Although most of us – me included – get started in WeRelate by taking the tour then heading straight to the GEDCOM import section to import our family information, that may not be the best course of action. I would suggest first spending some time and effort getting comfortable with how things work on the platform before tackling the family tree.
One of the best places to get started is your own user profile. Why? First, your profile page introduces you to everyone else at WeRelate. Every page or section you edit will have your name attached to it with a link back to your profile. As you make more and more contributions on the site, you’ll increase your visibility to the community. Use your profile to let us know who you are and what you are researching.
To get to your profile, choose the User Profile item from the My Relate menu. Once there, click on the Edit link in the left sidebar.
At the top of the edit screen for your profile page is a form asking you to enter the surname and/or location for families you are researching. You can add as many as you want – and update them at any time. This list will appear down the right side of your profile page and link to a blank page that has automatically been created for each entry. Note, if you only enter a surname or only a place name, WeRelate will generate a link to those pages if they already exist. These research pages can be used for notes, research logs, todo lists and as collaboration pages as you connect with research cousins. In each of my pages, I have added a short paragraph defining which family I’m researching in that particular location and the time period if I know it.
Underneath the surname form is an editing area where you can include any information about yourself you’d like to display on your profile. Do you have a genealogy blog? Family photos at Flickr? A family web site? Say so and include links to them.
As you can see in this example, the editor and its formatting toolbar are quite basic. The wiki platform uses simple character commands to format text. For example, typing an asterisk (*) at the beginning of a line turns that line into a bullet point. Three apostrophes on either side of some text will bold that text. You will quickly become familiar with the commands you use frequently. WeRelate includes a link to their formatting help page at the top and bottom of every editor screen. This link opens in a separate window so you can reference it while you’re editing pages. If you’d still like to keep something nearby to reference, I have created a WeRelate Editing Cheatsheet listing the most commonly used wiki formatting commands. These commands will work when editing WeRelate as well as the FamilySearch Research wiki.
After saving your profile page, you’ll see the research pages you referenced on the right side of the page. If you just entered a surname or a place name while editing your profile, you might want to follow the link to see if that surname and/or place already has a page and, if so, is someone already posting content there. This is a good first step for making connections to others researching your people and places.
While most everything in WeRelate can be edited by just about anyone, there are two places that are yours and yours alone. We’ve already looked at your profile page. You are the only user who can change that page. The other is called User Pages. You can create as many user pages as you want. This is done from the Add menu by choosing User Page. You’ll be prompted to enter a title for your page and then it is created. Everyone can see your user pages, but only you can make changes to them.
So, what can you do with a user page? Create a research log or todo list. If you have a family story you want to tell without others editing it, this is the place. One WeRelate administrator has a brick wall page that links to the person page for each of them. I love that!
One of the best things about WeRelate is the ability to find and work with others researching your people and places. Getting your profile and research pages posted is a good first step in that direction and it gets you comfortable working in WeRelate’s wiki platform.
What’s next? It’s time to get out and see the sights. Stay tuned for the next edition of WeRelate where we do some walking and talking and searching and watching.