Collaboration is the name of the game in genealogy. I love when someone contacts me asking about research that I have shared on Ancestry.com, FamilySearch, or FindAGrave. However, there’s one little thing that folks can do to make their emails a little easier to respond to.
ADD A LINK OR ID
I know that seems too simplistic. However, I have received a number of emails asking about research pertaining to individuals and there is no link to the individual to help me refresh my memory. Here’s one example,
I noticed that you had information about Jerry Lester stating that he was married to Sarah Quiggly and they had five children. You have him connected to James Lester as his father. Well, the Jerry Lester son of James from Massachusetts died before wedding and having children. I’m happy to find new information contrary to my research. Please let me know what supporting information you have for Jerry, husband of Sarah to Jerry son of James.
While this email is extremely polite, what is it lacking?
Dates and places would certainly be nice. The email does mention Massachusetts but that isn’t helping much (especially with common names). What is lacking is a link to who they are referring to. Let me say this another way.
In order to answer this email, I need some way to know which site was used to find the tree links. It really does make a difference which resourced was used.
First, my accounts on various websites are not always in sync. Perhaps I have new information that needs to be transferred to the other site. So tell me which site was used.
Second, I do a lot of volunteer work on various sites to ‘pay it forward.’ Sharing a link to Sarah Quiggly will quickly help me recognize if the person you are asking about is a volunteer project or a common ancestor.
Finally, I am a busy mother of five children. When I have free time, I spend it doing genealogy. If you want me to answer your email quickly, then make it easy for me to access the person you are asking about.
These are three of my reasons why sharing a link about an ancestor you want to collaborate on is essential. Other genealogists have different reasons why a link, or a person ID number, would be invaluable to quickly respond to your email.
Whenever I receive such emails, I attempt to politely ask, “Who are you talking about?” and request the website or link so we can start on the same page. Often, the person sending the first email is so gracious to respond, “Oh, yeah. That would be helpful. Sorry and here you go!” Others seem put off by my request and do not respond again.
Collaborative genealogy is nothing new, it’s just in a new format. For online trees and queries, let’s all commit to better partnerships by sharing identifying information so the process flows just a little bit easier!