Some more information on the rationale behind this system....
- Duplicates: When searching other online databases, there are often find dozens up to hundreds of matches for a name. Some of these may be complete and accurate, some may be incomplete or inaccurate, and some may have additional details that I do not have. Having all of this information to dig through is time-consuming. One goal of this system is to eliminate all duplicates across all branches of the trees here. So one record will hold all information that the contributing researchers have on the individual, and will hopefully be reliable.
- Expertise: Each researcher has usually has thousands of leaves in their tree, and it may not be feasible to research each leaf thoroughly, and a researcher may not have access to resources for a given family or geographic location, or might not know much history of a region. By having one common tree, this system makes it easier for a researcher to concentrate in areas where they have the resources and expertise, and to leave other branches to other researchers. With many millions of possible leaves to research, this is more efficient than everyone duplicating their efforts to try to cover everything.
- Brick Walls: In my own family I have many brick walls where I might have a few pieces to an ancestor's puzzle, but not enough to find answers. It is my guess and hope that others out there are researching the same people, and might have other pieces to the same puzzle. By bringing all of the pieces together and putting them into the same record for each person, pieces might start fitting together to enable new discoveries.
In message boards and email lists the most frequent question is "does anyone have any information on... ?" and this site in an ideal world makes this question obsolete. If every researcher who has any information on any one our ancestors puts all of this information in only one shared place, one page per ancestor, then there's no need to go hunting for who has what information. It would all be right there. Yes, we have a long way to go to get there, but it's a worthy goal to have and work towards.
- Data Online: Many researchers want to put their data online for others to be able to find and use. Rather than maintaining an offline database (such as FamilyTreeMaker, PAF, and others), and then uploading changes, here any researcher can maintain their data, with all of the functionality that offline systems have. As soon as a change is saved, it is online for the world to see. No other software to install, no uploading, no experience in maintaining a website needed.
- Why genealogy? To many people, the information about distant ancestors, aunts, uncles, cousins, and other relatives may be like a dry barren lifeless land -- nothing of interest or relevance to inspire further time and investigation. Putting this information online, and adding to it pictures, stories, place information, and the ability to find distant relatives you didn't know you had is like overturning the dry soil, and adding to it seeds and water. Then it may become rich with life and relevance for who we are today and where we go in the future.
This website and genealogy database is intended to be a successor to the traditional, individual genealogy database, not just an additional tool. It may be a big paradigm shift from researchers may be used to... but I believe it is an important shift to enable these and other features, bringing our previous generations to our next generations.
Plus some more background information from my Myers Briggs INTJ profile
-- this explains a lot of the motivation behind the site and my intentions!
But this is all only possible with your participation!