A Review of the WeRelate.org Website
I want to say up front that I am not a professional genealogist, however I do have what I would state is a “mid-level” experience in Genealogy. I know my way around court houses, cemeteries, original and secondary documentation, land and census records, and the like. I am a member of several lineage societies and know how to properly document my ancestors for membership in a lineage society.
After a bad experience in losing a book that I was writing on one of my family groups through a software update, I became very conscious of protecting my genealogy research and the dependence on outsiders – whether websites or genealogy programs. Terms and conditions can change which can put your hard earned efforts in jeopardy.
That being said, and since I don’t have a family member that is interested in my research, I began to search for a genealogy site where I felt ‘safe’ about putting my hard work and where it would be available for future generations. Websites come and go, especially with the evolution of technology. I would also like to point out that the only relationship I have with this site is as a registered user. I have no connection with any of their sponsors.
In the fall of 2009, I attended the Federation of Genealogist annual conference in Little Rock, AR and I saw a demo of WeRelate. What I saw looked great and since it was supported at that time by the wonderful Fort Wayne Public Library, I felt good about the capabilities of the website itself (I believe WeRelate currently has additional sponsors today). I made the decision to stop researching, and begin inputting all my genealogy records into this website. My goal was if all my records were thrown away when I die, then my research and all my records would still be available to everyone, and also to future generations.
I began my journey with WeRelate on March 25, 2010, and I am soon to pass my three year anniversary with them. If I were to rate this website, it would be 5 stars out of 5, or perhaps only 4-1/2 and that being only because of the learning curve.
I like the structure of WeRelate. It has a “Wiki” format with any registered user being allowed to work on or update the work of someone else. Each person has their own “page”. Each family group has their own "page". After I registered I viewed a couple of “getting started” or “how to” videos. Then I began. One of the best aspects of WeRelate is the support (and patience) by real person “administrators” who are eager to help a beginner. Their turn-around time and assistance was quick. Therefore, I just dove in. Three years ago, the site was a lot more work to use than today because you need to document and source your information. It takes time to create these sources. Today, most of the sources are already input into WeRelate and it is just a matter of clicking and selecting the source.
You can actually be as creative in the appearance of the pages as you wish to be, but I found the simplicity refreshing. Today, if a person looks at the “how to” videos and just learns how to create a source – for instance a “census record” for a certain locality, learns how to create a “place” so you know how to create cemetery places, and learns how to add an image, then you will be well on your way. WeRelate is organized, structured, has symmetry, full support of administrators, and you are able to create a unique look for your pages for almost anything if you so choose. You have all the tools you need just by looking at another page you like and duplicating the parts of that page for your ancestor. An example here would be creating a “chart” of some type. You are able to document, source, add images, charts, descriptions, and more.
I have taken the time to enter family groups because I learned early on by just researching your own direct ancestor you are missing much information regarding that family. Since WeRelate is set up to only have one page for each person, no matter whose tree it is, you don’t have to wade through looking at many persons trees to find one that looks promising to collaborate with other researchers. I have not had a bad experience with this. I am more than willing for others to copy my work, or to add and even correct information on any of my data without any hard feelings. I welcome anyone to add to my work and research. This is what makes WeRelate unique from other websites. No one “owns” the information. I also believe that the learning curve on WeRelate weeds out those persons who are only a collector of names and dates and who do not document their work.
WeRelate also has a Gedcom feature so you are able create a file to upload family trees from other Genealogy programs. I must confess, I have not done this. The reason is that I want to be sure everything I enter is properly documented, is as complete as my research can be in relation to the resources that I have available to me, and I don’t end up with a bunch of names and dates without any sources. I am also taking the time to research as I go and add missing data to my own genealogy program – for instance a census record.
WeRelate also has another type of record called a “Category”. It takes a little time to learn and enter these, but here again, I just review something an Administrator might correct, or find another similar “category” and make mine the same way. Categories group data so you can find other pages and research on the same thing you are working on. An example here would be a page to collect all the person and family pages for one surname. This makes contact with others who are researching the same families, localities, or subjects easy to contact.
Another unique feature of WeRelate is the ability to “watch” pages. If you want to “watch” a page for changes, all you have to do is add it to your watch list with one click. Any updates to that page will generate an email to you. Not only has this feature taught me a lot about WeRelate, but I know when new information has been added to something I am interested in. All the data on WeRelate is also updated to “Google” so someone searching in Google can find your data and connect with you with just a click.
Werelate can do so much more than just hold data. See the article 101 Ways to use WeRelate.org
If you need a home for your research, I urge you to give WeRelate a try and become involved. You won’t regret it. Registration is simple: just an email or screen name and password.
Happy hunting!--Txbluebell6 15:05, 6 March 2013 (EST)