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Top tip - using the Genes Reunited community

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Your top tips needed!

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ProfilePosted byOptionsPost Date


Genes Advisor Report 29 Nov 2011 10:10

We know that many of you have been researching your family history for a long time. So you must have some really useful tips and hints on getting started. We would like to to put together a list of the top 10 (or maybe 20) tips you'd give a beginner just starting to research their family history. Please post your tips below. We'll have a read of them and put the most popular ones in a list to be used here on the site.

Thank you :-)

Karen in the desert

Karen in the desert Report 29 Nov 2011 11:58

Dear Genes,

By looking at the first page of this board, let alone further pages, you should be able to see several threads FULL of very useful and important tips.
Some of those threads which were started years ago have been added to along the way, and unfortunately quite a few of the people who added are no longer with GR, so it is impossible for the information to be transformed nicely into YOUR thread.

Nevertheless it would be a real shame if that information was overlooked or ignored, it is invaluable, so may I suggest that you take a little time to look through the threads and use much of the information already given? :-)



Genes Advisor Report 29 Nov 2011 12:09

Hi Karen, of course we will read the threads. But we wanted to make you aware of what we were doing. It will also be nice to have everything in one place.

Joy Kentish Maid

Joy Kentish Maid Report 29 Nov 2011 12:37

I was under the impression that tips threads in this board would be put in some sort of blog in this site:-


I would still prefer to see the useful tips threads in a tips board separate from genealogy chat.

Requesting members' tips rather disparages the tips threads that have been diligently compiled, in my opinion.

Karen in the desert

Karen in the desert Report 29 Nov 2011 14:06

Dear Genes,

Thank you for your response.
Yes, I agree, everything in one place is ideal :-), so I'm very pleased to hear you'll be going through the threads, I presume c&p'ing the valuable bits....wonderful, since there were, and still are, many extremely knowledgeable GR peeps :-)



Estelle Advisor Report 30 Nov 2011 12:03

Hi Joy, I will take a look at the tips thread too. I have copied everything so far and put it in to a word document as that will be easier to go through.


Gins Report 6 Dec 2011 09:17

Im confused...............are we having top tips on all the boards?


CupCakes Report 6 Dec 2011 12:55

Not sure what you are asking for. Is it just research links or how to use GR.
One of the best things on GR is the 1911 census and the individual postings of Birth Deaths and Marriages.

The way I do it I've found most people I'm looking for - it is only when I get really stuck do I ask for help. Was planning to write a simple language help guide.

The off putting thing is some of the long term researchers not GR staff who jump in and in some cases are very rude or abrupt in how they respond to people.
All this don't do this and don't do that is really inappropriate. They even go to the extent of PM members privately for no reason except for another telling off.
Then there are those shout message posts PLEASE DONT POST ABOUT THE SAME PERSON TWICE with hundreds of posts attached with keep getting bumped up - what for. A reminder ocasionally is OK but as a closed post with no right to respond
:-) :-)


Gins Report 6 Dec 2011 18:14

I didnt know I was being rude or jumping in to tell anyone off Susanne....I thought I was being helpful to new members when posting the thread about duplicate posts

And from a researchers point of view, I help people who are stuck, Im not rude to them and I certainly dont PM them. I do however get a lot of PMs from the people that I helped, thanking me for helping them

I thought this thread was about tips, not attacking other members?


Cynthia Report 6 Dec 2011 19:42

Susanne, this thread is encouraging experienced researchers to share their top tips about family history research and how to start off....

For example.....

To start with yourself and work backwards - verifying as you go to make sure you have the facts right. Family stories may not always be correct - buy certificates to make sure.

Advice as to which sites are recommended for searches : most of us use and Scotland's People (pay per view) etc.

There are a lot of very helpful tips on this site from Jonesey - and Joy keeps a lot of advice nudged up as well.

As for the volunteer helpers (remember no GR staff helps with research on here), they are simply trying to help fellow members with their brickwalls.

If they point out some 'do's' and 'don't's', it's usually for a valid reason. Many newbies do not read the guidelines before they post their query unfortunately.

As for Ginny's thread : this is a long-standing thread which has been given permission to stay on the boards. The first post on it contains the advice about not posting twice because it's very frustrating for helpers to do a lot of research and then find that there was a previous thread about exactly the same thing last week.

The rest of that thread is open for all members to join in on a variety of subjects - and I know for a fact that the camaraderie on there has helped several members through very difficult times. You are welcome to join in any time.

Many of the regulars on that thread are some of the best researchers on the boards and that is the place where they occasionally go back and ask for assistance and advice if they are stuck on a thread.

I do hope that this has helped to clarify the situation for you.



Mistycat Report 7 Dec 2011 00:44

My Top Tip would be (after 20 yrs looking, on and off, as time would allow).... If your well and truly stuck (or even just a little), ask for help from the lovely, extremely experienced, very helpful volunteers on this site..I have learned (and still am) so much from all the advice and tip's given here...

Without them ( you know who you are ) this site would not be as it is....

Thank You So Much

Misty x


CupCakes Report 7 Dec 2011 08:24

My post was a general comment not meant to be personalised.

I consider myself a skilled reasercher - it is my passion and help so many people. I fully agreed with Misty's comment. I always think of GR if I'm up against a brick wall - over the years I've had some wonderful help. The best researchers are the ones who help but keep it professional - always nice to be thanked but who don't expect glowing thank yous.

However I'm now very causious what I write - at an age when I need time to understand what people are saying and carefully check facts before advising anybody. I think of the older people, the newbies and those who are not so IT savvy and the need to encourage them to contribute to the boards. The telling off, don't do this or that so is scarey and in some cases comes across as so patronising.

There is no reason anybody should feel they have to appologise before posting anything. I can understand the nervousness because for a long time I was worried before posting anything.

I've seen some researchers mention wasting their time - does it really matter - it is not a competition to see who is the fastest with the answers.

Yes I know everybody thinks they are being helpful but a gentle quieter approach would be better and more encouraging.

:-) :-)


+++DetEcTive+++ Report 7 Dec 2011 09:40

Cynthia - hear, hear!!

if people read the OP, GR are asking for top 10 (or 20) tips for NEWBIES, assuming they haven't a clue how to research a family.

The threads alluded to by other posters are indeed helpful.........once you realise you need a bit of self help. Although they contain a lot of helpful guidance, they can be a bit daunting to plough through when you are first starting out. The vast majority of people jump in with 2 feet, anxious to record or find information about their ancestors.

A short 'starting out' list is more likely to be read.


Cynthia Report 7 Dec 2011 11:49

Well I'm certainly not a skilled researcher - in fact, my researching skills leave a lot to be desired so I leave that to others whilst trying to watch and learn from them.

The help I generally give is to advise new members to always check in the Search Trees box to see if anyone else is researching their family and I also pm newbies who haven't returned to their thread, and give them advice on how to do so. I have been doing this for several years.

I hope I have always been kind and courteous but I do understand what Susanne means re some replies. There are often cases of 'It's not what you say, it's the way that you say it' .

It does matter about helpers wasting their time though, and is most discourteous.

The frustration comes from members who have been kind enough to spend time and effort rooting around for information for someone, only to find that another member did exactly the same a while ago and the poster has either ignored it or forgotten about it.

Also, it's much easier for those who do the research if all information on a family is kept on one thread rather than separate threads so that they can see a 'picture' being built up and put together.

I do have a query for the GR team....... :-D ......

Despite the changes of last year, many newbies are simply not reading or are not understanding the guidelines before they post their first thread and do not realise that they will not be notified of replies.

Is there yet another way this could be brought clearly to their attention?

Cx :-D


Gins Report 7 Dec 2011 12:08

You are the epitome of kindness.....I mean, you put up with me for start!

Susanne, I took your comment as personal because you mentioned my thread!

Some helpers do come across as quite blunt but the majority are helpful and kind.

I have several times spent hours and hours searching and deciphering information for people only to find that they have another thread with the same information, and on occasions have not even bothered to reply.


Flick Report 7 Dec 2011 17:08


If you are as experienced as you claim, your input on the message boards would be invaluable, and would be really appreciated by those of us who wouldn't dare to claim to be experienced

Have you given any thought to the idea of getting more involved with helping on the boards?

You refer to helping so many, yet the number of posts you have made in nearly five years is very small.

We must assume you give almost all of your help via the PM system......where it goes unsung.

Don't be shy..................


Cynthia Report 7 Dec 2011 19:11

I knew I had this thread somewhere in My Threads...... :-D

Very useful it is too.


Betty Report 8 Dec 2011 12:16

Tip for Missing relations in Census, BMD & Other

Always have a Paper & Pen ready as with some Transcriptions the name can be coppied incorrectly and the name being looked for can be completely different .
Write the name down and look at what some letters could be mistaken for something else. ie W for M or N, F for S or T or L,O for D or A or C,R for B ect ect ;
Leave the forename from the search as sometimes second names can be used or shortened ie Willian Thomas may be Thomas William or even shortened to Tom or Will .
I recently found a friends missing Gr GR Grandmother whose name was Adelaide and unfortunately she was living with her grand parents and they called her Ada . :-D


Cynthia Report 8 Dec 2011 13:46

Very true Betty.

Many people were also known by their middle name.

I knew I had a gt. aunt Delma but had difficulty in tracing her.

Her full name was Adelaide Delma.

Likewise, my OH had an uncle who was affectionately known as 'Big Ben' ******

Nowhere could I find the correct Benjamin ******

His real name was Thomas Lewis ******

:-D :-D



Estelle Advisor Report 8 Dec 2011 14:17

Thanks to you all for your help here. Cynthia, I have stickied the thread you mentioned above.