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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1860/3679

Title: Information Sharing on Genealogy Message Boards
Authors: Willever-Farr, Heather
Zach, Lisl
Keywords: Genealogists;Family history
Issue Date: 8-Apr-2011
Publisher: Drexel University. College of Information Science and Technology.
Series/Report no.: IST Research Day 2011 posters
Abstract: According to the PEW Internet and American Life Project, 54 million Americans belong to a family in which a family member has used the Internet to research their genealogy. Researchers have further found that amateur genealogists prize informal information sharing with other genealogists to advance their research interests, and that the Internet has played a key role in facilitating information sharing. Given the importance of the Internet for the sharing of genealogical information, this poster will examine the information seeking and sharing activities of genealogists on the heavily used message boards on Ancestry.com, a popular family history website. In this study, the researchers extracted text from 951 posts from Ancestry.com’s “United States - General” message board. Employing a grounded theory approach, content analysis was utilized to categorize the primary content theme of each message board post. In addition, quantitative data, such as the number of participants in the message board exchanges and the answer rate to posted inquiries, was also collected. The exchange of messages was also mapped to determine whether there were reciprocal information exchanges occurring. Analysis reveals that posts offering specific genealogical data in response to posted queries were the most common type of post, and family history queries were the second most common type of post. Of the 187 queries posted to the message board, 167 received responses. Of those 167 queries, an average of 2.81 responses per query were posted. Thus, it appears that the message board is serving as a communal research service for genealogists by genealogists. Further analysis of the messages reveals that information exchange was unequal in nature: the majority of the answers posted in response to family history queries were provided by a small number of frequent contributors. This suggests the presence of “super sharers,” who disproportionately provide information to other genealogists.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1860/3679
Appears in Collections:Research Day Posters (IST)

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