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Posting Questions on A Social Message Board

Person on a ComputerWith so many online messages boards available: Rootsweb, GenForum, WikiTree, Facebook, Twitter, Surname Societies, local genealogical societies or historical societies; you have some excellent opportunities to locate new information, photos, charts, documents, records, journals or artifacts you had no idea existed. However, you have to make any request or query to the point. No one will bother if you have written a long, drawn out, multi-leveled series of requests.

There are several key elements to remember about making requests. First, always be clear of what you are asking for. Keep the request simple; just one or two items. Then always be precise and appreciative.

A query should just center on one individual, or a husband/wife or collectively one family. Once you get into requesting about two members of a family, their great aunt, the great grandfather and three cousins, you have lost most people. No one is going to bother to read much less assist in doing your full family tree. Also never place several unrelated individuals all in the same request.

You begin with the subject line in any message query. Keep the subject to the surname, a location and a date range; such as Musselman, in MD, 1880s. Anyone interested will spot that right away.

Use a person’s full name; avoid writing she lived, he worked, she was born. You do not need to write about all information you have gathered already, just the basics so a match can be made. If you do know a female’s maiden name, (written ‘nee SMITH’) or previous married names, do include those. One helpful item is to make the surname all in capital letters, so there is no confusion.

Be direct in your quest. Ask for assistance on one or two items, never ask ‘for all information on Mary JONES’. For example a more precise question would be: What date did Mary Jane MUSSELMAN, born 1868, marry Charles Henry BIXLER, born 1866, in Carroll Co., Maryland? Now you have the names, locations and date of their births, which can then be a starting point that a marriage could have occurred 1885 to 1891.

In giving locations try to narrow the place; not just a country, state, province name, but also a county and even better a town.

Conclude the inquiry with your contact information such an email address, phone number or post office mailing address. Some of the social sites; like Facebook, have people respond right on the site. This way many people can offer up ideas, suggestions or answers to your inquiry.

Before submitting a request, read it over several times. Correct any errors, the dates and names especially have to be right. If you have a guess about a name or date, so state it as a possibility or approximately.

Not every query produces fabulous results, but even if one-third offer up a new clue or suggestion, the time spent is worth it.

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