Ancestry.com is a great resource for doing family history. It allows you to make family trees, add sources and photos, and search their records. It's also a good tool for social networking.
Ancestry has message boards that users can post to when seeking help with research. You can post by location, topic, and even surname. The message boards are fully searchable with lots of options. You can search within each specific category as well.
Ancestry also owns Rootsweb, which is another great community and set of message boards. Aside from message boards there are lots of other great resources that can be found through rootsweb. We will be looking more into those later in the month.
When you go to a message board, first do a basic search. If you are trying to find something, there is a chance someone else also has looked and has information already on the site. Search for surnames using various spellings, look for the places you are researching, or go to a topic like military or immigration. If you can't find any information already on the boards, then create a post and ask for help.
Be patient, not everyone is on the boards regularly. Sometimes you have to wait months or years to get information or help (depending on how specific your question/inquiry is). Other times it takes just a few hours or days.
If you leave you inquiry a little broad, you might be more likely to find people doing similar research, or people working in the same location who can help you out with information or resources. At the same time, give lots of information to help others find you and help in your research. If you put lots of names, dates, and locations in your post, others are more likely to find it in a search themselves. And, you can always start broadly, and add more information as the thread of posts grows and people ask for details or clarification.
And when you use message boards, be sure to thank other genealogists who have been helpful and who replied to your posts. A little politeness goes a long way.
Ancestry also allows you to message other members. When you are doing research, you may come across photos or documents uploaded by other members. You can add them to your tree, and often see other trees to which the same photo or document has been added. Some trees are private, but others are not. You can contact the tree owners and ask permission to see the tree, ask how they are related to the ancestor you share, or any other communication. Click on the profile picture to look at who else has used the photo, and you can contact them.
How do you use Ancestry to connect with other researchers?