In the September 27 newsletter I wrote, "I have received suggestions from a number of newsletter readers to add a discussion board (some people call it a "forum") to the Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter's web site. I am not sure if this is a good idea or not and would like to obtain your opinion. If enough people think it is a good idea, I'll do it." I then set up an online survey and asked newsletter readers to give their opinions.
You can read my original article at http://blog.eogn.com/eastmans_online_genealogy/2008/09/a-possible-disc.html.
The survey results are in. I want to thank the 430 newsletter readers who took the time to respond. Your input makes a BIG difference.
I asked five questions. I'll list them below with the responses:
1. If I create a new Discussion Board (some people call it a "forum") on www.eogn.com, would you use it?
Only 8.8% answered "Never." The other 91.2% stated that they would use the forum. Specifically:
31% said they would use it occasionally
16.6% responded that they would use it frequently
The overwhelming majority (41.3%) stated that their usage would depend upon the content. In other words, if it is interesting, they will use it.
12.3% replied with "Other" and offered specific comments, such as "If I found useful content and relevant topics on the discussion board, I would be inclined to visit more often" and "It depends on the content just how often I would view. If interested in content, I would view at least once a week. Thanks!" and "IF the discussions stay relevant and on-topic and do not digress into personals, complaints or rambling editorials." One comment I especially agree with was, "This is a good idea. And you can use it to get ideas for columns, too."
On the negative side, there were a few comments such as "Dick - You put out a NEWS LETTER! If people want a forum, they can join their local Genealogy group which has lots of forum discussions." Another comment also warns, "I'm afraid it will become yet another venue for the anti-Ancestry crowd and the ‘I'm not posting my family tree on the web’ dinosaurs. You'd have to keep the discussion elevated and focused on genealogy resources, techniques and events."
2. Do you think it is a good idea to have a message board (forum) on www.eogn.com?
26.9% replied "No" while 73.1% replied "Yes" or "Probably."
There were many comments posted to this question, but I think this one sums up most of them: "I am in favor of anything that would help EDUCATE would-be researchers as to what constitutes REAL RESEARCH, with emphasis on PROBATE records, DEEDS / LAND RECORDS, and COURT CASE FILES. The idea of SOCIAL NETWORKING has gotten out of hand and has misguided many people into thinking that is how research is done -- find someone who has already identified THEIR ancestors for perhaps 10 or 12 generations. IT SIMPLY DOESN'T WORK THAT WAY AND THOSE WHO THINK IT DOES ARE NAIVE!!!!!"
3. Possible topics:
12.5% of the respondents stated they were not interested in any topics. The rest responded with a wide-ranging list of interests. The biggest response (68.1%) was for "Genealogy Web Sites."
I was a bit surprised when 51.8% listed an interest in "Digital photographs and scanning."
4. Should the discussion board be open and available to all users (Standard Edition newsletter) or restricted only to those who subscribe to the Plus Edition?
The response was overwhelming: 61 % prefer it to be free and open to everyone, 9.9% felt it should be only for Plus Edition subscribers, and 29.1% stated, "No preference."
5. Would you be interested in being a "Section Leader?"
78.5% selected "Not at this time." Of course, we only need a few Section Leaders, so that response is OK with me.
You can read the responses for yourself at http://www.surveymonkey.com/sr.aspx?sm=4KJxOvQ84jdTkN0gGDIc6_2bwigy4lBxrIp7asx2QhDfA_3d.