last Saturday. The upload was fairly easy, and all 9,608 people in my database were uploaded. When I went to search for my people, they were not in the Search index for several days. They are there now, 3 days later. My database is at http://www.werelate.org/wiki/User:Rjseaver.

Denise showed the opening screens, so I won't use bandwidth here to do that. I do want to show the Person page, the Pedigree Chart and Map Feature.

Here is a Person Page for Robert Seaver (1702-1750), my 7th great-grandfather.

You can click on the person's family link (under "Spouse of family") to see the person's children, and click on one of the children to see their Person page. You can click on the "Child of family" link to see the Person's parents and their family.

For any Person, you can click on the "Pedi-Map" link in the white Person menu on the Person page, and you will get a four generation pedigree chart. The Person is listed at the top of the chart and the spouse(s), along with their children, are listed on the left hand margin (see below).

At the bottom of the pedigree chart page there is a map that shows the geographical movement of all people on the pedigree chart. The stick-pins are color coded by person and shape-coded by event (birth, marriage, death).

Aside from the minor errors (e.g., Westminster MA is shown near Greenfield MA, about 50 miles away) , this web site works pretty well right now. I'm sure that they will improve it as more information is added.

The site says that they have over 500,000 persons in the database. Eventually, when there are many millions of persons in the database, this will be a very useful database to search.

What I like about it:

* It uploads GEDCOMs quickly (a GEDCOM upload is a must for me!)

* It shows living people as "Living Surname" even if the name was in the database.

* The notes are shown on the Person page.

* The Sources for Facts are listed (as provided by the submitter).

* You can add images to0 each person.

* A researcher can "talk" to the Submitter and collaborate.

What I don't like at this time (and why):

* Moving from page-to-page is not intuitive - you have to figure it out. I would prefer to see the spouses and children all listed on the Person page rather than have to click again to see the children, and then move to the child's Person page.

* The index of people in a Family Tree are listed alphabetically by first name and last name (as a default), rather than by last name, first name. There may be a switch for this, I just haven't found it.

* When you do a Search, you get a long list of links to persons in all of the databases, plus a line of text with your search term(s). There is not enough information for each person to distinguish between people with the same name. This would work much better if they added a birth place and birth date to the heading, or a spouse's name or parents names.

* If I add people, notes or facts to my at-home database, how can I update my database (other than typing the data into the WeRelate database). I could delete the database I have on WeRelate and upload the new one, but if someone has edited or added to my former database, then those additions might be lost. If I keep my former database and upload another with more information, then someone has to go through and link identical people together.

* There is no "Reports" feature that I can find - I would love to have the program create an Ancestors report or a Descendants report (in NEHGS or NGSQ style).

* The pedigree chart and map feature need to be downloadable. You can print them, but you can't save them (at least as far as I can tell) except as a web page.

Work needs to be done on many of the features discussed above, but this can't be a quick and easy programming project. I'll be patient - I hope they appreciate constructive comments!

Overall, I think this web site has real potential to be a big player in the genealogy networking world. There appear to be methods to link the same person in different databases together and thereby move toward a genuine unitary world family tree.

I think I have just scratched the surface on many of the features at www.werelate.org, but what I see, I like at this time. I'm anxious to test the Wiki features and the collaboration features.

My thanks to Denise for testing this last week and blogging about it.


Moultrie Creek said...

Great post Randy! WeRelate is all about collaboration and they would love it if you post your comments at the watercooler so they can action them. One of the - many - beauties of this platform is we all have a say in what it will be.

I'll be spending a lot more time in WeRelate and I look forward to seeing you - and everyone else - out there too!

Charley "Apple" Grabowski said...

I took the tour and then tried to navigate the site. I may play with some more in the future but I found it down right frustrating. I'm still not certain about how I feel about placing all of my information there after having placed my trees at rootsweb and then finding them on ancestry's OWT and now at WeRelate. I truly do not mind sharing with other individuals but I'd like to be sure that no one will be able to take my work and use it for commercial gain.

Please keep posting your thoughts about the site as I can see great potential, I'm just not ready to jump on the bandwagon yet.

Dallan said...

Thank-you for the comments! Most of these are already on the ToDo list, and a couple are due out in the next two months: improved search results, and merging in the changes from a re-uploaded GEDCOM. I'll add the rest to the ToDo list -- they're good suggestions. The only one that's not possible is downloading the pedigree map. It's based upon a google map, and you need an internet connection to access it.