Saturday, 19 April 2014

A-Z Challenge 2014: Q is for Queries
Queries.  Something else we all have (as well as the 'kith and kin' I posted about a while back).  But what is the best way of getting someone to answer them?

These are guidelines (some lists make them into hard-and-fast rules).  Say you belong to a mailing list.  I belong to the devon-l @ list.  They even have an item within their FAQ which gives you some guidance on how to frame the sort of query which will get looked at.  It all starts with the subject line.  Whatever you do, don't have a subject line which only says something like 'help' or 'my brickwall ancestor'.  The reason is that there are several very Kind Souls who are only to happy to help if they can, but they belong to several mailing lists and need to be able to pick out the ones where they might be able to help, while deleting the ones with the ghastly subject lines above.  After all, the one which says merely 'help' could be asking 'what type of lawn mower should I buy?', couldn't it.  So you would put in the ancestor's name (surname in CAPITALS), dates, place: like

John DOE, b 1785 Alphington, Devon

And in the body of the message, Devon-L recommends " Incidentally, it is always a good idea to include with any query to the DEVON mailing list a brief indication of what searches of online and conventional sources you have already made. This is in order to avoid your receiving, and other respondents wasting effort providing, information that you are already familiar with."


  1. A similar thing works with storytellers as well :) We have mailing lists and forums where people can go "halp! I remember a story and I don't know where to find it!" :)

    @TarkabarkaHolgy from
    Multicolored Diary - Tales of colors
    MopDog - The crazy thing about Hungarians...

    1. Mind you, at least "help! I remember a story and I don't know where to find it!" is a *teeny* bit more helpful than just "help!"... ;o)

      Thanks for stopping by

  2. I did not know there are these mailing lists either-shows how naïve I am so good info here...again:)

    1. No such thing as 'naive' - just stuff you haven't learnt yet! :o)

      There are 32,328 genealogy mailing lists held at Rootsweb. They range from surnames, through places, and things. The people who subscribe (they are free, though: 'subscribe' is just another way of saying 'belong') are always very helpful indeed. Try taking a look to see if any can help.

  3. Another useful post - I am thinking of saving all of your A to Z Challenge posts to make into a little booklet for when I go to my local records office - they have all been so helpful. Thank you so much.

    1. Thanks for such a lovely compliment. :o) I am so glad they have been of use.

      Thanks for stopping by!



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