13 May 2009

Twitter & Facebook: Getting fast answers

Randy Seaver's weekly Best of the Genea-Blogs feature at Genea-Musings is a great idea. While most genea-bloggers read hundreds of blog postings plus distill huge numbers of news resources, Randy's weekly listing helps by providing some really interesting posts.

Tracing the Tribe sometimes finds its way onto Randy's list, which is always very nice. (Thank you, Randy!).

In his latest listing, Randy pointed to Dan Lawyer's Taking Genealogy to the Common Person where Dan wrote about using Twitter and Facebook to get fast answers to a genealogy question.

This past Wednesday I was thinking about how much I’d like to find the death certificate for a particular ancestor when the thought struck me, “I’m sure someone out there knows the answer to this question.” The question for me was, how do I find the death certificate for Warren Dodge, who died about 1888 in Barton County, Kansas?

Well I decided to try a little experiment. What if I could throw that question out to a large audience. Would they respond? Would they answer my question? Here’s what happened.

Dan posed his question on Twitter, which automatically also put the tweet on Facebook. This was on May 6, at 11:47am.

The first response came in six minutes (T=Twitter, FB=Facebook) at 11:53amT, 12:04pmT, 12:14pmFB, 12:31pmFB, 12:51pmFB and 4:14pmT.

Wrote Dan,

All responses were accurate and helpful. As a result of the information provided I went to the Barton County genealogical society website and discovered that the county did not have death certificates that early and the state (as my online experts indicated) did not keep death certificates until 1911. I did not waste any more time looking for a death certificate but rather changed my focus to probate records. I called the Barton County records office and asked if they had a probate record for Warren Dodge who died there in the 1880s. Without even putting me on hold, she looked it up confirmed they had it and is sending me a copy of the whole file. Wow! That was a terrific experience.
A great experiment, Dan - thanks for sharing it. Look at Dan's post to see how he worked in the answers from the two sites.

And thank you, Randy, for this special pointer.

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