At its core, GenForum is simply an Internet forum. Like other Internet forums, GenForum lets users post questions and comments under different message boards, and other users can respond to posts with their own feedback. The original posts, along with all of the responses to those posts, are kept on the site for any other visitors to search through, so forums are constantly gaining more and more content. In GenForum's case, anyone can read the posts written by the site's users. To contribute to the conversation, however, you'll need to register. The registration process, which is free, is surprisingly difficult. Because GenForum is part of a larger site, Genealogy.com, registration for both sites is tied together, which seems to complicate the process. The easiest way to sign up on GenForum is to jump right in and attempt to post to a discussion. The site will then bring up a page asking you to register, along with a link to the registration form. Of course, to make the registration page show up, you'll need to know how to search through forums to begin with. Fortunately, finding information on GenForum is easier than getting registered.
To find a message board about a particular surname, region or topic, users simply enter what they are looking for in the "Forum Finder"on the home page. The Forum Finder won't search the content of messages on discussion boards, however, so you'll need to start with a broad search and sift through the information from there. For instance, to find information on George Washington, you'll need to search for "Washington" and then click on "Washington Family Forum." From within the forum, you'll then be able to search for George specifically. The process is a little cumbersome, but it works. Fortunately, the site has nearly every last name imaginable, from "Aagre" to "Zyzelewski," so you have a strong chance of finding something -- or someone -- you might need. GenForum also lets you search for surnames by letter and search regionally by country and state.
Once you've found the forum you're looking for, you can begin reading the conversations people have had about different families and regions. If you're looking for information about a particular relative and can't find a discussion about that person, just create your own post. Make sure to include as much information as you can about the person you're trying to research, particularly birth and death dates, birthplaces and names of relatives. This information will help other forum members make the connection between their own research and the information you're looking for, and it will also serve as a resource for future inquiries into a particular family or region. Like other forums, GenForum is moderated by administrators who act as digital security guards. These admins make sure that messages are related to genealogy and don't contain any hateful or obscene content. GenForum also asks that users make sure someone hasn't already posted about a particularly subject before making new posts. That way, all of the information about a particular person can be found in one place. Of course, most of these practices are standard for other Internet forums, including GenForum's competitors. Read on to see what sets GenForum apart.