Wednesday, October 5, 2016

WikiTree Source-a-Thon!

This past weekend, WikiTree sponsored a Source-a-Thon - a challenge to update as many profiles as possible with legitimate sources.  Since I had a free weekend, and despite the insanity that was work in September, managed to hear about it a few days before it was going to happen, I decided to register and see what it was all about.

I was assigned a "race number" (413), and participants were organized into teams.
My WikiTree Source-a-Thon Race Number
In some cases, people created/joined teams to work in a common geographical area.  Those who had not joined a team beforehand were assigned to existing teams until each team reached 20 people.  I was one of those random late assignees, since I had not seen a team for where I planned to do work - Sweden!  Although later I did discover a Team Europe where folks were working on Swedes, and tried not to step on their toes too often.  :) 

I was assigned to Team Tennessee.  Each team was essentially a smaller group to keep tallies on how many profiles were being sourced throughout the event.  The teams had separate forum threads in which the members posted their updates of sourced profiles.  Periodically the team captains would provide summary information to the WikiTree leaders so they could keep track of the overall progress.  Because of course, there would be prizes for the winners!

The race started at midnight on Saturday morning, and I put my own house in order first.  I had a number of my relatives that had not been documented yet within WikiTree, and that was just a matter of adding the sources I had in Family Tree Maker into the appropriate WikiTree profiles.  Those Irish had a whole pile of Jersey City city directories to enter, so that took awhile.  But I was finished with my 16 profiles by lunch time on Saturday (and I had about 5 hours of sleep in there, too!), and then I moved on to tackle unrelated Swedes, armed with my ArkivDigital subscription and my copy of the Swedish Death Index, 1901-2013.  Oddly for me, I was not feeling at all competitive in this environment (though clearly some folks were!), despite the bragging rights for largest number of profiles sourced by individual and by team.  I just wanted to source the profiles I worked on as well as I could.  In the case of genealogy sources, quality is better than quantity!  Luckily, my team captain felt the same way, and there was no pressure to do any more than I felt comfortable doing.

One of the interesting aspects of this challenge was the online hangout/chat that happened every 2 hours throughout the 3 days.  Some of the WikiTree leaders would run the hangouts, give the updates posted by the teams, and give away prizes randomly selected by race number.  This social interaction aspect was great fun! I had been tossed into a group of complete strangers, and came away with some new friends from the forums and especially the live chats.  It was also a way to stay motivated.  So often in genealogy we are working in a little vacuum of our own, on our own stuff, and it is nice to be able to have some social interaction with folks as obsessed with dead people as you are.  :)  When you get tired, or frustrated by some crazy family linkages, there are other folks right there sympathizing, helping get through the roadblock, and just understanding exactly what you're going through, since they are right there in the trenches with you.

I sourced 100 profiles over the 3 days, and decided to stop there about 2 hours before the end, deciding that I needed to look as something that wasn't Swedish for a bit.  :)  In my continuing 2016 genealogy winning streak, I also won one of the prizes in a 4 am giveaway.  All in all, an exhausting but fun experience. I will probably do it again sometime.  But not until I've had several months to catch up on sleep!

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