MySpace for Genealogists Part II

I’m back after approximately a week of moving. Things are still a mess but I’m writing to give you my thoughts of FamilyLink, a new MySpace-like service for Genealogists. I’m sure many of you have beat me to exploring FamilyLink given my snail like pace of posting this entry.

After exploring FamilyLink on and off for about a week, I have come to the conclusion that while this is a great service for connecting genealogists, its a little too much work for the common genealogist to share their family information. However, FamilyLink is still in its infancy. I expect this to improve greatly, much like myfamily.com improved from its very first version in 1998 through its many incarnations to its current version 2.0. FamilyLink includes such features as a user homepage, a userprofile, photo albums, ancestors pages, connections, and city links. They will be adding family tree capability at a later date.

You can visit my FamilyLink page at http://www.familylink.com/pytlewski. Below you will find my analysis of the features of FamilyLink.

User Homepage

  • The user homepage is a breeze to set up. The set up process guides you through a list of questions and inputs those questions onto your user homepage. The homepage includes a uploadable photo representing yourself, biographical information, a tagline, a mailbox for your invitations and messages, and a customizable URL address (www.familylink.com/yournamehere). This is very easy to use and setup.

User Profile

  • This works much like the homepage during set up as the setup processes will ask you questions and input your answers in the profile. All answers are editable after initial publication. Again its very easy to use and includes such questions not often found on other genealogy sites such as your volunteer status and whether you are willing to do research for a fee. The profile page also includes a list of cities that either you live, have special resources about, or have special knowledge because your ancestors once lived there. More about this later. This page also includes your connections, or friends on FamilyLink, a guestbook, and your ancestor pages.

Photo Albums

  • These have become fairly standard now due to Flickr, photobucket, and myfamily.com. It’s fairly simple to use and you get to share your ancestor’s photographs or your cemetery photographs.

Ancestor Pages

  • Ancestor pages again work much like the home page as the website will guide you through a list of questions about a particular ancestor. I can’t think of another genealogy website that allows you to enter a bank of information on one particular ancestor in an easily readable layout. Of course, this is where the work comes in. You have to manually do this for every ancestor that you want to have an individual page. There is no gedcom uploading capability. Personally, I was tired after the only page the I did to give as an example.

Connections

  • Connections are like friends on MySpace or Facebook. For those who haven’t used these services before, a connection is someone who you meet or know that is also a member of FamilyLink. These people can be your research buddies, list serv members, family members, or people who research ancestors in the same geographical area. However, these people have to be members of FamilyLink so if you plan on using this service I highly recommend encouraging these people to create a FamilyLink account. I can see connections and city links supplmenting the Rootsweb county listservs and message boards and has the greatest potential for long term usability.

City Link

  • Like I said before, city links are city research groups that you can sign up to join. On these pages, you can share links and information about research in the city and help your fellow city researchers. This is cross between US Genweb county pages and groups in myspace, facebook, google.

In conclusion, I will be using FamilyLink sparingly for my family information. However, I already have Pytlewski Family Findings to share my information. This page will be great for those who do not already have a website. FamilyLink is primarily a great way to connect genealogists to share information and participate in lookup circles. I encourage everyone to try it out and if you want to see how it looks take a look at mine at www.familylink.com/pytlewski.

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