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This site seems a really good idea but, having uploaded a gedcom, I am a bit confused as to how to use it.

I managed to contact someone by noting that she turned up on both a surname search and a place search, however we were so distantly related that we weren't much help to each other.

Is this how we are supposed to use the site?

Also I hear of merging place names. Is this something I am supposed to do?

My contact and I both felt that we may not have time to do the work necessary to use this site.

Would welcome advice or comments.

What you are doing is right, you have just had bad luck in that someone researching the same place as you and the same surname as you doesn't have people in common in your tree.

Basically, Evidentree is all about making contact with people that are researching the same names and places as you. Often, these people will have access to records that you don't have, information about people you didn't yet know you were related too, the ability to visit and photograph places you can't, etc.
You can also start or join groups that are dedicated to surnames or places you research - much like you can do at Facebook but with the advantage that we are a social network designed by family historians for family historians.

There are many more features coming soon including a community library and more social networking possibilities.

Place merges are completely optional. If you come across places you know about that appear to be duplicated, spelled wrong, defined incorrectly... you can help tidy Evidentree by suggesting a merge to a better defined place. It is 100% up to every user if they do this or not. We just like to offer our users the ability to really be involved in improving and building the community.

We hope that you and your contact don't give up on Evidentree at this early stage. Given time and our continues growth, you are bound to find the site helpful at some time in the near future.

Thanks. I am sure I will continue to use the site as am keen to explore all ways of adding to my tree. It is just that there are so many ways and so little time!