Scott_J on FamilyTreeCircles - journals

Scott_J on Family Tree Circles

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Journals and Posts

Welcome to

Hello and Welcome. is a new approach to an old technique of Genealogy Research on the Internet: Community and Sharing.

All over the Internet are groups of people sharing genealogy information. Email lists, message boards, websites. Email lists and message boards are great ways to communicate with a community of people, but what happens to the information that has gone by. I personally subscribe to 3 rootsweb mailing lists and the vast amount of information that flows by there every week is incredible. And if I'm not paying attention to every message that goes by, I'll miss something.

Message boards have a similar problem. I watch message boards for a few surnames, but the informations is provided only in chronological order and in message format.

Personal family research websites are great. But it takes a special dedication and talent to create a useful website, never mind find the time to do all that work in addition to the genealogy research that we already don't have time for! Finding those websites can be a big challenge and possible only if Google and the search engines have found it first and include it in their search results.

So as we all research and discover our family history, most of us just write it down or type it in and store it away in our computers and filing cabinets.

So we thought, why not allow researchers an easy way to store online the information that they're storing at home. Organize the information by user, in categories, and by surname.

That way, once you find a researcher who's information you're interested in, you can keep a close eye on that without having to watch information you don't need from countless others.

And you, as a researcher, can post your own information. Others will find your information and maybe fill in the holes in their own research, but they will also find you. Birds of a feather...

And why stop with research information. If you've got other genealogy information to share, write an article about that. We'll post it for the world to see in one of our general site categories.

We hope you enjoy this resource.

2 comment(s), latest 2 years, 8 months ago

What are grand and great aunts and uncles?

How do you determine these ancestor names?

11 comment(s), latest 8 months ago

What is a second or third cousin vs. a cousin once or twice removed?

There are charts to view, but does anyone have an easy to remember explanation of this, so that when you hear second cousin once removed, you know what it means intuitively?

18 comment(s), latest 8 months, 1 week ago

What is Genealogy?


3 comment(s), latest 3 years, 12 months ago

What to do about a member who is upsetting the community?

As communities grow there will be people who disagree, and people who upset the community with their behavior, whether it is intended or not. It is inevitable.

It seems we have ourselves in this situation. I won't name names, but you probably know what I'm talking about. I had hoped this situation would have resolved itself, but it came to a bit of a head over the past several days.

While quietly addressing the situation yesterday, I disabled this member's ability to post comments. I didn't feel it was necessary to publicize that action, but maybe it would have prevented some more misunderstandings.

I learned that later last night this particular member was subsequently deactivated by one of our admins. This is a decision that I understand and respect, but the technical ramifications of that were such that I decided to reverse that -- especially since I had already prevented him from posting comments and been in discussions with him to resolve the problems. More on that in a bit.

Apparently some people noticed both the deactivation and the reversal and are troubled by the apparent lack of action, or worse, the appearance that I'm sticking up for this member.

I want to explain that.

Account deactivation is something that is for the purpose of quickly removing a spammer from FamilyTreeCircles. This action removes all posts and all comments for a particular user. Deactivating a member like this who has posted a large number of posts and comments makes a big mess and fills the site with thousands of "account deactivated" messages. Worse, it potentially took away good information from the comments in some members' journals. I feel that we can address this in other ways. It is also a last resort that I hope to avoid.

I do recognize that there is an issue to be dealt with and I'm committed to getting it resolved.

Here's what I am doing:

  • I've indefinitely disabled this member's access to make comments, as it seems this is the primary source of the behavior that is offending others. The only way I will reinstate that access is if I'm convinced that the member will participate in a way that does not offend other members.

  • I have not disabled his access to posting journals. I don't see the harm in him doing that unless he uses that as a vehicle to address others or this issue, in which case I'll take further action. I don't anticipate that will be necessary.

  • I have been in communication with this member to start a conversation about what has happened and what changes we can make if he wants to continue to participate in this community.

  • I will be investigating ways to improve FamilyTreeCircles to allow the community to better self-manage and deal with these issues better before they get out of hand. For example, voting on comments up or down, so that offending comments can be flagged and hidden. This is something that I'll work on in the coming weeks so the next time this happens, well, hopefully we'll prevent it. (I've already done this on journals with "Thank" and "flag". More on that in another post.)

I care deeply about FamilyTreeCircles. It is something that I've been working on as a passion project for several years and it is distressing to me when there are issues. I hope that I can have your support in getting through this bump in the road.

Pulling your posts and going away is your prerogative, but I hope you will not do that. Instead, if you ever have any comments or feedback about this or anything else, please do not hesitate to contact me at [email protected] Heck, call me: +1 617-910-0055. That's how much I care about this.

Thanks for your help, support, and understanding.

Scott Jangro

28 comment(s), latest 7 months, 4 weeks ago

What's next, and thank you!

Guys, it's just been a few days since the updates, but I just wanted to say how grateful I am for the activity recently.

In the past few weeks, we re-launched FamilyTreeCircles Answers. Basically, to create a place for people to ask questions about genealogy (rather than about a specific family member). My goal is to create something even more than the amazing journal content that we already have.

The first launch of this was lackluster and I was a bit nervous about a relaunch. I shouldn't have been, as I now see that it was more how I positioned it before than the willingness of people to ask and answer genealogy questions.

I sent out an email yesterday featuring a few of the recent questions. One was one that we just put here as an example:

What's the best piece of advice you'd give to someone just starting their family tree research?

and the other one was by a user, SallySparkman (I'm not sure she realizes that her question went out to tens of thousands of people in email :) )

Does anyone have any suggestions as to where to look in researching my family tree back to Scotland, Ireland and England pre-1700's?

Both got incredibly well thought out responses, as did many others. And the questions poured in. Thank you!

One thing that's becoming apparent to me is that we need another post type for lookup requests. These aren't genealogy questions so much as a request for help on a specific person or surname. I'll be working on that so we can easily keep the three types separate:

  • Journals - stories and information that you know and want to share with the community. What I call "Cousin bait".
  • Questions - genealogy questions that are bigger than just a lookup. The context may contain specifics, but there's a general question there, like, "What are all the ways that people may have emigrated from Nova Scotia to the US?"
  • Lookups - Requests from people who are stuck on a person or line and need help, or another set of eyes. Brick walls.

Lookup requests happen a lot on FamilyTreeCircles, and I think giving them their own space will improve the quality of the requests, as well as allow Questions from getting cluttered.

If you have any feedback on that, I'm all ears. Post a comment here.

Otherwise, keep an eye out for that change, as well as some others.

Again, thanks for being a great community. If you want to keep a close eye on questions that need a response, I added an "Unanswered" item in the menu at the top a well as few others.

What's the correct way to cite a Facebook post, Tweet or other social media content as a source?

Or even a FamilyTreeCircles post! It's important to cite sources, of course. What's the best way to do that? Do you have a template that you use?

3 comment(s), latest 8 months, 1 week ago

What's the most interesting story in your family tree?

I've got a few mayflower ancestors, but none of those stories feel very unique or "real" to me. Maybe because they're so well known. Do you have a great story?

12 comment(s), latest 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Where can you turn to find information on your ancestors when the vital records from the town or county that you are looking in are simply gone?

A user posted a journal here with this scenario where the records were blown up (!).

I have a similar situation where apparently the records from Barnstable county here in Massachusetts were lost in a fire.

What are some other ways to get to this information?

1 comment(s), latest 8 months, 1 week ago