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JewishGen Discussion Group Guidelines

All JewishGen and hosted groups are moderated by volunteers. The Moderators are responsible for ensuring that all posted messages conform to certain basic principles. Messages that violate these principles will be returned with comments to the sender or, in extreme cases, simply deleted.

Topicality, Relevancy and Content
Advertising and Commercial Solicitation
Solicitation for other Non-Profits and/or Causes


Disagreements and corrections are common and accepted.  What's not acceptable is name-calling, accusations, etc., against other posters or against other organizations.  Personal criticism or criticism of organizations, including JewishGen, is not allowed.

"Netiquette" refers to the basic rules of courtesy that should be observed in all communication on the Internet. In particular, JewishGen asks:

  • that you do not publicly post personal information of any individual, living or possibly alive (the moderator will remove any third-party personal contact information);
  • that you do not make derogatory or prejudicial remarks or attack others personally for their postings (to do so is "flaming"), but maintain a civil tone in your posts;
  • that you do not post any copyright-protected material (including but not limited to excerpts from books, magazines, newspapers, or electronic media) without the written permission of the copyright holder;
  • that you do not copy material found elsewhere and attempt to post it on JewishGen lists without first getting the permission of the author (material found on a Web page will not be posted even with permission, but should be represented by a link and a very brief statement about what will be found on the linked page);
  • that as a subscriber to a JewishGen list, if you have products or services for sale you refrain from targeting the other members of the list with your advertising messages, since this constitutes an abuse and misuse of the e-mail addresses revealed to you.


The body of a message needs to be readable. Moderators may edit format such as use of case or line breaks, but will not change content. If message content does not conform with JewishGen Discussion Group guidelines, Moderators will return it with suggestions detailing what changes need to be made.

  • Topical Subject Lines.  All subject lines should be topical to the body of the message. Moderators may change the subject line as necessary, to accurately reflect the content of the message. When responding to a post, the best subject line is usually "Re: " followed by the subject line of the post you're replying to.
  • Confusing messages and/or messages in poor English.  If a message is so confusing that it can't be understood, it will be returned.
  • Messages from people outside English speaking countries. All messages must be in English even if the person's language is not English.
  • Plain Text Required.  Our current software requires that messages be sent in plain text. If you need help sending a message in plain text format, please visit our InfoFile here:
  • Attachments. Our current software does not permit messages with attachments. Messages with attachments will be returned by an automated system. They will not be seen by a Moderator.
  • Formatting.  Sometimes messages are sent from various email programs that do not meet the formatting guidelines for JewishGen. When possible, JewishGen Moderators will reformat the message for readability. Content will not be altered. If this is not possible, the message will be returned with instructions on how to correct it.


JewishGen has a general discussion group, and special interest groups (SIGs) that are related to a specific region or topic. We encourage discussions and hope that people will respond publicly so that other people can gain benefit from the information that is being shared. However, when a discussion moves off topic or becomes less relevant, the Moderator will direct that it continue privately. 

  1. The JewishGen Discussion Group:

The messages on the JewishGen Discussion Group should be relevant to Jewish Genealogy in general, and discussions can include a wide range of topics and geographic areas.

What follows are a summary of the basic rules:

  • What’s Appropriate.  Messages to the JewishGen Discussion Group should, in general, be limited to the following topics related to research in Jewish genealogy:
    1. offering or requesting information on resources
    2. inquiries about geographical locations
    3. information on research techniques
    4. research breakthroughs, especially when they provide insight into methodology
    5. brief reports about research trips
    6. announcements about or concise summaries of meetings and seminars
  • What’s NOT Appropriate.  The following topics are, in general, not appropriate for the JewishGen Discussion Group. In some cases, the Moderator may post questions about these topics when they seem to be relevant to Jewish genealogy, but ask for replies to be sent privately: 
  1. Questions about:Jewish law, politics, customs and culture; Yiddish language, literature and folklore; Hebrew words and grammar.
  2. Questions about software, photography, and document preservation
  3. Birth, marriage, death announcements. (Moderators may return such messages with a note suggesting a donation and listing on the JewishGen Wall of Honor. Exceptions to this rule may be announcements regarding the death of widely-known figures in the world of Jewish genealogy, such as prolific participants in the group or authors of well-known genealogy books.)
  4. Large portions of family trees (the amount of a tree that's appropriate to post is a matter of judgment, but it should be related to ongoing research questions rather than a representation of a whole branch).
  5. Lengthy texts, lists and similar data, including information that is of long-term interest but takes up considerable space, such as:
    • longer texts (memoirs, research guides etc.);
    • detailed tables of contents or indices of publications;
    • lists of names;
    • descriptions of library or archive holdings.
  6. Lookups. JewishGen cannot facilitate the undermining of the market value of books, periodicals, subscription-based databases, and the like by allowing our lists to be used to circumvent the intended methods of accessing the information contained in them. Accordingly, requests for or offers of lookups in sources currently available for sale or subscription are not permitted on our lists.
  7. Repeated posts. A query should not be repeated before three months have passed, unless significant new information is included.
  8. News. In general, blow by blow accounts of developing events will not be posted, even when the outcome is likely to be of general interest to the field of Jewish genealogy. Once a conclusion is reached, a description of that conclusion will be considered for posting. For example, information about proposed legislation or regulations will not be posted, but information about enacted laws will often be appropriate for posting. The reason is that JewishGen's policy is to avoid the appearance of advocacy of any side in an ongoing controversy, and experience has shown that it's virtually impossible to avoid displaying partisan sentiment when reporting on ongoing events.
  9. Personal communications. If you respond to a post with a question that can be answered only by the original poster, or with information mainly of personal interest to the original poster, send your response to them and not to the group. Before sending a reply to any post, check to make sure it is addressed to the original poster or to the group, whichever you intended.

   II. Topic or Regional Lists

Messages on lists dedicated to a specific region or topic should be relevant not only to Jewish genealogy, but also to the topic of that specific list. Like the main JewishGen Discussion Group, these lists are moderated.

The rules for these lists are the same as for the main JewishGen Discussion Group. The primary difference is that messages need to be limited to the topic/region that the list covers. For example, a message about a cemetery in New York should not be sent to a list devoted to Belarus if there is no connection to Belarus. Such messages will be returned.


Using JewishGen mail lists to solicit business is a violation of our policies and guidelines that can lead to “blacklisting”. 

  • Advertising and other announcements of commercial goods and services are not allowed on any JewishGen Discussion Group.
  • JewishGen will not post messages that recommend or advise against specific researchers, guides, or translators.
  • Those who offer products or services for sale may not use JewishGen lists to promote their interests or to solicit business.
  • Because the JewishGen Discussion Group seeks to bring information to its participants, one-time announcements of new software, books, and the like are acceptable, as well as repeated references to books as resources when posted by disinterested parties. 
  • Pointers to items for sale on commercial auction sites such as ebay will not be posted.


JewishGen does not permit messages encouraging donations to other organizations even if their activities are related to genealogy.

  • Fundraising.  The only fundraising permitted on JewishGen lists is for items included on the JewishGen-erosity page or for projects of the hosted organizations Jewish Records Indexing - Poland and LitvakSIG that will result in data available on the JewishGen website.
  • Volunteers. Calls for volunteers to assist in database creation, transcription, and the like may be posted only when the fruits of the project will reside on JewishGen's servers.
  • "Lobbying". For our purposes, "lobbying" includes any attempt to exhort readers to write to or otherwise influence any governmental or non-governmental person, agency, or organization to get them to take any action. Lobbying is never permitted on JewishGen lists. Factual information about most issues can be posted, including contact information, but the position to be taken cannot be stated or implied. JewishGen must steer clear of all letter-writing campaigns and similar efforts, both in order to adhere to the terms of its charter and in order to preserve open lines of communication.


All messages must be signed with the sender's full name (at least a first initial plus a last name).  Messages can be accepted if the full name appears in the From line of the message header (as long as it's clearly not part of the e-mail address, and is different in some way from the part of the e-mail address before the @). 

Subscribers are encouraged to include their city and/or country of residence because this increases the likelihood of receiving a useful response such as referral to a library or Family History Center that is near the subscriber’s residence.

In addition to the sender's name and location, a signature block may contain:

  • up to 6 lines of names and places being searched; the Moderator will remove any beyond 6 lines.
  • the URL of the sender's personal genealogy website (but no other websites).
  • the sender's genealogical affiliation, e.g., JGS or similar organization.
  • a statement that the sender is a professional genealogist (but not a link to their professional website).

The Moderator will remove all contact information except for the e-mail address (e.g., street address, phone number).


We guard the privacy of both subscribers and individual third parties.

  • We do not post a private address along with a name if the person lived at that address within the last 72 years.
  • We do not post any private telephone numbers except as contact information in a JGS meeting announcement.
  • No third party private email addresses will be posted, but business or organizational emails are permitted. 


Last Update: 18-Nov-2015   AG
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