Thursday, July 9, 2009

Thoughts on GenealogyWise

Disclaimer-wise: As an aficionado of the English Language, I am predisposed against the new social network website –GenealogyWise – due to their appropriation of the painful-to-the eyes ‘wise’ construction. If there was a way to kill usage of ‘wise’ as a suffix, I would do so. Yes, I am aware there is also a pun on ‘wisdom’ in this case, but this isn’t sufficient to get me to support the corruption of the English language.

The new website was announced on Wednesday, and there was a heavy stampede from geneabloggers – many who had been utilizing Facebook. Several individuals were heard saying that they planned to leave Facebook entirely.

I, for one, am not leaving Facebook. Of course, I was a member of Facebook before the geneablogger stampede towards it, and have many non-genealogist friends with whom I keep in touch using it. My non-genealogist friends won’t be switching to GenealogyWise so there’s no reason for me to leave. If I only networked with other genealogists on Facebook, I could see the temptation to delete my account. But that doesn’t define me.

Those genealogists who do leave Facebook are going to lose a few advantages to my mind.

1) Facebook is a great way to find living cousins – just by searching the directory for your surnames. 99% of these cousins won’t be on GenealogyWise.

2) I have found and left a message on one Facebook group set up for an annual family reunion of not-too-distant cousins. These too can’t really be set up on GenealogyWise since it will be difficult to get family members who aren’t genealogists to join. But a Facebook group could be a great way to keep younger family members interested inbetween reunions.

3) Those genealogists who do research for others may find Facebook is helpful in letting those in your social network know what you are doing as a business. When they decide they want some research done – or someone they know is asking for references – they are more likely to think of you. Your social network isn’t going to follow you to GenealogyWise.

On the other hand, there are a couple things I like about GenealogyWise.

1) I like their option of one rss feed for every blog post on the site. You can subscribe to rss feeds for individual members as well, if you don’t want every post, but the one super-feed is very useful. I find the effect similar to subscribing to tags on Wordpress. Every time someone tags a post with ‘genealogy’ it appears in my blog reader. And every time someone posts a public entry on their GenealogyWise blog, it will now appear in my blog reader.

[Note: by default all profiles and blog posts are readable by anyone on GenealogyWise, meaning they are also likely to get indexed by search engines such as Google. You can go to your settings, and under ‘privacy’ change that to either ‘members only’ or ‘friends only’. However, the posts shouldn’t appear in the rss feed if it is restricted.]

2) Like the Facebook Notes application which allows you to display your outside blog posts on Facebook – or the TwitterFeed application that automatically posts links to your blog posts on Twitter -- GenealogyWise allows you to display your blog posts on your profile page. I know I have friends who read my blog posts on Facebook who otherwise wouldn’t, and I have been told by fellow geneabloggers they are often more likely to read a blog post when they see a link to it on my twitter feed. Similarly, I suspect some may now find my blog posts through my GenealogyWise profile.

Of course, both of these advantages occur from me setting up the profile and respective rss feeds. I don't actually have to ever return to GenealogyWise beyond accepting any friend requests that come in.

There may be some interesting forum and group discussions, but I find I prefer email mailing lists, such as those available on Rootsweb, for these types of discussions. If upon GoogleWave's release, GenealogyWise releases an application that turns these forum discussions into waves accessible through a Wave browser, I anticipate I may well become a participant in some of the forums.

Update: it appears they are now displaying their site name as two words. This change doesn't predate the initial drafts of my post, but does predate the final posting, so unless they're psychic, or have access to my drafts, I can't take credit.

1 comment:

Greta Koehl said...

While I am starting to weaken in my resolve not to add another social networking site, I agree with you on not leaving Facebook. It is a great way to share my research, pictures, etc. with family, including some cousins who are interested in genealogy. What I am hoping will happen, if I do join GenealogyWise (agree with you also on the use of "-wise," by the way), is that I can use GenealogyWise to focus on interaction with fellow genea-bloggers and some other genealogy-related contacts and keep Facebook primarily for family and friends. Now I just need a few more hours in the day....