#31WBGB: Participate in an Online Genealogy Group

#31WGBGWelcome to Week 9 of 31 Weeks to a Better Genealogy Blog!

Our topic this week is participating in online genealogy groups.  These could be forums, mailing lists, message boards, facebook groups, etc.

Why Should We Participate in Online Genealogy Groups?

There are three main reasons to participate in online communities:

  1. Profile Building – if you put consistent time into an online group, you can build a significant profile in the genealogy community.  Keep in mind the “What’s In It For Me” perspective of the other group members.  If you are able to provide value in the form of information, advice, or support, you are more likely to develop fans among the other members.
  2. Driving Traffic — when you provide value and become a resource to others in the forum, they will want to know more about you and will be more likely to click over to your blog.
  3. Understanding the genealogy niche – Not only will you learn about the genealogy niche that the forum pertains to, but also you’ll get a lot of ideas for topics to write about on your blog.  Keep your eyes open for questions being asked repeatedly and then write posts to answer them.

Finding Online Groups

There are plenty of groups around that you could participate in.  Some categories include:

  • Groups related to being or becoming a professional genealogist
  • Surname or locality groups
  • Genealogy software groups

Take a look at Ancestry’s message boards, Genforum’s forums, RootsWeb mailing lists, and GenealogyWise groups.  Also search Facebook for “genealogy groups.”  And don’t forget about Google – a search for “Genealogy Forums” will turn up other possibilities.

Action Items

  1. Join an online genealogy group that is geared toward one of your interests.  If you are already a member of one or more groups, then:
  2. Spend 10-15 minutes participating.  Notice the bold font.  Don’t just lurk.  Get in there and join the conversation.
  3. Tell us about your experience in the comments section:  a) what group(s) did you join (or what groups are you already a member of)? b) did you come out of lurkdom in any groups this week?

If you are just joining us, then “welcome.” You can read the kick-off post about 31 Weeks to a Better Genealogy Blog here.  Feel free to start with this week’s reading and action items – you are not behind!


The giveaway this week is a Legacy webinar (affiliate link) titled Backing Up Your Data (something we all need to do regularly). The description of this webinar from the Legacy site says:

Have you ever experienced a data loss when it comes to your genealogy research? Not yet? Well if not, have you prepared for what might happen if your hard drive fails? What if your laptop is lost or stolen? Learn the basics of backing up all your genealogy data including identifying data, common backup methods and how to use free online programs to help you make sure your data will always be available! Participants will learn various methods for backing up their genealogy data including many free online programs such as DropBox, Google Docs, Picasa and more! Join webinar host, Geoff Rasmussen, and Google for Genealogists’ presenter, Thomas MacEntee for this 91-minute session.

To enter for a chance to win this CD, leave a comment below with your answers to the questions in Action Item #3 (above).  One winner will be selected randomly. Giveaway ends at 11:59 Eastern time on Saturday, September 3, 2011.

Series Navigation<< #31WBGB: Interlink Your Old Blog Posts#31WBGB: Set Up Monitoring Alerts >>

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  1. says

    Hi Tonia,
    I just came across your site and had to tell you that you are doing a great job. I’m just getting back started with my family research and working on my site, so not much up there yet.

    I have been looking for some discussion groups but it seems that there is not very much going on with the ones I have found so far but I will keep looking. I am determined.

    I’m going back to the beginning of your series; 31 Weeks to a Better Genealogy Blog and see what I’ve missed.

    Keep up the good work.
    Monna Ellithorpe´s last blog post ..Talk About Dysfunctional…Family History Files Are A Mess

    • Tonia Kendrick says

      There is not always a lot going on with some of the groups – especially those dedicated to surnames or localities. I like to subscribe to them via RSS, so that I don’t miss anything, especially since they are updated more sporadically.

  2. says

    Hi Tonia:
    I am already a member of several different Rootsweb lists: several for locations: Lackawanna County, PA; Lithuania; Horry County, SC; I am a former member of a surname list: Littleton-L. I am also a subscriber to a couple Ancestry.com message boards: one for Wales and one for Craven County, NC. I am also a member of the Legacy user group.
    I made a few good connections through the Rootsweb lists, but the others have not had any postings that interested me enough to participate. The number of emails also can lead to a daily email delete chore. I hesitate from cancelling membership because you never know when you might find something you can relate to, or if you might find someone who can help with a brick wall.
    Debra Newton-Carter´s last blog post ..The Winter of 1864–an Amanuensis Monday follow-up

    • Tonia Kendrick says

      Oh, I know what you mean. I’m on a couple of lists that seem like they are more work than they are worth. . .then there will be that post that makes it all worthwhile. You just never know.

      • says

        Twitter: michaelhait
        The surname and locality mailing lists and message boards hit their peak back in 1998-2001 or so. Back before actual record images were available online. I used them a lot back then, and made so many wonderful connections with other researchers. I still subscribe (and get my daily digest emails of all of the new messages), but they just don’t have the same effectiveness.
        Michael Hait´s last blog post ..31 Weeks to a Better Genealogy Blog Week 9: Online genealogy groups

      • says

        There was one really great response I had from a query I had posted on the Lackawanna-L about coal miners, and I received a whole collection of photos and a really great book source from one list member. Like you said…you just never know!

    • Tonia Kendrick says

      Michael, I’m glad you mentioned ProGen in your post – a great example of an online group that provides many benefits.

  3. says

    Another week without a post for this, but it’s something I’ve been working on doing all along, really – not joining any one particular group, but simply becoming more participatory in all the social media I’m learning to use – twitter, e-mail with new cousins, following the Trans. Geneal. List, etc. I didn’t do a lot of talking this week, or even any posting. But I realized that’s because I’ve been participating in an RL genealogy forum – my local historical society. I logged several hours of volunteer work today and got to know more of the people involved therewith, so instead of doing this mingling online, I did it in the real world. Perhaps not exactly the assignment, but I suppose it works!
    Dana´s last blog post ..Wordless Wednesday: Maude (Goble) McDonald and Craig Wyman McDonald Jr.

    • Tonia Kendrick says

      I didn’t do much (if any) participating last week either – mostly because I’ve been busy setting up a new online group.

      This, like most of the other assignments, is just another tool in your toolbox. You don’t have to use every tool every time. RL groups are good, too. : )

  4. says

    I think I realised early on that my suranmes are not ones other people are researching much. I have been on message boards of http://www.ancestry.co.uk and http://www.genesreunited.co.uk for years but only had occasional success – with contact from 3 distant unknown cousins. Still I live in hope and keep checking. I have occasionally used Rootsweb and did get an extremely useful reference for ressearching my Donaldson mariner links. My blog, found via a search engine, recently produced my closest and best contact.
    Susan D.´s last blog post ..New Season – New Look Blog

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