Message Board FAQ

Posting, Replying, Deleting, and Editing Messages FAQ

How can I delete my post?

You have to make a request to the board administrator to have a post deleted. Open the thread that contains the message you would like the admin to delete. Then click on the “Report Abuse” link. Mark the objection type as “other” and use the “Comments” section to tell the board admin that you would like your post to be deleted and why.

Why do I have to be registered to post a message?

Requiring all board members to register in order to post will increase the number of working contact emails for post authors. It also will reduce the number of multiple accounts for the same user and help keep the boards as spam-free as possible.

What are the steps to creating a great post?

First, choose a subject line that is brief, but descriptive. Include information such as first name, last name (surname), some applicable dates, and other details. Subjects that say only "Need Help" or that only state a location or surname (for instance, using only the subject “Smith” when posting to the Smith board) should be avoided.

Next, create the body of your message and include as many relevant details as possible. Once you have typed your message, enter all of the surnames mentioned in your post in the "Surnames" field. Please include only surnames that are mentioned in your post- not all surnames you might be researching. If you wish, you can include surname spelling variations for the surnames mentioned in your message.

After you have entered the surnames, select a classification for your post. Please visit the FAQ topic "What classification should I use for my post?" to help you select one if necessary. When replying to a post, the classification of the original post will already be selected for you. You can choose to use that classification, or select a new one.

You may choose to add an attachment to your post by clicking on the "Attach a File" link.

Once all required fields have been filled out, you can preview your post by selecting "Preview". This will show you your message as it will appear on the board. From the Preview page, you can choose to post your message or go back and edit it. If you do not wish to preview your post, select the "Post" button and your message will be posted to the board immediately.

How do I find the most appropriate board for my post?

To select the most appropriate board for your post, think carefully about what information or question you are posting to determine which board would be most relevant. Try to choose the most specific board possible for your post. For instance, if you are posting a query about old county boundaries, post it to the appropriate county board rather than the country or state boards.

Occasionally, it may be appropriate to post a similar message to multiple boards. In this case, please use your best judgment and consider carefully which boards would benefit most from your post and create a new subject line and modify the body to fit each board.

It is not considered good etiquette to post a query or the same information to several boards at once and your duplicate messages may be deleted by the board staff or admin on all but the most appropriate board. You will have the most success if you post to one board specific to your message. Other members will be able to use a search to locate your post.

What classification should I use for my post?

Every message posted to the board must have a classification. By selecting a classification for your message, you are potentially helping others to locate your post- even after some time has passed.

The following are definitions for each classification:

I posted a message to a board, and now I can’t find it! Where did it go?

Your message was either moved or deleted by the board administrator.

Posts may be moved to another board by the admin if it is off-topic for the board it was posted on. Please refer to the Community Guidelines for reasons why a message or thread may be moved. Contact your board administrator to find out which board your message was moved to.

Messages will be deleted by board administrators if they violate the Community Guidelines. If you feel your message was deleted or moved in error, please contact the board administrator by clicking on the "Contact Board Admin" link.

Contacting an Author FAQ

How can I contact the author of a message off the boards?

To contact the author of a message, click on their name in any post that they created. You will then be either shown a secure encrypted image of their email address, or you will be taken to their Public Profile on or which will provide the means to contact them via email.

When I click on an author’s name, sometimes I am shown their email address, and sometimes I am taken to their Public Profile. Why?

What you see when you click on a message author’s name depends on the site you are on (i.e. Ancestry or RootsWeb), whether or not the message author has a Public Profile, and what their connection preferences are set to on

Until the message board update in December, 2006, registration was not required in order to post a message. This means that an author was only required to give a name and email address to post and they do not have a public profile. If you click the name of one of these authors, you will be shown an encrypted image of the email address they provided when they posted the message.

Registered community members on both Ancestry and RootsWeb can configure a public profile that contains information about themselves and their research.

If you click on a registered message author’s name on, you will be taken to that person’s public profile if they have set one up. If an author has not set up their RootsWeb public profile yet, you will be shown the encrypted image of their email address.

Clicking on a registered author’s name on Ancestry will take you to that person’s public profile. You can click on the “Contact this person” link located in the “Page Tools” to contact that person.

Note: Ancestry allows community members to choose either to only be contacted anonymously through Ancestry’s Connection Service, or to display their email address and allow others to communicate with them directly. If an Ancestry user chooses to use connection service to remain anonymous, you will need to have a Family Trees & Connections membership to contact them.

How can I update my connection preferences on Ancestry?

To update your Connection Preferences on Ancestry click on “My Site Preferences” in the upper-right of the page. Change your connection preferences and click the “Update Preferences” button at the bottom of the page.

I got too many matches for my search- how can I narrow it down?

Click on the Advanced Search link and enter additional data. This can help eliminate messages that may not pertain to your search.

I entered data in every field in Advanced search and I’m not getting results- what am I doing wrong?

Entering too much data into the search box eliminates messages that might be of interest from your search or returns no results at all. Try entering information in only one or two advanced search fields.

I only want to search a classification type, how can I do that?

Click on the Advanced Search link. Enter any fields you would like to use to narrow your search and select the classification type.

When you are on a message board home page, you can also sort threads by the classification type of the first message in the thread. To do this, go to the board and select the classification from the drop-down menu above the list of threads. This only sorts the classification type of the first post in any thread and not any of its replies.

Mailing List Gateway FAQ

What is a mailing list gateway?

A mailing list allows people to send an e-mail to one address that is then copied and sent to all other subscribers to the list. hosts many mailing lists on a variety of genealogical topics, including surnames and locations. A "gateway" can be set up between a message board and a mailing list that sends a copy of all messages posted to the board to the mailing list subscribers.

To view a complete list of all Mailing lists, click here.

Why would I want to post on a message board versus a mailing list?

Both mailing lists and boards are valuable research tools. A mailing list is an excellent place for in depth discussion among list subscribers who are usually serious researchers of the list subject. Message boards like those at Ancestry and RootsWeb provide a resource to be used by anyone who chooses to post a message or search the boards, quite possibly involving a surname or topic only indirectly related p>heir research.

How do I sign up for a mailing list?

If you would like to sign up for a mailing list, please go to the mailing list page. Select the mailing list you would like to subscribe to from the list. Then follow the directions provided for subscribing to that list.

Board Administrator-related FAQ

How do I contact the Board Administrator?

To find the contact information for your board administrator, click on the "Board Information" link that is located in the "Page Tools” box. The board Administrator’s email address should be listed. If the board has no administrator, or if you don’t receive a response from the listed board administrator after a reasonable amount of time, contact the message board staff at

Who can be a Board Administrator?

Any registered user can become an administrator for an available board. To learn more about becoming a Board admin, please visit our help page topic.

I think the administrator of a board I visit is abusing their privileges. What can I do?

If you feel that your board admin is abusing his or her privileges and tools, please send an e-mail to the message boards staff at Be sure to include the board name, administrator’s user name, and any other relevant details.

My Alerts FAQ

What happened to "My Notifications"?

My Notifications has been re-named "My Alerts." The name changed when the tool was updated along with the rest of the message boards in November 2006. Any notifications that you were subscribed to prior to August 2006 became digest delivery alerts.

Board Icons and Links FAQ

What does the "Board Information" link mean?

The "Board Information" link is found on boards that have a volunteer board administrator. The "Board Information" page is created by the administrator of the board and shows you the board administrator’s contact information and any special instructions, links or announcements he or she chooses to post there. This page was called "Links and Announcements" prior to the board update in November 2006.

What do the orange circles next to some thread or messages mean?

The orange circle icon indicates that a thread or message is "new" and has been posted since your last visit to the board.

Community Guidelines FAQ

How do I report offensive content, posts on the wrong board, or other violations of the Community Guidelines on the boards?

To report abuse or misuse of the boards, please click on the "Report Abuse" link at the bottom of the message you feel violates the Community Guidelines and follow the instructions. Your report will be reviewed by the board administrator or message board staff if there is no board admin.

Request a Board FAQ

I've searched for a board topic I'd like to discuss with other researchers but no board exists for the topic. May I make a request to have the board created?

Yes. You may request that a new board be created for a genealogical research topic, locality, or surname of interest to you if an appropriate board doesn't already exist. Please visit the help topic to learn more about how to make a new board request.

If I request a board do I have to be the Admin?

No, you can request a board without volunteering to become that board admin. You can do this by ensuring that the box next to "make me the administrator" is unchecked before you submit your request.