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You may be thinking -- why do I need to bother with IRC? What does chat have to offer that newsgroups, mailing lists, and web pages don't? The answer is in that 80s word -- "networking." Live chat allows you to interact real-time with other individuals interested in the same thing you are. You can attend classes via chat, work together with other students on projects, brainstorm a research solution, seek answers for any genealogical question, find other researchers who are working on your line, learn of new sites, new software, and new resources for research. Chat allows you to tap into the great online community of genealogists in a way that's different from mailing lists -- it's a much more personal, one-on-one experience.

Traditionally, people either love or hate chats. IRC has gotten a bad name from the many cases of abuse (individuals targeting children and women, for instance) but there is very seldom abuse in the genealogy chats. Just as in any online situation, you must safeguard your privacy, but as a rule, genealogy chats are informative, interesting, entertaining, and very safe.

If you are still not sold on the idea, view one or two of the IIGS chat logs. You can find the IIGS chat archives at For example, you can view a log of the Ontario-Quebec chat at or a log of the BeNeLux chat at

There are a variety of chat types available to you, depending on your taste. Some chats are extremely social, others are more formal with information being the goal of the chat. Some chats have guest speakers, others feature topic themes. I recommend chat newbies try a few of the chat rooms out to find the ones that they feel comfortable with -- if social "what's your surname" genealogy chat rooms aren't your style, try one of the themed or guest chats.

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