Member Forum Frequently Asked Questions

1. HOW AND WHY WAS THE FORUM CREATED?

2. WHAT IS THE E-MAIL FORUM FOR?

3. WHO CAN JOIN THE FORUM?

4. HOW DO I SEND A MESSAGE TO EVERYBODY ON THE FORUM?

5. WHAT SORT OF MESSAGES ARE APPROPRIATE TO SEND TO THE FORUM?

6. WHAT SORT OF MESSAGES ARE INAPPROPRIATE?

7. HOW DO I SEND A REPLY TO AN INDIVIDUAL?

8. HOW DO I SEND A REPLY TO EVERONE ON THE FORUM?

9. HOW DO I KNOW IF MY MESSAGE OR REPLY HAS GONE TO EVERYBODY?

10. WHY DO I SOMETIMES GET TWO COPIES OF A REPLY?

11. HOW DO I JOIN THE FORUM?

12. I HAVE APPLIED TO JOIN BUT NOTHING HAS HAPPENED?

13. HOW DO I UNSUBSCRIBE?

14. I HAVE FORGOTTEN MY PASSWORD - WHAT DO I DO?

15. HOW DO I EDIT MY OPTIONS?

16. HOW DO I FIND OUT WHO IS ON THE FORUM?

17. I AM GOING AWAY AND DON'T WANT A FULL MAILBOX WHEN I RETURN?

18. I`VE STOPPED RECEIVING MESSAGES, WHAT`S HAPPENED?

19. CAN I RECEIVE THE SAME INFORMATION BUT IN FEWER MESSAGES?

20. I'VE MISSED SOME MESSAGES, CAN I GET THE OLD ONES?

21. WHY SHOULD I SEND MY MESSAGES IN PLAIN TEXT AND NOT HTML FORMAT?

22. DO I NEED TO BE CONCERNED ABOUT VIRUSES ARRIVING IN EMAIL?

23. WHAT IS THE RELATION BETWEEN THE MAIL FORUM AND THE MEMBERSHIP DATABASE?

24. WHAT SHOULD I INCLUDE IN MY SIGNATURE FILE?

25. HOW ARE FORUM MEMBERS EXPECTED TO BEHAVE?

26. I HAVE CHANGED MY E-MAIL ADDRESS - HOW DO I REDIRECT MY MAIL?

27. I USE TWO ADDRESSES - CAN I SEND MAIL TO THE FORUM FROM BOTH?

28. WILL I GET SPAM FROM THE FORUM?

29. WHY DO WE RECEIVE MESSAGES FROM This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.?

1. HOW AND WHY WAS THE FORUM CREATED ?
Joe Houghton published his email address in the Manchester Genealogist and the first list of members with email addresses who had submitted to join in these exchanges was published in Vol.31 No.2 in 1995. Phil Stringer  set up an email list at his workplace to avoid having to keep passing the published list around. This originally used MAJORDOMO software but in March 2005 this was replaced with MAILMAN. In anticipation of Phil's retirement, the service was transferred in October 2011 to the commercial service provider EMWD.

2. WHAT IS THE E-MAIL FORUM FOR?

•To provide a way to pass on information to members that cannot wait for the next issue of the journal.

•To provide an easy means for society members to get in touch with other members via email.

•To provide a mechanism for asking all those awkward questions where you have come to a dead end and want to know what to try next.

3. WHO CAN JOIN THE FORUM?

Any paid up member of the Manchester & Lancashire Family History Society may join the Forum. It is an added benefit from society membership, which can be particularly helpful for those members who do not live near Manchester.

4. HOW DO I SEND A MESSAGE TO THE FORUM?

When you are registered as a Forum member, simply send your message to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. A copy will be forwarded to each forum member (including yourself).

5. WHAT SORT OF MESSAGES ARE APPROPRIATE TO SEND TO THE FORUM?

•Requests for help with genealogical problems.

•Answers to other people's questions that you think will be of interest to other members.

•If somebody asks for something to be looked up and you are going to do it for them, then tell the Forum to prevent duplication of effort.

•If you come across a new source of information that you think will be of interest, then announce it but if you are new to the Forum, please try and make sure that what is new to you is not common knowledge to everybody else.

When you send messages or replies to the Forum, please follow the normal email conventions such as:

•Ensure the subject line describes the topic of the message. e.g. “Help Wanted” is very uninformative, “1891 census search for CROSS in Lytham” is far better. If a reader's mailbox has a lot of messages in it you need something to catch their eye.

•Do not quote a previous message in full. Quote just enough to make sense and identify what you are replying to. It is hard work scrolling round a lot of text to find out what is new.

6. WHAT SORT OF MESSAGES ARE INAPPROPRIATE?

•Anything not related to M&LFHS, genealogy, Family History, local history or the use of computers to help with your research.

•Long discussions about specific points. If this starts to happen then the participants should take it upon themselves to open a private discussion and hopefully when a consensus is reached it may be appropriate to post a summary to the Forum.

•When you reply to a Forum message just quote as much text from the previous message as is relevant. Cut out all the irrelevant material otherwise it gets too big and readers don't want to have to wade through what they have already read.

•Messages about viruses and email scams - if you feel a message needs to be posted, contact the Forum manager.

•Advertising or anything of a commercial nature. If you wish to send something which is of this nature but which you still feel would be of benefit to Forum members, contact John Marsden or John Evans at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. who will advise you whether it can be posted.

 •If you wish to post a query on a topic which is not genealogy related, please preface the subject of your message with NON-GEN (including the hyphen). This will allow those who do not wish to see such messages to filter them out.

•If you do not want to see NON-GEN messages, change your options as described in 15 below. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and in the third item from the bottom 'Which topic categories would you like to subscribe to?' , check the box alongside 'MLFHS Genealogy Messages'. Click the button 'Submit My Changes'

7. HOW DO I SEND A REPLY TO AN INDIVIDUAL?

The Forum is set up so that a simple reply to a message will just go to the originator. It will depend to some degree on which software you use to read mail and how it is configured but if you just reply it is unlikely to go to everybody else on the Forum. Please do not reply to individuals unless the answer is not appropriate to the other Forum members.

8. HOW DO I SEND A REPLY TO EVERYONE ON THE FORUM?

Again it depends on the mail software. You may need to click 'Reply All' and delete all recipients other than the Forum address. If your reply goes to more than three addresses, it will be held by the forum server as suspected 'spam' until released by the Forum manager. This may lead to a 24 hour or longer delay in it appearing.

9. HOW DO I KNOW IF MY MESSAGE OR REPLY HAS GONE TO EVERYBODY?

If a copy of the message or reply comes back to you then it has gone to the Forum, as of course you are a member of the Forum.

10. WHY DO I SOMETIMES GET TWO COPIES OF A REPLY?

If somebody sends a group reply to a message that you sent, so that everybody in the Forum sees the message, then you are likely to receive two copies. That is because you get the direct reply and because you are on the Forum you get the copy that goes to the Forum as well.

11. HOW DO I JOIN THE FORUM?

Select the Forum option on the 'Quick Links' selector on the home page. Complete the short membership subscription form and press the 'Submit' button.

12. I HAVE APPLIED TO JOIN BUT NOTHING HAS HAPPENED?

When you apply to join the Forum your application does not get processed immediately. It is passed to the Forum maintainer (currently John Marsden) who confirms that it is OK for you to join. So you have to wait for the Forum maintainer to read and deal with their e-mail. In the worst case this may take 3-4 days.

13. HOW DO I UNSUBSCRIBE?

This procedure is if you wish to permanently unsubscribe, if you are only wanting to stop receiving mail temporarily you simply change "Mail delivery" in Edit Options from Enabled to Disabled. To unsubscribe CLICK HERE. Scroll to the bottom of the page and enter your subscription e-mail address in the box provided (unsubscribe or edit options) Then press the button, another page will appear with a second unsubscribe button, press this as well and that is the process completed.

14. I HAVE FORGOTTEN MY PASSWORD - WHAT DO I DO?

If you have forgotten  your Password, select the Forum option on the 'Quick Links' selector on the home page. Log in and scroll to the bottom of the page. Click the button labelled 'Remind' and you will be sent an e-mail containing your password.

15. HOW DO I EDIT MY OPTIONS ?

When you first subscribe your membership will be set to a number of default options. If you wish to change this or any other option, select the Forum option on the 'Quick Links' selector on the home page, log in and enter your subscribed email address against the Unsubscribe or Edit Options button. Enter this and the full range of options is there for you to make any necessary changes.

16. HOW DO I FIND OUT WHO IS ON THE FORUM ?

Select the Forum option on the 'Quick Links' selector on the home page. Scroll down and put your email address and password in the boxes under the MLFHS Subscriber List heading and click 'Visit Subscriber List'. The List will then be displayed. There are two lists, one for non-digest members and one for digest members. They are displayed side by side in numeric alpha order by email address. There is an option to conceal your address if so desired. To do this log in and enter your email address against the Unsubscribe or Edit Options button, enter your password on the next screen, log in and scroll down to the question "Conceal yourself from the Subscriber List" and enter YES for this option.

17. I AM GOING AWAY AND DON`T WANT A FULL MAILBOX WHEN I RETURN ?

With the new MAILMAN system it is now much easier to stop receiving mail temporarily. Go to EDIT OPTIONS and change Mail delivery from Enabled to Disabled.

18. I`VE STOPPED RECEIVING MESSAGES, WHAT'S HAPPENED ?

If you receive no messages this could be due to a number of reasons e.g A full mailbox or other problems related to the member rather than MLFHS. The Forum may try to send but may suspend deliveries if messages are repeatedly bounced. Also another possibility could be due to the members subscription having lapsed, though we usually warn before a purge of this nature.

19. CAN I RECEIVE THE SAME INFORMATION BUT IN FEWER MESSAGES ?

There are options for FULL or DIGEST membership. With the full version you will received each message as it is received by the Forum. In the DIGEST mode you will receive them packed together, about 10 or 12 at a time.

20. I`VE MISSED SOME MESSAGES, CAN I GET THE OLD ONES.?

Yes, we now have the MLFHS ARCHIVES, which date back to 1996. They can either be viewed on line or downloaded by year and month. The viewable option gives you the ability to view either by [THREAD] [SUBJECT] [AUTHOR] or [DATE]. Select the Forum option on the 'Quick Links' selector on the home page. In the first paragraph you will see the MLFHS ARCHIVES link. Click on this link then make your choice eg. If you wanted to look at February 2005 messages by date, you will go to that month and click on [DATE] . You then have a hyper-link list in date order also showing subject and author. Click on this link to read the individual message.

21. WHY SHOULD I SEND MY MESSAGES IN PLAIN TEXT AND NOT HTML FORMAT?

A common error is unwittingly sending messages to MLFHS in HTML format, which is often the default format that exists in many email programs. HTML is the mark up language for creating World Wide Web (WWW) internet pages. This default is set in many programs and results in two copies of the message being sent, one in HTML and another in PLAIN TEXT. HTML formatting allows different fonts etc. in your email but all it really does is double the size of each message, so potentially increasing telephone costs. The fact that this happens is transparent to the sender but not to a receiver who is operating in PLAIN TEXT mode. It will also cause problems for MAILMAN, which does not understand it and for those on the digest list. Each digest user has to deal with huge amounts of gobbledygook, which is how the HTML version appears to them.

Some ISPs give you software preconfigured to use HTML, especially the free ones.

The rule for MLFHS is NOT to send HTML messages. There will be an option in your mailer to switch it off, so check now and disable it. For Example in Outlook Express, Select TOOLS, OPTIONS, SEND, and select the Plain Text button. Choosing the plain text button automatically deselects the neighbouring HTML button, select APPLY before exiting. When the default is set to plain text individual messages can still be easily changed to HTML if desired, by left clicking on FORMAT on the menu bar when the individual message is being composed and selecting Rich Text (HTML) which applies for that specific message. After that message has been completed and SEND as been chosen the next message that is composed reverts to plain text without further action being necessary.

Failure to send in plain text causes annoyance to members of the Forum, so explore your mailer software and select Plain Text before sending messages to the MLFHS Forum.

22. DO I NEED TO BE CONCERNED ABOUT VIRUSES ARRIVING IN EMAIL?

No, Viruses are contained in attachments to messages and all attachments are removed by the Forum server software. Even so, you may contract a virus from other sources and so should follow some simple rules. If you are running a MAC or running the UNIX operating system then you are running a system that is less susceptible to these problems. The majority of you will be running a version of Windows and as such should always be running up to date anti-virus software. There is no problem at all in reading plain text emails but just be careful with programs or attachments. You are only susceptible if you run a program or open an email attachment without first checking it with a virus checker. You should follow this rule even if the email appears to be from somebody you know, as either they may have been inadvertently infected or the virus may have "spoofed" the sender address.

23. WHAT IS THE RELATION BETWEEN THE MAIL FORUM AND THE MEMBERSHIP DATABASE?

None at all! The society records members` email addresses in the membership database but you must change your address on the Forum and your address on the membership database separately. If you are a new email user then please inform This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. so that your email address can be added to the membership database. Please also tell them when your email address changes.

24.WHAT SHOULD I INCLUDE IN MY SIGNATURE FILE?

Always `sign` your messages with your name, brief address and your MLFHS membership number. Answers to your genealogical questions will vary considerably in Salford, San Fransisco or Samalaeulu.

Always 'sign' your messages with your name and your preferred email address. This is especially important because some email and newsreader software do not always convey the originator,s full email address. While you may certainly include your regular mail address in your postings, you may wish to give this out only in personal replies, when necessary.

Please DO NOT include a list of the surnames you are researching in your signature file. If the messages are archived (and most newsgroups are archived) and somebody is searching for your surname, they need to find it only once, hopefully it will have your address with it as well. If they are searching and get too many hits, then they may not request all the messages and therefore may miss seeing your message.

25. HOW ARE FORUM MEMBERS EXPECTED TO BEHAVE?

This is something which should not need to be mentioned, but members are expected to behave in a polite and courteous manner when emailing other society members. There are a large number of Forum members, all with different views on what should appear on the Forum and how they should interact with other members. A good guide is not to send a message which you would not like to receive yourself!

If you are unfortunate enough to have problems with another Forum member then do please discuss them with the Forum manager, who will help to resolve it. I do reserve the right to remove anybody from the Forum who does not behave in an appropriate manner!

26. I HAVE CHANGED MY ISP - HOW DO I REDIRECT MY MAIL?

Submit an application to join as described in 12 above. Then log into the system using your old address and Unsubscribe to remove this from the Forum.

27. I USE TWO ADDRESSES - CAN I SEND TO THE Forum FROM BOTH?

Yes. You can subscribe to the Forum from two (or more) addresses as described in 12 above. Messages to the Forum will be accepted from either address. If you only want to receive mail to one of the addresses, set the mail delivery option for the other address to Disabled as described in 18 above.

28. WILL I GET SPAM FROM THE FORUM ?

No. The new software will only allow mail onto the Forum which originates from the address of a registered member. If the member address is 'spoofed' by malware, spam mailings which are addressed to more than three addresses will be held for approval by the Forum manager, who will delete them to stop them being sent out.

29. WHY DO WE RECEIVE MESSAGES FROM This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.?

The "bounces" reference is part of the arrangement to stop mail perpetually circulating from dead addresses. Consider this:

You mail the Forum and it sends to a copy at a dud address so the mail system returns it to the sender (Forum). The Forum sends it to all the members including the dud address which bounces it back to the Forum which sends.....

...ad infinitum.

You send mail to "mlfhs" but the system uses the "mlfhs-bounces" address as sender. Mail to a dud address returns to "mlfhs-bounces" and goes no further.

[Last updated: 30 March 2020 - John Marsden]