RSS Feeds for Rootsweb/Ancestry Boards

It’s been quiet lately here on my blog. My schooling has been full force these past few weeks, so I don’t have a lot of spare time to blog. But, I did want to do a quick post to give a quick tip.

Tonight, Randy did a blog post on Eastman’s new GenQueries site. In the comments, there were a couple of people who commented that to their knowledge, neither Rootsweb nor GenForum message boards offered RSS feeds, and Thomas stated that perhaps the RSS feeds are an advantage the GenQueries site offers. Well, you CAN do RSS feeds on Rootsweb/Ancestry mailing boards! Since discovering this last year, I’ve been a big fan – I’m all about content being pushed to me rather than me going to go get it.

The trick to Rootsweb though is that you have to be on the side to access the feed. Remember, message boards on Ancestry are freely accessible! How do you find the RSS feed?

Let’s say you start off at Rootsweb and you find a board that you like. I’ll use the Koonce surname board as my example. The URL for this message board at Rootsweb is If you replace the word “rootsweb” with “ancestry” in the URL, you are then taken to the Ancestry side where the same message board exists. Remember, the message boards are FREE on Ancestry, so you don’t have to worry with a membership to view them if you’re not interested in joining.

The difference is that with Ancestry, there is a link to an RSS feed. Here is the same board in both views:

’tis a glorious thing! I love using the RSS feeds here. When I first discovered them, there was a programming error in how new messages displayed, but they finally got around to fixing that and they work very well now. Just grab the feed URL and stick it in your favorite feed aggregator.

You will likely need to change the name of the feed. I typically begin them with whether this is a feed for a County or Surname, and then list the specifics. As you can see, I have some reading I need to catch up on.

I still have not found a way to do this with GenForum boards. I’m sure I could try one of the many services out there to generate feeds for pages that don’t have them, but I have not yet gone through this additional step. Has anyone out there done so?

Comments (4)

  1. Thomas MacEntee

    Excellent – and thanks for explaining it so clearly and with great screen captures!

  2. Bob Gaudio

    Thank you for this information. I lost track of my message board feeds during the Rootsweb-Ancestry transition. Now, all have been restored to my RSS reader.

  3. Marie Beckman

    Thanks for showing me the RSS for the message boards. I always view them from the Rootsweb side and would never have seen that feed link…colorscheme is easier on my eyes and force of habit from admining boards there. I see that feed also works from the Rootsweb side of the boards but they just haven’t added an RSS feed icon to the RW side. Looks like all you have to do is replace mb.ashx with rss.xml in the URL.

  4. James Tanner

    Thanks for the insight. I don’t usually follow surname boards but the idea helps with other types of information also.

Comments are closed.