Currently I run forums for North Carolina Genealogy Queries and South Carolina Genealogy Queries, and I have spent years of visiting other Genealogy Query forums on the web. A good number of the people posting could use a few helpful hints to make their Queries more visible, more useful and more likely to get a good response.
The first thing to do is to carefully choose the forum in which to place your query. If the board or forum has separate areas for individual counties and your query is about someone that you are certain of the county they came from, then it will probably help greatly if you do place it in area for that county. If however, your ancestor traveled through several counties or the county was unknown, then look for a statewide forum, or a forum for queries where the county is unknown.
Your next step is going to be to focus on a good title. The title or subject of your post is going to be essential to other people spotting and participating in the discussion. You don't want to be as vague as "Joe Smith" for your title, or "Smith Family". You really are going to want to provide a bit more information - "Joe Smith b. 1789 md. Nancy Jones" for instance is a way to get more detail into the title. Another example would be "Frank Smith family - late 1790s" Certainly there have been countless Frank Smith families, but narrowing it to a time frame or including a spouse, or township name can help to narrow it down. If you are posting in a forum geared towards a certain surname though you probably should include county and state information in your subject as well to help narrow the focus.
Use the body of your query post to restate and expand on what you have started to say in the title and be sure to give more information. Please try to enter more in the content than simply "looking for information". You really should tell everything that you know about the person you've posted a query for. Restate the information from the title and provide as much detail as you have been able to collect. I know it's the same age old genealogists problem of needing to know information to get information, but I'm sure you at least know something about either a parent or child of the individual you're searching for, so include that information in your post.
Some newer bulletin boards and forums give the ability to "Tag" or label posts. This is a way of assigning the keywords that you (or other forum users) think are most important to the forum discussion. To use our above example. Frank Smith would be a good tag or Smith or Smith Family, even "late 1790's" or 1790s could be good tags. Frank probably wouldn't be a great tag unless this forum was ONLY dedicated for people with the last name Smith.
If you construct your genealogy query posts the right way you'll be surprised at the improvement in response you get. Be certain to check back in each of the forums for any responses to your queries as not all forums mail you when you have an answer. In closing though it is a good idea to make sure you leave a good way for people to contact you with a response. So, I would suggest either having your email address on file with the forum, or checking back frequently are good ways to make sure you'll see the answers to the queries you've posted.
Avery J. Parker has been involved in genealogy research since around 1990. He has operated a number of genealogy websites since 1993. Currently he is posting genealogy related information, news, resources and research at http://www.northcarolinagenealogy.net and http://www.southcarolinagenealogy.org
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