This was written by Jack Childers and posted on the Blacksheep mail list. It is copied here with his permission.
There is no replacement for good old fashioned genealogical research.
It may sound simple, but start with first step. Get a copy of your birth certificate, find out who your parents were and where they were born and when. Then get a copy of their birth certificates and repeat the process till you eventually reach the point where birth certificates were not required. Then you switch to searching for church records, bible records, census records, land records, city directories, court records, funeral home records, cemetery records, all that kind of stuff. You do all this research by going in person to the place where those records are kept, or through the mail, or use the telephone. (Do you know I researched my family tree for 27 years through the mail while I was in prison ? It can be done !)
The internet has vasty increased our access to a lot of records, thereby eliminating our having to travel to those far away places.
RootsWeb offers surname list, placename lists, special interest list. GenWeb offers state and county sites where you can place messages that other relatives, who might have more information on a line you are working on than you do, can respond to your message. I can't count the thousands of relatives I have found from posting messages on as many sites as I could find. I am still getting messages from posts I made years ago.
There are all kinds of search engines on the web, access them. I cannot copy and paste my entire Favorites list, tried and it don't work. But if I can find the hyperlinks here and there on the net, so can anyone else. They are everywhere, even in places you wouldn't expect. Some universities even have genealogical records. Take google for instance. Go there, type in genealogy and be surprised at what it pulls up.
For an over all excellent source for all kinds of hyperlinks, try Cyndi's List. She has put together a monstrous amount of research hyperlinks located at http://www.cyndislist.com/.
There is no magic bullet or pill one can take in genealogy. The internet has made it appear as easy as falling off of a log, but real genealogy takes a lot of leg work, lots of hours and a certain amount of money.