Announcing Geni Public Access

Posted August 18, 2011 by George | 48 Comments

When we made last week’s account changes, we understood that some Geni members would not be able to upgrade to a Pro account to continue using features like merging and site-wide search.  Today, we announce the Geni Public Access program, and we hope that this will provide an opportunity for more users to experience Geni Pro.  Grant and I (with the help of several users) have been testing this functionality all week at the IAJGS conference in Washington, DC, and our engineers have been working with us to iron out the bugs.  We’re ready to start rolling it out.

Link: Geni Public Access

 

The Geni Public Access program is geared towards institutions like public libraries or genealogical societies that provide access to computers connected to the internet.  Any such institution is encouraged to apply, and as long as we can verify that you’re a real organization with a real facility we’ll flip the switch and allow you to provide Geni Pro to your users.

If you’d like a local library or organization to join the Geni Public Access program, please direct them to the link above and ask them to apply.  We’ll follow up the application with a phone call or email to verify a few things, and then we’ll enable the location’s access to Geni Pro.

Post written by George

George joined the Geni team in September, 2010 as Geni's marketing director. You can find him on Twitter where he never posts but is happy to respond: @georgegeni

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1507062820 Maria Edmonds-Zediker

    Now, THIS is a step forward, guys. Very much “like.”

  • Freeloader

    Definitely a step forward. But really, its too little, too late. I do hope Geni is not going to stop here, and does implement some kind of student or graduated program, like has been suggested.

  • Ofer

    How exactly this helps the affected non-Pros ???

  • Geni George

    @30385c3ebd9cd4ce5164a069de20a109:disqus - I’m trying here, man.

    @3cc2db6d24589bc6eab7613f673cfa84:disqus - any non-Pro can work with their local library to get Pro access, which will allow all users at that library to access Geni as if they were a Pro subscriber.

  • Amadeus

    This is lame.  Why are we pandering to people that are getting to use a service for free?   Seriously, geni pro is not expensive…support the company and stop being so cheap.

    All of this is just annoying.   In my opinion you should be happy for what you get when you’re a “free” user.  It’s rude:  would you start criticizing someone that was giving you a free dinner because you wanted a filet mignon instead of a t-bone steak?

    • Aivar

      Amadeus, your comment is rude and shows that you dont get it at all – someone didnt give to us free dinner, but only the table with tools where we made this dinner by ourselves,  give this dinner also to him for free and he want to charge us for dinner we gave him for free + usage of his tools !
      Hows thats sounds – more like what is happening. Dont bother to reply.

    • Anonymous

      This is more than lame. Geni tries to explain to all of us fooled that this is right thing to do.
      Don´t waste any more energy on this humbug “gesheft”.
      I´ve accept the loss now and going to start again somewhere else.
      I am going to take som actions in the future with all of the data I still acess.  

  • Kirsi Kanep

    Oh, well. I really doubt that any library would go for it just because a few members want to use it. And I sure wouldn’t want to go to library just to use geni.
    Better than nothing, I guess. But I’ll settle with what i’ve got so far…

  • Niclas Carlenius

    Are you saying that any hooligan can come to a library with “Geni Public Access” and destroy all public profiles, change names to Donald Duck and merge any public profile into any other public profile? Are you really giving full editing rights to all public profiles to everyone using libraries? Even minors could come to a library, start up a fake profile for themselves, go wild on the worldwide tree and then abandon their fake account. This sounds really terrible (if this is what you mean).

  • Theo

    I believe this is called the “door-in-the-face technique”.

    You offer something outrageous that hardly anybody accepts (11-Aug changes) so that when you return with a deal resembling something more reasonable (Geni Public Access) we concede that it is a gracious and intelligent counter-offer and we accept with open arms.

    The problem is, I don’t agree that it’s a reasonable, nor gracious counter-offer. GPA does very little to quench the fire you started last week.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jeff.morrell Jeff Morrell

    So as a question – if you are at the library and want to work on the tree are you logged in as yourself but with the library IP, or some other mechanism, providing the pro-access or are you logged in as the library and not as yourself?

    • Geni George

      You log in as yourself and the library IP is granted Pro access.

      • Voqo

        Don’t know much about public libraries in Poland (I don’t visit them – have so many books at home…), but some may have dynamic IP, not constant one… (“neostrada” – most popular non-stable net connection in Poland, via phone lines)

  • Sue

    “Saving face,” to some  degree.  I agree with those who are concerned about security and integrity.  Allowing public access is going to invite hooligans to log on and link Donald Duck and Goofy into the trees.  Geni.com continues to show that it’s concern is profit and money.  It’s highly unfortunate that all the work I have done is now essentially out of my hands.  I have family members I found yesterday that I am unable to add in without paying Geni.com for the privilege.  Even Ancestry.com, the biggest genealogy money-monger going, has free access to trees.  I need to purchase a program for my computer for local only access…. No more online trees which can’t be backed up.

  • Nefie

    Public libraries, not too may of them here in Africa. Very few with internet facilities.

    There must be better solutions.

    What about pro lite version as was proposed at say 1$ a month!

  • Christine

    This is not a good solution to the original problem, which was that GENI TOOK AWAY BASIC FUNCTIONALITY WE HAD BEFORE. I am so sick of this monkey show.

    Here’s the copy of a recent help request conversation with Amanda:

    Request #12579

    Can’t add family to existing profile

    Christine DeVillier – Lim Theaw Yan 林小英

    Aug-18 00:14

    Hello,

    I don’t know why I cannot add family members to this profile that I manage: http://www.geni.com/people/%E4%BD%95%E4%BB%95%E6%96%87-Charles-Henri-Maurice-Bosman/6000000012121447068#/tab/timeline.

    Please explain. I have gone to his tree to add someone as normal and
    do not see the arrows and do not see the “add family” option.

    thanks,

    christine

     

    Comments

    Amanda

    Admin

    Dear Christine,

    Thank you for contacting Geni. We recently made changes to our Pro
    and Basic accounts. As of August 11, 2011, adding onto public profiles,
    search, and merging are now Pro only features.

    Please note this does not change view and edit permissions. You will
    still be able to edit the information in any profile you manage or
    collaborate on.

    We are following all comments regarding this change very closely and
    we are working on some enhancements to search and other features based
    on the feedback we have received from the community.

    To read more about this change, please read our blog post: http://www.geni.com/blog/geni-pro-just-got-a-whole-lot-better-369661.html

    Thank you for using Geni,

    Amanda
    The Geni Team

    Aug-18 2011 13:59

    Christine DeVillier – Lim Theaw Yan 林小英

    Pro

    Hi Amanda,

    This makes no sense. There is no good reason I should not be able to
    add to the tree just because the profile is public and I am not a pro
    user. This essentially makes the site crippled. I am really unhappy with
    this. I have been a pro user in the past and I don’t want to pay just
    to make a couple individual changes, nor do I think it makes any sense
    for paying users to be presumed to be more adept at genealogy than
    non-paying users. This is bogus. This basically shows that Geni.com is
    only interesting in what money wants to put on their site and not what
    regular researchers do. I have been involved in hundreds if not
    thousands of profiles. Here are my stats off my profile page:

    Statistics

    Family Members 961

    Blood Relatives 5,000

    Ancestors 5,000

    Followers 38

    Following 233

    Profiles Added 863

    Profiles Invited 154

    Profiles Managed 1,494

    So you’re saying I can’t add any relatives to any of the 342 public
    profiles that I MANAGE??? Because I a not paying for pro membership? I
    could just go ahead and delete all my profiles then, since they are no
    longer working profiles, just stagnant ones that only some paying
    customer could go in and change everything about and merge in to
    whatever and I can’t do anything about it. This makes Geni quite useless
    you see. What’s the point of building out a family tree if I can’t work
    on it anymore?? and what’s the point of collaboration if I have no
    ability to collaborate because I can’t even merge a profile I manage?
    It’s my own information and i can’t even do something that some stranger
    who pays money can do to my own public profiles? TOTALLY UNFAIR AND
    TOTALLY IMMORAL OF YOUR COMPANY. I have added 863 profiles up till now
    and you are saying my work should no longer be my own to manage. My work
    is just given over to the public domain without my hand in it and
    everyone who pays can benefit from it, even CHANGE it, and I cannot use
    it for the purpose I created it, to be a WORKING tree.

    I am extremely frustrated by this. I wish you guys would just use ads
    if you need revenue, not punish all us non-pro users. It’s punishment,
    you are taking rights away from us, and I don’t appreciate it, after all
    the information I have shared on Geni, now you only want your
    check-writers to see it. Total BS.

    -christine

    Aug-18 2011 14:46

  • Christine

    So geni thinks it’s just like Ancestry.com now huh? Where you can charge for access and give a free limited version to library patrons a la Ancestry Library Edition?

    One MAJOR difference: Ancestry.com actually gives you something for the subscription fee, which is substantial: real records, real research material, and a heck of a lot of it. What does Geni give us for such a blasphemous fee? The ability to add siblings’ names to our very own 5th great grandfathers? Really? How nice of you GENI.COM for charging us to build out our own family trees. Even Ancestry gives us this ability for FREE. I never thought I would come to this.

    Geni, your head is getting inflated. You think you are doing something for the greater good, building a world tree, but what you are doing is systematically EXCLUDING people instead. The haves vs. have-nots. After all is said and done, the only tree you will have the most detail about is only the ancestors of the people willing to pay! So us regular folk are not good enough to have any more extended family because we can’t pay for them. Great.

  • Anonymous

    Perhaps is this is your attempt at appeasing free users. However, I for one will NOT be asking my library to subscribe – in fact, quite the opposite – I will encourage them not to do so. In addition, I will be pulling all 1690+ profiles of my family tree from the geni.com site due to the changes limiting access. I was already frustrated with the inability to keep work unedited and left as I had inputted it, work that I had spent hours and hours collecting and verifying from primary sources. And with close relatives being able to become managers of profiles of work that I had collected! I will take my hard work elsewhere Geni, and you can continue to “upgrade” and make all the changes you like, just not with MY information! 

  • LeeGonHo

    Yes, we don’t like the idea of others merging our ancestors without having to compare notes first. And yes we do have visions of mistaken merges and incorrect names and dates replicating themselves across the internet.
    Tutak thinks Geni’s changes will reduce such errors. “These changes were designed to restrict merging to a smaller group of more engaged users, with the goal of increasing data quality,” Tutak says.
    I am saying that this will not reduce errors, just because you restrict merging to a smaller group does not mean they are more engaged users, and does not increase data quality. I am insulted by this statement. I do not want to pay to give you free info about my family. I all ready pay ancestry.com and world vital records because they give me info. I use Geni to bring together all of the profiles I have entered (over 800, and I was just getting started) so other relatives all over the country can come together. I know because I document my info with sources, and that just about all I enter is correct (although I do ask all of my relatives to let me know about any mistakes, they find). So I pay for the sources and documents and you just want me to hand everything over.
    Tutak you are skewing benefits toward paying users— (this statement of yours makes me seriously think about deleting all of my profiles) who, theoretically, are more heavily invested and knowledgeable—
    Here is just one example of screwing up a family tree. I invited someone and they entered our great grandmother with her given name, her maiden name and her married surname, as one continuous full name now she is entered twice once with the correct name, and now my great grandfather has two wife’s one with the correct name and one with the incorrect name so now all of the children are her stepchildren.
    I will have to do all of the work in correcting this (and keeping on top of anything any one enters); you don’t do anything, but get the free info. I do all of the work, yet you want me to pay.

    • Niclas Carlenius

      The statement “These changes were designed to restrict merging to a smaller group of more engaged users, with the goal of increasing data quality” does not seem valid anymore. Quite the contrary. If libraries do sign up for Public Access and anyone visiting such a library can create his/her profile as John Doe and merge bogus ancestors with anyone else’s public profiles or change their names to random nonsense just a few minutes after signing up to Geni, without adding any real profiles and without paying anything or identifying him/herself, the World Family Tree and all other public profiles (except the few master profiles, which rarely exist for non famous ancestors) are at a great risk. Data quality can easily decrease a lot – not increase.

      The Geni Public Access really scares me. It might be good for a few serious Geni users in poor countries, but it is an open target for abuse and destruction of all Geni trees.

      • Voqo

        “It might be good for a few serious Geni users in poor countries”

        In poor countries there’s no such thing as public library with internet connection available for users.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=656041887 Damon Eisenach

    To me this sounds like an even worse idea then the first one, please drop this one and stick with the original bad idea.   ;-)
    Pay or no Pay isn’t my real issue,

    Its letting just anyone play with work someone else has done without collaborating with them anymore.
    Before I could discus changes with someone. Now they need not talk to me or anyone else before adding people or merging people, its like you have completely gotten rid of “collaboration”.
    If you want people to pay to add fine, I wont but maybe someone will.
    But you really should remove the word collaborate from the site now.

    If the idea was to work together to build one tree with the best most accurate information, I think you have missed that mark. The way people get the best most accurate information is working together.
    I feel as you have made it so they need not work together at all.

  • Geni George

    Just so everyone knows, it’s not like I’m going to approve Geni Public Access for the playground at McDonald’s — this is something that we have been working on for quite awhile and we have a lot of good expectations for the program. We decided to dedicate enough resources to it this week so that we could start the program now because we understand that many of you are not in a position to purchase a subscription to Geni and we want to do everything we can to help.

    If this doesn’t help you, you probably shouldn’t comment because it’s not the right place to complain.  There have been plenty of people who have been very happy that we announced this program, and it is meant to be constructive.  There are plenty of other places that you can complain about the changes that Geni made last week, and this is the wrong place, period.  No one is going to respond to you here.

    If you’re worried about people defacing the tree at a library, come on.  When I wanted to stir up crap as a kid, the library was right next to my dad’s office building on the list of places that I was darting.  Plus, we have this thing called revisions, and we’re going to have merge undo pretty soon, so you’ll be able to undo everything.  There are some things we can try to be positive about.

    I’m happy to respond if anyone has any legitimate questions about Geni Public Access.

    -George

    • Jbbuttrill

      I believe Jeff Morrell  (see above) has some “legitimate questions” to which you have not responded:”So as a question – if you are at the library and want to work on the tree are you logged in as yourself but with the library IP, or some other mechanism, providing the pro-access or are you logged in as the library and not as yourself?”Joe Brous Buttrill

      • Anonymous

        You log in with your own account. Any user on that IP will have pro features as long as they are still accessing the site from that IP.

      • Anonymous

        You log in with your own account. Any user on that IP will have pro features as long as they are still accessing the site from that IP.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=691352756 Jason Kennedy

      No one is going to go to a library to add individuals to their tree…they are going to go to another website that has more open functionality….

  • Landau

    Some logistical questions. Lets say you have a free geni account.  How will it know if you are logging on from a library (where you presumably can get geni pro features), or if you are logging on from home (where you presumably cannot)?  How will it differentiate?  Please explain the logistics.  Thanks.

    • Kjfisher

      IP address. That is why Geni states in the application form that the library must have a static IP address.

      • Landau

         Thanks for your reply. That makes sense.

  • Geni George

    I wanted to repost this here: http://www.geni.com/blog/a-message-from-geni%e2%80%99s-ceo-369903.html#comment-290555705

  • Anonymous

    Would like to see this rolled out to the U.S. Universities without having to bother going through the application process. Or even .edu addresses.

  • David

    Will there be a list published and maintained somewhere showing all approved public access places? 

    • Voqo

      And genealogical societies, with countries they are from.

  • David

    Hi Geni George – when you get a chance – can you let us know: Will there be a list published and maintained somewhere showing all approved public access places?

    Where will we find the list?

    How many have signed up so far?

    Thanks!

    • Geni George

      David,

      The hope is that there is enough adoption that we can create some kind of useful interface for finding places with public access.

      -George

      • David

        Thanks – any time frame for realising that hope?

        • Anonymous

          It is based solely on how fast public institutions adopt this program. We want to get the word out about it, so we’ll be sure to blog and tweet about it ASAP.

          • David

            Thanks Grant.  How is it going so far?  How many public institutions have adopted the program so far Grant?

  • Kaija

    I honestly cannot afford a pro account. But I am the family geniologist, I am responsible for the information provided as I have provided it in the first place. I have done all the research for my family so they can enjoy everything for FREE. Which, of course they can still do, but I just cannot add any more people!. And I won’t be bullied into getting the account. Now of course I will be moving over to MyHeritage, which is of course not as good as geni, but at least it is free and I can do what I wanted to do with geni and that is to build a family tree.

    • Anonymous

      Kaija, but what about their limit of 250 family members for free users?

  • RICHTOWNRHONDA

    I AM VERY UPSET I CAN NOT ADD TO MY PROFILES. I HAVE TOLD EVERYONE I KNOW WHAT A GREAT FREE SITE GENI.COM IS AND ASKED THEM TO JOIN, BUT NOW I FEEL STUPID, CAUSE WE ARE NOW LIMITED TO WHAT WE CAN AND CAN NOT DO

  • Greenecouningennut

    “any non-Pro can work with their local library to get Pro access, which will allow all users at that library to access Geni as if they were a Pro subscriber. ” and this defeats your  purpose  of  making all of us  home users pay for our access   but why should  non-pro user or those who can’t afford be forced to have to lug all there files to a library to  work on GENI – -

    also  here in Indiana our  school and library budgets have been slashed -  they are triming opening hours as well as staffing just to keep afloat   so i doubt if many will being  purchasing the membership for  their patrons =  also the one point of someone being able to  get into geni  and not add a tree but just merge and change things at whim  is terrifying -   that means anyone  even children can access geni through  a library subscription…………..

    Why not post a page listing every tstate in the United states with all the local libraries that have purchased your program -  from what i read they are far and few between.

    • Anonymous

      Geni Public Access is free to all participating institutions. You can find a list of participating locations here: http://www.geni.com/corp/geni-public-access-program/geni-public-access-locations/

  • Greenecouningennut

    “any non-Pro can work with their local library to get Pro access, which will allow all users at that library to access Geni as if they were a Pro subscriber. ” and this defeats your  purpose  of  making all of us  home users pay for our access   but why should  non-pro user or those who can’t afford be forced to have to lug all there files to a library to  work on GENI – -

    also  here in Indiana our  school and library budgets have been slashed -  they are triming opening hours as well as staffing just to keep afloat   so i doubt if many will being  purchasing the membership for  their patrons =  also the one point of someone being able to  get into geni  and not add a tree but just merge and change things at whim  is terrifying -   that means anyone  even children can access geni through  a library subscription…………..

    Why not post a page listing every tstate in the United states with all the local libraries that have purchased your program -  from what i read they are far and few between.

  • Brooke Warrington

    Ugh….I’m a broke college grad, I can’t afford this….looks like I’m gonna have to go through and save all my information on my hard-drive 0_0  So much for relying on this site to archive over 500 years of family history…that I discovered all by myself (thank you very much ;))  What a shame…this site has so much potential….it’s really sad to see, but I just can’t afford it anymore…

    • Anonymous

      Have you considered asking your local library or genealogical society to sign up for Geni Public Access? The program is free to the institutions and will allow their patrons to use Pro features for free from their computers.