Newsletter tip...

Posted December 8, 2005 9:42am

We're just finishing up our next newsletter (send an email to if you want to subscribe or make sure you're subscribed). The tip below will appear in the newsletter... Because this tip is a bit more involved, we wanted to have a place to catch questions and discussion related to it... so created this forum topic in advance of sending out the newsletter (so we could link to it in the newsletter itself)....

*** O n l i n e R e s e a r c h T i p ***


This issue's online tip is a bit of a brain teaser - it takes a little deeper thought than most tips- but anything that's free and can work 'round the clock on your brick walls is worth knowing about.

Most of you have probably tried typing in a few of your ancestor names in Google to see if you could find anyone else researching that ancestor. Did you know that there's a good chance that someone else has also Googled some of those same names? Would you like to be connected to any other researcher who searches one of your key ancestors? It's easier and more obvious than you think... all you need to do is "post" some data about your key ancestors somewhere on the internet where the search engines can find it, and a search result of you, your areas of research, and contact information can be presented front and center to that researcher.

To make a good search target, include variations in forms and spellings of the name, along with locations and spouses you think might also be included in a search query. Also include date ranges and any other identifying information that would help the viewer determine if you've got a common ancestor. You don't need fancy links or formatting - in fact the search engines probably like simple text the best. Don't forget to include your contact information, if it's not provided by the mechanism you're using to post. And don't forget to make that contact information friendly to humans, but unfriendly to robots, to avoid the spammers.

Many internet accounts now include the ability (and space) to create a web page. That's likely the easiest way to accomplish this, just follow the instructions your host provides. . Here's a sample web page:

Once you get your page up, you can test it yourself by trying a search for one of your names. It likely will take a couple of weeks for the search engines to find and index your page, so be patient. You can often speed up the process by pro-actively submitting your page to the search engine, for example use the following link to give Google a clue:

Perhaps a bit more work, but another way to do this is to post to an online forum or mailing list, such as or where specific forums/lists exist by surname. Really, anyplace on the web that's being indexed by the search engines will work.

Those of you who recoil from the thought of posting your research on the internet should note - this isn't what I'm suggesting- those of you who already have uploaded your trees into a website and think you've already got this covered should note - there's key search data (alternate spellings, for example) that may not be present in what you've uploaded, so it still may be worth considering-

Finally, for those of you that like brain teasers and didn't think this was really that hard to figure out- think about this- The traditional search paradigm is that a researcher uses a search engine to connect with information about an area of interest. This is constrained to data that's been published on the internet. There are several orders of magnitude more data in the heads of researchers (the people searching the internet) that hasn't been published. This tip represents the inverse of that traditional paradigm - a way of searching the heads of other researchers-

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