When you see something on the list that you need help with, contact the participant by email and make a SPECIFIC request. This should be a SPECIFIC request for information relating to an item on the list. It is highly inappropriate to send pages and pages of information without a SPECIFIC request. If you make unreasonable requests or provide insufficient information, there is a good likelihood that your message may not be acknowledged.
You should receive an acknowledgment of your request within one week. If you do not, please submit your request again as email is frequently lost by various means. If you try numerous times and receive no acknowledgment or get your request bounced numerous times please let me (Jeannine Powell) know.
Example of an appropriate request:
I am looking for the marriage record of John Doe in Dundas Co. Ontario on 17 Oct 1889.
The participant will decide just what he or she is willing or able to do. Exactly what the participant will do will vary greatly, but in general, extensive research will not be done. Remember the participant is never obligated to do something for you. You will probably want to give the participant your mailing address also, in case you cannot for some reason be reached by email.
Please remember that the participants on the list are volunteers and are helping you for free. The items on the list can usually be obtained for free, but you are expected to pay for any costs the participant has to spend directly on your behalf such as copy or postage costs. If there are any of these costs involved both parties should agree to them before they are incurred. Participants are not allowed to charge for their time or make a profit in any way, and if any try it should be brought to my attention. The Helplist is not free advertising for for-profit researchers.
You don't have to be a participant on the list to request help, but it is strongly recommended. Because the ratio of requests to participants is very large, participants are encouraged to limit requests from non-participants to one. This is necessary to encourage participation, which in turn will ease the burden on the participants. Most people can probably be of some help to others, even if you only list items in your local courthouse or library.
Please do NOT send requests to me, but directly to the list participants. I do not have the time to answer or forward requests to the correct participant. Any requests sent to me will (most likely) not be acknowledged.