Research tips: making the most from the Great War Forum

The Great War Forum (http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums) is a leading discussion space covering all aspects of the war. It began as part of the Long, Long Trail website but soon grew in size and content and was spun off as a separate website some years ago now.

With many people having taken up more interest in the subject recently, the rate of enlistment into membership of the forum has accelerated. At time of writing it has some 55,000 members and since the start of the forum in its present form in 2002 members have posted 1.8 million questions and answers. It is amazing what has already been discussed – and the positive, helpful nature of the community is to be admired.

But what is the best way of using the forum? Here’s some simple advice:

1. Many of the basic questions about the British Army, the Great War, and technical matters of finding and interpreting military records are answered on the Long, Long Trail. Make sure you explore this site before asking on the forum.

2. But the LLT does not cover everything. Many of the remaining basic questions about the British Army, the Great War, and technical matters of finding and interpreting military records have been asked and answered on the forum – in some instances many times over. Use the forum’s search facility to find what has gone before.

3. The search is pretty good but not infallible, but will not handle words of three characters or fewer. You can search the forum by using Google. Enter your search terms and then also add site:http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums. Google will return what it has found on the forum.

4. If you decide to ask a question on the forum, make sure you explain what you already know so that members do not waste their time looking for something you may already have.

5. Use normal internet etiquette. Don’t SHOUT! Use English and not txtspk. Don’t type your email address into a message. Don’t ask the same question in two or more areas of the forum. And… when you have received help as you undoubtedly will, go back and say thank you.

6. Posting photos to the forum can be tricky until you know the method. There is a “place to play” part of the forum so you can try things out.

7. Do take a look at how old an existing discussion thread is, before you add to it. You may find that if something was posted ten years ago that the original members may no longer be active on the forum. If it is really old, start a new discussion thread in the right area of the forum, and perhaps refer (use a link) to the old discussion.

8. If you have a new question or subject to discuss, then start a new discussion thread in the right area of the forum. Don’t tack it onto an existing thread as you will just not attract as many readers or get as much help.