User 492 has inquired about the most useful tools for genealogists. ACProctor has offered up an answer, but comments to the post suggest it needs a little work to be a good fit for this new Q&A site.

Some aspect of this question is probably part of many of our "how do I" postings.

Are there suggestions for how this question can be edited to make it a good fit for the site? Is it fine as written?

  • @Duncan This meta wasn't intended to reflect my intention to "improve" the question. It seemed the comments on the question were becoming extended; thought this forum would be better.
    – GeneJ
    Commented Nov 28, 2012 at 23:53
  • 2
    The only reason that I did not add a close vote immediately is that this is a new user. If there is not a significant edit made to respond to the great comments and suggestions when user492 next connects, then that dispensation is withdrawn.
    – Fortiter
    Commented Nov 29, 2012 at 2:06
  • 1
    I tried to answer it as best I can. I would recommend the existing question be left in tact and that user492 generate new questions with a little more specificity.
    – ACProctor
    Commented Nov 29, 2012 at 10:19
  • I'm with @Fortiter -- user492 need to respond to comments when they next connect, otherwise I'll vote to close.
    – user104
    Commented Dec 1, 2012 at 16:05
  • @ACProctor, the problem with leaving it intact is that a later, better, more focused question on the same topic runs the risk of being closed as a duplicate.
    – user104
    Commented Dec 1, 2012 at 16:07
  • @ColeValleyGirl ... me thinks your point is so important ... worthy of another meta.
    – GeneJ
    Commented Dec 1, 2012 at 16:09
  • 1
    @GeneJ, have at it! I'm recovering from norovirus, so rationing my time at the screen right now!
    – user104
    Commented Dec 1, 2012 at 16:10

4 Answers 4


Unfortunately I'd count this question as being considerably broad and without a discrete goal in mind; as such I would vote to close it. It is a polling question whose answer is fundamentally unobtainable.

Let me be clear, the question is not a bad one! What I am saying is that it is unsuitable for the kind of response GFH (or any Stackexchange site) is designed to elicit.

I am grateful that people like user492 are coming to the site and I would be interested to help them achieve goals and milestones in their genealogical pursuits. I would encourage user492 to pick a genealogical path, walk down it some, and when they hit something to come back and pose a question at that time.

(I quickly googled a similar question for programmers and found this, which seems to support my claim.)


I believe the se experience is that it is best to stay away from both 'subjective' questions and list answers on the main site.

It may be appropriate to have a list/vote question on meta in the form of a survey. Maybe a series of questions (what tool do you use to make your gedcom, what sites do you keep online ancestry on, what sites do you use to research). If we did it on the meta, kept the answers to the facts (one person 'answers' ancestry.com without any subjective opinion on it, and everyone who uses ancestry 'votes up' that answer. Then the 'list' would be the set of answers, and the votes would show how many of us used what.

I don't know if that would work but it would probably be closer to addressing the needs than a question on main. I would worry we wouldn't keep the subjective opinions from surfacing (maybe we could keep them to the comments).


Just an observation. StackOverflow has a closed question similar in type to this one:


This question was closed 1.5 years ago. It was closed as not constructive because it is a subjective list question. Closed questions that aren't improved are supposed to be deleted but this one has been kept and has 35K hits. Before being closed the question had 57 up votes and the top answer had 71 upvotes. What this tells me is that even though it "isn't a good question", it is useful to many beginners. So maybe we should make a good answer to it before closing.


Tools a Genealogist use to research family history are abundant, are there a set of tools everyone uses or are the tools a personal preference?

  • This is still a poll question. NC.
    – Luke_0
    Commented Nov 29, 2012 at 2:02
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    Instead, it would be better to describe a problem faced. Then ask for a solution. The problem with this question is my method of preserving genealogical data might not work for you, or other future visitors searching for an answer. More details would make it more useful. Hope this helps! :)
    – jmort253
    Commented Nov 29, 2012 at 4:33
  • Both RobertC and jmort253 remind us that the closer we keep to problems actually faced (more than pondered) the better the question. Moving beyond the pondering stage could mean as little as having developed a plan but found or can describe a problem. (Which means you can describe the plan and the problem.)
    – GeneJ
    Commented Nov 29, 2012 at 20:55

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