One fun side benefit of doing genealogy work publicly (making your information available to others) is the possibility of making connections with actual living people! Because our family tree is public on Ancestry.com, other people can make use of the information I have or contact me with offers to provide answers to missing pieces in my tree. I've had this experience a few times with people on Ancestry. Sometimes the connections are tentative - I'll see people copy some of my content to their trees, but they won't actually contact me directly. In those cases, I usually snoop at their content, if it is also public. Occasionally I have reached out, but not often. Sometimes I see errors in their trees and I really should probably contact them, but I'm not always 100% certain of my info, and plus I'm still a little shy about all this stuff...
Sometimes, Ancestry will show me a connection to a "Private" tree. So the details are not available to me to view, but Ancestry has identified something that is a match. So sometimes in those cases, I will contact the person and ask if they want to share information. Usually people are very helpful. Many are probably like me - thrilled to pieces that someone else actually gives a shit about the little details I've dug up!
Well, I've just made contact with a distant cousin in Norway. My grandfather was his father's second cousin. We've only just made contact, but he's already filled in a number of holes. Also mentioned that one of my grandfather's brothers was something of a renowned criminal in Norway, so now I'm digging into old Norwegian newspapers. This cousin and I have now connected on Facebook, which is pretty cool. And I found that he and another contact I'd made on Ancestry had actually posted some of my questions to a Norwegian forum hosted on the Norway Digital Archives site. I was doing a Google search on my criminal relative, and pulled up a post with my name in it!
One post even included a picture of a gravestone that my daughter took on her trip to Norway! Really wild. And I was actually having trouble finding links to searchable historic Norwegian newspapers, but this forum pointed me to http://www.nb.no/aviser/ - exactly what I was looking for!
So now I've subscribed to the forum and - using the invaluable Google Translate! - have posted my own "thank you" to the group. When I have a little more time, I'll go through the other information people had posted and see if anything there fills in other holes in my tree.
Genealogy in the digital age! Woo-hoo!