In today's chat, we've been discussing the problem of identifying relatives in old family albums that have been handed down through the family, where the current custodians of the albums are now the oldest generation, and can't ask older relatives.

A lot of good suggestions have been made, and I wonder if it would be useful to mine the chat and make a question.

Since it came up in discussion, and we've been discussing it, one obvious objection might be that it's not really a question and answer, but something that's good for discussion.

How might it be made into a good question? By posting the relevant place and estimated date range for the album?

I can't post example photos from my album, because I no longer have it (my brother sent it to a cousin). A friend in a similar situation (the album's existence was discovered when a parent died) is in the same boat (that is, she doesn't have possession of the album -- another relative has it).

If the chat topic each week is productive, will this problem recur every week (good stuff will be mentioned which people want to save in question/answer format)?

I'd welcome comments from people who have much more experience on SE.

I note that this question is similar to Are we happy to see more self-answered questions? and would welcome pointers to other guidelines on writing good questions.


2 Answers 2


There are a number of good guides for asking questions suitable for the StackExchange system. When I send warning emails to users on Mathematica.SE about low-quality questions, the template emails include several useful links, including a guide on asking good questions, and a checklist from StackOverflow, though it's more about programming. There is a similar “how to ask page” for G&FH.SE. It might be possible to come up with a similar (ideally shorter) checklist for genealogy questions.

Your specific example is a good one, and could be made into a “double-duty” question that both helps the individual with their individual family research, as well as being of more general assistance. There was some discussion of this in my earlier meta posting here.


I think that a good Question can come from anywhere so chat is certainly a source that can be mined.

The main thing for me is that what gets asked can be summarized as a title which is itself a question, and then the background and any additional relevant details can be placed in the body of that focussed Question.

A suitably focussed Question can usually be posed and answered in a few paragraphs.

Here and here are examples of how I sought help with old photos from family albums.

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