Take Your SIGs Virtual With MeWe

The MeWe social network is focused on protecting the privacy of its members yet it still offers an impressive range of features that today’s genealogical societies can put to good use. One of those features is groups.

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At first look, a MeWe group may look like Facebook, but as you start looking around you will find a number of useful things like a files library, group discussions and events. MeWe uses tags to make it easy to find specific content in the group. A tag is a keyword that begins with a hash mark (#). Assign #tags to your group posts and MeWe collects them for you in the sidebar. Click/tap any #tag and MeWe will redraw your screen showing you every post assigned that #tag. In the example above, the #journaling tag has been selected in the tag box. On the left you see a collection of posts about journaling. It doesn’t take long for a group’s timeline to contain dozens of posts so having a quick way to find all the posts related to a specific topic is a very useful feature.

MeWe offers three types of groups – private, selective and open. A private group only has members who have been invited to join by the group administrator. Private groups do not appear in MeWe’s group directory. This is a perfect choice for society SIGS.

To join a selective group you must first request access then answer several questions on why you want to join. Once the group administrator reviews your answers and approves you, you will have access to that group. Open groups are open to all MeWe members.

MeWe groups also support discussions – chats for a larger group of participants. These can be text, voice or video discussions. The comment box attached to each post supports text and voice comments including the ability to add photos from your photo library, photos taken with your mobile device and even GIFs.

Each member has 8GB of storage for photos, videos and files. More can be purchased for a small monthly fee. To save money, your society can share videos from online sources like YouTube and Vimeo instead of saving them to your group.

It may take a bit of practice to fully take advantage of the Events component but it won’t take long to appreciate its capabilities. Share a video in a post and create an event to show the video then follow it with a Q&A session using Group Chat.

Small societies often find it difficult to schedule a place and time to hold special interest group meetings. By going virtual, you don’t need a physical meeting room and even if a member can’t attend the group meeting, they can visit the group site at any time to catch up. The files library and posts in the timeline also give your members a research resouce they have access to from anywhere at any time.

My Storytellers Studio group is a selective group serving as a resource for family historians and genealogists looking for creative ideas to share the stories our genealogy research discovers. You are welcome to join us.

Famicity – A Beautiful Family Network

Famicity is many things. It’s part scrapbook, part photo album, part social network and all about family. Famicity gives you a private network to keep in touch with your family wherever they are. Once you create your Famicity account, you can invite family members – near and far – to share news, stories, photos and even videos.

The network owner controls who will have access to the site and can set permissions on an item by item basis. For example, there may be photos or stories not appropriate for younger members. Those items would be assigned to a group just for older members.

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Tell stories, share special events, post news and build photo albums in Famicity.

As you can see in this example, the “news feed” will support any number of purposes. Notice the Tag item included on each story. This makes it possible to build an index of the items posted to your Famicity network. There’s room to “like” and comment on each item too.

One of the many things I love about this network is how beautifully layed out the site is. Everything in the timeline is displayed showing who sent the post and when along with titles, tags and captions. Yes, you can include videos in your timeline. If you have videos on YouTube, Vimeo or Dailymotion, all you need is to copy the link to the video and paste it into your story. Once the story is published, the video will be available on your timeline. You can add as many videos as you like using these three platforms.

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You can do very well with the free Famicity option. If you want to post your own high-def (HD) videos and photos, you can take advantage of the Famicity Premium subscription. It costs $4.99/month and gives you 50GB of storage to share those photos and videos along with access to Famicity’s dedicated technical support.

Put your creative juices to work to include a bit of family history here and there. Share artifacts like the portrait you see here. When your family research discovers an interesting story about an ancestor, share it along with a photo. You’ll be surprised how much your family will enjoy them.

In addition to access via web browser, Famicity also offers free mobile apps for both iOS and Android devices. To get started, visit https://www.famicity.com to learn more and create your account.

Why are you still on Facebook?

I moved to MeWe earlier this year and have found it delightful. It has all the whistles and bells you could possibly want but one thing you won’t find is advertising. I found the chat feature quite impressive supporting text, voice and video chats.

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MeWe supports pages and groups too. Not only can you post content, you can also add #tags to your posts and MeWe will build a “tag index” so visitors can find the topics they want quickly and easily. There are tools for managing members, organizing events and even hosting group chats. MeWe’s group features give small genealogical societies an affordable option to create virtual special interest groups for their members.

While most of MeWe’s features are free, there are some features that will cost you. You’ll find the link to the MeWe Store at the top of the screen. There you can purchase a number of emoji sets for a whopping 99¢ each. If you want to build a page to promote your business, society or blog, that will also cost you. Each user gets 8GB of file storage. If you need more, you can get it at a very reasonable cost.

Take a look for yourself. I think you will find MeWe a delightful and safe place to hang out with friends and family. Get started at https://mewe.com/.

Make the Move to MeWe

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MeWe is a relatively new social network and the first one built with privacy by design for its members. The MeWe network has no advertising and no tracking. It is free for members with features that includes text, voice and video messaging and even encrypted chats. MeWe supports both private and open groups. While the network basics are open to all members at no cost, there are optional features that do require payment. For example, all members have 8GB of storage for photos, videos and files at no charge. If you want more space, you can add it for a small monthly fee. Other “premium” features include encrypted chat and an emoji store.

You can access MeWe in your web browser at https://mewe.com. The view above shows the home page for a MeWe member. From the home page, you can participate in online chats, groups and events. There is also a page called MyCloud displaying all the photos, videos, files and posts you share in your account. Not only can you post photos, you can create albums to keep them organized.

MeWe supports mobile devices too. Check your app store for the free MeWe apps – for both phones and tablets. If you connect your address book to MeWe, the app will tell you if any of your contacts are also MeWe members, making it easier to find family and friends. Within an hour of installing the app on my iPhone and connecting my address book, my cousin – and fellow genealogist – sent me a contact request. Within seconds of accepting her request, she was calling me for a video chat via MeWe.

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It’s not just timelines and chats either. MeWe supports groups and events too. Groups can be Private, Selective or Open. As you see here, the Storytellers Studio group has been moved from Facebook to MeWe.

Notice the group chat box to the lower right of the screenshot. While you can chat from just about anywhere in MeWe, the Group Chat is set up just for members of the group. Using Group Chat, you can schedule chats on specific topics and even invite speakers to join the chat. Photos and files can be posted in a chat  . . . (Do I see the possibility of a presentation here?) . . . and it also supports voice chats . . . (Even better!)

MeWe is just the thing the genealogy community needs – a protected place for networking, sharing resources, discussions and more. Take a look at WeMe (https://weme.com) and see if you don’t find it delightful alternative to Facebook.

Famicity – Getting Started

Famicity is a private social network designed for families. It’s designed to provide a safe way to share news, photos and videos. It’s also a great place to stay connected in a secure environment that won’t sell your information to the highest bidder.

How do you get started with Famicity? Actually, it’s quite easy.

Go to Famicity at https://www.famicity.com/en/welcome. Take a few minutes to get a feel for the site. When you are ready, click the Sign up button in the upper right side of the screen. When the sign-up screen opens you will see several registration options. You can register using your Facebook login (not recommended), your FamilySearch login or create your own with your email address and a password. Before pressing the Start key, it’s a good idea to review the site’s terms of service.

Once you click the Create Account button, you will be taken to a page where you enter your name, sex and date of birth. Once that’s done, you are ready to start building your family tree and trying out the various components of Famicity.

You won’t have any stories or photos yet, but it won’t be long before you’re adding photo albums, videos and stories. Right now, you need to check out the toolbar running down the left side of the Famicity screen. The News button at the top of the bar displays your Famicity site’s timeline. As you invite others to join Famicity, this is the place to view all the latest posts to your network.

The Story button takes you to your profile screen. It contains information about you along with each of the items you have added to the site. This could include photos, videos, photo albums and stories. The name “stories” is a bit misleading. While writing stories about yourself and others are always encouraged, stories will often include short captions, announcements and news. You choose what your stories will be.

Albums are just that . . . A place to display multiple photos associated with a particular event or topic.

Famicity also includes a family Tree. You can either build it from scratch or import a GEDCOM. The tree is used to show your Famicity members how they fit within the family structure but it is also used to invite family members to join your Famicity group. The birthdate information maintained in your family tree is also used to automatically announce birthdays in Famicity’s News section.

The Inbox makes it possible to communicate with your family members via private message.

Contacts is the directory of members. This can be used by members to contact each other. It is also used by administrators to send family members an invitation to join Famicity and it is used to organize members into groups – like the Florida group and the California group. One of the primary uses for groups is to batch assign permissions and such for members.

The My family section contains a directory for all the members of your Famicity family. The directory can be used by members to find contact information. For network administrators, it provides an easy way to manage groups and invitations as well as contact information.

At first Famicity may look a bit too simplistic, but as you and your family begins adding photos, stories, videos and notes, you will soon see how beautiful simplicity can be. Even better, you can share these special moments without worrying about stalkers, advertisers and bots stealing your personal information. With Famicity, family really is a beautiful thing!