“My generation clicks on anything just to see what it does. Your generation doesn’t click on anything unless you know what it does,” said Ancestry.com’s Crista Cowan at the 2011 BYU Family History Conference. “I’m giving you permission to explore,” she said. Ancestry.com Public Profiles is one area we can explore. Profiles allow other researchers to find and approach you. (You don’t have to be a subscriber to create a personal profile. You can do it with a free account. )
Cowan’s own profile includes a picture and a couple of paragraphs about herself. She said that a picture and information make you more approachable. Particularly members of the younger generation don’t trust those who aren’t willing to open up a bit about themselves.
In your profile you can list how you’re willing to help others. You can list what surnames you are researching; you can narrow the focus by specifying the locations and date ranges.
Because “Last signed in” is broke, Cowan frequently updates her profile to show that she’s currently active.
You can list information about yourself: your gender, age group, other characteristics, and favorite websites. (Private message to Crista: The link to your home page is broken.)
Your profile shows your World Archives Project indexing activity. (The World Archives Project is Ancestry.com’s counterpart to FamilySearch Indexing. If you don’t find a project you wish to index on FamilySearch, consider checking the Ancestry.com projects.)
Cowan includes a link to a Facebook page she created for an ancestor, Daniel Shipman. I don’t have time to relate the Facebook portion of her presentation, but it is worth checking into the page so you can see what can be done.
To discover and collaborate with distant cousins, remember Cowan’s admonition: “I’m giving you permission to explore.”