Thursday, March 3, 2011

GenerationStation is Open

I new family networking site is now in Beta - it's called GenerationStation, created by Michael Dowdle.  The announcement blog post says:

"This morning, we raised the curtain on GenerationStation, an entirely new way to create and preserve your family history.  We developed this product because we couldn’t find anything that would preserve our family history for future generations to enjoy.  Now we’re ready to let you enjoy this free service!
Here are the top 5 things you should know before proceeding:
  1. GenerationStation is FREE. In addition to the free service, we will also offer annual subscriptions which give members access to Premium Features for more control over their content.
  2. We’re under construction. This is still a beta version so there are still bugs & the site is still in development.
  3. Constant feedback is vital. Click the‘feedback’ link from any page to give is your opinions, issues, suggestions, complaints — we’ll even accept praise!
  4. Deceased and Living Profiles are different. There’s a vast difference between profiles for deceased family and living family. We don’t collect information on living persons except for name and links to existing social networks.
  5. GenerationStation is transparent. All profiles are open to public view so that you can collaborate. Content that you edit will be attributed to you."
That sounded pretty good to me - so I created a FREE account (which provides only a limited number of persons and media) - name, password, email, and you need to click a confirming email - and worked a bit in the site.

As a good example of what can be added, here are some screen shots for the page created for Michael's father, John Anthony Dowdle (links on the top menu bar):

1)  The "Snapshot" page (a short summary of the person's information):

2)  The "Biography" page (the full biography contributed by any registered person, photos can be included):

3.  The "Stories" page (stories or media added by any person):

4)  The "Media" page (images and video uploaded by any person):

5)  The "Family" page (parents, spouse(s), children of the person, added by any person):

6)  The "Guestbook" page, where any person who does not sign in can add content.

7)  The "Discussion" page, where any person can comment.

This new family network system seems to be very fast, easy to navigate, and is well laid out and thought out. 

There are limitations to how much a registered user can add to a Free account.  With my "Pioneer" membership, I receive 100 File Uploads and unlimited Alerts.  At present, the Video, Guestbooks, Draft Profiles and Custom URL items are unavailable. 

Upgrading to a Premier Membership for an individual costs $24.99 for one year, and for a family (four individual memberships to share) costs $59.99 for one year.

There are, of course, a number of other free and subscription sites that are available for persons interested in connecting with family members and having them share their information, stories, media, etc.  I really like this site, because it is so easy to use and because it is not very expensive, at least at this time.

This is still a Beta site, meaning that features will be added for some time before the site is completely functional.  Will this site become a FamilySearch affiliate and be able to communicate with the FamilySearch Family Tree when it is fully functional, with links to Person Pages and supporting documents?

Some issues for me:

*  There is no marriage data provided yet on the site.  This is important, and should be added to the "Family" page.

*  The user has to add persons one at a time - there is no GEDCOM or similar upload capability.  The user can copy and paste text to the "Biography" section, and add photos to the "Media" section for the person.

*  The site is wide open, so registered members should refrain from adding information about living people without their permission.  The site does ask the user to indicate if the person is living or deceased, and restricts living person's information.

*  This is very much a wiki-like format, where a registered user can add, edit or delete content.  The guestbook provides a way for non-registered users to contribute content.

Disclosure:  I was not offered, nor have I received, any remuneration for writing this review.  I did receive an email about the site recently (I deleted the email, I guess) and added their blog to my Google Reader, which is where I saw the announcement today about one hour ago. 

1 comment:

Mike Dowdle said...

Randy - thank you for spending the time to thoroughly check out the site and review it. We're excited about how GenerationStation can help attract even more people's interest to genealogy and family history. We have lots more in store as far as features go so stay tuned!