The US GenWeb project actually began in 1996 by Jeff Murphy in Kentucky and Bill Couch in Arkansas. I joined with Bill in providing information for Hempstead Co., AR. Almost immediately a controversy developed. Without going into details, Bill and Jeff's ideas were apparently "pirated." To stay out of the controversy and the battles that were raging, I removed myself from their project and began my own.
Whatever the pains felt by those pioneers in the US Genweb project, their efforts have now become premier research sites on the web. I think most, if not all states have a presence under the Genweb flag. Volunteers have "adopted" counties and formed teams of other volunteers who have extracted and prepared for our use wills, deeds, census records, obituaries, cemetery lists, biographies and literally thousands of other documents that now rest in the dust free archives of Genweb. And, they can be freely accessed!
I have been using Rootsweb and Genweb archives for a number of years. Without the work of those volunteers in Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky - as well as other states - I would not have been able to "collect" as much information as I have about the various Coffey families, and those families they are allied with. The extraction work by Wayne Coffey has been of particular help to me.
Volunteers also prepare and send out daily updates via e-mail of files that have been added to the archives.
Most researchers should know about Genweb and Rootsweb. If you don't, click on the title link to begin your search.