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Social Networking Sites for Genealogists

Social Networking & Family Trees

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Genealogy friendly social networking sites offer a wealth of tools for keeping families and genealogists connected, including wikis, RSS, blogs, photo uploads, mapping, and online family tree building. This list highlights many large, popular social networking sites for genealogists, such as Geni.com and MyHeritage, as well as other lesser-known sites from around the world.

1. Facebook

There are thousands and thousands of genealogists on Facebook, making it a great place to share your genealogy research finds, ask for help, or just stay in touch with your fellow genis! You can join a host of Facebook genealogy communities, such as Unclaimed Persons (volunteers helping to find living family members of unclaimed persons in morgues across the U.S.) or GeneaBloggers. You might even be able to get your family members interested in genealogy through one of several available family tree Facebook apps such as FamilyLink's We're Related and FamilyBuilder's Family Tree.

2. Genealogy Wise

While there are many, many genealogists on Facebook, there is also another option out there for anyone who wants something similar to Facebook but without all of the non-genealogy nonsense. Just like Facebook, GenealogyWise (with almost 20,000 members) offers an easy way to connect with fellow members via individual profile pages, blogs, live chats and more.

3. MyHeritage

MyHeritage got off to a rousing start in 2005 due to a buzz over its facial-recognition tool that compares an uploaded photograph of an individual with photos of celebrities. Yet the robust site offers much more than just gimmicks, including a great free family tree building application (Family Tree Builder), family calendars, and Smart Matching technology (thanks to their merger with Pearl Street Software/GenCircles.com), which allows the service to compare family trees for overlap. The Israeli-based site also offers a robust, free genealogy metasearch engine, and supports 37+ languages.

4. Twitter

Twitter isn't for everyone, but if you like to keep up with the genealogy world, or want to share short bits of your research with friends and family, it's a great platform. For genealogists, Twitter seems to be the place to meet up during live genealogy events - genealogists often tweet live about television shows such as Who Do You Think You Are? or share tidbits live from genealogy conference presentations.

5. WeRelate

This free, public service genealogy Wiki (Wikipedia is type of Wiki) allows you to create a profile to tell others about your research interests, to receive and respond to emails from other users without publishing your email address, to create online family trees and personal research pages, and to collaborate with other users. The service is completely free, thanks to the Foundation for Online Genealogy, Inc. and the Allen County Public Library, and very easy to use. But if you're looking for a private family Web site option, WeRelate isn't the place for you. WeRelate is all about collaboration so you need to be prepared to have others add to or edit your work. Think of it as a group project.

6. Geni.com

Launched in January 2007, Geni.com has attracted a lot of interest, receiving nearly $11.5 million in venture capital, and registering nearly 1 million users. It's primary focus is connecting family, allowing you to easily create a family tree and invite other family members to join you. Each individual in the tree has a profile; family members can work together to build profiles for common ancestors. Other features include a Family Calender, an editable Family Timeline and a Family News feature which highlights new additions and upcoming events from sites within a user's Family Group. In coming months they also plan to introduce a family-tree widget that can be embedded into other Web sites (such as your own personal family page).

7. Family Link

Paul Allen left Ancestry.com in 2002 to try a new approach to online genealogy - and is seeing it grow at World Vital Records. The free online family tree component of this service, known as FamilyLink, focuses on connecting genealogy researchers with other genealogy researchers. You can browse by city or country to view uploaded photos of that city and the names of FamilyLink registered genealogists who live there or have experience doing research there. If they are online you can IM them or Skype them. If they are offline, you can send them a message. You can also give them permission to view your uploaded family tree so they can offer help and suggestions. How cool is that?

8. Story of My Life

Family history is about so much more than family tree charts and GEDCOM files. This is where Story of My Life fits in, offering a unique way to preserve your life memories (or those of your relatives or ancestors) through writings, pictures, videos and voice recordings and leave a legacy for future generations. Stories can be made private, or available only to people that you designate, if you wish. This non-profit foundation vows to "keep your story forever," although the permanent storage option comes with a reasonable price tag. A basic free story service is also available with 250MB space, which will remain accessible as long as your account is active.

9. Famiva

The collaborative family tree feature on the free Famiva social networking site makes it easy for you and your family members to build a family tree together, complete with profiles and photos. You can also upload, organize and share family photos; share family news, events, stories and recipes; and create family maps. The interface is simple, but the service is free with unlimited storage.

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