Are there any current surname message boards?

+5 votes

When either bought or drove out of business every bit of free genealogy online, these charming areas disappeared. I used to get a lot of help and hints from online message boards, both surname lists and location lists. Also, mailing lists. Are they ALL gone? Is there no place left for the discussions we used to have? Even now I find some gems on but they are 20 years old.

in Genealogy Help by Jane Peppler G2G6 Mach 1 (17.4k points)
A good way to do that on WikiTree is to tag your questions with the surnames you would like to collaborate with!

You can also go to My Feed and list the surnames you want to reach.

Pretty friendly, helpful group here - just give us as a hint the names you want help with.
I think why wikitree isn't working as a forum for researchers is, there are no discussion threads centered on surnames. If I want to be in touch with a researcher I have to send an email (which is rarely answered). There is no trail being left for people who come along afterwards except what is divided into each profile. If I didn't create a profile, I have to ask to be on a trusted list in order to know when somebody works on it. That's a barrier. I can only follow 20 tags total, precluding my using that as a way to stay in touch with most families. On those old boards, people working on the same name in the same area / time got to know each other.
I am sorry to hear of your experience. I have had the opposite results.

1st, WikiTree responses have been good, helpful, and followed up. Resulting in nice email exchanges.

2nd, the ʻoldʻ posts on ʻboardsʻ rarely provide information or responses.

I have made contact here with several cousins of different degrees and kept the conversations open for months or years.

There are a number of one-name-studies here that can put you in touch with others researching the same name.

In addition, you can search G2G for earlier responses, so there is a trail being left for people who come along afterwards - and it is not attached to specific profiles.
There are discussions around specific surnames. For example:

So even if you aren't following a surname, you can use the search box at the top of the G2G page to search by surname.

Maybe that's not exactly what you are hoping for but you may discover info and other researchers that you find helpful.

1 Answer

+5 votes
Probably at this point in the state of the internet, you will have the best results here.

To be thorough, Genealogy Wise still has its groups up:

Don't discount the DNA sites and their Y-DNA (surname) groups too.

Though nothing will be quite like the old Rootsweb, and Ancestry surname boards.
by Dina Grozev G2G6 Pilot (107k points)
I recently found something extremely interesting on a 20-year-old post at - what I wouldn't give to be able to ask that person where the information came from. Probably off a yellowing sheaf of papers in spidery old handwriting that had been in a box in the attic, written by somebody with personal knowledge of the people involved. Now everything is oriented toward the computer - people drag through the same data over and over again - there must still be those people with exhaustive knowledge of their own families, but it's harder to find them.
The issue is the 20-year-old posting. You can use it for research and accept that the search engines and sites are a lot better than they were 20 years ago.

Those people with exhaustive knowledge of their own families, who posted 20 years ago - when they retired and had time. are now too old to answer you or for some other reason, cannot. Memories are great, but not always accurate and sometimes adjusted to make things ʻlook betterʻ.

Online records have expanded and grown so much over the last 20 years that you should be able to follow leads without dragging through the same data over and over again. I have found records available online now that did not exist online 5 years (or less) ago. The trick to not getting the same information over and over is to not go to trees on websites, those tend to repeat errors because they have no sources except memory. Go to source data - census,, Family Search, etc. Research is a lot easier than ever - find the hints and do the searching.

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