You don’t have to begin from scratch. WeRelate can import GEDCOM files of the family research you have already completed. The data from your GEDCOM will be used to create person, family and source pages within WeRelate. Before you begin, however, there are a few things you need to understand.
WeRelate is a collaborative platform. When you import GEDCOM information, you are agreeing to release that information under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License 3.0 and GFDL. Read the fine print in both licenses, but basically you are allowing anyone to use the information as long as they attribute it to you and anything they do with the information will also be shared in a like manner. If you’re not comfortable doing this, don’t add your GEDCOM.
The GEDCOM import page (found under the Add menu) provides more information about the licensing. Read this before you begin.
As you can see, the Import GEDCOM page is mostly instructions. Here you’ll find some very useful information on how to prepare your GEDCOM for import and the special treatment necessary for living people. I started with a very small GEDCOM – just three generations – to get a feel for the process. I highly recommend small imports for several reasons. By reviewing the group before I created the GEDCOM, I became “re-acquainted” with this family’s data. And because my memory had been refreshed on who was who and how they fit together, it was easier for me to deal with the matching process. Let me explain. During the import, WeRelate checks to see if your people already exist in the database. If the process discovers potential matches, you are asked how you want to deal with it. I had no problems in my small imports because I was familiar with the data. When I got brave enough to do a large import, this step was more difficult – especially with those dusty branches of the family tree that haven’t gotten much attention lately.
Another reason I would recommend small imports has to do with the cleanup process. Yes, there will be some cleanup effort once the import’s complete. First of all, GEDCOM imports don’t include images so you’ll have to add them manually. Then, you’ll probably want to review your source pages to insure they follow WeRelate’s naming conventions and that details are in the correct form fields. You may also want to check for any existing repositories related to your sources and/or add your own.
If you’re like me, you’ll make a connection on some piece of information that’s been there for years which will then lead you off in a new research direction. [Distractions - don't ya just love them!] Even if you aren’t as easily distracted as I am, this review process can spark a few new research ideas that you can add to your research log for later action.
Once you’ve uploaded your GEDCOM file at WeRelate, you’ll be told that it will take a few minutes to process. When that’s done, you’ll find a message on your talk page (go to your WeRelate profile page, then click Talk in the left sidebar) telling you what to do next.
The top part of the browser window walks you through the review process. The bottom section provides the instructions for each step. As you visit each tab on the review screen, the bottom pane will tell you what you need to look for and the steps you need to take before your GEDCOM will be ready to import in tab 8. This example shows some of the issues you may find.
On the People tab, you’ll notice that WeRelate is excluding three people because they are listed as living. Actually only one of them is, but because of the birth/death dates listed in my database, WeRelate isn’t taking any chances and is excluding them all. You’ll notice others are listed as living but are being imported. Take Elizabeth Carswell for example. There are no birth or death dates for her, but her family connections (parents, spouse, children) are old enough that WeRelate figures she’s long gone.
When WeRelate finds a match for a person, family, place or source, you’ll see that match in the row with the item it matches. Although I don’t have a match to any of these families, if one did match an existing page, it would be listed in the match column. I can then click on it to display the family page in the screen’s lower panel, then click my husband or wife to display the page WeRelate will build for them to compare. If you decide not to import a matched person or family, just check the Exclude box in front of the record.
Pay special attention to the Warnings tab. It displays both alerts (missing gender, for example) and errors (burial date before death date, in my case). There’s a Print button so you can print these out for later reference, but if there are too many errors, WeRelate will refuse to import your GEDCOM data. You’ll need to fix the data in your genealogy software app, export a new GEDCOM, then try the import again.
Should you decide to cancel the import, choose the MyRelate > Trees command to go to the page listing your trees. Find the tree (shown here as “waiting for review”) and click the Delete item.
Is this everything you need to know about importing GEDCOMs into WeRelate? Not even close, but it does show you the process and the things you can do to make it as sooth as possible. Keeping your imports small is a great way to see how it works without getting overwhelmed. Take a test drive and see for yourself.
Reminder: The WeRelate resource page contains an index to the complete series.