Thursday, July 09, 2009


Well, the rush is on as genealogists sign up for GenealogyWise. The first thing I noticed
when I signed onto Facebook tonight was that there were fewer posts by genealogists and
geneabloggers than usual and as I read down the screen I saw much of what was posted
concerned questions about GenealogyWise. I took a quick look-see over there and saw
membership had jumped to over 500 in one day.

Some of the comments on Facebook concern me. One was a quote :"Will the last
genealogist left on Facebook please turn out the lights?" Another person posted something
to the effect that they would be moving their group from Fb to GenealogyWise next month.

So is this the start of splintering in the geneablogging social community? It seems to me
quite possible that it might divide based on which social network one prefers, the more
far reaching Facebook or the more genealogy specific GenealogyWise. And what of the
Geneablogger's group? At the moment there is the original Facebook Group of 612
members strong and a new GenealogyWise group of 50. As folks leave Fb for GW will
we end up with two separate smaller groups instead?

I also wonder about another consequence. When you join a social group for a specific
subject, you are in effect preaching to the choir. Everyone on GW is a genealogist. On
Fb, what you post isn't just seen by your genealogists friends, but by all your friends and
family. Now, granted, not everyone is going to be interested but even if you spark just
a little curiosity in a few people you are spreading knowledge about your family and
perhaps creating new genealogists. I like that possibility. So far, GW seems like a fancier
genealogy message board to me.

One last point and then I'll hush up: even if there is no spark of interest, I thought Fb was
also a great way to let folks see that genealogists are not the stereotypical old folks
sitting around libraries reading old books. We're all sorts of people and a lively
energetic bunch to boot. If the majority of genealogists leave Fb for GW, we lose that
chance to showcase genealogy to the general public.

I know, I know, some will say to use both Fb and GW. But I barely have time to post and
keep up with the content of Fb without adding doing the same with GW. And eventually,
many of those who try to use both platforms will reach a point where they reach the same
conclusion and decide they have to choose one or the other. I know there will be things
posted on GW that I will miss reading because I stayed with Fb. But that's the way it will
have to be.

Of course, like they say, "never say never." But for the moment, I'll stay where I am on

Now I'm going to bed, and tomorrow get back to blogging about genealogy.


Brett Payne said...

I think I agree with you, Bill. I don't have time for my genealogy AND too many of these social networking tools. I haven't looked at GenealogyWise yet, and while I probably will take a peek, I think I want less on my plate rather than more. FB has been a wonderful tool as an intro to the geneablogging community - and a really value the Geneabloggers group - but the primary reason I joined FB in the first place was to keep up with friends and family, so I shan't move away from that in a hurry.

Regards, Brett

Kathryn Doyle said...

Well said, Bill. I don't see any particular benefits and I'm concerned about the "preaching to the choir" aspect. It's only a matter of time until the next shiny, new SN for genealogists is launched. I won't be leaving facebook and there are only so many hours in the day!

Janet Iles said...

I am with you on this. I plan to stay with FB as I connect with family and friends there. I may from time to time look at Genealogywise to see posts as they seem to be public and not private (when I am trying to avoid doing work).

I like to do know the day to day things that genealogists and others are doing and alerts on their various blog postings.

Right now I don't have the time to do FB and genealogywise, as well as blogging and reading other posts.

Jasia said...

I think the genealogy community is already split between FB and Twitter. GenealogyWise will undoubtedly splinter the group further.

It all makes me very sad.

Karen Packard Rhodes said...

The "genea-verse," if I may, is large enough to accommodate both users of GenealogyWise and of Facebook (and Twitter). Frankly, I think of Twitter as an adjunct to other tools such as Fb or my own blog, mainly as a free public relations tool in support of the others.

There is enough cross-pollination in the genea-verse that we will, somehow or the other, come across interesting things said by others, and find our way to what we need to find.

Likewise, there is much that we will miss because we just do not have enough hours in the day. As a budding professional speaker (I had my first professional, national-exposure gig on Friday, 3 July, in Atlanta), I do look for ways to connect with other genealogists, beginners as well as the more experienced. I also look for inspiration for ideas for future presentations as well as for subjects about which to write. But I know there is no way I am going to see everything that is out there! There just is so much! We must all pick and choose.

I can't even read all the blogs out there. Take a look at the list on Geneabloggers, which gets longer every day, and nobody can read all those blogs, every day!

So I think this is a crisis in a teapot, if I may mix a metaphor. Like Janet Iles, above, I may pop over to GenealogyWise to see what is being posted. And like Brett Payne, I see Facebook mainly as a way to keep track of family and friends -- as well as to find new cousins. I may also find more new cousins through my blog (note to others: Bill and I discovered, through blogging, that we are cousins!)

Each of us must find the tools that suit us best.

Charley "Apple" Grabowski said...

I miss the days when all we had were our blogs and we could easily keep up with each other and that really wasn't that long ago. I finally decided to join fb, just days before gw made a big splash (and I'm still mostly clueless there). I think gw looks like it has tons of potential for forming surname specific or other narrow interest groups. I just do not have time to stay on top of what everyone else is doing, especially if what they're doing is spread out all over.