Scott_J on FamilyTreeCircles - journals

Scott_J on Family Tree Circles

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Journals and Posts


New Journal Type: Query

FamilyTreeCircles is growing and in an effort to better organize the large volume of journals that get posted here, I've added a new Journal type: Query.

Queries are simply a request for information on a particular ancestor or family. These get posted all the time in both the existing regular journals and questions, so I thought it would be worthwhile to try to get them separated out into their own types.

You'll notice them as the highly recognizable magenta-colored posts.

I've also made the Journal Type field available in the journal edit page, so you can change the types of your own journals if you'd like.

I'll be actively changing journal types as people get used to the new classifications.

This is another small step toward making it easier to scan through the growing list of journals at FamilyTreeCircles. Questions and the new Query types are posts that are specifically looking for help, and hopefully this will ensure that they get seen and hopefully get answered.

54 comment(s), latest 2 years, 3 months ago

Policy Reminder: Don't Post Other People's Content Publicly

Please let me remind you that it is wrong to post other people's content on FamilyTreeCircles.

We state this simply in the terms of use

8. You will not post any copyrighted material on this website.

But maybe this isn't clear enough, so let me explain a bit further.

If someone has a website or a webpage posted somewhere on the Internet, the information they post there (unless they copied it from somewhere else) is theirs. You are not allowed to copy it and post it elsewhere without their permission.

I am not an intellectual property or trademark attorney, so I won't get into the legalities of this, but as the owner of this site, I will remove content that I believe has copied someone else's property. This can and will be just a judgement call by me.

Genealogy data gets copied around all the time, so I'm not talking specifically about names, dates, etc. I am talking about written prose, and larger collections of information that someone else has created.

As a general rule, if you find yourself copying and pasting large amounts of information from another website to post it on FamilyTreeCircles, and you don't have the permission from the original author, it is probably wrong. Please don't.

If you have any questions about specific cases, please just ask.

thank you.

57 comment(s), latest 2 years, 3 months ago

Where Do FamilyTreeCircles Visitors Come From?

A lot of people ask me questions like...

"I'm from the UK, is FamilyTreeCircles a U.S. site?"
"I see a lot of talk from people in Australia. Do any Americans use FamilyTreeCircles?"

And the list goes on and on...

Here's a breakdown of the top visitors by country in the 2011 calendar year, and a graph of the top several.

The United States 45.2%
Australia 16.5%
The United Kingdom 13%
New Zealand 11.2%
Canada 6.2%
Ireland 1.4%
South Africa 1.1%
India 0.6%
Germany 0.4%
The Philippines 0.4%
France 0.3%
The Netherlands 0.3%
Pakistan 0.2%
Spain 0.1%
Italy 0.1%
Switzerland 0.1%
Malaysia 0.1%
Sweden 0.1%
Brazil 0.1%
Hong Kong 0.1%
Russian Federation 0.1%
Poland 0.1%
Singapore 0.1%
Belgium 0.1%
Denmark 0.1%
Norway 0.1%
Mexico 0.1%
Israel 0.1%
Japan 0.1%
Czech Republic 0.1%
Thailand 0.1%
The United Arab Emirates 0.1%
Indonesia 0.1%
Turkey 0.1%
China 0.1%
Jamaica 0.1%

As you can pretty clearly see, it a pretty diverse group of English-speaking nations represented here, with strong representation from Australia/New Zealand as well as the UK.


72 comment(s), latest 2 days, 4 hours ago

Spam update

This is a quick update to the spam situation that I'm wrestling with here on FamilyTreeCircles.

As mentioned a few days ago in this post, Spam Spam Spam Spam, I put in some checks to prevent blatant spam from getting posted to FamilyTreeCircles.

In just 4 days, 535 messages that appear to be spam were put into the manual review queue.

I've reviewed all of them (fun, fun) and only one well-meaning, legitimate user was negatively impacted. His posts have been approved. The rest deleted (that part really was fun).

I have to say that I'm pretty pleased with the results so far. I will be refining the algorithms to reduce the false positives going forward.

Here's to a spam-free FamilyTreeCircles.

76 comment(s), latest 3 years, 6 months ago

FamilyTreeCircles.com as Cousin Bait

Note: This was originally posted on the FamilyTreeCircles blog over a year ago. As I'm pulling that content into the new FTC blog, I've been post-dating them. But this one I think is worth reading again, so I'm setting the dates to today.

Catching up on my blog-reading, I came across Randy Seaver's post about "cousin bait".

Here's his overview...

Greta Koehl used the term "Cousin Bait" last month in her post Online Trees about the purpose of posting online family tree data. At least, that was the first use of the term I've seen published - an excellent term! Her point was that putting a family tree online in a database or on a web page may help induce distant cousins, who share your ancestry, into contacting you and perhaps provide more information about the common ancestral families.

While I've also never thought of it as "cousin bait", this is exactly what I had in mind when I created FamilyTreeCircles.com.

I've always described the concept as "casting a net" for other family tree researchers to find your posts, and then connect via FamilyTreeCircles.com.

And it's true that you can set some very effective bait with some simple posts on FamilyTreeCircles.com.

I wish Randy's example produced a FamilyTreeCircles.com result, but alas. Let's take a look at some recent posts and how they rank on Google.

Starting with the most recent FamilyTreeCircles.com journal, William SPINLEY + Emily WILHAM - Auckland 1800s, posted about an hour prior to writing this blog post.

A Google search for [William Spinley] produces a number one search result on Google just an hour after it was posted...

William SPINLEY - Google Search.png

Here's another example of a more popular search result, [white family dna], 17MM results.

The author of this entry about a White family DNA project posted it here on FamilyTreeCircles as well as on Genforum at about the same time.

white family dna - Google Search-1.png

Her FamilyTreeCircles post is #3 on Google.com. The Genforum post is at #6. While not all posts make it to the first page of Google's results, both are a very effective way of getting some search engine exposure of your genealogy work.

If you're not doing so already, you should consider adding FamilyTreeCircles.com to your toolbox for getting your "cousin bait" out there on the search engine result pages.

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

New Feature: Private Messages OUTbox

When I built FamilyTreeCircles so many years ago, I had no idea how popular the private messages feature would be.

As of today, there have been over 18,000 messages sent through the private message system. I never would have guessed.

One of the most requested features that I get is for people to be able to see the messages that they have sent to others. Did I contact so-and-so about such-and-such? What did I say? Did she open it?

I'm happy to announce that I have added a new feature allowing you to view your outbox. In it, you can see all the messages you've ever sent.

Where is it? You'll see conspicuous links to your "Inbox" and "Outbox" in your private message area.

Here are a few notes about the new feature:

  • You can view them, but you cannot delete them. (They don't belong to you any more!)
  • You can see if the recipient has opened them
  • You can still see them if the recipient has deleted them.
  • I haven't structured the messages in any sort of "conversational" view.

Like me, you'll probably be a bit surprised at the number of messages that have gone un-opened. Honestly, I was quite disappointed at some of them. But at least now I know, and maybe I'll follow up again with some of them.

Enjoy, and please let me know if you have any questions.

1 comment(s), latest 4 years, 5 months ago

Spam Spam Spam Spam

It's like a Monty Python skit around here!

I know that there has been a lot of spam here lately, and I thank the moderators who have been playing whack-a-mole trying to keep them at bay.

I've made a few small changes that I hope will thwart the majority of it.

If you see that something you post gets caught in a spam trap, please don't take it personally and know that I'll be keeping an eye on it. I apologize in advance for any false-positives that may happen.

55 comment(s), latest 2 years, 3 months ago

Announcing: Favorites - More new features on Family Tree Circles

Hello. Your great feedback on some of the new stuff that I've been adding has inspired me to add more.

I've just added a "Favorites" feature.

Here's how it works...

You can add any post (journal, article, question) to your list of favorites by clicking the "Favorite" link. This link appears at the top of every journal. (give it a try, click the star at the top of this post):

and also in the journals lists (see callouts #2 and #3 in the image below)

You can view all your favorites under the "Journals" page. Look for the link on that page called "Favorites" (see callout #1 in the image below). You have to be logged in to use this feature.

Here's a direct link: Favorites

This is something that I've been wanting to add for a long time, to help keep track of journals that I want to get back to, or reference later, or just to mark as a "good one".

I hope you find it useful.

62 comment(s), latest 2 years, 3 months ago

Admin stuff: Moving Servers

If you were here in the past half-hour, you know that FamilyTreeCircles was in maintenance mode for about a half hour.

I moved FamilyTreeCircles from one server to another so I could decommission a very old and very expensive server.

Things should be just fine (famous last words), but if you notice any strangeness at all please do let me know either by commenting here, or via email to scott at familytreecircles.com.

Thank you and sorry for the inconvenience.

61 comment(s), latest 2 years, 3 months ago

Family Tree Circles Updates

Hello All.

I've just posted some updates to Family Tree Circles, that I hope will start us on the road to making this a better place for everybody. Here's what I've done...

  1. The Family Tree Circles points system has been removed. I believe it has been broken for a long time, but in any case, the feedback that I've been getting is that it is encouraging a quantity over quality approach for some. I originally put that in place to recognize the top contributors, and I think it did serve a purpose for many years. It seems it is time to move on from that model. Instead, I do plan on doing some sort of user scoring/reputation system going forward. More on that in a bit.

  2. Block/Unblock Users: A a sort of pressure relief valve, I've implemented a "block user" feature. This will hide journals for any blocked user in the places where journals are listed. You can still view individual journals or the profile of a blocked user. And you can always unblock a user from your own profile.

To block a user, click the "block this user" link in the bio section of a journal or that user's profile.

To unblock a user, you can click that link again (it'll change to "unblock"). Or you can view all the blocked users in your profile and unblock them from there:

Yes, you can block yourself. :-)

I don't love having to add this last feature, but it'll be interesting to see if it gets used.

What's next?

I know that neither of these solutions solve the difficult problem of someone flooding the active journal page with many posts, or lots of comments on their own posts. You can clean up the view for yourself with blocking, but most people won't do that and the flooding can continue. This is a difficult one to solve because some people who post great stuff may also post a several journals in a row. So, simply putting basic flood control in (ilke to limit posts to a certain number per hour) would hurt users who don't deserve it.

As I indicated above, I plan to implement an algorithmic scoring/reputation system that will take peer feedback into consideration when deciding which journals will be displayed in the journals lists.

Many of you have surely noticed back in the spring that I introduced "Thank" and "flag" links on journals. To those of you who have been using those, thanks. I'll be using that information in a future update.

In the meantime, I hope these two short-term changes help some.

93 comment(s), latest 3 years, 6 months ago