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Along­side ded­i­cated fo­rum sites, there are lots of fo­rums that form part of larger com­mer­cial web­sites or com­mu­ni­ties. You can check the health of a fo­rum from the home­page, which usu­ally in­cludes sta­tis­tics re­lat­ing to posts, threads, ac­tive users, all-time mem­bers and more. The big­gest fo­rum not in our top five is Ances­try’s RootsWeb ( rootsweb.ances­try.com). It is huge, free, and is bro­ken down into the WorldCon­nect Pro­ject, Ge­neal­ogy mail­ing lists, the WorldCon­nect Global Search, the RootsWeb Sur­name List and the Share Your Fam­ily His­tory sec­tions. First-time users may feel over­whelmed, so be­gin with the ‘Get­ting Started’ link. Then click ‘Mes­sage Boards’ – home to some 25 mil­lion posts on more than 198,000 boards, ded­i­cated to sur­names, lo­cal­i­ties and more.

Mil­i­tary ex­am­ples in­clude the Bri­tish Medal Fo­rum ( bri­tish medal­fo­rum.com) and the ex­cel­lent An­glo Boer War Fo­rum ( an­globoer­war.com/fo­rum), which has a gen­er­ous and bustling sec­tion ded­i­cated to ge­nealog­i­cal dis­cus­sions. Sim­i­larly, vic­to­ri­an­wars. com has a sec­tion for ‘Re­search­ing In­di­vid­ual Sol­diers & Sailors’.

A great ex­am­ple of a busy re­gional his­tory hub is the Birm­ing­ham His­tory Fo­rum ( birm­ing­ham his­tory.co.uk/fo­rum) or there’s the Scot­land-wide talk­ingscot.com/fo­rum. Other gen­eral ex­am­ples in­clude GenFo­rum ( genfo­rum.ge­neal­ogy.com), Lost­Cousins Ge­neal­ogy Fo­rums ( fo­rums.lc/ge­neal­ogy/in­dex.php), Bri­tish Ge­neal­ogy & Fam­ily His­tory Fo­rums ( bri­tish- ge­neal­ogy.com), Fam­ily His­tory UK ( fo­rum.fam­i­lyhis­tory.uk.com), His­to­rum ( his­to­rum.com) and Fam­ily Tree Fo­rum ( fam­i­lytreefo­rum.com/fo­rum.php).

The deeper you delve into the sub­ject of ge­netic ge­neal­ogy, the harder it be­comes to wade through tech­ni­cal­i­ties and jar­gon. For this rea­son, it’s just the kind of topic where a bit of straighttalk­ing from the fo­rum can help. The largest have ar­eas de­voted to the topic, or you can try fo­rums.fam­i­lytreedna.com.

Fam­i­lySearch dis­con­tin­ued its well-hid­den fo­rum in 2012, re­plac­ing it with the ‘Ask/ help’ area ( fam­i­lysearch. org/ask) and the valu­able Re­search Wiki. Mean­while, Find­my­past’s ‘Feed­back’ sec­tion ( feed­back. find­my­past.co.uk), where users of­ten vented frus­tra­tion, has be­come the more pos­i­tive-sound­ing ‘Ideas Board’ (for new fea­ture re­quests).

A more fo­cused fo­rum for mil­i­tary fam­ily his­tory is on an­globoer­war.com

Rootsweb has a vast, free- of- charge fo­rum with over 25 mil­lion posts

The Fam­i­lyTreeDNA fo­rum can help un­ravel ge­netic ge­neal­ogy rid­dles

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