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Lost Cousins Referrals

Discussion in 'Ask Peter' started by Alexander Bisset, Apr 2, 2014.

  1. Alexander Bisset

    Alexander Bisset Administrator Staff Member

    Hi Peter,

    I just sent a referral to a cousin of mine but only realised after I sent it that I should have marked it as a relative referral, can I as a user change its status or is that something you need to do?
  2. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    Unfortunately I can't change it because all relative referrals begin with 'LCR', so redefining it would change the code that your relative will enter.

    What I would suggest is that you send a new referral, this time as a relative (and including any relatives on your My Ancestors page which you share with them). If your relative joins before receiving the second email I can update it with the new code provided he or she hasn't made any entries.

    I would suggest that when you send the second referral you include a note to explain that the first should be ignored.
  3. alanmack

    alanmack LostCousins Member

    Hi Peter,
    I didn't even realise there was a difference. I'm probably not alone in that either so maybe something for the next newletter perhaps to explain?

    • Agree Agree x 2
  4. Liberty

    Liberty LostCousins Megastar

    Also to explain why it matters.:)
  5. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    People simply don't read what I write in the newsletter about the LostCousins site - they are (perhaps understandably) more interested in the news and other articles. For example there was an article in February which highlighted one of the key aspects of cousin referrals; in November I ran a competition which explained the merits of referring cousins. Last year there were other articles in August, April, and January.

    The How referrals work link at the top of the My Referrals page also explains the difference between friend and relative referrals (shouldn't the fact that there are two buttons prompt the question why?).

    Only 4821 members have ever used their My Referrals page, whether for friends or relatives. Doesn't it make sense to invite all of your known cousins who are active researchers to join (or to link with them if they have already joined) - why wouldn't you? After all, even a 1st cousin only shares half of our tree so we can't possibly make more than a fraction of the connections that they would if they joined in their own right.
  6. alanmack

    alanmack LostCousins Member

    Thank you, Peter. I'll go back and look at them:oops:!!

  7. Liberty

    Liberty LostCousins Megastar

    What happened to the November competition? Did we ever hear?
    • Agree Agree x 1
  8. Liberty

    Liberty LostCousins Megastar

    My method on referrals is - when I make contact with a (distant) relative- I often ask if they would like to join LC. Some of them do, and I have added a few referrals that way (3, I think). Some of them don't take the bait and I leave it there. This is because I have sent out a few 'unsolicited' referrals and it is quite a lot of effort flagging up all the shared cousins (which is largely the point, not so?) for someone who isn't going to accept the invitation. ( I think I have another 3 sitting on 'my referrals' page as 'pending'.)

    While I wouldn't know why 55,000 of 60,000 people have never tried a referral, I can see why it hasn't been a runaway success with those who have tried it. We have discussed elsewhere on this forum the people who say 'no thanks,I prefer to use ancestry hints'. Unfortunately, I fear referrals are only going to take off when the response from those told about LC is 'Ooh yes please, what a wonderful idea'
    • Agree Agree x 2
  9. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    There is a certain amount of effort involved and I can appreciate that it can take a few minutes (especially for the handful of members like you who have entered thousands of relatives), but surely it would be cruel to expect our cousins to have to re-input the relatives we share with them? This can happen whether we refer them or not - currently two-thirds of matches are between people who were already in touch, which means there has been a lot of duplicated effort.

    Also, once we've referred one person who shares a particular line we can use that referral as a template for others.

    No site is perfect for everyone, but someone you're prepared to trust with your own research is likely to appreciate the accuracy and confidentiality that LostCousins offers.
  10. Bryman

    Bryman LostCousins Megastar

    Perhaps that might be an area that could benefit from a little more explanation. I am familiar with the list of ancestor references which can be ticked but how can that be used as a template? Can previous referral lists be recalled and modified/reused?
    • Agree Agree x 1
  11. Liberty

    Liberty LostCousins Megastar

    Peter, I'm not complaining about the system, just expanding on the view from where I am. Where I have found someone with relatives in common, I am more than happy to share what I have, whether it is via email or through providing references on LC.
    I have, though, 3 experiences of compiling the 'relatives in common' for people who have not taken up the referral. (I take the point about templates, but I seem to be at the stage where I am contacting people related to me about 6 generations back, on opposite points on the expanding circle of ancestors, so not much in common from one to another.)
    Merely to send a referral without the references is not much more persuasive than my present system of including the invitation in a message where we exchange information. (Possibly it is less so, as an email from an organisation inviting you to join can be offputting, even when the text includes a phrase like 'your relative Peter Calver thinks you would like LC as much as he does')
    I do invite people to join, but there isn't much uptake, and I don't think this is a fault in my approach. I generally include a recommendation, saying, 'take a look at the site and if you are interested in joining, let me know because I can provide you with some useful refs to start you off'.

    I may have a look back through my exchanged messages via Ancestry and Genes Reunited and see if there is anyone I can re-invite. I can send out referrals, (perhaps salted with just a few refs) but if there is no uptake, what then?
  12. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    Liberty, you can send reminders to anyone who hasn't registered and if you'd rather use your own text sent from your own email program you can copy and paste from the pro forma that's displayed for your approval. Following up anyone who hasn't responded shouldn't take more than a minute or two.

    You can even personalise the initial email by not providing the person's email address and instead sending an email or message you compose yourself which includes the referral code (I think it's important to personalise any referral emails because these days all of us are used to getting invitations from people we barely know to join Facebook or LinkedIn). Alternatively, if you're inviting someone you've met on Genes Reunited or Ancestry you could allow the standard referral to be sent but follow up with a message sent through GR or Ancestry - this will not only reinforce the invitation but prove that the referral email really did originate from you rather than being spam.

    I'd advise against sending referrals which include only a few of the relatives you share because there's no way of adding the others on later - other than reinputting them one by one which, after all, is what we're trying to avoid. But you could send out an email in advance of doing the referral to check that there is indeed some interest.

    One of the big advantages of sending out referrals to cousins we've found on other sites is that it allows them to connect with mutual cousins (who are LostCousins members) without any involvement on our part - this is a fulfilling experience for all concerned, and is likely to encourage them to enter data from their other lines.
  13. Liberty

    Liberty LostCousins Megastar

    Hmm. It's an 'interesting' question of how hard to push. I am talking about a situation where I have made a contact with someone whose tree touches mine. Sometimes the connection is X generations back, sometimes it's via marriage - generally I am not finding lost 2nd cousins (well, never). On the basis of a shared interest in family history I recommend LC, but our acquaintance is not much more than e.g. one struck up on a long train journey. If I send another recommendation to join, why should they pay more attention than they did the first time?

    As it is, I deduce that I have made more effort to recruit than 90-95% of LC members.

    I entirely take the point about advantages of sending out referrals to cousins we've found on other sites, but - as you doubtless realise - you are preaching to the converted. (There is an analogy here about preaching, conversion, and how many times you try but I don't think I want to go down that road). Personally, I think you have the equivalent of the mousetrap of which Ralph Waldo Emerson supposedly said "Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door." However, the world seems to be unaware, and more mysteriously, not interested when made aware.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  14. Alexander Bisset

    Alexander Bisset Administrator Staff Member

    Hmm that's interesting. its a shame there isn't a way of duplicating the entries for known cousins after the referral process, other than relying on them entering the data themselves.

    This would be a useful feature to add in any future revamp of the site although I appreciate that it is not possible at present.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  15. alanmack

    alanmack LostCousins Member

    . . . a tick box scheme, household by household would be ideal in most cases.


    Amended to clarify:

    a tick box option to select the whole household would streamline matters considerably, since that is how the majority of one's entries are put on LC. Hope that now makes sense.
  16. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    I wanted to have this feature from the beginning, but the programmer was unable to come up with any way of implementing it that seemed viable - it might seem simple and straightforward, but there were all sorts of logical issues that cropped up. It's therefore extremely unlikely that it could be added now.

    Fortunately in practice we're relatively unlikely to discover whole swathes of new relatives that we want to share with our cousins.
  17. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    There are two reason why you probably won't find lost 2nd cousins either through my site or any other - one is that you have relatively few 2nd cousins (typically you'll have about 4 or 5 times as many 3rd cousins and 20 times as many 4th cousins); the other reason is that you probably already know the ones who are interested in family history (since the first thing we all do when we start is ask around within the family).

    If you find someone who is only related to you by marriage you're likely to have very few relatives on your My Ancestors page who are relevant - so sending them a cousin referral would be easy.

    (I assume you're not talking about cousins - clearly you would have a much closer relationship with them.)

    Why do I repeat advice in my newsletters? Because most people either missed it the first time or have forgotten about it. Relatively few people do something there and then - most of us require some prompting (just ask my wife!). Sending a reminder is merely recognising that people are human and have the same human failings as we do.

    That's not necessarily the case - many members don't use their My Referrals page when they are recommending LostCousins, often because they're talking to many people at the same time, for example on a forum or through a family history society.

    However whilst recommending LostCousins to the cousins you know obviously has some benefit for the rest of the membership (some of whom will turn out to be their 'lost cousins'), surely the main reason to do it is to help yourself and your cousins? For a start, I can't think of any other family history site that makes it as easy to manage your contacts, or where the site administrator will put in so much effort (or indeed any effort at all) to find people whose email addresses stop working.

    LostCousins is all about people helping themselves and their cousins - when you recommend the site to your cousins (or anyone else) you shouldn't be doing it because you want to help me, but because you want to help them!
  18. Liberty

    Liberty LostCousins Megastar

    Peter, regardless of who I think the recommendation/referral is helping (you, me, them, the world in general) -I don't seem to get them interested. Maybe the answer is impassioned and entertaining presentations at family history events.

    As to what help comes from being part of LC, maybe the members have varying reasons, and draw varying benefits. I hadn't thought that managing my contacts was a big plus, but maybe it's important to others.

    I'm still not convinced about the value of sending a reminder. Useful if someone has merely forgotten to act or respond to the polite invitation, but if they have not responded because 'a refusal might offend' as the expression used to be, pressing the point will not help. (And you're right that I was not referring to cousins that I know personally, but people I've met through genealogy sites. Mind you, I wouldn't make any assumptions about how close I might be to any first cousins I have.)

    Actually, though I haven't found any 2nd cousins of my own, I did make contact with my mother's (unsuspected) 2nd cousin via Genes reunited, and she is one of the people I got to join LC. My mother's first cousin, and her brother (my uncle) have been doing family history for a long time, and like doing things their own way.
  19. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    It seems amazing that after going to so much effort to find their cousins in the first place people would allow themselves to lose contact, yet it happens all the time.

    My experience suggests it often happens because the contacts have been made through different sites, and with some sites you can no longer contact people once you stop paying a subscription (even those you've been in touch with before). Even when people have exchanged email addresses they have to remember to tell their contacts when their address changes. Some people are very good at doing this - but most aren't.
  20. alanmack

    alanmack LostCousins Member

    Right, I've read all through the Newsletter pieces mentioned by Peter and I have to say I was little the wiser about the actual Referral process. It is four years since I first attempted my one and only previous Referral and I can't remember anything about that occasion, only that I was disappointed by the reaction/result. I am wondering if there have been changes to the process in the last four years?

    So I have essayed another, as yet hypothetical, Referral to a 2nd cousin not yet asked. Oooh! What a palaver! I had carefully to go through my 320 entries to pick up just the 39 relevant ones following Peter's advice in an earlier post. I repeat the suggestion I made after my dry run earlier - a tick box to select each complete household would be a great time saver. You can then untick any individuals not required one-by-one. On top of that you then have to select their relationship to your "Refer-ee". Quite time consuming, but I was determined to complete this comparatively small exercise regardless. The case where one needed to select the details of hundreds of shared relatives would be quite daunting.

    I must say if I had known how long-winded the process steps would be I might have put my small job off for another day. On the other hand knowing exactly what to expect might equally encourage the trepidacious. I believe the My Referrals page needs recasting to tell members exactly what they have to do and a bit of streamlining would stop them being put off completion. It certainly needs something.

    This IS criticism, Peter, but I hope it will be seen as of constructive feedback in nature.


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