Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Using RootsWeb: List Admins Play Important Roles

Laura Robinson Leader has been working on her family history for about a
year now and using various resources at RootsWeb in the course of her
research. She has developed a feel for the workings of the genealogy
mailing lists, such as what is acceptable on the lists and what isn't.
She now has a working knowledge of using the searchable and threaded
list archives.

Laura has decided it is time to move her research up a notch by
requesting a new mailing list for a small (but growing) group of cousins
that she found through the large, active ROBINSON surname list. They
decided they'd like to discuss in greater detail their particular line
of ROBINSONs -- those descending from their mutual ancestor, John
ROBINSON of Virginia. While they will continue to participate on the
general ROBINSON surname list, they felt the need for a more focused
effort on their line since ROBINSON is in the top 20 common surnames
in America and is a family name found frequently in the United Kingdom,
Canada, and Australia also.

Laura checked the mailing list index at
before taking any action. She wanted to be absolutely certain there was
no existing list for the John ROBINSON line of Virginia. She wasn't sure
exactly what would be involved in becoming the administrator of a list
but she was willing to learn. However, she learned that by requesting
the new list's creation that she also had to agree to serve as its

From the main RootsWeb page:
under the heading of mailing lists, she found the link to the mailing
list request form:

Then Laura completed the form and waited for notification from RootsWeb.
In a short time, her request was approved and she received a notice
providing her with what she needs to know in order to assume her duties.
She printed and saved these instructions for future reference. She also
learned some more about "list admin" duties at:

For example, list admins are required to:
--Maintain a current administrator e-mail contact address on their
list tools page (a set of Web-based list management tools that
allow the admin to subscribe or unsubscribe an address, verify
whether an address is subscribed, customize list settings,
personalize their list's "Welcome" and "Goodbye" letters, and
perform other functions).
--Subscribe to their list and monitor the posts.
--Determine the guidelines for their list.
--Keep an eye on bouncing subscriber addresses and remove from their
list any that SmartList (the list management software) cannot
process automatically.
--Read and comply with RootsWeb's Acceptable Use Policy (AUP).
--Write to for approval prior to selling or
promoting any services or products on their list.

Her next step was to promote -- appropriately -- her new mailing list,
to encourage others to join, and to introduce topics on the list to
generate discussion. List admins also are expected to assist their list
subscribers and intervene, if necessary, to resolve any problems that
might arise.

List admins at RootsWeb have a great deal of leeway in running mailing
lists as Laura discovered from her own experience on other lists. Some
list admins are lenient and others run a tight ship. However, there are
a few "no-no's."

List admins cannot:
--change the overall focus or topic of their list.
--close their list or refuse to allow subscriptions to it.
--archive their list anywhere other than RootsWeb without permission.

A list administrator may be removed for causes specified here:

As Laura got into the swing of things in maintaining her list, she
decided to subscribe to the and to the lists where she found many knowledgeable
volunteer admins willing to teach her the ropes and offer advice.

In no time at all, Laura's little list was humming right along and
picking up a few new subscribers. Discussion arose on the list about
how John ROBINSON's son, James, married a daughter of William RAIL, a
neighbor, and before long a splinter group began working on the RAIL
line. The discussion about the RAILs soon took on a life of its own
and became increasingly off-topic for the John ROBINSON list. Laura
learned that there already is a list for the RAIL surname and that the
list is up for adoption! So, she decided to adopt it. Adopting the RAIL
surname list was as easy as completing the same list request form that
Laura used when requesting the creation of a new list.

Laura, like many at RootsWeb who volunteer and help others, enjoys
a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment in being a mailing list
administrator. Have you ever considered becoming one? How about adopting
an already existing adoptable list or requesting a new list for a
subject or surname of interest to you?

U.S.A. Counties:
Miscellaneous (all others):
Mailing List Request Form:

from :-
RootsWeb Review: RootsWeb's Weekly E-zine
22 December 2004, Vol. 7, No. 51,


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