Usenet Newsgroups are message groups set up for messages based on a particular subject matter. These are open forums that may or may not be moderated. As far as genealogy is concerned with the Usenet “hierarchy” system, the bulk of the newsgroups will be found in the soc.genealogy.* and alt.family-name.* groups. (The asterisks indicate a specific topic such as soc. genealogy.ireland or alt.family-name.wheadon). Currently, there are more than 250 genealogy-related newsgroups, although, most of the surname groups have been moved into the RSL (Rootsweb Surname List) at http://helpdesk.rootsweb.com/help/rsl6.html
… and to actually search the RSL, you’ll want to go to http://rsl.rootsweb.com/#search
More than one (1) million surnames can be found on the RSL database.
If you subscribe to a newsgroup, you may want to remain in the background (a.k.a. lurking) to learn the ins and outs of the group. You should locate the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) to gain information about the particular group, the rules, restrictions, etc.
All messages to the groups are archived so even without be subscribed, searches can be made for that ancestor, book name, location or any other text that may have been posted to the group. Rootsweb and Google Groups maintain the archives for the Usenet Newsgroups.
Here are some of the basic steps to adhere to for successful posting to a group.
·Use a descriptive subject line
- Stay on-topic
- Do not use ALL CAPS IN YOUR MESSAGE (This is considered ‘shouting’)
- Quote a brief portion of a senders email to aid the continuity of a subject (a.k.a. ‘thread’) but DO quote
- Keep your ‘signatures’ to a minimum
- Don’t respond to off-topic messages, flames, abusive messages, commercial spam, etc. If a response is necessary, do so privately and not to the list.
- Be prepared for ‘flaming’ if engaged in a controversial subject but remain calm. Again, if you do respond to someone, do so privately.
Fact: The Deja News Research Service was an archive of messages posted to Usenet discussion groups, started in 1995 by Steve Madere in Austin, Texas. By late 2000 the company, in financial distress, sold the service to eBay, who incorporated the technology into their half.com service. By 2001 the search service was shut down. The archives were acquired by Google and reintroduced as Google Groups. Archive coverage was extended back to 1981 with the addition of collections from private sources. Longtime users sometimes refer to the resurrected archive as "Dejagoogle" or "Gooja."
Tip: To view a list of genealogy newsgroups, go to John Fuller’s site at http://www.rootsweb.com/~jfuller/gen_use.html
Plans are underway for the annual spring seminar of the Tennessee Valley Genealogical Society. The date is Saturday, March 31 from 9 AM to 4:30 PM in the Auditorium of the Main Library. The cost is $35 which includes lunch. Shirley Wilson, former President of the Middle Tennessee Genealogical Society, will be the featured speaker. She has also authored several family history and county record books.
The Huntsville Genealogical Computing Society has the following programs coming up in the next few months. February 19th, Howard Blood will be presenting ‘Illnesses of our ancestors’; March 19th, Pat Kyzer with ‘Live on the Internet; April 16th, A members ‘Show and Tell’ of computer genealogy items and May 21, Pat Kyzer ‘Introduction to Power Point’. Their meetings are held on the third Monday of each month at 7:00 p.m. in the auditorium of the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library, 915 Monroe Street, Huntsville, Alabama. All visitors welcome.