RootsWeb Mailing Lists to be Discontinued

The following is from an email message sent to many RootsWeb users from the RootsWeb administrators:

Beginning March 2nd, 2020 the Mailing Lists functionality on RootsWeb will be discontinued. Users will no longer be able to send outgoing emails or accept incoming emails. Additionally, administration tools will no longer be available to list administrators and mailing lists will be put into an archival state.

Administrators may save the emails in their list prior to March 2nd. After that, mailing list archives will remain available and searchable on RootsWeb.

As an alternative to RootsWeb Mailing Lists, Ancestry message boards are a great option to network with others in the genealogy community. Message boards are available for free with an Ancestry registered account.

Thank you for being part of the RootsWeb family and contributing to this community.

Sincerely,
The RootsWeb team

33 Comments

Does anyone know why? I am still signed up with several rootsweb lists and they are so darn helpful! 2nd March isn’t very much notice either.

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Brenda Fulton Booker January 7, 2020 at 2:53 pm

I am very disappointed that the Rootsweb mailing lists will be discontinued. I understand that the Ancestry options are available. I have and do use them. However, the Rootsweb lists have been available for so long, are very easy to use, and have many subscribers who will not access the Ancestry sites. I am very disappointed in this closure of a message web site which allowed so many of us to make breakthroughs in the past years. I fear this will interfere with the progress which many of us having been making in our genealogical searches.

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Will we be able to search the Archives of all mailing lists, or just those that we were subscribed to?

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    Except for a very few lists, we’ve always been able to search the archives of all lists, but who know what Ancestry will do now.

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Now that we know RootsWeb Mailing Lists are being discontinued, the question is what to do about it. Several people have recommended groups.io as a substitute. What do you know about it? What other alternatives would you suggest that respect privacy?

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Would be nice if you could extend the deadline for a year. You are affecting a lot of people who use this service.

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Ancestry is a classic monopoly. It will continue to buy companies (e.g., Rootsweb, Find-a-Grave), and gut them so that you have to buy a Ancestry subscription. After it bought Rootsweb, it changed the message boards, then it took WorldConnect and removed the ability to comment or to email the owner of a tree. Then they changed the search, making it less effective. When they absorbed Genealogy.com, they removed any contact information for the message board poster so that you could not communicate and exchange information. They can be expected to do the same with the searchable list-serve archives. Once they have effectively eliminated free alternatives and have left little choice but to subscribe, look for the subscription price to increase.

Liked by 1 person

    A classic monopoly? So obviously these things called FamilySearch, FindMyPast, Myheritage, Rootschat (which does message boards) don’t exist?
    The thing is that virtually no-one uses the lists that I’m subscribed to. One county is active, one is sporadic – the rest… nothing.
    “Use it or lose it”, they say. Guess what…

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    What is the market share of each service mentioned? Monopoly does not mean 100%, just dominance. Does the existence of MySpace.com mean that Facebook does not dominate the relevant market?

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    Think you need to lookup monopoly again.

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    Exactly. I expect that the mailing list archives will soon be barricaded behind Ancestry’s pay wall.

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Just a little more time?
Please??

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Message boards have NOT been debugged and I subscribe to quite a number of them, ZERO posts.
3 mailing lists I subscribe to, are very high traffic and Ancestry wants to shut them down.

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It’s interesting that this follows on the heels of the discontinuance of the Yahoo Groups and another popular discussion list hosting site. It’s almost as if these companies want their server space back to use it for something more profitable, like contracted Cloud space. Just as with land, virtual real estate winds up getting redeveloped and resold over and over- I’ll betcha that’s what’s happening here.

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I was struggling to find a specific old mailing list post yesterday because the link I had saved no longer worked. The posts have been archived, but the each post has been put in its own box, not as part of a series of cascaded discussions, so following a conversation is difficult. In most cases, the name of the posting party has been changed to List User, which adds to the confusion. I found searching within the system very awkward, but am glad they did not dump the whole collection. There is a great deal of valuable information buried in the mailing lists. Just yesterday, I turned up a new gem that pointed me to a elusive record I would never have thought of on my own.

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    Barbara: Check the Ancestry message boards for your mail posts. The Rootsweb maillists were copied as individual posts over the years into the Ancestry Message Boards. You will find those posts arranged in “conversation” threads there.

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This inconveniences a great many people. I’m on several lists. The international ones have, in particular, been a great help; the people very knowledgeable, helpful, and they feel more like close friends. The benefit of information they have shared has been incalculable and they have been very generous in sharing their knowledge; I am forever in their debt.

Not that long ago Rootsweb took the email lists offline for a year or so when they did some kind of giant “upgrade,” and once we got back online there were a few other bugs to work out on their end. Now that things are working well, they hit us with a mere few weeks notice that they are taking away such a valuable resource?!? How daft is that?!?

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They closed My Family.com the same way. Gave us a couple months and it disappeared!

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I’m surprised to not see any comment from Dick Eastman on this depressing (but not unexpected) press release.

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    —> I’m surprised to not see any comment from Dick Eastman on this depressing (but not unexpected) press release.

    I’ll offer three comments:

    1. Any company has a right to add or delete products and services as the company’s managers see fit. That’s true even if I question the wisdom of the decision. After all, if the move is unpopular with customers and the company loses customers as a result of a poor management decision, the company loses business.

    2. Ancestry.com is not a charity nor is it a non-profit. RootsWeb has been offered by Ancestry for a number of years as a free service to anyone who wishes to use it. However, offering free services does not pay the bills at any company, other than perhaps as an advertisement or enticement to attract new customers who will then possibly sign up for the company’s additional (paid) services.

    Yes, it costs money for servers, high-speed Internet connectivity, electricity, and the salaries of all the people who make it all work. I am never surprised whan any company takes a hard look at the company’s own services and then decides to terminate or at least scale back the services that are draining the company’s financials.

    3. Ancestry.com is not the only game in town. It has long been the most popular commercial online genealogy service but certainly not the only one. Ancestry’s competitors will be delighted to accept previous customers of Ancestry who are now looking for another company that meets the interests of those customers. In short, I am sure the managers at MyHeritage, FamilySearch, FindMyPast, WikiTree, Rootschat, Geneanet, Family Tree DNA, 23andMe, and other online services are delighted with the latest news from Ancestry. This obviously will benefit the other companies that offer services for genealogists.

    In short, my advice to genealogists is the same as my advice to most anyone else: If you are unhappy with the service you have been using, look for alternatives. You are free to do so. That’s what free enterprise is all about. There is no monopoly.

    Liked by 1 person

These days the majority of family history discussions take place in Facebook Groups. See
https://socialmediagenealogy.com/genealogy-on-facebook-list
for a list. In the UK RootsChat is another major platform. https://www.rootschat.com

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    Trevor Rix – That leaves out a lot of people who refuse to join Facebook because we don’t wish to be spied on or to have ads targeted at us “to enhance your online experience.” What an idiotic phrase! I’ve seen it multiple times, so they must use the same ad agency or copy each other.
    RootsChat I’ve never heard of and that looks like it has the potential to be beneficial for those of us who have Mayflower or Early New England ancestors (I have maternal and paternal New England ancestry).
    Now…, are Forums as efficient as the Email Lists I’ve been on…??? Nearly twenty years ago I discovered that Message Boards are neither efficient nor useful.

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    Bev, There are many misconceptions regarding Facebook. Facebook groups, which is the subject here, are very different to the hyped Facebook social media posts that are interlaced with many adverts. I participate in several Facebook groups many times daily and do not see any adverts. I have my Facebook preferences screwed down tight so I simply do not encounter the negatives that you describe.
    RootsChat is free, has 268,424 members, and 6.1 million posts. No adverts. RootsChat is a family history forum. Forums are more efficient and flexible than mailing lists or message boards. The best way to evaluate would be for you try try it out and see. There are 174 threads discussing The Mayflower.

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The problem with Ancestry messaging is that if someone drops their subscription, the mail is in effect going into a ‘dead letter box’. There is no way the intended recipient could see it. And data protection legislation (in Europe at least) give Ancestry an excuse for not retaining the live email addresses of non-subscribers or Rootsweb users.

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I belong to many RootsWeb lists and haven’t seen a single post in years. The lists are dying a natural death. For me at least, they have been replaced by groups in Facebook.
FB groups have some significant advantages over the mailing lists. The biggest advantage IMHO is the ability to attach graphic images. These can be photos, maps, or screen shots, for starters. There’s also a place to archive documents. These can be Word, Excel, PDF, and the like. Members submit pedigree charts, family group sheets, family histories, heirloom recipes, etc. Many groups maintain their own surname database.
Facebook is free and not connected with Ancestry. I made the switch a long time ago.

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groups.io also offers the ability to send images and all other file types, either by adding them directly to each group’s web site or as attachments (with group moderator’s control over whether to allow the attachments), as well as searchable archives, topic threading, databases, wikis and more, and it has a very responsive support service. Quite a few people have tried both FB and groups.io, and they invariably then abandon FB. Unlike FB, groups.io makes a point of not monitoring what people do and does not sell personal details of any kind

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I have been a member of the Rootsweb Scotch-Irish mailing list for many years. Our administrator has already formed a new group on groups.io as of this morning and it’s working beautifully.

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This is a disgraceful decision decision. Ancestry should be ashamed and should be boycotted. What if we all took our trees off Ancestry?

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    I for one would love this. Ancestry and Who Do You Think You Are have brought tens of thousands of would be “genealogists” out who flood Ancestry trees with incorrect information. There is so much garbage on the Ancestry trees I seldom view them. The vast majority of the trees offer no proof for their listings. When they do, the proof is someone else’s tree that is so wrong. When I try to offer proof and suggest corrections, I’m ignored, or the person owning the tree admits they got the incorrect information from someone else’s tree.

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I belong to the Rootsweb Derbyshire list, which is very active. It migrated to groups.io yesterday, and is already running successfully.
Dick – it would be helpful if you could do a fresh post listing some of the alternatives to Rootsweb which have been mentioned in the comments to your original post. My impression is that a lot of people are floundering about with not much idea what to do next. They might not think of reading these comments, but are very likely to read a new post by you.

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Norfolk list is very active. I get postings several times a week and we are a very collegial group. Not sure what we will be doing to meet elsewhere. IMHO, this is not a good customer service PR move for Ancestry. But we will soldier on and find other ways to collaborate away from the Big A.

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