Tuesday, January 7, 2020

RootsWeb Mailing Lists Shutting Down on 2 March 2020

An email from the RootsWeb Administrators to mailing list administrators says this:
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.
The RootsWeb team
It appears from the email message that users will no longer be able to send outgoing emails to a mailing list or accept incoming email message from a mailing list.

However, it does say that the mailing lists "... will be put into an archival state."  That probably means that users will be able to search the mailing list archives similar to the archived message board lists on Genealogy.com.

Ancestry.com is the owner of RootsWeb.com, and provides the server storage and mailing list software and support.  This is Ancestry.com's decision.

We may hear more about this.

The RootsWeb mailing lists can be found at https://mailinglists.rootsweb.com/listindexes/ Many of the surname mailing lists are Inactive at this time, but not all.  A user can search for a list from the link, and then see the list of years and months that have archived messages.  For example, the SEAVER-L mailing list is Inactive, and the last messages I found for the SEAVER-L list were from 2011.  So the archived messages are available.

A user can search all of the mailing list archives at https://lists.rootsweb.com/hyperkitty/

At this point in time, we haven't lost anything except the ability to add or read new content.  What's in the Mailing Lists are in the Mailing List Archives.   

Is it a big loss?  No, I don't think so. 
The volume of messages has dwindled to a precious few over the past ten years so social media lured people away from email.  Before 2010 or so, the "Genealogy social media" was message boards and mailing lists.  They were limited in what could be presented - no images, no links, no attachments, etc. Long message threads and email responses were difficult to follow.

I was receiving very few mailing list emails over the last five years.  All of the surname mailing lists I subscribed to were moribund or dormant.  The only list that I received more than one email in a month from was the Transitional Genealogists Forum list, which is where I found the message above.

This leaves the RootsWeb Message Boards (https://www.ancestry.com/boards/) as the only active message board system for genealogists to submit a message to and have a conversation on a dedicated message board or mailing list.  The RootsWeb message boards also have archives.

There are, of course, any number of message boards out there for genealogy subjects.  The most used are probably Facebook Groups for surnames, countries, states/provinces, counties, subjects, etc.  Are those worthwhile?  I don't think so.  There are other message boards and groups that permit images, links, attachments, etc.

Frankly, the really big loss would be if Ancestry.com removed the mailing list archives from the Internet.  That is not what is being announced.  

The loss of mailing list functionality (sending or receiving emails to/from a mailing list) on 2 March 2020 will not affect the currently inactive mailing lists (which may be 80 to 90% of all the 32,740 lists), but will put the currently active mailing lists in inactive status. 


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1 comment:

Marshall said...

The big loss here (mailing list vs message board) is that it is simple for anyone to archive the mailing list (just subscribe to the list, and all the emails come to you), while a message board has a single provider (Ancestry, in this case).