FamilySearch Forums - Community Power to Get Answers to Your Research Questions

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Syllabus for class taught by Michael Ritchey a Community Project Manager from FamilySearch; class presented at the FGS Conference 2010

Does your genealogical society or family history center seem isolated? What happens there when patrons ask questions society members can’t answer? Would you like to connect with a large team of specialists in all areas worldwide so that you can 1) focus on the subjects you know and 2) pass tough questions to specialists who already know the answer? Come learn about FamilySearch Forums, a gathering place that is being built to channel tough questions to people who know the answers.

After this Lesson You Should Be Able To ...[edit | edit source]

  • Name the two major categories of topics covered by FamilySearch Forums.
  • Name three features of FamilySearch forums that are unique to online genealogy forums.
  • Name three features of FamilySearch forums that help societies.
  • Know where to get instructions on tasks such as posting a question, answering a question, and searching for previous posts.

Some Questions for your Society or Family History Center[edit | edit source]

  1. Where do you go to ask genealogy questions?
  2. Where are the members of your society asking questions?
  3. Do newcomers to your society know where to ask questions?
  4. What questions are the members of your society asking?
  5. Does your society answer some of the same questions repeatedly?
  6. What happens when someone asks a question the society can’t answer?

Getting Answers - Isolation vs. Community[edit | edit source]

Imagine this: You’re in a room with two people and one of them asks a question. The question turns out to be difficult. How likely is it that one of you will know the answer? This happens in genealogical society libraries and family history centers every day.

Now imagine that someone asks a question in a room with 100 people. What are the chances that someone in the room will know the answer? Clearly the more people you can gather, the more likely it will be that the question will be answered. Imagine further that the people in the room are organized into groups according to what they know. Wouldn’t that make it easier to get an answer? Finally, imagine that some people in the room are assigned to make sure you get an answer quickly. Might your question be answered sooner? And finally, imagine that you could rate the answers you get, and that some people in the room care deeply about getting “high marks” on the answers they give. What would happen to the quality of answers you receive?

Purpose of FamilySearch Forums[edit | edit source]

FamilySearch forums are designed to:

  • Connect patrons to people who know the subject areas that patrons are asking about.
  • Ensure that every question gets answered.
  • Ensure that answers are of a high quality.

Topics Covered in FamilySearch Forums[edit | edit source]

FamilySearch Forums are organized into two large categories: research advice and general support. Research advice forums cover how to find ancestors from various locations or ethnic groups. Sometimes people in the research forums go the extra mile and even provide new information on specific ancestors. By contrast, general support forums provide support for family history centers and FamilySearch products such as the Indexing software or the research wiki.

Features that Support Societies[edit | edit source]

The features of FamilySearch Forums are changing rapidly. Since this syllabus was due so far in advance of the conference, features won’t be covered in the syllabus because it is hard to predict which ones will be developed that far in advance. Therefore, we’ll cover society-strengthening features of the forums in the presentation.

Conclusion[edit | edit source]

Your society’s members are a fount of knowledge. If you leverage this knowledge, it becomes a society asset that can help you grow membership and strengthen members’ social ties. Connecting with other societies online allows each society to answer the questions they know about and outsource the questions they don’t know about. Join us on FamilySearch Forums to help the members of your society or family history center get the answers they need!

Some Online Training about Use of FamilySearch Forums
[edit | edit source]

NOTE: Forums was shut down December 2012. The links that were listed below no longer work and have been removed from the original syllabus.