05 September 2006

Genealogy Crowdsourcing

In one of the blogs I regularly monitor Matthew Stibble asked for input for an article he is writing on "crowdsourcing, web 2.0, long tail and social networking - all the latest buzzes online." Crowdsourcing was a new word to me, but a gentle google found 572,000 English pages, "The Rise of Crowdsourcing" from a June issue of Wired magazine being the first hit. Worth reading.

Wikipedia defines crowdsourcing as "a business model akin to outsourcing. The difference is that instead of professional vendors, crowdsourcing relies upon unpaid or low-paid amateurs who use their spare time to create content, solve problems, even do corporate R & D. Crowds targeted for crowdsourcing include data companies, such as Jigsaw, garage scientists, amateur videographers, freelancers, photo enthusiasts, smart mobs and the electronic herd." Wikipedia itself is a crowdsourcing project.

What sort of crowdsourcing projects are there in genealogy? Dick Eastman's Encyclopedia of Genealogy would qualify, although the crowds seem to be rather muted. There are innumerable places, notably Rootsweb newsgroups, where genealogists can post their genealogical conundrums and ask for advice. To get to those postings you do have to sort through assorted inane cackle and self aggrandisement in some of those groups, notably GENBRIT-L.

Perhaps the UK is further ahead. I subscribe to genesreunited, an offspring of friendsreunited, where you can post information on ancestors you are seeking, and people who link to that person can contact you (if they subscribe). It was the resource that allowed me to link to a whole branch of second cousins in the family tree earlier this year.

If you can think of other crowdsourcing examples in genealogy, particularly any where the person supplying the solution can receive a monetary reward, please let me know about it at aa327 at ncf.ca .