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Certain topics roll around every year, and I wonder if we can leverage this by reserving a few slots in the calendar for Monthly Topic Challenges dedicated to this.

for example: Every year for St. Patrick's Day, the big sites often have free access to Irish records. In November, we often see free access to military records.

Should we propose topic challenges to coincide with these annual events? If so -- should they be on the calendar before, during, or after?

  1. Before: so that people can have some time to clarify their thoughts and figure out what questions they want to investigate once the free access starts.
  2. During: so people who might not have access to featured collections can work on the questions while the free access is on
  3. After: so people who discovered things during the free access period can showcase what they found in self-answered questions.

Your thoughts?

I don't think we should fill up every month with a challenge, but we could use these two topics as anchor points which could be promoted every year.

We haven't talked a lot about promoting the topic challenges. A site-focused blog would be one way to do it, but SE has shut down the blogs here, so that would have to be hosted somewhere else. I've done some promotion on Twitter, and I'm starting to share more on Facebook. But (once again) I'm frustrated by not having a place to chat with the newcomers before they are ready to post.

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I think this might be a good way to keep the topic challenges active and relevant. I would tend to go with the "during" category – I think that is when most people will have their questions. And in the cases of free record weekends there may still be time to go back and look at more records based on the answers the question receives.

On a related note, it could also be useful to have topic challenges about "current events" in genealogy. Whether that be the release of a major dataset or website (I'm thinking of things on the order of the 1939 Register or the New GRO Index), new popular genealogy software, genealogy conferences, new DNA tests, etc. Basically we want those questions that lots of people Google to be directed here. Part of that is having the questions asked here before they are asked on any number of other genealogy websites, and topic challenges are a way we could encourage such questions.

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