RootsWeb:Using RootsWeb Message Boards

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This article originally appeared in The Official Guide to by Myra Vanderpool Gormley, CG and Tana Pedersen Lord.


Now that you’ve found a message board on RootsWeb you’re interested in investigating, the next step is to look for messages that might be relevant to your family and your research interests. At the top of the message board, you will see the name of the board and also the number of total messages on the board and the number of threads (messages that have been replied to and have started a discussion). Here’s an example of a surname message board:

Note: You can always return to the main message board page to navigate to other message boards by clicking the “Message Boards” link or tab at the top of the page. You can also use the two search boxes to access other message boards or simply narrow your search within the message board you’re currently accessing.

If you find a subject line that gets your attention, you can click the link to go to that specific message. And remember, most message boards have multiple pages, so don’t forget to use the “<<Previous” and “Next>>” links at the bottom of the board to navigate to other pages of messages. You can look at messages in either thread view or flat view. Here’s how the display options work:

Thread view is the default view. In this view, the entire original message (or post) is displayed at the top of the page. Replies to the message (its subject line, author, and date) are listed below according to the date they were posted, from earliest to most recent. To view the full text of any of the replies, click on the subject line and the full message appears.

To switch to the flat view, click the “Change to Flat View” link below the original message. In the flat view, messages are displayed in the same order as the thread view (with the original post at the top and replies listed underneath), but the full text of each message is visible so that you can scan the full text of all the messages at one time.

Requesting a New Board

Don’t see a message board for a surname or topic you’re interested in? Although there are thousands and thousands of message boards, you may be interested in a subject that doesn’t currently have a suitable message board. You may request a board for a new genealogical research topic, locality, or a surname of interest to you.

Click the Message Boards tab; then, click the “Request New Board” link at the bottom of the page. Enter a name for the message board and also any information about what you would like the board to contain, who it would be of interest to, etc. If you would like to be the board’s administrator, you can indicate that on the submission form by click the “I would like to administer this board” checkbox. You will be notified by e-mail when your request has been approved or denied.

Adopting a Board

A message board administrator assists other users; promotes interest in the board; and is responsible for monitoring the board and deleting messages that break copyrights, are offensive, or violate the Board Rules. If you want to participate in the RootsWeb community, one way to start is to adopt a board and become an administrator. To find out more about the duties of a message board administrator, visit here.

To determine if a board needs an administrator, look for a “Volunteer to Admin” link in the Page Tools on the right-hand side of a message board page. Click this link and submit your request; you will be notified by e-mail when your request has been approved or denied.

Your Message Board Preferences

If you are a registered user at RootsWeb, you can create a public profile and have your own personalized favorites and alert lists for message boards.

Create or Update Your Public Profile

A public profile lets you tell others about your interests so that people with similar interests can find you. The more information you add to your profile, the better your chances of connecting with someone. The profile you create will be linked to all your public posts in the message boards—and to your WorldConnect trees and any databases you submit.

You can create or update your profile by clicking the “My Public Profile” link available at the top, right-hand side of any message board page. 

Note: To view another member’s public profile, click their user name, located at the top of any message board post.

Bookmark Your Favorites

If you find a message board that you are interested in and want to return to often, you can add it to a list of your favorites. Simply click the “Add Board to Favorites” link in the Page Tools on the right-hand side of the page. (You can also add specific threads of messages to your favorites; click the “Add Thread to Favorites” link in the Page Tools.) Then, to access a complete list of quick links to your favorites, click the “My Favorites” link at the top of any message board page.

Note: You can also make the author of a specific message a favorite.

Receive Alerts

If you want, you can be sent e-mail alerts about the message boards: when someone replies to a message you’ve posted (click the “Send me an alert” checkbox on the message) or when new messages are posted to your favorite board (click the “Add Board to Alerts” link in the Page Tools on the right-hand side of the page).

To see a complete list of the alerts you have signed up for, click the “My Alerts” link at the top of any message board page.

External Links