Jul 112011

Dean Richardson at  Genlighten News raised two interesting questions about collaborative genealogy:  “Would you get more genealogy research done faster if you could ‘partner’ with a fellow genealogist on a particular task? Would the collaborative product be of any higher quality?”    He concluded by saying:  “I’d love to hear stories of how it works (or doesn’t work) for you.”

After responding to Dean, I received a follow-up from Cyndy at Genlighten.  She commented: “It seems like your reply shouldn’t just be archived into gmail oblivion. I see that you blog. (Yes. ‘GeneaPopPop’ Googles.) Have you mentioned your project there?”    So, here is my original response to Dean…  a brief description of my collaboration with my son.

In your latest Genlighten News, you raised questions about “genealogists working side-by-side on the same project.” 

In a sense my son and I have been doing that for the past 4 or 5 years.  I am retired and a hobby genealogist; my son is a computer programmer.  While we use RootsMagic 4 as our desktop software, our collaborative efforts are more oriented to our online presence.  He is the web master and technology consultant for our family genealogy project; I am the field researcher.  He maintains our website which is based on TNG – The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding – and has added a MediaWiki component that I use as my research journal and online storage.  Just recently he has revised our website to integrate Wiki pages within the TNG database.  I am presently working on adding source citations (and making older citations conform to the Elizabeth Shown Mills protocol) in RM4 and adding Wiki pages for key individuals on our TNG site.   Our “side-by-side” collaboration is primarily by telephone and email as he is in California and I am in Missouri.

Our conversations have kept a healthy tension between our two perspectives and have necessitated clarifying our long-range intentions about building / modifying a system that is designed for collaboration, collecting and refining data, gathering and displaying stories, supporting research, and maintains current genealogical standards.

In short, we keep each other sharp by sharing our different perspectives and finding mutually agreeable solutions. 

The answer to your first question (“Would you get more genealogy research done faster if you could “partner” with a fellow genealogist on a particular task? “) is a resounding “NO!” for us.  Our collaboration slows down the process.   But, I am convinced that our experience answers your second question (“Would the collaborative product be of any higher quality?”) with a clear “Yes, it is.” 

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