Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Friday, January 10, 2014

The unsung heroes of genealogy – the Research Wiki contributors

 Over the past few years, the Research Wiki has grown to an immensely valuable genealogical resource of over 75,000 pages. During all of this time the Research Wiki contributors have worked tirelessly to improve the articles and add additional information. These people include volunteers, Church Service Missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and staff employees of FamilySearch. These people have contributed both their time and their resources to maintain and augment the Research Wiki without any recognition other than the knowledge that they have done a wonderful job of providing a valuable resource.

The general users of the Research Wiki cannot possibly be aware of the nearly 24 hour a day involvement of the volunteers in maintaining the wiki. Quoting from the Research Wiki:
There are two teams specifically assigned to support the wiki: FamilySearch Worldwide Support Tier 2 and Tier 3. The Tier 2 team helps with the majority of all the support processes and Tier 3 helps with the support processes that are more technical. In addition to tier 2 and 3, any member of the wiki community can join this support team.
 You can see from further discussions at the Research Wiki itself that the jobs of the support team and other volunteers can be quite complex. The goal and the vision of the Research Wiki is as follows:
The goal of Wiki Support is to help make the FamilySearch Wiki a better place for:
  • Researchers to find information that will help them find their ancestors
  • Contributors who want to help make the Wiki better for researchers
  • Support team that wants to make the Wiki a better place for researchers and contributors 
Everything we do relates to making the Wiki easier to use, and to help those who would like to do more with the Wiki as they grow from new, to experienced researchers, to contributors.
It is only because of the contributions of the hundreds of volunteers, including the Support Team, that the wiki has grown so dramatically. Lately, the number of articles being published has slowed, primarily because most of the effort is going into adding additional content to pages already in the Research Wiki. I also find that nearly every subject I can think of already has a page. There is still a lot of work to be done, especially in the geographic areas where English is not the predominate language. There are 10 Wikis in other languages than English: Deutsch Español Français Italiano 日本語 한국어 Português РусскийSvenska 中文

If I remember correctly, when I first began using the Research Wiki back in 2008 there were about 850 pages. It is unlikely that the Research Wiki will ever be "finished" because as the world changes, so does the Wiki.

While I have been teaching genealogy classes over the past few years, I have often asked large groups how many of the people present are familiar with the Research Wiki. When I started, it would be rare to see even one or two hands. Now, fortunately, I see a majority of the people present raising their hands. But not all of the genealogists are yet familiar with the Research Wiki. This is unfortunate in two ways; first they miss out on a wonderful resource and second we miss out on their potential contributions to the Wiki. If you go to the website and see something unfinished, inaccurate or incomplete, you have an open invitation to add information and make corrections. See the Research Wiki page "Share your knowledge by adding to the Wiki."

Meanwhile, this is my frequently expressed round of applause for the Research Wiki volunteers where ever they may be. Thanks to all of you. Keep up the good work and all that...

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