Before defining our Guidelines we should remember that our aim is to
communicate on the Internet clearly and concisely
but without causing offence. Some
believe that the strength of emails is that
they are spontaneous and you can
have your say without the more
formal style of a letter. But
the very spontaneity of an
email may cause offence if
you inadvertently use an ill-considered
phrase or a patronising attitude.
I am sure we would all agree
that offensive emails are
almost unknown in our UDFHG
community. Quite the contrary - we are blessed with members who are
anxious to please, to impart knowledge, to help new-comers to family
history, and to learn from others no matter how experienced they are
themselves. Many of you are acknowledged authorities in your
genealogical field and yet we never read any evidence of 'talking
down' to a less experienced member.
Situations you should avoid when using the Forum
Offering a fee-paying 'look-up' service for
records contained within commercial databases (eg a
DVD or a website) if this violates a Licence Agreement to which you
have already agreed.
Messages which display text from other sources
without the text owner/author's permission.
Messages to the Group are for the Group's information only. It is forbidden to 'lift' such messages or parts of messages
so that they are published on third party databases or websites without the author's permission.
You may not advertise your own products unless it is done in a restrained manner. For example, you might have
produced a genealogical publication which has relevance to the main subject of your message.
Patronising, highly opinionated or hectoring tones directed at anyone but particularly towards beginners.
You may not use the Forum to blatantly
advertise your own genealogical expertise. The content and
tone of your correspondence is all you need to establish
your genealogical credentials.
Defamatory comments about an individual.
Confidentiality issues: messages (or UDFHG-sponsored databases) which present details of living
Discussions involving a series of messages about non-family history topics. For example, computer
technical problems. These are often best dealt with by firstly reading the Questions section of this website,
and if you can find no answer there, send a private email to the Technical Moderator.
Avoid getting involved with virus warnings - they are usually hoaxes. Remember that each
member is responsible for acquiring and maintaining their own anti-virus program with up-to-date 'virus definitions'.
Avoid contemporary religious debate, modern-day party-political controversy, pornography, 'chain' letters.
It is customary, when responding to a Forum message, to place your responding message at the top (above the existing message) so your response is the first to be seen when the
message is opened. You can set this up yourself - it is one of the options on your local email setup.
Take special care over the wording and spelling of your Forum
contributions. Errors in names and dates may mean that you don't
get an answer to your query because members will be searching
for information which doesn't exist or they cannot work out what
exactly you are asking. Many personal and place names are prone
to spelling variations over the years and experienced family
historians will take these into account when they are searching
on your behalf. But if they are given imprecise spellings or
dates then you may miss out on a useful contact.
When you receive an email message from dalesfhs you see at
the bottom of the email a link called 'Messages in this
topic'. Click on this link and you will see all the previous
emails that have the
same phrase in the Subject box (because this phrase has
become the 'Topic' - and the email is now part of what is
called a 'thread'). This is good because you can follow
the emails which have contributed to the 'thread' on this
particular topic. This link only works if you are a full
So if you reply to an email - and you intend to keep
within the scope of the topic subject - if makes sense to
avoid altering any aspect of the Subject title.
This is why it is bad practice to 'hijack' an existing email
simply because you want to write to the email's author,
perhaps on another matter altogether. If you want to write
about a new topic to someone, it is better to click on the
'Start a new topic' link at the bottom of an existing email
and create your own appropriate topic in the new email's
Sometimes your new email may have a tenuous connection with
an existing topic thread. Supposing the existing topic was 'Leyburn
Market' and you wanted to write to a correspondent about
meeting her there to discuss suitable accommodation in order
to visit this Market. You might consider a Subject title of
'Accommodation required (Leyburn Market)'. Note the use of
the round brackets. This email, with its altered Subject
text, will not appear in the 'Messages in this topic' -
quite understandably. But it does give the Forum an idea of
where you are coming from.
There are three ways of replying to an email:
a) Reply to Group - if you click this then your reply will
firstname.lastname@example.org and will be distributed to
every member of the Forum; a copy will be stored in the
b) Reply to Sender - the consequences of choosing this
option depend on your membership level, so do check to see
what address is displayed in your outgoing email before you
send it off (some of us have quickly clicked Reply and
discovered that what should have been a private comment to a
particular member has gone to everybody!) If it is wrong you
can overtype it with the correct address.
c) Reply via Webpost is for full members only and launches
the email provider at Yahoo Groups, so the email goes from
there rather than from your own email provider. If you use
this method you don't get to keep a copy of what you sent.
If your email system seems not to want to send a reply
directly to one particular member, try copying their email
address and pasting it into a new, blank email.
Messages within threads can grow very long and therefore take
up computer resources. Sometimes, when replying to a message it
is appropriate to delete some of the existing earlier text. Just
before the point of your deletion, please enter a phrase such as
'Rest of the message has been deleted'. This will warn any
future correspondent to check the archive so that the thread of
the email can be followed.
In general, avoid email Subjects which include words in
CAPITALS unless the subject is of particular importance to the
whole Forum (for example, changes in policy from the Committee
or the Moderators). It is also good form to use capitalised
words sparingly in the body of emails. To emphasise a phrase
within the message, use asterisks - eg *this is a phrase*.
However, it is good practice to use capital letters for
offending messages or members who persistently break these