Our family history wiki in 2012

Here are some statistics for our Family History Wiki in 2012.

The pages that had the most visitors were:

  1. 2184 – Jessie Koch, formerly Falkenberg, born Schultz
  2. 2063 – Morton family
  3. 1974 – Home Page
  4. 1815 – Alfred William Green discussion (bit of a mystery this)
  5. 1638 – Vause family
  6. 1555 – Frederick Thomas Green
  7. 1501 – Bagot family

It is a bit of a mystery why 1815 people (that’s nearly five people a day) should be drawn to a page for discussing Alfred William Green, but then completely fail to discuss him when they get there. By contrast, only 130 people visited the page that actually has information about Alfred William Green.

Jessie Schultz was Val’s great great grand mother, who came to South Africa from Germany in 1858, and it would be nice to know if any of the people who visited her page are related to us, but none of them is saying.

Here are some more general statistics for the site as a whole, and, sadly, they seem to indicate that collaborative family history research is not very popular:

WikiStat

That’s quite a lot of visitors, but the emptiness of the “Messages” section shows that the feedback is almost zero, which is why the edits are relatively few. If few people respond, there is little  motivation to add to the information.

So I’m still a bit disappointed. I thought the wiki format was ideal for family participation, and that other members of the family could help to contribute to information, especially with family stories and biographical information.

I hoped that some cousins might start their own wikis, where the relations we have in common could be linked across two wikis, and then their own wiki could branch out to the unlinked families on their side of the family. In that way we could have a whole network of interlinked family wikis. But somehow it has never reached critical mass, and never taken off.

But maybe this year will be different.

Would it be too much to hope for — that we could have one linked family wiki a month? Or even a quarter? Or perhaps even one for the whole year? It’s quite easy to start one on Wikispaces, but it doesn’t even have to be there, there are other wiki sites as well.

Which families are people interested in?

Here are the top families that people were interested in on our family wiki at http://hayesgreene.wikispaces.com

Page Views
space.discussion.GreenAW1194 154
home 130
GreeneFT144 89
Vause_Family 85
SchultzJ40 76
Morton_Family 75
Bagot_Family 73
Green_family 59
Index_of_People 36
Family index 34
ParkW223 32
Ahnentafel 29
Devantier_family 27
GreenAW1194 27
About 26
Stooke_Family 25
Decker family 22
Sandercock Family 22
GreenMAA935 21
Growdon_Family 21
GreenWJ140 19
PearsonW2044 18
VauseRW232 18
CottamJB227 17

But, as usual, no one contributed any information about these families, or even left a message to say what it was they were looking for. And, also as usual, the thing that most people most wanted to do was discuss Alfred William Green, 154 of them, to be exact — but not one of them wrote a word.

Perhaps it’s time to acknowledge that the wiki conscept hasn’t caught on, and that the wiki page isn’t working, and take it down.

Cooperative family history

Last year we started a family history Wiki, in the hope that it might make it easier to cooperate with others in gathering family history. The Wiki format, which has been so successful in compiling Wikipedia, one of the most useful encyclopedias the world has ever seen, seems ideal for family history, where members of families all over the world  can contribute different parts of the family story.

Daily page views of our Family Wiki 2008i

We began the family wiki in May 2008, and it seems to have attracted plenty of visitors right from the start — more than this blog, in fact. I thought we might get 2-3 visits a day, perhaps 40-50 a month, but it has been quite a lot more than that, rarely dropping below 25 page views a day.

Daily visitors in 2008

Since each visitor usually looks at more than one page, the actual number of visitors is also quite interesting. It seems that it has rarely dropped below 20 visitors a day.

OK, not everyone who visits the site is related. Some may see a surname that they are interested in, but find that it is a different branch of the family, especially with common surnames. They might come, look at the index and a couple of pages, and see there is nothing connected with them, and leave again.

Edits and Editors - 2009

That is rather discouraging.

You can see how discouraging it is by seeing the number of page edits, which has dropped since it started. Also the number of editors is revealing. Only one other person has contributed anything to the pages, and I’ve had to write all the rest myself. The essence of a wiki is that it is cooperative, and many people contribute something to the full story, but that doesn’t seem to be happening. But surely some of the people who visit find a family that is connected to theirs, and could contribute something to the story. And only two left messages.

There is also the question of where visitors come from.

Where visitors came from - 2008

Most of our families were originally from the UK and Canada, and some are from Germany. Some were Huguenots who went from France to Prussia in the 17th century, and spread from there to other parts of the world. The recent generations are in Southern Africa, but we also have others in places like Australia, New Zealand and the USA.

Most visitors are from the USA, probably because more people there have internet access than those in other places. But there are relatively few from some of the countries where most members of our families came from or are living now.

So if you go to our family Wiki and find you are connected to any of the families there, please consider contributing something, however small. Ask if you can become an editor — if you can show you are related, we’ll make you one right away. And add something to one of the pages — an anecdote, an extract from a will, whatever. It doesn’t have to be perfect — that’s the beauty of a wiki. Someone else can polish what you write, and one story sparks off another memory, so someone else can expand it and put it in its context, and that way we all benefit.It can be a legend, a rumour, a story you were told, a black sheep in the family. If it’s a legend or a rumour, just label it as such — those things too are part of the family history.

Of course if we are sixth cousins we’ll have a relatively small proportion of our families in common. So what do you do if you want to write something about one of your relatives who isn’t related to us? Why, start your own family wiki, of course, it’s quite easy to do, and then we can link them for the common relatives.

So please, don’t just be a leech, sucking information from web sites without giving anything in return. You can learn lots of things from the web, but you can also pass on sometrhing of what you have learned so that others can benefit. Please visit our family wiki, but if you are related, please contribute something as well.

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