Genealogy from the perspective of a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon, LDS)

Monday, May 2, 2016

Exploring the New Look of the FamilySearch Research Wiki -- Part Four

There are three ways to benefit from the vast resources of the Research Wiki:
  • You can search by topic such as probate, vital records, land and property etc.
  • You can browse by geographic area 
  • You can dig down on a subject by starting with the broad, geographically defined area such as a country and follow the same topic down to the smallest geographic subdivision, such as England, County, Parish etc.
Because the Research Wiki is essentially organized as a web-based tool, if you follow the links, the program will continue to provide more information on any particular subject. Of course, the Research Wiki has its limitations. Some areas of the world have very few readily available family history resources, especially those available through the Internet, but as you become involved in using the Research Wiki as a tool, you will begin to develop and more expansive view of what can be used as a resource.

In addition to guidance about strictly genealogical resources, the Research Wiki also contains thousands of articles of general interest about how to do genealogy. The program also comes complete with its own instructions for use and involvement in the Research Wiki community. Any discussion of the Research Wiki could easily dissolve into a list of pages and topics. But the idea behind wiki programs is that you need to explore the contents for yourself, at your own pace and as you develop new interests and needs. The introduction to the Research Wiki is really contained on the startup page. All the links you need to get started are right there.

As shown by the links on the bottom of the page, the Research Wiki even comes in ten different languages. Some of these other language editions of the Research Wiki have had hundreds of thousands of visits.

Given the general nature of the Research Wiki startup page, it is important to realize that there are some basic genealogical research tools built into the program. Here is a summary of the tools found on the Wiki Tools for Research page.

Watching Pages
This is a particularly important function if you find that the Research Wiki is not complete and an article or page needs more detail. The idea of a wiki is that if you know something about a topic and that information is not in the program, then you always have the option of adding the new information. But if you don't know the answer, you can always wait and someone with the information you are seeking may add it to the program. Every page in the Research Wiki has a star at the top of the page. By clicking on the star, if you are a registered user, you will add the page to your own watchlist and will then receive email notifications of any changes made to your watched pages.

Most of the Research Wiki articles have one or more categories listed near the bottom of the article or page. These categories are constantly being expanded and revised to give an expanded view of articles or pages that the contributors think are related.

Talk Pages
Every page on the Research Wiki has an accompanying Talk Page. In many cases, these pages are blank, but if you have a specific question about an article or the content of an article or page, you can post a question or comment on that page's Talk Page. To add a question or comment, you click on the Edit tab and add in your question. It is appropriate to add your signature to any comments on the Talk Pages. This is done by typing four tildes (~~~~) at the end of your comment.

Navigation List
Links to some of the most useful areas of the Research Wiki are found in a list on the left-hand side of each page. This list is semi-permanent but the content of the linked pages is always being updated.

Ultimately, you may find that you want to edit or contribute to the content of the Research Wiki. Once you are registered as a user, you are automatically registered on the Research Wiki and can begin to contribute or edit as you wish to do so. Contributing and editing does require some background, but all of the information you need to get started is already in the Research Wiki. Just click on the link on the startup page and you will eventually find more information than you could have dreamed that anyone would write about contributing.

If you are going to contribute to the content of the Research Wiki, it is a good idea to have your own user page. Whenever I edit or contribute to the Research Wiki, a link to me is automatically generated and recorded with the change information. Many people make changes to the Research Wiki without creating a User Page, but if you create a user page, you can refer people to an explanation of your qualifications for adding new content. The User Page can be of your own design as long as you keep within the objectives and design rules of the Research Wiki.

Finally, it is a good idea to review the policies and procedures of the Research Wiki occasionally to make sure you are operating within the guidelines. Here are some links to the policy pages.

Here are the previous installments of this series.

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