Planting Your Tree on WikiTree

By Tami Osmer Glatz Premium

Been looking for a place to post your family tree online—one where you can invite non-genealogist relatives to share their family stories and photographs? Where you can connect with new cousins? And of course, it has to be user friendly and completely free.
You can put on your short list. This online collaborative genealogy project aims to create a single user-contributed, worldwide family tree. Started in 2008, it has more than 2 million profiles today. Contributors build pedigree charts, either one person at a time or by uploading a GEDCOM file, and can share memories, stories and photographs to create vivid descriptions of relatives and ancestors. Individual pedigrees are merged on a global family tree with the tree creators’ approval, but users control access to the profiles that they add. This enables a unique harmony between large-scale genealogical collaboration and private family history. You can keep information on living people and modern ancestors as private as you want it to be, shared only with family members of your choosing.


1.  Start by going to WikiTree and registering for your free account. You’ll need to provide your name, email address and a password, and confirm you’re older than 13 years—that’s it. Type in the anti-spambot code and click Create Account. (You’ll get an email with a link you need to click within 24 hours to confirm your address.)

    2.  Your new family tree is immediately started with your name and icons for your parents. Your name links to your profile, which you can edit using the Edit tab. Below the tree, you’ll see a What’s Next? box links for the Quick Guide to using WikiTree and the Help pages – both excellent sources of information about the site.

    3.  The Family Tree link in the What’s Next box lets you start building your family tree. If you’ve clicked away from this box, just use the Tree link at the top of the page, then click Father or Mother to manually add them to your tree and create their profiles. To upload a GEDCOM file from another family tree site or your genealogy software, use the Upload Your GEDCOM link in the What’s Next box. After submitting your GEDCOM, you’ll get an email notification that your file has been processed.
    4.  To prevent future headaches, read the Honor Code and the GEDCOM FAQ pages. The Honor Code outlines basic genealogical etiquette—among other things, respecting privacy, observing copyrights and citing sources—which is important in an environment that encourages sharing and collaboration. The basic idea: If we’re all polite and play nice, we’ll get along just fine. On the GEDCOM FAQ page, you’ll learn that after you upload a GEDCOM, you can’t replace it later with another one. That’s because once on WikiTree, your ancestors become part of the collaborative worldwide tree. I  If you were to upload a second family file of the same individuals, you’d create a nightmare of duplicate entries that need to be merged.


    5.  Your Navigation Home Page, reached upon login to your WikiTree account or via the My Nav Page link at the top of the screen, has your tree, links to your profile, suggestions to continue adding to your family tree, and a Watchlist Activity report. Your Watchlist logs changes to WikiTree profiles you’ve created, requested access to, or been given access to by another user. From here you can search for matches with other WikiTree users for the profiles in your tree.

    6.  To search for WikiTree matches to relatives on your tree, click the Watchlist link, then Search for Potential Duplicates. Type in a surname or person from your tree, or just click the Find Possible Matches button to search for matches to anyone in your tree. In the search results list, click on a name and view the person’s profile to determine if he or she is really a match. If so, click the Merge link. Don’t worry—this doesn’t immediately combine the two profiles. Instead, it opens a dialog box so you can write a short message to the other WikiTree contributor. That person will get an email about the proposed merge, and can accept or reject the suggestion.

    If both users accept the proposed merge, the contributors then become co-managers of the merged person’s profile, and may both continue to edit and add information and photos to it. The profile managers control the page’s privacy setting as well as the “Trusted List” of individuals allowed to contribute to the page.

    7.  WikiTree has many features to experiment with. On your Tree page, use the Shareable link to generate a tree like this one you can share on Facebook, Twitter or Google+. Use the New Profile link at the top of your Nav page to create a page for anyone or anything that is meaningful to you. Try the Relationship Calculator to figure out how two people are related.
      Problems? Click the Help link in the upper-right corner to open a new window with an indexed menu linking to detailed explanations of every aspect of WikiTree: how to invite family members to collaborate on profiles, manage privacy settings, edit and delete information, and more. Building one worldwide, well-sourced family tree, full of personal memories and photographs, might seem a lofty goal—one WikiTree is trying to make as simple as possible.

      From the December 2011 issue of Family Tree Magazine

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