A lot of us are just getting used to this exciting international community Q&A. At least some of us are used to asking questions on/in local or regional boards and forums.

Is it within the bounds of good SE practice to use the faq to encourage members to at least provide a general reference for where they live--the name of the country, for example.

  • Is your question about the location they currently live in or the location relevant to the question or the locations you as a genealogist are interested in? It would be helpful to clarify that in the question, and to clarify why you think the information would be useful. It would also be useful to clarify the specificity of 'general residence info'. Wanting to know the person is from Ireland is different than wanting to know their city is different than wanting to know their street address.
    – Duncan
    Commented Oct 25, 2012 at 11:02
  • Good point, @Duncan. I refined the statement in the body of the question. Now reads, "to at least provide a general reference for where they live--the name of the country, for example."
    – GeneJ
    Commented Oct 25, 2012 at 11:12

6 Answers 6


We went through a similar process in the early days of gardening.SE (actually, we still are) -- where geography is a crucial part of getting good answers. It's important that the FAQ include that question-askers should include geography as part of the question, but I have doubts about how many people actually read the FAQ...

IMO, the profile is not where the information belongs -- everything relevant should be in the question. For a few reasons: First, not everyone will click through to the profile. Second, the profile is subject to change. (what if I move from East Coast USA to West Coast? That shouldn't suddenly change the context of all of my questions.) Third, having the relevant info in the question makes it so that search can find it -- both people coming in from search engines and people using the GFH.SE search feature.

In the end I think the best approach is what GeneJ, Luke, JustinY, and others have been doing -- add a comment requesting more information. Asking good questions is hard. Often when you have a problem you don't really know what exactly you should be asking for, so you need some guidance.

  • 1
    +1 ... Asking good questions is much harder than it "looks." Your experience is helpful. Much appreciated.
    – GeneJ
    Commented Oct 25, 2012 at 0:28

Since signatures and taglines are not allowed in questions or answers, I think we can also encourage users (maybe in our FAQ) to include the family lines and places they are researching in their "About me" description, e.g.:

Louis Kessler
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Braunstein, Meraru, Focsaner, Segal, Hertzan (Moldavia, Romania)
Keslar, Katkow (???, Russia)
Herman, Lapides, Zew (Mezhirichi, Volhynia, Ukraine)
Goretski, Silverber, Tabachnikov (Odessa, Ukraine)
Kushneer, Lerman (Lukashevka, Ukraine)
Zaslovsky (Tetiev, Ukraine)
Furman, Oshila (Zhitomir, Ukraine)
Muchnik, Dubowa (Kodnia, Ukraine)
  • I like this suggestion... added to my own profile
    – Andrew
    Commented Oct 25, 2012 at 10:31
  • Although I am suggesting this, I sheepishly admit I'm not using my own suggestion ... mainly because my profile is also for my other Stack Exchange accounts (e.g. programming) and not just for genealogy. But I am going to add a link to "My Family Research" page: lkessler.com/myfamily.shtml
    – lkessler
    Commented Oct 25, 2012 at 12:58
  • Each site has a seperate profile, unless you "Copy to all" - so my G&FH profile has this, but others do not
    – Andrew
    Commented Oct 25, 2012 at 13:32
  • @Andrew. It's tricky to maintain two profiles, especially when the "Copy to all" wipes them all out, but your suggestion is a good idea.
    – lkessler
    Commented Oct 25, 2012 at 14:12

There's a badge, called Autobiographer. If you fill out every field in your profile, you'll receive it. So far, 85 of our 279 users have received it (about 30%).

Here is the description from List of all badges with full descriptions.


  • bronze; awarded once
  • Enter something in every field of your user profile
  • I like your web solution of putting a SE address. Wasn't fond of age question but decided can be creative
    – Jeni
    Commented Oct 23, 2012 at 19:45

Quite apart from getting the Autobiographer badge, people asking questions need to be aware that before answering a question many users check the profile for location in order to get a geographical context. If I ask a question about German records, it is in my interest that the person answering knows that I am unable to visit the Rathaus.

The FAQ should emphasise that providing fuller information (including the profile) leads to more relevant answers.

  • In addition to more relevant answers, it may well contribute to a better understanding of the question and thus better ranking. (Including better support for editing of the question, as the case may be.)
    – GeneJ
    Commented Oct 23, 2012 at 22:42

Whilst I can understand some people not wanting to share too much info on the internet, location data (town/city and country) is sufficient that everyone should feel comfortable in including this on their profile.

Also, the website field could link to their on-line tree.

And, as others have suggested, there is the incentive of the Autobiographer badge...


I can see how the location of the person asking the question is important in (for example) a gardening forum.

But here we are generally asking questions about locations where ancestors or relatives lived, not where we are now.

Sometimes it might be of value to add "I live in Canberra, is there anywhere local I could find this Queensland data?", but that's really the exception.

I spend different parts of each year in different countries so I generally don't put location information. Across multiple sites it's too much to maintain (and, it's of no real use).

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