Monday, February 2, 2009

Old fashioned barn raising at FamilySearch wiki

FamilySearch has announced an old-fashioned barn raising at the FamilySearch Wiki. You can find the Wiki at or by going to and... and...

Oops. You'd think they'd stick a link to the Wiki on the Help menu of Oh, well. Go directly to FamilySearch's first barn raising at Maryland Barn Raising Tasks.

According to the Wiki,

On a frontier homestead, the largest and most complex structure was usually the barn. Because barns were built with massive posts and beams that depended on each other for strength, their heavy walls had to be built separately and then raised by a crowd. Settlers who wanted a barn needed a barn raising -- a party or social event in which the community would help complete the heavy work quickly. Wikis have barn raisings too -- short, focused community efforts to create or revise content relating to a single topic such as "genealogical research in Maryland."

This first barn raising project is creating pages to help genealogy researchers with Maryland ancestors. England will be next.

"A barn raising is accomplished with volunteers of all expertise levels -- from total beginners to master craftsmen," said Michael Ritchey, Community Content Coordinator for FamilySearch. Anyone can help out, whether or not you understand how to change wiki pages, or even whether or not you know anything about Maryland genealogy research. The list of tasks on the Maryland barn raising page includes "Simple tasks" that "support the writing of articles." One example is using Google to find Maryland maps online and contacting Michael Ritchey with your results.


There's no easy way to contact Ritchey's team to volunteer for a task until you register on the Wiki. Fortunately, a tutorial can help you through the process of registering and a you can print the registration instructions from a wiki article. (Click here to see the tutorial. Click here to see a printable copy of the wiki registration instructions.) Some day in the future you won't have to register separately for,, and Until that day comes, you have to get a separate login for each of these parts of the family.

If you want to volunteer but don't feel confident enough to edit the Wiki pages yourself, I'm guessing you can contact Ritchey's team by sending information about the task you wish to do using one of these two methods:

  1. If you are able to register and log into the wiki, send Ritchey a message by clicking on this URL:
  2. Otherwise send a message to FamilySearch support and ask that it be forwarded to the FamilySearch Wiki team. Try this link or send the e-mail to

Come help create this next-generation genealogical research guide.

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