Modern Software Experience

2010-01-08

Twitter

genealogy

Twitter is a microblogging service. A lot has been written about it, and it is easy to get started. This text focuses on using twitter for genealogy. It does not include detailed discussions of hashtags or Twitter Lists, but does include links to articles about such subjects.

This articles discusses finding relatives, being found, finding messages, finding genealogists and what to tweet about, and tips to search more effectively. The reference section provides overviews of Twitter genealogy groups and genealogy hashtags, and the article ends with an extensive links section.

finding relatives

You can use twitter to find relatives - or at least people with the surname. All twitter users are in the twitter user directory. Just follow the Find People link in the menu along the top and then enter the surname in the search box.

being found

Tip: to make sure more distant relatives find you, you should either tweet about related names or include them in your One Line Bio. You can do so when you sign up and you can change it later through your Settings page. That way your profile page will show up when people google for those names.

finding messages

Twitter Search

Twitter Search is quite flexible, and it pays to get to know it. Nowadays, Twitter show a search box on the right side of the screen, so you can search immediately, but you can still go through the Twitter Search homepage if you like.

You can simply search for words like genealogy and phrases such as family tree, and you will presented with results for all of Twitter in antichronological order.

Tip: it pays to try common mistakes; genealogy should be spelled with an A in it, but many spell it with two O’s instead, so do search for geneology once in a while.

hashtags

Some messages naturally include words like genealogy and phrases such as family tree, others do not. To make it easy to find those messages anyway, you can tag them with a so-called hashtag.
Hashtags are user-grown twitter convention, but are supported by twitter it self; Twitter Search lets you search by hashtag.
Tip: if you see a hashtag, the easiest way to start a search for messages using that hashtag is to simply click that hashtag.

Hashtags provides a detailed explanation of hashtags, including some do’s and don’ts and best practices, such as listing hashtags first. The genealogists on twitter usually use the hashtag #genealogy. Some more specific genealogy hashtags you may want to know about are listed below.

finding genealogists

There are many ways to find like-minded tweeple.

Twitter Search

The most basic way is search for someone you know by name. If you search for genealogy, you will get a list of users whose name or twitter id contains genealogy.

Twitter does not offer the ability to search by One Line Bio. There are specialised search engines such as TweepSearch that do, but a google search of the twitter domain is more likely to find all current instances.

follow lists

There are so many genealogists on twitter already, that you probably know a few, and you can find many others by checking out the follow list and follower lists of those you know.

hashtags

Hashtags make it easy to find others tweeting about a subject, so one way to find other genealogists is to perform a twitter search for #genealogy and then check out the profiles - and perhaps their follow and following lists - of those tweeting.

Tip: don’t bother checking out profiles for those tweeting about MLM Genealogy - they are actually tweeting about their Vampire Blood Trails.

lists

Late last year, Twitter introduced Twitter Lists and there are quite a few twitter lists containing genealogists now.

genealogy companies

Many genealogy companies maintain one or more twitter accounts. I had been maintaining the Genealogy Companies on Twitter resource for a while when Twitter introduced Twitter Lists. The companies on that page are now also on my genealogycompanies list.

I’ve created another few lists you may find helpful. The genealogists list is was intended as complete list of genealogists on twitter, but even with the companies and organisations in their own list, there are too many, as twitter limits lists to 500 accounts.

Twitter groups and directories

Before Twitter introduced Twitter lists, tweeple already organise themselves in third-party groups and directories. These off-site groups and directories may not be so important anymore, but they are still popular, and still a good way to find people with similar interests.

groups

The table below provides an quick overview of genealogy related twitter groups on Twitter Groups, TweetWorks and Twibes.
Twitter Groups organises groups with hashtags, so the overview includes the hashtags associated with these groups.

directories

Tweeple Directories discusses twitter directories. The link section below has direct links to the genealogy listings in a number of popular twitter directories directories, such as Omnee and wefollow.

Follow Friday

Another way to discover genealogists is the Follow Friday. If you search for both the #followfriday (or #FF) and #genealogy hashtags you are sure to find tweets listing several genealogists. You will rarely find someone new that way; many tweet practically the same lists every week, and the the tweeple mentioned are generally in twitter lists, groups and directories already.

twitteristics

Several tools that are primarily aimed at giving general statistics do suggest a few tweeple to follow as part of the results they present. The suggestions of a service like Twitter Grader may be relevant, as it suggestions are based on words in their and your biography, but are often spectacularly wrong; the One Line Bio simply isn’t such a great field to search on.

tweet topics

You can tweet about whatever you want to tweet about, but that isn’t good advice. No one cares what you had for breakfast.
Some topics of interest to other genealogists include news such as new genealogy sites, articles about genealogy topics and reviews of genealogy products, and the occasional special offer.

During conferences, some attendees will live tweet from presentations. Twitter has been and still is instrumental in getting genealogists together on Google Wave.

Twitter can be used for research. The Genealogy Brick Wall Group and Surnames Group were both specifically created for that purpose, but your tweet does not have fit these groups; anything you tweet can be googled, and 140 characters is enough for few names, dates and places.

One final tip: do avoid date format confusion. Do not use an antilogical date format. Always tweet your dates in either GEDCOM format (8 Jan 2010) or ISO format (2010-01-08).

reference section

Twitter Groups

A quick compact overview of genealogy related twitter groups. Links to these groups are in the links section below.

Group namehashtagcreatedcreator
Twitter Groups
Family History Group#genealogy2008-12-10@GetGenInfo
Surnames group#surname2009-02-27@geneabloggers
GraveYard Rabbits Group#GYRabbits2009-03-01 @footnoteMaven
FamHist Group#famhist2009-05-14@lineagekeeper
Genealogy Brick Walls Group#brickwall2009-03-15 @crisafuli
Louisiana Genealogy Group#lagenealogy2009-03-26 @lagenealogy
TweetWorks
Genealogy group 2009-04-15@GenealogyGirl
Twibes
Genealogy 2009-04-02@MissMacLeod
Genetic Genealogy 2009-04-20 @blaine_5

genealogy hashtags

There are hashtag directories, but there is no official directory of hashtags. Anyone can make one up and use a hashtag, and new ones are often created for conferences, but it is best to use the same hashtags others already using.

#ancestry
rare.
#ancestors
rare.
#census
messages about census.
#genealogy
in general use. Also associated with Family History group.
#famhist
used by the FamHist group.
#FF
short hashtag for Follow Friday.
#FHExpo
Family History Expo.
#GA
GeneAward.
#followfriday
original hashtag for Follow Friday
#surnames
used by the Surnames group.
#brickwall
used by the Genealogy Brick Walls group.
#GYRabbits
used by the GraveYard Rabbits.
#genealogie
Dutch and German for genealogy. Rare.
#ahnenforschung
German for ancestral research. Rare.
#familytree
Obvious, but rare.
#family
used a lot, seldom related to genealogy.
#lagenealogy
used by the Louisiana Genealogy Twitter Group.
#My100
MyHeritage (Top) 100
#NGS
Used during the National Genealogy Society (NGS) conference.
#scgs09
Southern California Genealogical Society Genealogy (SCGS) Jamboree 2009
#scigen
scientific genealogy
#SNL
StamboomNederLand
#VV
Short tag for Verborgen Verleden (Hidden Past), Dutch WDYTYA.
#VerVer
Long tag for Verborgen Verleden (Hidden Past), Dutch WDYTYA.
#WDYTYA
Who Do You Think You Are Live (event).

updates

2010-06-03 hashtags

Added a few hashtags: #census, #My100, #VV.

2010-07-22 TwittGroups

GetGenInfo tweeted that the genealogy groups has been deleted.

2010-09-26 more Dutch tags

Added hashtags #SNL and #Verver.

2011-04-23: Omnee, TweetFleet

Omnee and TweetFleet have ceased operation. The broken links have been removed.

2011-06-20: Twitr

Twitr has ceased operation. The broken link has been removed.

links

Twitter

Twitter lists

Twitter Directories

Twitter Groups