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This document contains responses to frequently asked questions related to genealogy in the Caribbean. Anyone wishing to post to the soc.genealogy.west-indies newsgroup or the associated mailing list, Caribbean-L, should read this document. This information will be posted to the newsgroup / list on a periodic basis. The FAQ is also available on the World Wide Web at http://www.rootsweb.com/~caribgw/mailinglist.html
Suggestions are welcome and should be sent to Dean de Freitas at email@example.com.
Chris Codrington and Margaret Olson contributed to the content of this document.
For general questions about Rootsweb Mailing Lists, check out the following FAQ's:
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Copyright 2002 by the CaribbeanGenWeb Project. All rights reserved.
This document may be freely distributed provided that the copyright notice is included. This document may NOT be included in any commercial publication without the express written consent of the CaribbeanGenWeb Project Coordinator.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What are the Caribbean-L Mailing List and the soc.genealogy.west-indies newsgroup? What is the the relationship between them?
2. How can I subscribe to the Caribbean-L List?
3. What are considered acceptable topics for discussion on this mail list /newsgroup?
4. I am a new user. What should I do to get started?
5. What is the "netiquette" for posting to this mail list / newsgroup?
6. What is the difference between a mailing list and a newsgroup?
7. Can I search old messages from the mail list or newsgroup?
8. Why doesn't the subject line contain a "prepend" indicating the name of the list like my other Rootsweb lists do?
9. I thought the list was moderated. Why does SPAM appear on the list sometimes?
10. Can I attach a file to the messages I post to the list?
11. Is there a surname index for this mailing list / newsgroup?
12. What is the difference between the Caribbean and the West Indies?
The best way to answer this question is to provide a little history. The soc.genealogy.west-indies newsgroup was created in 1996 as part of the soc.genealogy.* heirarchy on USENET. A history of the soc.genealogy newsgroups can be found at http://homepages.rootsweb.com/~socgen/index.htm. The rationale behind its creation, and a copy of the newsgroup charter is located at http://homepages.rootsweb.com/~socgen/Westind.htm.
The Caribbean-L mailing list was created at Rootsweb as a part of the CaribGenWeb Project. CaribGenWeb is one of many regions in the WorldGenWeb family and is an umbrella for sites dedicated to each of the countries in the region. The CaribGenWeb site is located at http://www.rootsweb.com/~caribgw/.
In 1999 a vote was taken among the subscribers of the mailing list to determine if the list should be "gatewayed" with the soc.genealogy.west-indies newsgroup to facilitate the flow of information and increase participation. The original post announcing the vote is at http://searches2.rootsweb.com/cgi-bin/ifetch2?/u1/textindices/C/CARIBBEAN+1998+20933358019+F, and the notification that the gateway had been implemented is here: http://searches2.rootsweb.com/cgi-bin/ifetch2?/u1/textindices/C/CARIBBEAN+1999+21643360234+F.
For more on the gatewayed lists at Rootsweb, visit http://homepages.rootsweb.com/~socgen/Abtmail.htm.
Instructions for subscribing are located at http://www.rootsweb.com/~caribgw/mailinglist.html
This group is for genealogical research related to the islands of the Caribbean. Posts about these topics must be relevant to Caribbean genealogy in some way. Acceptable topics include:
- Surname and family queries
- Historical information about the islands and their inhabitants
- Methods of research
- Sources of information
Inappropriate topics or posts are:
- Posts that sell or advertise a product are not appropriate. Information about the availabilty and price of a product or service related to the topics above are acceptable.
- Personal attacks on individuals or groups or posts that are inflammatory in nature will not be tolerated.
Violations of these policies may result in a report to the guilty party's Internet Service Provider (ISP).
The first thing that you should realize is that, for many reasons, genealogical research in the Caribbean is incredibly difficult when compared to resaerch in larger countries such as the U.S, Canada, or the U.K. Archives are typically understaffed, underfunded, and disorganized. Stories abound about invaluable historical documents piled in corners in old, non-climate controlled storage rooms. Vital records are also difficult to obtain, with Registrar's offices rarely responding to overseas requests for documents. Professional researchers in the islands are also few and far between. The good news is that many records have been archived by the governments that once controlled the islands. The Public Record Office (PRO) in the U.K. is one such place.
That being said, the best thing to do is post a message on the list or newsgroup with as much information as you know about your ancestors and ask for guidance. There are regular contributors to the list with experience in many of the islands. Many times they can provide guidance on where to start.
Another tactic that increases your chances of discovering information is to post your interests in as many forums as possible. Surname lists and newsroups, bulletin boards, and regional groups dedicated to the "mothe country" are just a few alternatives.
Most of all, be persistent. Many researchers have been contacted years after their original posts by new people just getting involved in their own research.
NOTE: If you are new to genealogy research online, please read "Getting Started" at http://www.woodgate.org/FAQs/new_user.html before posting to the list / newsgroup.
Netiquette guidelines for the soc.genealogy.* hierarchy will be followed in this group / list. Details are at http://www.woodgate.org/FAQs/netiquette.html. A good source of information for general mailing list netiquette is http://www.gweep.ca/~edmonds/usenet/ml-etiquette.html
Newsgroups have been around a long time - way before Rootsweb - way before AOL and Prodigy and the web. ROOTS-L and a newsgroup named soc.roots were formed about the same time and were joined a bit later by a couple of pioneers into a successful gateway which on very busy days got maybe 25 messages. It got up to 100 a day by 1994.
To start with, newsgroups are not "on Rootsweb". They are on your ISP's server or on servers at places like google.com. Newsgroups are anarchies with nobody at all in charge. Messages are transferred around the net to be picked up by servers in all kinds of places. Email is not involved.
I should say nobody is in charge of the unmoderated newsgroups, though the mailing list does have a list manager who takes care of the RootsWeb subscribers. Moderated newsgroups have moderators in charge - but they are there because they were voted in when the group was formed.
Rootsweb has mailing list mirrors of all 25 of the soc.genealogy.* newsgroups except for soc.genealogy.jewish and it has a mirror of alt.genealogy. The mirror/gateway lists get all the messages which go to the newsgroups and they post all their messages into the newsgroups. The very reason for the existence of these mailing lists is to mirror those newsgroups, so they live by newsgroups rules. Occasionally this causes a problem. It is important that the mailing list readers understand that the list manager cannot "do" anything about posts to the newsgroup.
Usually the gateways are invisible to the readers. Because of the anarchic nature of newsgroups sometimes off topic messages get through which cannot be controlled by a list manager.
Because newsgroups provide the "feature" of being able to crosspost to other newsgroups, the worst problems come from troublemakers from the newsgroups side of the gateway who purposely crosspost to unrelated newsgroups and cause a whole lot of crossposted replies from people who are not reading a genealogy group and may just love to argue or be vulgar. This does not happen often, but when it does, the mailing list readers tend to make it worse by yelling for the LISTOWNER TO DO SOMETHING which, of course, is impossible and which makes the vulgar people get more vulgar if they see it. A mailing list message will NOT get crossposted to the other lists, at least, but quotes of it may.
Many mailing list subscribers are surprised to find their messages are on newsgroups and vice versa. The connection, though, is beneficial to all. A mailing list with 1000 subscribers possibly has 10,000 readers on the newsgroup side of the gateway - maybe more.
(This information is from a posting by Margaret Olson to the Listowners-L mailing list dated November 29, 2000. Reprinted with permission.)
The mailing list messages are archived from 1998 to the present. They can be searched interactively, or read in a "threaded" format by month. The interactive search page is http://listsearches.rootsweb.com/cgi-bin/listsearch.pl?list=CARIBBEAN. The threaded archives are at http://archiver.rootsweb.com/CARIBBEAN-L.
Newsgroup postings from 1995 to the present can be found at Google Groups ( http://groups.google.com/advanced_group_search).
Posts made after the gateway was activated in 1999 should appear in both archives.
The "prepend" option has been disabled on Caribbean-L to avoid confusion for readers who access the posts through soc.genealogy.west-indies. This is typical of all gatewayed lists.
The list is NOT moderated. The list is "closed", which means only subscribers may post. The list is also gatewayed with the USENET newsgroup, which is "filtered". While these tools keep most SPAM out, some postings can get through these controls. The List Administrator will take approriate action against any subscriber that violates the SPAM policy, but there is not much we can do to stop the occassional newsgroup post that makes it through the filters, except ignore it. Responding to offensive or commericial SPAM messages only perpetuates them, so please refrain from doing so.
No, all attachments are stripped from posts before they are sent to subscribers on the mailing list. Attachments to posts on the newsgroup are subject to normal USENET limitations.
There is no "official" surname index for this group. One of our subscribers maintains a free list called CARSURDEX (CARibbean SURname InDEX) at http://www.candoo.com/surnames/index.html.
Another useful resource is the Surname Helper (http://surhelp.rootsweb.com/srchall.html), which allows a user to search the Message Boards and Websites at Rootsweb.
The difference is a technical one, and of minor importance in usage today . The term "West Indies" refers to the archipelago of islands stretching from Florida to South America. It is comprised of the Bahamas, the Greater Antilles, and the Lesser Antilles. The term "Caribbean" refers to the region of the world where the West Indies is located. These terms are interchangeable in common usage.
In historical terms, the West Indies is divided up by their respective colonial rulers. For example, reference is made to the British West Indies, French West Indies, Danish West Indies, etc. Within this context, some countries on the South and Central American mainland were included in the grouping due to their close economic and cultural ties. One common example is that British Guiana (now Guyana) was considered a part of the British West Indies.