Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Is GenealogyWise Worth Joining?

Last night I read Randy Seaver's post "Genealogywise = Facebook for Genealogists." I was interested in GenealogyWise so I thought "Why not?" and signed up.

I've seen a lot of Twitter and Facebook about people saying that they don't see the need for another social network. And while I do agree that we don't need it, that doesn't mean that I don't want it.

One of the reasons that I was interested in GenealogyWise is that I feel like my Facebook is too cluttered. I have friends from high school, friends from work, genealogy friends, family, etc. Although some of these people are entertained by my genealogy, most of them don't care. I also want to keep my news feed on Facebook manageable and if I go around adding every genealogist, it may get out of hand. Now if I was just using Facebook for genealogy, I wouldn't have a problem. But that's not how I'm using it. I'm using it to network for work and keep in touch with old friends. I have been thinking about making a separate Facebook profile for my genealogy side for a few months now. I want to collaborate with everyone and meet new people with the same research habits, but I don't know if Facebook if the right place to do that for me. (At least not with my current profile.) I also don't mind my friends knowing more about me than random strangers, even if they are awesome genealogists.

So I went ahead and signed up with GenealogyWise. Just as Randy said, this site will not work without lots of people joining and using it regularly. Here are some of my initial thoughts:

The Good:
  • Social network just for genealogy.
  • I like having a separate network for genealogy.
  • It's more like one big group instead of everyone being divided into who wants to be friends with who. It seems easy to find and communicate with people not on your friend list.
  • I like being able to see more than just what my "friends" are doing. Maybe I can discover someone new who shares my research interests.
  • So far, I haven't seen a bunch of quizzes being taken.
  • No one has told me what they had for breakfast (and then lunch, dinner, how they slept, etc.)
  • Many more groups focused on genealogy, including surnames, software, websites, etc. Although many more still need to be created, I haven't seen much of these "smaller" groups on Facebook. Maybe these groups will be more interactive than the groups I find on Facebook.
  • Listing of genealogy events. Although small, I can see lots being added to it by people who are interested. Nice to have them all in one space.
  • Doesn't collect a lot of private data (phone number, address, etc) like Facebook allows.

The Bad:
  • From what I have seen, GenealogyWise was created by FamilyLink. I'm not sure how I feel about a company owning the network. Although I think that someone would have to "own" it, I don't know that I want a company that has their hands in other areas taking over a social network. (I look at it this way, if formed the group everyone would be freaking out. So why not do the same with FamilyLink?)
  • Why is FamilyLink trying to start another social network when they have been trying to build up a base on Facebook? Why not work on their We're Related App to make it work better instead of building a new site?
  • It's another site to join and maintain.
  • Another site to check for updates. It allows people to post blogs. Do we need another spot for this?
  • Small network, but that may change in time.
  • Not sure if it will last. Is it just a fad for a few days or does it have staying power? Is it worth building something and just waiting for it to fade away?
At some point, the genealogy community will have to decide which is better for staying in touch: Facebook or GenealogyWise.

If you want to try it out, please add me as your friend. Let me know what you think. Leave a comment or send me an email to genwishlist [at] gmail [dot] com.


  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I was one of the people who isn't that keen on joining yet another social network. I may join at some stage when I can allow genealogy to have a bigger role in my life.

  2. Hi Tina, good post, and I agree about not needing yet another place to check to keep up with the news. Regarding your point on Facebook clutter... if you go into Friends, "Create New List," (I have one called Genealogy Folks) then add your genealogy friends to it, you can go back to your Facebook home page and click on the list name (on left hand side of page) and ONLY see genealogy updates. Hope this helps!

  3. I agree with all of your thoughts. I don't maintaining another network, though [updates are emailed to me]. Something to think about, though: this is set-up on what's called a Ning social network platform. Anyone can set one up [I have]. They are free unless you want to have your own domain. I also am a member of several other Ning networks. For more info:


  4. Thanks for the review. I've just decided I want to jump into the social networking side of genealogy. You list of The Good is long enough that I'll trying playing with GenealogyWise.

  5. Tina, you write "Why not work on their We're Related App to make it work better instead of building a new site?".

    Exactly! brought "We're Related to the Web at,
    but to compete with Geni they need to improve the application, particularly deliver on their promise to bring back GEDCOM support.


  6. I relate with your problem of having many different types of friends on Facebook and not wanting to post something that will interest one but bore the others.

    The good news is that Facebook is about to put up an update that will allow you to post status and wall items to specific groups of friends.

    In the testing I've seen, this is exactly what I need and may be what you need too. I'd rather do that than have to maintain yet another social network.

  7. Illya - I have set up the lists on Facebook, but I don't use them regularly. Maybe I should.

    Michael - I have also seen info on Facebook's update. I think that it will be great to choose which group of people to share what info with. Of course I have also heard that they want to make everything public by default. Will have to wait until the update is released to decide if it is better. I would much rather just use one network that I am used to than having several.

  8. Thanks Tina for your insights and observations. While I don't think I'll ever leave Facebook, I do like what I see of so far. I intend to spend some more time on it this weekend. My one hope is that it does stay focused on genealogy and whether self-policed or moderated by GenealogyWise that we aren't bombarded with spammers and their ilk.

  9. I joined GenealogyWise today, as I was curious to learn more about it. I have been Facebook user for some time. At first glance I like GW. Most appealing to me is the "genealogy only" community. That may also be its weakest point. Like some others I am somewhat concerned about its belong to a company, but time will tell if that is a real issue.