Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Genealogy Wise - One Week Later

So Genealogy Wise has been around for one week, and they finally got around to announcing its presence. all of the big-name bloggers dutifully posted the news release that came by email today (I finally found a press release posting here) - you can see it on Leland Meitzler's GenealogyBlog here.

I checked tonight, and there are now:

* 4,589 Members (but I have only 174 Friends)

* 2,306 Groups (I've signed up for 30 groups)

* 70 Discussion forum topics

* 221 Blog posts (any Member can add to the Blog stream)

* 224 Videos

* 3,319 Photos (there is a limit of 100 photos (up to 10 mb each) per Member)

I have intentionally not spent much time on Genealogy Wise recently. I try to budget my non-research time so that social networking takes 30 minutes a day or less. My opinion is that it is not well organized for gathering Friends or finding the Groups. The Members list is organized by the latest to join is at the top of thel ist. The Groups are listed by the most recent postings, it seems. You can use the Search feature to find specific names or words. An alphabetical listing of Members and Groups would be useful. Some sort of grouping by Topic would also be useful.

Posting to the Blogs is not as easy as using Blogger. To add a link to a post, my Windows gives me a warning to allow scripted windows, and when I do, then I have to highlight the text for the hyperlink again. Too many extra clicks here.

Blog posts are collected in the "All Blogs" area and also on the Member page. If a user goes to my page, they will see the Blog Posts I've written. The Member can Edit or Delete their own posts.

The Blog posts and Discussion Forum items are not found in a Google Search yet. Perhaps they will be. There are no RSS Feeds to collect blogs and forum discussions in a readable format. If someone stayed off Genealogy Wise for a day or two, they would have to browse through them all one at a time.

A set of "Next" and "Previous" buttons would be very useful for the Email, Blog and forum pages. At present, the user has to go "Back" to the list and click on the next one. Too many clicks.

I had a strange thing happen to me tonight -- I found that someone else had copied about 80% of my text (12 paragraphs) from my post Book Review: Crash Course in Family History by Paul Larsen and posted it without attribution to his own Genealogy Wise Blog. It struck me that there are probably many new bloggers using the Genealogy Wise Blog feature that don't understand copyright and fair use restrictions. I wrote my first Genealogy Wise Blog post - Please avoid copyright and fair use abuses. The other blogger edited his post to only two paragraphs from my post, and put a link to my original blog post, but didn't mention my name.

Only time will tell if Genealogy Wise survives as the next great genealogy forum where members talk about their research problems, discuss specific surname family research issues, or post some of their family photographs. It has certainly grown quickly, but it needs to sustain the growth and keep the Members interested.

One week after I wrote Genealogywise = Facebook for Genealogists that helped start the stampede over to the site, it still looks promising, at least as a Group meeting place, discussion forum site, and Blog site. It is, in my opinion, a much better site for genealogists to interact than Facebook is.


Kiril The Mad Macedonian said...

Well, done!

Both your original piece, and this follow-up.

In my opinion, critiques such as yours, and other respected, knowledgeable, tech savvy sorts among the Community, will only help the GW folks evolve the place, and help the rest of us understand how best to use it, and contribute.

Gowing pains are to be expected, and shouldn't scare people off.

It will be interesting to see if it has staying power.

John said...

There should be an RSS feed button to click at the bottom of the main blog stream. (A little green box with what looks like a sound wave picture on it.)

You'll see a similar icon to click on for individual member blogs streams.

Similarly in the Discussion Forums in groups.

Unfortunately, I don't see one for Group comments

J. Moore said...

Considerably less optimistic than I was a few days ago, but still feel it will eclipse FB. Groups with open membership policies will quickly degrade as user base grows larger and more casual. Already seeing an increase in clueless queries spammed to groups ("Can somebody help me find John and Jane Smith from ..., Jane was full-blood Cherokee-Chickasaw-Choctaw-Venusian"). Having said that, I think it has value as a place to set up a very "approachable" presence for societies, blogging groups, etc. It may prove a pretty effective recruiting tool for them. Therein probably lies its largest promise.

TorillJ said...

I agree with most of your comments. As it grows it is rather complex to understand and follow. Structure is needed,

GrannyPam said...

I Genealogywise, and I also joined several groups. Thus far, however, I don't find it useful. That may be because I don't have much time for it either. Posts to one of he groups I joined seem to be obituaries or biographies of someone's ancestors. I believe if I turned off all the e-mails, I would forget about it completely.

Anonymous said...

I agree with your comments. I'm not losing hope on it but it has a way to go to be useful for me. Right now it seems like one more thing to keep up with so I haven't posted much of anything there.

footnoteMaven said...

I consider myself a serious family historian. I don't think I like this development.

GenealogyWise is running 8 contests with $800 in total prizes between now and August 6:

* $100 for the member with the most confirmed friends in GenealogyWise.
* $100 to the owner of the group with the most members.
* $100 to the owner of the surname group with the most members.

And five more similar categories.

Am I anti-social?

Lisa Rex said...

Hey Randy, thanks for sharing your opinion. I agree that GenealogyWise is great for social networking with genealogists but it's too open for abuse right now. The recent contest is such a disappointment because of all the bad behaviors it's going to produce. Earlier today, I twittered this link:


Josh's post is about social networks needing to think carefully about blindly rewarding behavior, but not necessarily the 'good neighborly' kind!

Oxa said...

Well, I just spent about an hour exploring Genealogy Wise, and here are my observations:
1. There is absolutely no organization whatsoever to the site. If you want to find a group of interest, there are no categories; you have to use the search bar. This is a disservice to the genealogy community. "Joe Blow's group" may be exactly what a researcher needs, but can't find it because he or she is looking for groups related to "Springfield."
2. The quality of the posts is disappointing: "I’m looking for the Mueller family in Germany" or "Researching the O’Malleys in Ireland." Posts like that come from researchers who know next to nothing about genealogy. Why would I want to be in such a group? Yes, I could provide some advice in response to such posts, but I’d have to do that a thousand times over. On mailing lists, I ALWAYS provide help to those who have demonstrated they've made an effort to do some research. But why should I be bothered to help people who can't even pick up a basic book on how to do genealogy?
3. There's an incredible amount of insidious advertising on the site. Groups are set up that are focused on a particular blog, or responses to queries may be "Check my website/blog for help with that." I am SO tired of spam, in all its various guises.
4. There's a lot of game playing going on. In a group dedicated to xyz software, for example, they're playing the game "What do you like most about xyz software?" Many people, myself included, don't have time for such nonsense. Besides, it was probably a promotional post submitted by one of the developers of xyz software. (See #3.)
5. I've done a dozen or so searches on surnames, geographic localities, and other topics and come up empty handed. I realize that the site is just starting out, but these results suggest that the members of Genealogy Wise are just the same old people who have populated the RootsWeb message boards or uploaded trees to Ancestry or WorldConnect. There's nothing new here.

A rootdigger said...

thanks, I had wondered what it was like. So they have a chat room, I may have to lurk.