I appreciate your question. Recently I’ve begun looking into the types of questions being asked in genealogy message board type situations and the quality of answers.
In today’s world many people expect quick answers/solutions, especially when seeking information online. Commercial and non-profit genealogy cater to this.
Too many of the responses I see on Facebook genealogy groups are more about showing support than teaching a person to be a better family historian/genealogist or answering the question. This group is unique, and the best example I’ve found to illustrate what should be done. This system has functionality that others like RootsWeb and Facebook don’t provide. Additional functionality might help but there are some specific ideas I am investigating elsewhere that can be done with existing, low quality tools.
- Always ask for clarification of what the real goal is. (A person may
be looking for an English immigrant to the United States in the
1850s but if what they want to learn is the immigrant’s birthplace
there may be better alternatives.)
- Find out if they have an online family tree, if not suggest they
create one. This is to help the helpers see what is known and do a
better analysis of the problem. It also provides an opportunity and place to
encourage documentation of information.
- Help them learn basics like, “Kill off your ancestor” or “start from
the most recent event and work back in time” or “the best source for
new information is your old information”.
- Teach don’t just point. (Apprenticeship records may be the number
one option for a specific query but it probably needs a little more
clarification than a link to Ancestry or Findmypast.)
- Model the behavior. (If we share tips and help more people have
success following higher standards those practices should become