I've been experimenting in the last day or so with Genealogy Wise, a new dedicated genealogy social networking website. The site has been created by Family Link, the company which owns and operates WorldVitalRecords.com and World History.com. Family Link is also the company behind the popular We're Related application on Facebook which famously duped many Facebook users on April Fool's Day into believing they were related to Barack Obama.
Genealogy Wise is effectively a simplified version of Facebook without all the distractions and, like Facebook, it is completely free of charge. You can have genealogy friends, you can create groups for the surnames you are researching or join groups created by other people. There is a forum for discussions, a blog section for general genealogy musings, and a facility to upload videos.
No official announcement about the launch has yet been published, but word has already started to spread on Facebook and in the Twitterverse and blogosphere. At the time of writing 654 members had signed up and 259 groups had been established, but there is a constant stream of new members and the numbers seem to be increasing exponentially. Many of my fellow members of the Guild of One-Name Studies have been among the early adopters who have rushed to claim ownership of the group for their particular surname before anyone else beats them to the post. I have already set up groups for the surnames Cruwys, Cruse and Kennett. I have also set up another group for the county of Devon. Now I just need you all to come and join my groups. You can find my profile page on Genealogy Wise here.
If the website is to be a useful resource for genealogists the membership will have to reach a critical mass with millions rather than hundreds of users. However, judging by the enthusiasm of everyone who has used the site, I suspect that it won't be too long before that critical mass is achieved as soon as word starts to get out on the genealogy mailing lists and in the press. Although many genealogists now use Facebook there are still some who are wary of the whole idea of social networking. I suspect that a specialised genealogy social networking site will be more appealing. Genealogy Wise will never be a replacement for Facebook but will surely become a useful complementary resource and one which we will be using more and more in the future. I look forward to seeing you there.