Ancestry has officially announced the end of the RootsWeb Mailing Lists for new posts, effective March 2, 2020. The list archives will remain available for searching.
The history of these lists can be traced back to the mid-December 1987 launch of ROOTS-L, which began its life on a server at North Dakota State University. In August 1995, the list was moved to Apple eWorld, where it remained until July 1996, when it was migrated to RootsWeb, under the management of Karen Isaacson and Brian Leverich. Even after RootsWeb was acquired by Ancestry in June 2000, the lists continued to operate, and today, there are still over 32,700 lists.
In my own opinion, two things have led to a drastic decrease in the use of the RW lists: (1) the security, software, and hardware problems that required the taking down of the RootsWeb servers for a long period of time, and (2) the dramatic increase in the use of Facebook as a tool for genealogical communication.
Although I have long been a user of RootsWeb mailing lists, I became much more a part of the list community when almost exactly 8 years ago I took over the list administration for the RootsMagic-Users mailing list from Alfred D. Eller, who had created the list in September 2002.
I will certainly miss the RootsWeb Mailing Lists and the communities that they created. I hope that existing subscribers and posters will find alternatives where they can continue their conversations, whether those are on the Ancestry message boards, in the Facebook genealogy groups, or in other places (such as the support forums maintained by genealogy software vendors). My thanks to everyone who ever created a list, administered a list, managed the servers behind the lists, or contributed to the lists. You should all be proud of the history you created.