Ancestry.co.uk isn’t just a place to store your family tree and get access to family history records; an equally important resource is the community of Ancestry.co.uk and Ancestry.com members themselves. They've got a wealth of knowledge and experience that you can tap into. You'll find loads of varied topics under discussion in the community message boards, and it’s easy to track down other members through the site's directory and then make contact with them – using the Contact Member feature. Never be afraid to ask questions, everyone here was new once, and there's a very friendly atmosphere. In no time you'll be helping other newcomers too.
Click on the ‘Collaborate’ tab in the main navigation bar and you can see all the community features at a glance. It’s a good idea to get into the habit of dropping by each time you log into the site.
To get the best out of the community, make sure you create a public profile. To do this click ‘Edit your profile’ under your username at the right. Here you can give as much or as little information about yourself and your research interests as you like.
Click on the pencil symbols in the different sections at the right to enter more details about yourself or your research interests. It’s up to you how much information you share, though the more you add the easier it is for other people to find you.
There are tens of thousands of different message boards for all manner of subjects related to family history. To get a feel for the scope, try browsing the boards by locality or category – for example, you could look for Oxfordshire.
Click on a topic name and you can then see the thread (a conversation, with the original enquiry and then any replies underneath) under that topic. You can click reply to add your own response.
You can also add a thread to a list of favourite discussions, which you can come back to later at any time – a bit like bookmarking the page. Or try the ‘Add Board to Alerts’ feature, which will email you whenever a new post is added to this thread.
Whenever you are exploring your own tree, the Member Connect feature keeps track of other members who are researching the same people as you. Keep an eye on the ‘Recent Member Connect activity’ on the right when looking at an individual in your tree.
Now you can see a list of other people researching the same individual as you. Click ‘Connect’ next to each one to link your research with theirs and every time they add new details about that individual you can see what they are.
Go to the Collaborate tab at any time and choose the Recent Member Connect Activity option. This allows you to filter the information on what other Ancestry.co.uk and Ancestry.com members have discovered about people in your own family tree or trees.
A really handy and helpful feature is the Member Directory. You can use this directory to search and track down other members by research interests, such as a specific surname from a particular place. Use the Contact link to send them a private message.