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"Genealogy Chat" - see Phil's update page 2

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ProfilePosted byOptionsPost Date


JaneyCanuck Report 18 May 2011 21:05

There are no instructions on the main "Genealogy Chat" board page, or in a pinned post as there is at the top as on Find Ancestors, to explain what this board is for and how to use it.

"Genealogy Chat" has immediately turned into just another look-up/trying-to-find board.

This is exactly what happened with "Records Office" and "Tips" in the past -- they had been assigned particular functions, but nobody paid any attention, and where requests for help were posted depended largely on what crowd regular users hung out with, as far as I could tell.

New users, which there do seem to be a lot of, are posting randomly on the new boards. There are ancestral hunts on General Chat as well.

The old boards, some time ago, did have notices at the top saying "trying to find" posts would be removed from boards other than the ones for that purpose.

The boards need *clear* capsule descriptions/discussions at the top -- both of what they are for and of what they are *not* for.

Why? No, not because I'm a nitpicking traffic cop wannabe.

Because when people post the "find ancestors" type of request on boards that are not intended for the "find ancestors" type of request, there is that much more chance we are going to find them duplicating their request on another board.

And because when people post trying-to-find type requests elsewhere than on Find Ancestors, there isn't even the minimal chance they will have read the instructions pined on that board that there is if they post there -- all about offering detailed information, etc., and especially about not posting duplicates.

The functions of the boards as they are now organized are really quite clear (with some exceptions, like where records look-up offers belong).

Could we get some effort from the site management to make the functions of the various boards clear to users, by posting clear descriptions and instructions at the top of each?

And how about a function where users can request review of a thread on the plainly wrong board -- like an ancestor search on General Chat or Genealogy Chat -- and the site management would *move* the thread to where it belongs?

(I use other internet forums where this is done quite regularly by moderators, leaving behind a standard-form notice with a link to the new location ... which of course can't be done here because this dinosaurus of a site still denies us html capacity in posts ...)

Please, before this just becomes another free-for-all with messages posted randomly around the site and duplications appearing regularly.


grannyfranny Report 18 May 2011 22:20

The best thing the helpers could do, (and sometimes do), is not to answer the questions put on the wrong boards, just put up a message 'if you post this on the find ancestors board, one of the regular volunteer helpers will quickly come to your assistance'. No other message, nothing suggesting they have done wrong.
That way, the threads will quickly move down, the OP will hopefully post correctly, and any newbie having a quick look round might work out which is the correct place to post.


SylviaInCanada Report 18 May 2011 22:42

Good idea, granny



Nannylicious Report 18 May 2011 22:57

Following on from JaneyCanuck's comment about her being a traffic cop wannabe, how about we take the view that while GR are the PCs of the site, the more experienced users could adopt the role of "specials"?

If someone posts on an incorrect board, the first person to pick up the fact that it is in the wrong place simply replies "Sorry, wrong board, try posting this request/information on ........."

The next person to read the posting would see the notice and, hopefully, the line would stop there.

Gradually, people might get the overall message and think carefully about where to post their request.

It's only a suggestion and I know that sometimes knowing where to post can be a tricky one - I've made the mistake myself in the past.


jax Report 18 May 2011 22:59

It is a good idea but there is always someone who will give the info they are after. because they can !!!

I have seen it many a time when I have given instructions how to use freebmd so the poster can enjoy finding info for themselves.

Ten minutes later someone will post the said births ect.... Why?....because they can!!!

so good idea but probably will not work



Nannylicious Report 18 May 2011 23:08

I suppose you're right and I wouldn't want to stifle the enthusiasm and generosity of those very helpful members (who have been a blessing to me in the past). It's just that I think people get lazyminded about the boards which could actually be detrimental to them in the long run.

If I have time to help someone then I would only search the relevant board and (for example) ignore genealogy chat in preference to Find Ancestors.


grannyfranny Report 18 May 2011 23:09

Ermm, hasn't the 'specials' been tried - and failed? (the help clinic) trying to limit the number of helpers chipping in.
Maybe instead of trying to educate the posters, the helpers should be trained, when to offer suggestions of where to look, or when to step in for the really stuck.


SylviaInCanada Report 19 May 2011 00:36


we helpers assume that anyone who posts asking a question requires help

the problem is making sure they post those requests on the "proper" board.

To me, that basically means, that General Chat is not the "proper" board.

But, as jax says, it matters not how you "train" the helpers ............someone will always ignore their training.

and anyway, I object to the word "train"

I think that is insulting!

Tell me please why I was able to use the boards correctly the very first itme I tried?

I'll tell you .................... I found the Boards the very first day I joined the site. I looked at every Board, and worked out what was going on.

It was obvious that General and Chat were not the places to ask deep questions, and Tips and Record Office just made sense.

There were not any GR "Tips" etc back in April 2004 ............... I just used common sense.

and I was not an expert on the web. I had only had internet for a year, and until joining here and FR, had used it only for emails. So these two sites really were my education into what could be found.

But it really is the people asking questions who need to know where to ask the questions ....... ie, be educated on how to use the site .............. not the helpers who need to be trained in how to "offer suggestions".



SylviaInCanada Report 19 May 2011 01:08

As far as the Help Clinic was concerned, it was not an attempt to reduce the number of helpers chipping in .......... so far as I know, no-one has ever complained about several helpers working together on a thread to solve a problem.

The problem with the Living Relatives Board, apart from the showing of information on living people, is that we have no idea what anyone else has found ......... so are threads getting answers from 1, 10 or 20 people? All the same information, or different?

The Help Clinic was a somewhat ill-conceived idea to provide an obvious thread where people could ask questions.

I speak as one of the very first to be approached to be a "special advisor" ................ and eventually turned it down after an exchange of several emails showed me how badly conceived the plan was. In successive emails, I was offered free membership in GR for a year, free access to records on FMP, and finally to SP

The best thing about this site is the help provided on the Boards, and the best thing about the help provided is the way in which helpers will work together to provide information, bouncing ideas and theories off each other to break down brick walls ...... using information obtained from every site you might imagine.

Those special helpers were limited to using GR records, plus FP and SP. NO other sites could be used or even referenced

After most of the ones asked to be "specials" had turned down the offer, GR opened it up to volunteers.

At least one of them admitted volunteering because they wanted access to SP for their own research. Another "volunteer" had very limited experience, and indeed demonstrated very little knowledge of research as evidenced by postings.

The end result was what had been feared by those approached earlier ................... 10 people with the title "special" were considered to be truly special and different, much more experienced than anyone else on the boards. But at the same time they could not provide the right kind of help.

They could not access Australian records, nor direct anyone to sites that would help. Same thing applied to US records, passenger lists, IGI, etc etc

If you remember, the Help Clinic basically degenerated into a thread for people wanting look-ups on SP to save themselves the cost of pay-per-view .................... which affected the money received by that site!

I know of several helpers who would pm someone awho had asked a question after seeing postings by 2 or 3 "specials" saying that they couldn't help with the question.

It really is completely impractical to designate a few people as "special" with no basis on which to do that, when all are helpers simply volunteering to help and are paying the same subscription to the site as everyone else.



jax Report 19 May 2011 01:38

It is not just new people that post their look up there. Some have been posting a few years.

I could name one person that has probably posted over 100 look up requests when it was Tips and is still continuing on genealogy chat...dont know why maybe this person has never ventured past that board?? or was told in the past from someone on the chat board to "Post on Tips"

Recently I saw a look up post on chat and someone said" you will get more help if you post this on Tips"...or words to that effect



JaneyCanuck Report 19 May 2011 16:42

Heh, now, I think Pamela did say: the more experienced users could adopt the role of "specials"?

Not get appointed, just self-appoint. ;)

The first thing that came to my mind was when I was on a committee with some senior cops in the Attorney General's office here, and how those cops hated special constables!

I think that's what we've tried to do, as some have said -- post the link to the duplicate thread, or the directions to the right board ... but when others don't follow suit, or we ourselves just think Sigh, all right, let's get on with it ... it falls through.

a facility for submitting a "wrong board" review request, with the thread promptly moved to the right board


clear, obvious instructions on each board stating what it is for and how to use it

are what is needed.


AnninGlos Report 19 May 2011 21:51

Many times I have posted 'if you post this on the find ancestors board, (Or previously Records) one of the regular volunteer helpers will quickly come to your assistance'. type messages and immediately somebody has offered assistance so I don't bother any more.


Nannylicious Report 19 May 2011 22:15

Forgive my naivety but I thought the "help" option was for technical problems with the site or if I wished to raise a query specifically with the organisers who set up the site in the first place.

As to the replies to requests for genealogy help, are you saying that there is a specific group of people who have been asked to act as advisors? I notice that some people's names crop up more than others when requests for information are answered but assumed that these were very kind and knowledgeable folk who perhaps had a bit of time on their hands.

I don't wish to denegrate anyone....I'm just trying to understand the set up.


grannyfranny Report 19 May 2011 22:18

That's why the 'helpers' need guidelines. If no one answered wrongly placed messages, then posters might stop and think.


jax Report 19 May 2011 22:23

Everyone who uses these boards could be a "helper" if that is what they wanted to do.



Nannylicious Report 19 May 2011 22:28

When I joined GR, I don't recall being told that there would be a specific group of people (helpers) who would answer my queries. I was led to believe that by posting a request, another GR member (whoever that might be) would possibly answer my query/help with a look up etc. etc.

I imagined the boards to operate in a similar way to tree searches in that a member could post a request and someone/anyone with the answer might reply if they had the knowledge or time to find out.

In that way, an individual request would be thrown open for anyone to pick it up. Is this not the case?


jax Report 19 May 2011 22:32

There is not a specific group of people (helpers) as such anyone who wants to help can.

Some help more than others

Sylvia mentioned the Help clinc which started last november but was axed shortly afterwards



JaneyCanuck Report 19 May 2011 22:40

Pamela -- a few months back, the management tried something new. We figure it was well-intentioned, but it was a bomb.

They set up the "Help Clinic" and selected 10 members, gave them gold stars to recognize members' contributions to the board (they meant to recognize *all* members), gave them free access to a lot of records, and made the board for them to reply to questions only.

This was very frustrating for other members, for several reasons, one being the fact that it's *teamwork* that is so often the reason for our successes here.

Tree searches are for each member to do for themself -- search trees here, find someone who looks related, make private contact.

The boards are open to all, and while many users (who haven't familiarized themselves with the boards) have the impression that their posts will be seen and answered by related people, the fact is that this very seldom happens.

It's all us loiterers and wastrels, lurking around the boards waiting to pounce on something that will amuse us more than whatever we oughter be doing, who almost always reply, and more often than not find the answers sought.

The frustration you're hearing now is from people a bit exasperated with the inability of inexperienced users to figure out where to post things. Specific search/lookup questions keep getting posted on "General Chat" -- and the thing there is that a lot of the regular helpers on the real help boards never read the Chat board, so the person asking loses out on the available expertise, and also there may not be so many weather eyes on the watch for privacy violations and such.

I never understood why people posted such requests on "Tips" or "Records Office" myself, except that the site did seem to have divided up on what I saw as kind of cliquey lines. I tended to stick to "Trying to Find", myself, where things were usually more fun.

The same thing is happening on "Genealogy Chat" now -- it's plainly for people to talk about *genealogy*, not about their own particular family history. That's what "Find Ancestors" is for.

The problem, once again, is that the function of the boards is not specified.

There's a brief description in the general Community listings of the boards, but nothing at the top of each board, except "Find Ancestors", that shows what it's for or how to use it.

And the very name of "Find Ancestors" is chasing people from there over to "Find Living Relative", even when what they're looking for is unknown descendants of people born in the 1800s. Total waste of time to post there, where no one can come onto the thread and help them.

Good intentions every time on the management's part, to my mind (and I was initially thrilled with this reorganization), but the follow-through just doesn't quite cut it.


Nannylicious Report 19 May 2011 22:46

Thanks for that Jax. It's just that I've noticed the same names cropping up time and again (yours being one of them). I don't know what GR would do without you all as you obviously put in a lot of time and effort.

I don't often reply to requests for help but didn't want to be butting in so to speak if there was already a group set up.

By the way, on the subject of "specials"....there is an old Marie Lloyd song entitled "My Old Man (said follow the van". The last line goes like this.....

"and you can't trust a special like the old time copper when you can't find your way home".


jax Report 19 May 2011 22:48


Have you ever clicked on the star in the top left hand corner where it says Help Clinic ?

I suppose it is'nt obvious as something to click on really, but it does give some idea how to use the boards