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home > Surnames
This page last updated on January 31, 2004

On this page: Advantages | the Process | Searching | Posting | Q&A |

A New Surname Approach! - An Important Note to Users

The old surnames page has changed -- for the better! Actually, the old page is gone and instead surnames will be posted to the Person County Message Board on RootsWeb. This will allow users to include details of the surnames they research and will put the powerful searching capability of the message board at our disposal. Below, on this page, you will find a short outline of this change and then at bottom of this page you will find detailed instructions. I welcome your feedback and questions. A link to my email address is at the bottom of this page.

Although the Person County Surname page provided a good way to connect with other researchers, the approach also had many problems. The worst of these has been the fact that many of the email addresses no longer work. A lesser problem has been the time demands place on me to make the updates.

  • The post happens immediately
  • The poster can include as much information as desired
  • The poster's email address is protected since the message board uses graphics to display the email address and this cannot be mined by spammers
  • The date of the post is obvious to those who read it
  • Folks can add their own new email addresses by posting a reply to their earlier posts.
  • Other researchers can post a reply to a surname post, thus creating a chain of folks researching the same line.
  • The powerful search capability of the message board will make it possible to quickly locate other researchers you may wish to contact.
  • And importantly for me, you do the work with this approach. I should have more time to make other improvements to the Person NCGenWeb pages!

How the  process  works

If you are willing to share information with other researchers about the surnames in your lines, please post to the Person County message board.

Posts are made with the "message type" set to "Query" and the word "Surname" in the subject line. The word "Surname" in the subject line is important for searching as you will see below.

Searchers are made using the "Advanced Search" option and a "Message type" of "query." Setting the subject line to "SURNAME" restricts the search, and setting the "With Surname" to the surname of interest finishes the criteria.

A secondary benefit of the use of the Person Message Board will be that each of us will become better searchers! Obituaries are now being posted to the Person Message Board using the "With Message Type" of "Obituaries." Smart use of the "Advanced Search" function is the key to finding what you are seeking quickly and efficiently.

The Details - Searching

First a review of searching.

1 - On  the Person Message Board web page select "Advanced Search." You will get a window that looks like the one below.

search_screen_example.jpg (39702 bytes)

2 - Starting from top to bottom ...  Click the "Person Board" option to avoid searching all of the message boards on RootsWeb!

3 - In the "With Subject Containing:" field, enter "SURNAME"

4 - In the "With Surname" field, enter the surname of interest to you.

5 - Use the "With Message Type:" drop-down to select "Query"

6 - Click the "Search" button.

The result will be a list of the posts in the Person Message Board that meet the criteria you have given. Once you get the idea of how to do a search, play with the parameters a bit.


The Details - Posting a Surname

Next, a review of how to post your surnames to the message board.

1 - Go to the Person Message Board web page. Below is a portion of what you will see:

msg_bd_screen.jpg (78527 bytes)

Look for "Post New Message" and follow that link. "Post New Message" is just below PERSON and just to the right of "List Messages."

2 - Following the "Post New Message" link will open a window that looks like the one below.

post_screen_example.jpg (54167 bytes)

3 - Enter your name and email address. (You can optionally login and have RootsWeb automatically fill in these fields. Loging in has other advantages, so I suggest that you explore that option). A great advantage of the message boards is that the email addresses are displayed in graphics rather than text. This makes it impossible for the spammers to "mine" your email address from the pages.

4 - In the "Subject" field, enter the word "SURNAME:" (in caps) followed by the surname(s) you are researching. (See my commments in the Q&A below about posting just one surname per post vs. posting several in the same message.)

5 - In the "Message" field, enter some information about the surname line. The great advantage of this approach is that you can add here as much detail as you care to share about your line. Dates of birth, death, and marriage of a few key individuals in your surname line will allow other researchers to quickly determine if their line matches with yours.

6 - Optionally you may click the box in front of "Send me an email ..."

7 - Set the "Classification" pull-down to "Query"

8 - In the "Surnames" field, enter the Surname(s) for this post.

9 - Use the "Preview Message" button to check your post before actually posting it. The preview window will give you a chance  to go back to editing or to post the message. (Should you discover an error after posting, send me an email or use the "Report Abuse" link when you view the posted message. I can delete the message and you  can create it again.)

Please note that although your post will appear on the message board immediately, the indexing files which the search function uses are not updated immediately. It may take up to a week before searches find your post. This should not be a problem since your post will be recent and will show up at the top of the stack for users who use the "Listed by" option set to "Date."


Questions & Answers

Q: Should my SURNAME post include only one surname or all of the surnames I research?
A: First, this is really your call. My preference is to include only one surname per post. If each post includes only one surname, searches will work more efficiently. A researcher who finds your Jones post does not have to wade through your Smith information.

Q: Should I include my email address in the "message" portion of my post?
I suggest that you not do this. When you enter your email address in the "E-Mail" field, the message board will only display the address in a graphic mode, making it impossible for spammers to "mine" your address. If you add the address to the "message" portion, then the amount of spam you receive will be likely to increase.

Q: What if my email address changes?
A: Find your original post on the message board and the the "Post Reply" option below that message to add another message with your new email (in the "E-Mail" field).

Q: What if I try an email address and the message bounces?
A: First, wait a day and try again. Maybe the person's email service was down. Look at the date of the original post. If the post is more than 12 months old, you are justified in suspecting that the person may have changed email addresses without posting the change. Finally, you can post a message using the "Post Reply" option and ask if anyone has a new email address for the person.

Q: How much information should I post about the surnames I research?
A: That is really up to you. Please do post more than just "I research the Jones line, please contact me to share." At a minimum, you should include the name of the earliest person that you have identified in your line. If you have the information, include birth, death, and marriage dates. If you have census references, you might include those. If you wish to be contacted by everyone doing Jones research, then post only minimum information. If you wish to be contacted by researchers who are focusing on the specific line that is also the focus of your research, then give them sufficient information to be able to verify that connection.


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 2004 by page maintainer
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