If you read any genealogy blogs other than my own, it's likely you've been hearing about GenealogyWise this week. Created by FamilyLink and a part of the corporation family which includes WorldVitalRecords, it's a genealogy social network. Some are calling it "Facebook for genealogists."
The number of genealogists that are joining GenealogyWise are staggering: over 1,600 in less than 72 hours. Mark Tucker, of ThinkGenealogy has been keeping daily statistics on the number of members joined, groups formed, forums started, and blogs and videos added, and they are amazing!
So what's all the fuss? Like Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, and other social networking sites, GenealogyWise offers a place for genealogists to get to know one another in a safe, free, online setting. Like most social networking sites, users can share as little or as much information about themselves as they wish by adjusting their privacy settings. Users can upload photos, videos, RSS feeds, and blog posts, and create or join focus groups and discussion forums. There are a variety of backgrounds with which users can decorate their own profile pages. Members can chat in a group or private setting.
There are differences, of course. GenealogyWise is focused on gathering and serving genealogists, not the general public. There aren't any games, status statements ("on my way to the mall," etc.), or dozens of silly applications. You're not likely to run into any non-genealogist cousins like you do on Facebook; GenealogyWise is for contacting and networking with those you already know are into genealogy. One of the great applications is event posting; I've added the Washington State Genealogical Society's 2009 State Conference to the growing list of events, which are listed in date order. Genealogy societies would be wise to jump on board and create a user page, list their events, post their blog feeds, and create groups for their members to join.
Some concerns have been made about genealogists leaving Facebook to use GenealogyWise exclusively. I only know of one person who has stated they were going to move their genealogy group from Facebook to GenealogyWise; everyone else I've heard from plans to continue to use Facebook, and why not? Facebook is where I "meet" my friends and family members who are not interested in genealogy, as well as former classmates and many individuals I've worked or worshipped with over the years. I'm sure many other genealogists feel the same way. Besides, I do like to play a game or two of Scramble every evening! Lastly, Facebook is a great way to meet up with distant cousins and invite them into your genealogy world (and perhaps to GenealogyWise!).
But GenealogyWise has already proven to me to be a worthwhile site to spend time at during my online time. I've "friended" an individual that I believe might be able to help me with my elusive TERRY line and solve my LAMOREAUX riddle. On a forum that I started (Your Favorite Free [or Low-Cost] Genealogy Resources), I discovered a free online digitzed newspaper website that had more details on the trial and execution of my black sheep ancestor and convicted murderer, Uzza ROBBINS. Another forum topic I found intriguing was THINGS You Wish GenealogyWise Could Do (a way to assist the developers to improve the site), started by Pat Richley, a.k.a. DearMYRTLE. And the RootsMagic Fans Group I started which currently has 79 members and includes developer Bruce Buzbee, proves that having a one-stop shop like GenealogyWise is a great way to meet up with the movers and shakers in the genealogy world.
I encourage you to try out GenealogyWise. You can see my profile and request to "friend" me here.