One of the subjects that has comes up now and then is how much to reveal when using a website like GenealogyWise. I would like to address some of the issues that you may want to consider as you use any social networking site whether it is GenealogyWise, Facebook, Twitter or others.
I think one of the important things to remember is that by participating in a social network site, people are able to find you. This allows you to network with other genealogists, find cousins and learn more about your family history research. The negative aspect to being visible on the Internet is that people can find you. Based on how you adjust your privacy settings, people do have access to that information outside of the social network. Google and other search engines “crawl” the internet to find information that they then index and make available. This can be great in that it allows others to find you but if you do not want to be found for whatever reason this can seem like an infringement of privacy.
The following are some tips to consider whether you are on a social network site or even if you post information on message boards or comments on websites.
- Don’t reveal too much about yourself. Just because a social network site asks for information about where you live, what high school you went to, etc…doesn’t mean you have to provide that information. It may not seem like a big deal to you at first but revealing too much could backfire.
- Decide what you are comfortable with and then add privacy settings to control who can see your information. The privacy settings for GenealogyWise are available under the “Settings” link of your member page. You can choose to either show or not show your birthdate and gender. By clicking on “Privacy” from your “Settings” page you can also determine who sees information from your member page and your postings.
- Make a rule about who you will "friend." As genealogists, we often have people “friend” us because of our common passion, genealogy. In the case of those who present to genealogy societies, we may have people who have heard us speak, ask to be our Facebook or GenealogyWise friend. I tell those in my audience to go ahead and friend me but it is also a good idea to send a message with that friend request stating how I know you. That way I know that I “know” you and you are not just a random person wanting to add one more “friend." Let’s face it, in some cases it may not seem like a big deal to friend someone but you are potentially giving them access to a lot of your personal information, thoughts and the thoughts and photos of family and friends.
- Be careful about what you write. Be careful what you write on your friend's wall or as comments to their postings. Remember, they will not be the only people who see it. Their friends will also see it
- Use the Private Message function to send private messages to other members. There are many ways to communicate with other members on GenealogyWise. You can post a comment to their wall, meet them for a private chat in the chat room or send a private message via the private message link on their member page. This option is the best for sending information that you don’t want made public. One time on Facebook, I saw a posting on a mutual friend’s wall where the person included her address and phone number. This may not be information you want your friend’s 500 “friends” to see. Also, sometimes members give personal information out in the GenealogyWise Chat Room. It is important to note that you never know who may be in the Chat Room. If you are providing your phone number, email, or street address do it through the private chat function. You can start a private chat with someone who is in the chat room by clicking on their picture under the Members Online section of the Chat Room.
- You can choose any image as your profile picture, so if you are uncomfortable with your current picture being on the Internet, then choose a graphic or something more obscure.
- Do not post information about other members on GenealogyWise or outside of GenealogyWise without their permission. If you help someone with their genealogy and want to write about it on your blog, ask permission first.
- I think, most of all, remember that this is your public face. This is a way people can find you. If they Google your name, your GenealogyWise member page will be part of the results for your name.