Using Viewmate effectively #hungary
Tom Venetianer <tom.vene@...>
Viewmate is an extraordinary resource (*). It allows publishing
photos, documents, vital records and everything else one can imagine.
It's almost certain that somebody will decipher what the publisher's
However my experience indicates that many publishers undermine their
effort to get answers to their questions. Allow me to offer some tips
on how to improve your chances to discover what you are looking for.
1) *Phrase carefully* your questions. Sometimes they are very
confusing. "I would like to know what is written in the 2nd column".
>from left to right or vice versa? On which line? Instead of such a
vague question, why not mark the column in question with a number or
by circling it? "Do you recognize the person on this photo?" Where
and when was it taken? Can you determine the country or place? In
other words, give as many clues as you can and your chances for an
answer will increase.
2) Size the scan to allow the *best reading*. Try it yourself on your
computer and see if you can view the scan clearly. If the original is
bad, make a xerox copy and reinforce the writing with a black pen,
then scan. Even photographs can be improved by Xeroxing them. Too
small and too large scans are difficult to read mainly if they
contain old handwriting. Small scans mix up letters, large scans can
3) Use the *correct resolution*. For viewing a picture or handwriting
on the screen 72 dots per inch are recommended (and sufficient).
Larger resolutions only serve to enlarge the picture, extending their
downloading time and, in some cases, turning the scan illegible.
4) Scan in *black and white*. Usually it reads better then color
scans, mainly handwritings. Even old photographs show better in grays
then in their original sepia color.
5) *Improve scans* before publishing them. Most of the scanning
programs allow to improve contrast, luminosity and brightness. Try
these controls and find the best match by trial and error. This is
specially important when publishing tombstone inscriptions which may
look faded on the original picture. Augmenting contrast and balancing
luminosity may do the trick of turning a bad photo into something
6) Mention the *full URL path* to your scan.
(where 1000 is the number of your picture) takes one directly to your
scan, whereas http://data.jewishgen.org/viewmate/toview.html only
shows Viewmate's entry page. And *don't forget* to mention the
Viewmate number of your picture!
7) Corollary of the above: *always* add "http://" to the URL address.
Inside an email message such addressing scheme allows
(double)clicking on it and jumping directly to the pointed page.
Without that prefix one is forced to copy the address, switch to the
browser and paste it in the location box.
8) *Repeat your question* on the page containing your scan. People
read your message, then try to decipher your request jumping to the
pointed page. Meantime they already forgot your question.
9) Send emails *thanking* for all replies received, even those which
missed the answer. Courtesy pays off in future requests.
I hope you will find this useful.
Wishing to all a "git yur" :-)
(*) Show your appreciation for this extraordinary service by visiting