A Message From Geni’s CEO

Posted August 17, 2011 by Noah Tutak | 202 Comments

Last week we introduced some significant changes to the way Geni works. Unfortunately, we did a poor job communicating these changes to our community. We should have given you more notice of these changes than we did, and for that we apologize.

As expected with changes of this magnitude, there has been a great deal of discussion and feedback from the Geni community. I want to assure you that each and every comment has been reviewed by someone on the Geni Team, and many of them have been shared with the team as a whole. We are listening closely, and discussing the feedback as we plan for the future.

Geni’s goal is to create a single, accurate family tree of the world. Unlike other genealogy sites (even sites that claim to be collaborative), where each user maintains their own private tree, Geni is designed for users with common relatives to work together on one tree, with one single profile for each common relative.

The changes we made last week were designed to accelerate our progress towards our goal of a single, accurate family tree. By limiting the creation of new historical profiles to Pro users, the number of new duplicate profiles will be significantly reduced. And because of their new permissions, Pro users can now merge existing duplicates faster and more effectively. In fact, merging has increased by 75% because of these changes.

We understand that users who have entrusted Geni with their data are frustrated that they can no longer merge with other trees or add distant relatives with a free account. However, I do want to clear up a few misconceptions about the changes that we made:

  • Viewing and editing permissions were not changed at all. All users can still view and edit the same profiles they could before last week.
  • GEDCOM export is still a free feature, as it was before the changes. All users can export a GEDCOM of their tree.
  • All users can use the “Managed by Me” tab to search for profiles they manage.

We are working on some enhancements to search and other features based on your feedback, and hope to have more to announce soon. Thanks for your patience and understanding as we continue together towards our goal of creating the world family tree.

Post written by Noah Tutak

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  • Stewart Tryster

    A significant number of the commenters on the now-closed previous post, both Pro and non-Pro users, said that they were removing, or intended to remove, all their data from the site. I would be interested, when you come to making the next announcements, if you would address this question as well. Unlike you, we do not have any accurate way of knowing how much information has been removed, but everything removed (other than duplicates) makes the site less valuable to its operators and all users. If your aim is to display sensitivity to the concerns of users, it would be a good idea to report not only on moves taken unilaterally by Geni, but to be specific about reactions to complaints and whether and how any damage done can be repaired.

    • lance bradley

      I agree with you Stewart, but there hasn’t been enough time to separate the signal from the noise, so to speak. I’d be very upset if we made a change that negatively impacted the world tree. I don’t think any of the metrics are significantly negative with the small sample so far, though. Thank you for caring!

      -lance (i work here)

      • Stewart Tryster

        Everyone who has contributed anything to Geni has invested time; some have invested money as well and some who haven’t done so have invested time to a degree that dwarfs the financial investment some Pros have made, to the benefit of all. There is nothing wrong with rewarding an investment of any kind, nor is it wrong to sell a level of service higher than that originally defined as basic. To alienate any user group, by taking away something it already had, and had always been given to believe it would continue to have, does not seem smart in a business sense and is therefore to be avoided – most especially if long-term profit is the aim. Keeping everyone on board would have yielded much more information and probably more Pro users. I have little doubt that not one person driven away by this move will ever become a Pro now (excluding, of course, those who have stated they are doing it briefly only in order to retrieve their data prior to taking it elsewhere). It is also fine for Geni to have its vision of a world tree, but it is unrealistic for it to expect all its users to care more about that vision than their more immediate families (including ancestors and cousins as far back as they can trace them). And it’s ok to want to make lots of money from the venture, but it backfires if it starts to look like nothing else is important.

        • Ladydiane4

           Nicely said……

        • Greenecoingennit

          Time is money or so i am told so geni has gotten an investment that they can never repay any of us geni users fro nonpro and pro alike we all have had to database  all these in and  what if they had to pay each and every one of us $12+ an hour to do it -    what do paid database people get per hour now days to input data into a computer and a computer program – and they get it all for free – as the locked down the gedcom  well over 2 years ago -  which i can understand -  i got hold of one gecom that  all but   destoryed my file as it was to be documented byt hey were all  internet links and links to ancestry.com – and i am still taking them out after 7 years   some 20,000 profiles and dam ancestry is not happy putting them in once they have to go in at least 5 different places….   geni should think of all this free data basing time  tey did not have to pay for…..

  • Ronrabin

    That’s wonderful – I tried to search myself in the search box – than I pushed the button “View profile” ad there was a surprise: I can’t look at my details, edit them etc.
    So, if you can’t edit your profile (when you are a non-Pro user & someone else manage your profile WHY should you use Geni at all?

    • lance bradley

      You should definitely be able to edit your own profile. Email the help desk, I’m sure they can get it sorted out. It’s help@geni.com .

  • Ben Turin

    You say that a user can still view all the profiles they have added.  However, I can’t view them in a tree format.  Am I missing something, or do you just mean that you can view them individually?

    • Timaneco

      Wright! I also complain that I’m having difficulty accessing some of the profiles added by myself, once they have assumed their own profiles and made them private (partners from distant relatives) as well as the profiles they self added… (and I am a Pro member 4 life…)

  • Ladydiane4

    I asked a question in your now “closed” section that must be supervised by a super frustrated George but the section closed without an answer.
    I have a tree of 803 and a total of 18,053 total profiles that I managed.  When I attempt to transfer these profiles to another site will all 18,053 transfer or just my 803? I want to make sure that I don’t leave any contributions to your “world tree”.
    Also, will the file transfer in it’s present state.  Everything is running up and down the page instead of across the page.  It’s really a mess.
    You have no way of understand how upset I am with your whole new attitude.  It’s basically “pay up or get out and we keep all the work you have done for years”.

    • Ladydiane4

       PS…Your instructions regarding exporting GEDCOM are incorrect.  The instructions tell you to look at the “tree” tab when actually the “share” link is under the “family” tab!!!!
      I’d get that fixed considering the number of people who will likely be using that information.

      • Natalie MacLees

        I apologize for the out of date information. We’ve corrected the instructions for GEDCOM export and they are available here: http://help.geni.com/entries/466639-how-can-i-export-my-gedcom

        • Ladydiane4

          You are not going to answer my other questions?

          • lance bradley

            Hi, i would answer your other questions, but I’m not familiar with the gedcom feature. The customer service people or one of the other engineers may make a pass through here and answer the questions later today, but they will definitely respond if you email help@geni:twitter .com , that will put it in their workflow. 

            - lance (one of the programmers behind the scenes)

          • lance bradley

            bah, the discussion software ate the email address, its help (at) geni.com :)

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=528366554 Stig Roar Bye

      I selected to download the forest (I’m not sure if this is available for non-pro users), and I got 100.000 profiles downloaded.
      Just download the gedcom and import it in FamilyTreeBuilder (free software) and see for yourself if you get the 803 or the 18053.

      • Ladydiane4

        Pssst…..stig roar bye……come here, my friend…..
        I haven’t to foggiest idea what you are talking about.  Well, I shouldn’t say that.  I have an idea what needs to be done but will have to wait til I can get somebody over here that speaks your language….a nephew, maybe my brother-in-law…..who knows.  I do know that just a little past off and on is my limit!  They didn’t teach “computer” when I was in school.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=528366554 Stig Roar Bye

          Find me on geni or facebook, and I’ll walk you through it.

      • Voqo

        Since I can’t try free Pro trial, I used AncestorSyncForGeni and I got about 400 profiles only in Gedcom (I set options to max) instead of few thousands.

  • Previously Happy Free User

    You still are using language implying that people in my direct line are “distant relatives”  I find that insulting to the genealogical community.  If I am a direct descendant of an individual, no matter how many generations back, I don’t consider that a “distant relative.” Please allow free users to add relatives in their direct line and siblings of their direct line.  If you want “accuracy” who do you think is going to be more concerned about accuracy than a direct descendant of an individual?   I can understand that you want to reduce duplication, but a less draconian control can be applied to prevent that – for example, as soon as a free user enters a profile that seems to be a close match for a profile already managed by a Pro user, you can put a ‘soft freeze’ on the profile where no more siblings or parents can be added to that individual until a Pro user or curator has evaluated the possible match.

    You also mention that exporting a GEDCOM remains free. This is true for the crippled direct bloodline GEDCOM export, but to export my full tree – including 100s of other profiles that represent months of MY WORK, I have to sign up for a Pro account.  I suggest you let all users export ALL OF THEIR OWN WORK, without having to get a Pro account.  You may have seen an uptick in people signing up for free trials since the “improvements” went into affect, but I assure, a good many of these are people doing so only to extract their own work so they can abandon GENI completely and go to a PC-based program, or to a competing website.     

    Also, in addition to the comments here, please make sure you look at the genealogical blogs and the comments on those blogs and on your FaceBook page.  The response has been almost universally negative, both in regards to the changes made, AND to the way your company handled the change.  Note that I am referring to you as a company – I used to think of GENI as a community – well, you basically killed it as a community since you have put financial gain ahead of the community.

    • lance bradley

      I’m sure Noah didn’t mean an insult by the phrase “distant relative”, I feel like that’s being a little harsh. I don’t disagree with you regarding GEDCOM, i’ll make sure that opinion is heard. Oh, and we definitely read the blogs.


      • Gotohell

        Harsh?? I like to be paid by your f’n ceo for the work I put in!

    • Anonymous

      I totally agree with Jessie!. Webmasters potralu work against Genia Genia portal. This is bizarre!.

      • Anonymous

        I totally agree with Jessie!. Geni Portal Webmasters of the portal
        Geni work to the detriment of the portal Geni. It’s very strange!.

  • kimmarie Hartley

    I also cannot view all the profiles connected to my family. I miss terribly being able to look up the name of a historical figure and be able to see the basic relationship to my family tree. While I understand the value of more accurate information, I don’t understand why the program was changed to prevent the viewing of profiles and relationships. My interest in genealogy was enhanced by the feature that showed Charlemagne as my 38th grandfather… but now, if I had not already found that potential relationship, I would never know that it existed… when I search the names of my distant relations, I’m blocked from viewing their profiles, even though I had already viewed them and established their relationship to my family tree.  I’m not sure that the long-term ramifications of all of your changes will benefit the geni.com concept… Locking down the system so tightly may have an adverse affect on those just beginning an interest in genealogy, especially young people who could not pay to join. However, I am in favor of providing better data, and the elimination of bogus profiles. I’ve come across a few that I would like to report – but have not explored Geni well enough to know if there is a mechanism for doing so. 

    • lance bradley

      Hi Kimmarie, thanks for the comment. I’m the same way as you, it’s really exciting to find a path to a famous ancestor, and we want as many people as possible to experience it. 

      I work on the graph service that does the path searches. One thing people may not realize, is that it’s a very computationally expensive feature. It takes one very expensive computer between 30 seconds and 10 minutes to find a single path. If we were to make path searches free for all users, our servers just couldn’t keep up. Although I wasn’t here at the time, I *think* path searches were the impetus for paid accounts back in the day.

      Anyways, it’s definitely the coolest feature we have (IMHO) and we’re always brainstorming ways to share the experience with as many people as possible, pros and basic users included. We’ve been rewriting the graph service for the past couple of years, and hopefully soon they will be computationally cheap enough that we can implement some of our ideas to share them more often.


  • Gideon

    Since I did not see a response from the Geni team, I am re-posting:

    I thought that the new restriction on non-Pro users is that they can not initiate merges. But apparently Geni went one step further. Non-Pros can not even complete mergers that were initiated by others! 

    I have a bunch of mergers that are waiting for completion for many months now. These are private profiles inside the family tree, but the other side is an occasional and inexperienced user. My hope was that these users will eventually click and approve the mergers. Now they won’t be able to do that w/o paying for a Pro version. What are the chances that these mergers will ever be completed? Any thoughts on this from the Geni marketing team?

    • lance bradley

      I’m not on the marketing team, but it sounds like you are experiencing the situation that we tried to solve with the recent pro changes. If I was you I would do a pro trial, just cancel before the trial period lapse’s if you don’t feel like it’s worth it. We’re cool with that :)

      -lance (again i work here)

      • Gideon

        Lance, I do have a pro account.  This is not the issue at all.  The issue is that when I want to merge with a private profile, the other side needs to approve.  I can initiate the merge, but with the new rules, the other side can not complete the merge unless they are also pros.  As a minimum, you should let non-pros complete merges as they could before.

        • http://twitter.com/wouterdeboeck Wouter De Boeck

          I am a Pro user myself and I experienced the same problem as Gideon does. Some merge requests can not be executed because the profiles are private and the manager is a free user (and occasionally login in or even abandoned ..). So this won’t help us to improve the world tree… So I believe that the Pro’s should not only initiate the merge but also need the ability to complete the merge. Or let free users complete merges requested by Pro’s.  That would make a difference …

          • Voqo

            I’m not a Pro, but few years Geni user who put here more then thousand profiles, reaching XVIII century. And I can’t imagine some Pro could merge my tree *without my permission* – just because she/he paid.

        • John Sparkman

          This is prcisely what I am facing.
          There are pending merges that I have initiated that are “frozen in timje” because the other side are not PRO users (I am a ORP) and they cannot complete the merges.

          Quo vadis?


    • wydok

      Can’t you ask a curator to complete these?  I had this problem when I was a free user with other people’;s public profiles.

  • Very Unhappy User

    How do I remove my tree from Geni?  When I try to close my account, it only gives me the option to donate it to the community or put someone else in charge.  I don’t want to do either.  I want to remove the information.

    • Dennis Persson West (f. Persso

      I would also like to know this???

      • lance bradley

        Would you remove articles you added to wikipedia, after thousands of other people have worked on them as well? Would that be fair to others and respectful of their efforts? 

        Why are you so upset that you would want to do so?

        -lance (do i need to keep putting that i work here at the end?) :)

        • Stewart Tryster

          I can see the point you’re making with the Wikipedia analogy, but it can only go so far. Someone may have put a lot of work into a Wikipedia article he feels has been hijacked in the wrong direction, but he’s not actually descended from it. People are more sensitive about their families and, for some, Geni might be the only public presence one of their ancestors has anymore.

          • http://www.marnen.org Marnen Laibow-Koser

            Then they can make another public presence.

            I don’t disagree that Geni has done something really stupid here, but I think this part of the argument is very weak.

        • Very Unhappy User

          I can tell you why I’m upset.  Because thousands of other people have *not* worked on my tree.  *I* worked on my tree for almost 20 years and have spent thousands of dollars going to libraries, courthouses, etc. all over the United States to gather the information that I put on there.  I put it on there for my family members only, not so that someone else could come by and swoop it up with a click of a mouse button just because they give you $12.95.  It is my information that I collected and now Geni won’t allow me to have it back.  I never intended to add to any type of Wiki tree.

          • Gksolum

            I totally agree with Unhappy User.  I did NOT sign on to geni so that I would be added to any type of Wiki tree….I was under the impression, my tree was my tree!  Maybe the better business bureau would be interested in this issue.  Thank you Unhappy User..very well said!

        • Anonymous

          I tend to agree with you here. But that makes me wonder… why isn’t this a WikiTree?

          And I wish the comments system indicated why was employees and who is not.

        • Birgit

          lance – you wrote:
          Would you remove articles you added to wikipedia, after thousands of other people have worked on them as well? Would that be fair to others and respectful of their efforts?
          Why are you so upset that you would want to do so? I say:
          Would you remove access to profiles, after I and thousands of other people have worked on them as well? Would that be fair to me and others and respectful of their efforts? So you still have not figured it out why we are upset???????

    • Stephenntly

      Looks like the only way to delete your tree is by deleting each person one at a time using the X in the right hand corner of each box. Looks like I am in for a busy couple of nights!!
      Please click “like” if you will be joining me in doing this and lets watch that 58 million start to drop. There is no point me having my tree on this site any longer. Sorry Geni you can not be allowed to get away with this abuse of your community.

  • http://twitter.com/gen_freak Leslie Ann

    You said, “Geni’s goal is to create a single, accurate family tree of the world. Unlike other genealogy sites (even sites that claim to be collaborative), where each user maintains their own private tree, Geni is designed for users with common relatives to work together on one tree, with one single profile for each common relative.”

    I have known this from the beginning and that is why I like(d) Geni.  I like the idea of one big public tree to share and learn from.  My “private” tree is contained on my hard drive. 

    But to revoke my ability to continue adding ancestors to the big tree (especially when no one else is adding them) because I can’t afford to be a Pro is, well, lame.  I could maybe understand implementing these new changes for future free users, but definitely not current users.

    • lance bradley

      Yeah, I have a concern that this may limit the growth of the big tree too. The product team does not agree with us. I hope they’re right :)

      -lance (an engineer here)

    • Ingreencoingennut

      I can’ t see see sttign limits for any one – on the free geni gains a hell alot more than   sata and new data that is not there -   they are only cuttign their throuats so to speak maybe -    I will try to stay with geni not sure how -  but be dam if they are goign to beat me down   I know i am giving them alot of good data spending lots of hours  inputting it  and for what their attitude -   that non-pro users  are     poor merges poor  genalogist  -  well some of their past pro-members  and now promemebers done   alot of damage to my tree and I know as i only had one colloborator and she was pro back then i don’t even know  if she is one geni as I refused to deal with  her after the  trouble she cause my one branch   and  colloborators that were behind her.

  • Yao Liu

    I miss the old days when Noah was all over Geni forum. It felt more like a community.

    I wanted to raise two points which might not have come to your attention. If you think 400 comments to the previous post is only a tiny fraction of the user base, you are forgetting that the majority of the users don’t log in even once a month. Given that no email notification was sent for the sweeping change, many of them are simply unaware of the situation. Obviously these users would be least likely to upgrade to Pro.

    Secondly, if you are observing a significant increase in Pro upgrades, it might be misleading. Many are using it to export their trees, and maybe deleting them altogether. I myself am using it (via a fake account) to make some merges (I admit it’s a good feature, yet needs improvement). I know this is not nice to do, but you might see more and more fake profiles. Even worse, some vandalism might arise. Again, wikipedia is where you could learn from.

    I do support the grand mission of Geni, and the new merge is a right direction. There could be some other way to determine which users are more experienced and would contribute to the tree. Some rating system is badly needed: merges are probably rewarded more points than creating a new profile, and a well-documented profile is worth significantly more than a profile with only a name.

    • lance bradley

      It would be pretty cool if we had a rating system, and it could function as a means to the end you’re suggesting. But you have to be careful when you reward people on the internet for doing things. If we were to reward users for doing merges, we would probably see both good merges and bad merges rise. If we reward people for completing profiles, they could just but garbage data in. That’s not to say it’s impossible, we could probably pull off a working rating system, but we’re just focused on other- cooler, features. 


      • Anonymous

        While I am sure you are working on cooler features I actually think a rating system is extremely important. The rating system I envision allows for further transparency and allows users to rate one another edits rather than just points based on changes you have made, etc. Believe me I understand this is not something easy to build — I’m a programmer too. :)

  • Jessie Case

    Seeing this link on my newsfeed made me excited because at first I thought Geni had come to its senses and actually made “better” changes. But no, I am disappointed in what was previously my favorite site once again and will still no longer have any use for it since I cannot afford a Pro account (I’m still in high school) and I’ve added lines that go even past 30th great grandparents. I want to be a genealogist for my profession and if Geni hadn’t have made these changes I would’ve used it as my main way of organizing my information and recommended it to everyone I work with. Not a smart move Geni…good luck with your World Tree when the world leaves your site. 

    • Jessie Case

      Additionally, I want to take back the 2,070 profiles, 537 pictures, and 98 invites I’ve provided to your now greedy site. 

      • Aivar

        You can do this but its useless, because they have all the data backup and it can be restored if they like to. If you reading Geni response, you should understand that they dont care what is happening, all the data has a backup. You can delete you tree or leave, huge job is done by us who build this big tree and because it is quite attractive now, they got what they need and can now show to us where the door is. There is no difference at all what they do from now on, revert changes or go even deeper – trust to this site is gone and I cant see a way how to get it back.
        By deleting your tree, all other relatives who are still want to use Geni and also have same lets say 8th grandmother/father will lose them by your actions and this thing is not nice thing to do to them, they are not resposible for what Geni has done, so I will try to not do this by myself, but there are several tree brances which are connecting different tree brances and dont have direct line with active users, finally I try to remove these and what is big tree without connections – just separate trees. Then everybody can have their private trees here. That is what is happening here now – changing to privat. I will change mine 6300+ profiles finally to private, its take time, but even I considered to go PRO earlier , its not gona happend anymore (I will only to extract my work here)

        • lance bradley

          We do have backups, but it would be a real pain to restore just a piece of the data. We don’t plan to undo anyone’s changes, unless it’s vandalism. 

          Why make everything private? You seem to agree with what we are trying to do here, don’t work against everyone :)

          • Arj35

            Sorry Lance, you got me wrong – I dont agree at all what you are doing now. Geni claims for better tree and more quick and accurate merge in my opinion is nothing but pure lie.
            My tree last merge here will probably remain unsolved with duplicates in it, because I cant request it anymore, so do other side….
            So, if I joined Geni in old terms, I should be able to continue with the same terms, unless we are agreed between each other differently, not the way Geni choosed. Geni is like a drug dealer, gives first dope for free and then, $$$. Sorry, I am not addicted to act like one and buy something from you. I planned to go Pro earlier, but not anymore – by force, sorry, Geni was chose the wong way to make money.
            Geni claims for my distant relatives (which I can see/edit from now, but cant add any new persons to them) also not true – they are my direct blood line and are connected to world tree only thruogh me or my family group and are distant profiles to Geni, not me, so what you have done is steal these profiles from my family group. What peoples usually do when they are hurt or someone steal from them – they get back or do the thing which they are thinking to hurt other side the most – Geni, you are not the everyone like Lance say, but the tree you have now is because of us. If you did the same trick few years ago when the tree was not so big yet and not so many users, it would be a suicide, I still believe it is because a lot of people are leaving or plan to leave, but not me – I will stay that my tree didnt end up in abandoned trees and some totally strange PROs who dont know anything about us will start the make mistakes (but, probably they cant, it will be Private :-)

          • Gksolum

            Well said Aivar…..I agree completely…disgusting act geni!

          • Greenecoingenut

            bring back the non-pro users then – with the privelages to add and  merge – they  were not all the  reasons behind the bad merges -    we have hand to hand enter all this data for the last two years -  all the non-pro and former non-pro members need some   courtecy from you -   some where i still seen it advertised as “free’ without    saying they were restriected for the 1st t four gernations whihc is a piece of cake for most people to accomplish its past those four genrations we all need help on and the sharing -  and companion ship geni once brought about….

      • lance bradley

        Why are we greedy? Sorry you’re upset, but as Aivar says, those aren’t just your ancestors, they may even be mine. 

        • Jessie Case

          You’re greedy because you’re making me pay you to add my ancestors and possibly yours even to the tree. I love contributing to the tree but you’re cutting me off from genealogy completely because there are no sites out there as good as Geni used to be before it started charging everyone. Please please please just let me add my ancestors again without the price tag.

    • Greenecoingennut

      you above all should have your non-pro rights back it is sad that they have destoryed your incentinve to be a genealogist – please do not let GENI do that to you I have been in it for 30+ years and  they have just about beaten me down too and I WILL NOT LET THEM DO IT  they may have my data as I am tired of pulling it off and they do have back ups so it can be restored -  if all esle fails i will go to other means – - one good  product is TNG the next generation  sitebuilding done on line -  you do need webs space  tho   Go for the stars  also Legacy and  family search (LDS)  has free computer download programs for on you computer - 

  • Nefie

    The only way Geni.com will survive is to follow the facebook model.  Free membership with limited but meaningful participation and allow advertisement OR make it DIRT CHEAP so that everyone can use it.

    • Rensie

      Makes sense! 10 million users @ 1$ per month should be more profitable than 200 000, 00 users 5$ per month. Geni owners should get to know how import its user base is – try reading 
      “Tribes: We Need You to
      Lead Us” by Seth Godin

    • lance bradley

      Do you really want us to put ads all over the place?

      • Previously Happy Free User

        Many website offer a third option in between pro and free where they can some additional access compared to free users, but in exchange agree to view ads.  As noted by the founder of GENI, advertisers should be willing to a premium if they can target ads to users for whom they know age, sex, current location, and whether they have children. I’m sure you could get at least a $1/month of revenue from advertisers per individual willing to ‘buy-in” to a “Basic-plus” level of service (I’d suggest you offer those customers the ability to add unlimited blood relatives and spouses, and the ability to download their forest GEDCOM).  

      • Alex Rusinov

        Yes! Google Ad-Sense works wonders! Why is Facebook so popular? Because it’s free! Does anyone use “paid” social media sites like Classmates.com or others?

      • Stewart Tryster

        If you can make money on someone else’s gamble that we might pay them, instead of gambling yourselves that we might not be willing to pay you directly… What do you think a non-Pro user would prefer to be confronted with: an ad on the way to his family tree or a paywall preventing him from getting there? If those are the options, it’s a no-brainer. And there are plenty of sites that do have advertising that give paid subscribers freedom from it, which is about as egalitarian as it gets.

        • lance bradley

          Thanks Stewart, you’ve made some great points across all of your comments. Give us a chance to think and iterate on this. We do need to come up with an egalitarian monetization strategy, and that may indeed be ads. We’re listening and we care.

        • lance bradley

          Thanks Stewart, you’ve made some great points across all of your comments. Give us a chance to think and iterate on this. We do need to come up with an egalitarian monetization strategy, and that may indeed be ads. We’re listening and we care.

      • http://www.marnen.org Marnen Laibow-Koser

        Yes, if the alternative is greedy moves like this. What’s wrong with ads?

      • Nefie

        I think the responses
        thus far make the point that users won’t mind advertisements.  I think if
        you could introduce a 2nd tier use – sort of semi-pro at 1$ a month- with
        basically the same rights as non-pro-users up to last month you may convince a
        large portion of amateur genealogists to remain on board.

        • lance bradley

          I like this idea too. I don’t make product decisions, but i’ll make sure the option is heard.

      • Geni’tals

        Yes! Do that, to keep the price right…

      • Anonymous

        Yes. Heck I would earn my way to a pro-like membership by completely surveys (similar to Groovesharks model) or completely a certain amount of merges, reviewing some information that needs to be reviewed manually, etc. Both in regards to things related to and not related to Geni.

    • Greenecoingennut

      they began on facebook as an app  or was connected and they left that should of bee a good warnign sigin

  • Kirsi Kanep

    I would only consider getting geni pro if it was couple of $ a month. Current price is way too high as it’s only a hobby and not building a tree online wouldn’t kill me. I would just continue with pc based program.

    And it’s just wrong to give pros that much power. They could easily merge profiles that only appear to be same, but pros may not know their relatives enough to know if all the data is correct and if it’s actually a match.

    Generally I’m very disappointed with those changes.

    • lance bradley

      At a two year subscription it’s $4/month. That’s not too far out of line with what you’d prefer is it?

      • wydok

        I have yet to figure out a way to set my pro subscription to actually PAY MONTHLY.  I am a Pro user, and instead of being charged $5.95/month, I was charged $71.40 at once. 

      • wydok

        I have yet to figure out a way to set my pro subscription to actually PAY MONTHLY.  I am a Pro user, and instead of being charged $5.95/month, I was charged $71.40 at once. 

      • ancestry lover

        Hasen’t anybody Heard of Ancestry.com? Best of all of them

    • krishnan s g

      I AGREE

  • Geni George

    @Jessie, @LeslieAnn, – I’m hoping to announce something tonight or tomorrow that might be helpful for those who cannot afford pro accounts.  

    @VUU and Dennis – the only way to remove information is to manually delete each profile.  In terms of pulling your data from the site, we’re working on a way to make this easier for those who have decided they don’t want to participate in the Geni community any longer.  I’ll provide details as soon as I can.

    @PHFU – This is good feedback, and in line with what others have suggested.  Regarding the GEDCOM export, we’re aware of this and working on a solution.  You can also use the beta version of AncestorSync to pull data.  We have been in contact with the bloggers; we hear the feedback, and we’re committed to working with everyone to apologize for how we have handled this transition.  

    @Ladydiane4 – I only closed the comments on that post because we were moving to a new post, and it is highly unlikely that trying to weed through those comments would be efficient for anyone.  I want to make sure that I can respond as much as humanly posssible, and I couldn’t spread myself any further.  Naturally, the conversation has shifted towards this blog post, which is very helpful.  Regarding the export, I don’t believe our export will catch profiles that aren’t in your tree.  However, I spoke with Dovy at AncestorSync today and there may be a solution using their software, where you’d be able to specific the starting point for a download.  I’ll let him know there is interest in this and see what we can provide.  I’m both sorry and sympathetic that you’re upset, and I’m working behind the scenes to figure out what I can do.  I wouldn’t rule out permissions being opened back up at some point (and we are always testing things), but we need to let these changes run their course so that we can determine what kind of impact they have on all of Geni’s users.  Unfortunately that’s one of the aspects of running a web business – the data behind the usage tells a different story than most of us would think, sometimes.

    @Stewart – the number of profiles removed has actually decreased since the permissions changes last Thursday, based on preliminary #s.

    @Kirsi – it comes out to $4.9x/month when you purchase the annual plan.  If the annual plan doesn’t work for you financially, what would you be able to commit to?  I can pass this feedback along to those who handle pricing.

    @Yao – we apparently found out what it takes to get Noah to pen a blog post :)

    @Ronrabin – we are going to be making some changes/fixes to search – not sure what, but I’m hoping to announce them tomorrow, and I hope that they solve your problem.  If not, then Lance’s suggestion is best.  Let’s make sure that CS knows there is an issue.

    @Rensie – I’ve read excerpts, that’s a good book!

    @Gideon – Since they are private profiles, I don’t think that @Lance’s suggestion will work.  When I get back to headquarters next week, I’m going to review this kind of feedback with the product team and see if there is anything we can do.  In the mean time, you can ask these people to make the profiles public if you’re a Pro, and then you’d be able to merge them.

    @kimmarie – I’m not sure if our updates to search tomorrow will help or not, but hopefully they will.  We know that it’s difficult to view certain things right now and we’re working to address it.  In the mean time, there are some other ways to get to specific profiles.  The way that I have been using is via the surname pages.  Let’s say you want to view George Washington’s profile – you can go to http://www.geni.com/surnames/Washington and it’ll almost certainly list him as one of the popular profiles on the right…and if not, there is a names list that will have him in it (I know, that’s kind of a pain in the butt if it’s a long list and it’s not on page 1, but I think most notable historical profiles will appear as a popular profile on the surname page itself).  

    @ben – Without more information, I’m not sure how I can help.  What you may want to do is post full details of your trouble (the exact steps you’re taking) at http://www.geni.com/discussions — or check out our help site to see if someone has already provided an answer to this – http://help.geni.com (that’s also a good place to post the question).

    @Timaneco – are you searching for the profiles?  Without more details, it’ll be tough to help.  I’d recommend going through CS at http://help.geni.com

    • Gideon

      @George – if I could get these people to respond to my original merge request, the problem would not have existed.  These are occasional and inexperienced users.  I tried nagging them before with little success.  I learned from one of the curators that the only solution with these people is to wait long enough and eventually they will click on the right menu and complete the merge.  Over time it worked with a good number of these.  Now with the new rules, they have no way to complete the merge.   I could not get them to respond to a simple merge request, thereby I do not think that there is a chance that they will go through the process of turning a profile into a public one if.  I know that this may be difficult to believe that not everybody is a geek with computer experience, but I have gone through this a good number of times in the past and I still have over 50 merges with private profiles that are still pending.

    • Stewart Tryster

      Thank you, George, for an obviously serious attempt to let people know they’ve been heard. Looks like management is letting you be a nicer guy than it seemed earlier :)

      I’m looking forward to hearing the announcements you say are in the pipeline and hope that the bottom line will be that people’s investment of time has been worthwhile.

    • HONi

      George – don’t forget about an alternative way of payment.

  • Ben Turin

    Did they roll back changes?  I can now see in-law trees.  I couldn’t see them this morning.

    • lance bradley

      I’m not the CEO, but i’d be shocked if we rolled back. I don’t think anything has changed since this morning, you should have been able to see them all along.

    • lance bradley

      I’m not the CEO, but i’d be shocked if we rolled back. I don’t think anything has changed since this morning, you should have been able to see them all along.

  • Prince Corey

    As long as I can add before 1700 and search King Tut, all will be fine.

    • Greenecoingenut

      it should go back to each our our immigrant ancestors in the u.s. – from the 4th generation bask is where allot of people need the most help not the first 4 generations   no one is listening –  

  • Aolejarz7

    Geni decided to make …
       I have a very large tree in the portal Geni. I was very proud of him and invited him to all my relatives from around the world. But Geni decided to commercialize its operations by ordering your
    users to move to paid forms: Genia PRO. In this situation, I am forced to liquidate my family tree on Geni informing portal
    all my relatives that this dramatic step, and its reasons.
      Too bad my friends!. As a result of ill-considered action by the Webmaster portal Geni I am compelled to thank you all for all the very interesting discussions in many of our themes.
    Andrew Olejarz
    Silesian Genealogical Association
    Wroclaw, Poland

  • Jane

    Viewing and editing permissions were not changed at all. All users can still view and edit the same profiles they could before last week. – IF YOU CAN FIND THEM!All users can use the “Managed by Me” tab to search for profiles they manage. – ONLY IF THEY ARE PRIMARY MANAGER

  • Greenecoingennut

    i am with preiouslty  free happy user -  i have opened up al my profiles to the public to   ensure the can be merged i am workign in several branches that are in the 6 and 7 genrations and they are locked and cannot be merged others in the   4 and below  refuse to mereg or there have been abandoned trees that the profiles cannot be merged to -  last i seen on my one line it was blue dot heaven awaiting merges that  i have requested   co-manager of after sitting several weeks for them to be merged and they are still not being merged – -   i am still for the non -pros to get the    ability to add proflies above the 4/5th generation this is where we all need  the most help in our family trees -  its a very sad day that you done this  to the users of geni

    • Previously Happy Free User

      It’s not clear from your post whether the merges you are waiting for are for Private profiles or public profiles, but if they are public, read the instructions in this thread: http://www.geni.com/discussions/99133?msg=730514 and post a comment to the end of with your merges.

      Regarding setting profiles to public/private – it’s a slow process, but a user in that thread recommended a policy of making all living persons, or parents of living persons private. and setting everyone else public.  That is what I’m trying to so, because I do believe in the philosophy of making connections to the World Tree when possible.

      Also, someone from GENI needs to look at Arvuti’s & Jane’s comments on the Managed tab in search.  I’m not sure it’s accurate – because I seem to see a lot of results for a branch where I am not one of the prime managers – but the reasoning may help lead to a more logical expansion of search results for free users without necessarily giving us search results for the full World Tree (which I still don’t get since finding possible duplicates before a profile is created is the best way to avoid the creation of duplicates).

      • Jane

        The Managed by tab is definitely still only showing results where I am primary manager

  • Greenecoingentnut

    also to all i happen to think   that  removing   your  tree  or parts of it  from geni does not ensure the profiles will remain gone as  they have backups remember and can they can recover  any& all data that has been  put on to geni – i am sure they have destroyed  no back ups & since the “Big crash” they have insituted  even more  back-up proceduures  of keeping data safe than they had before & any all data  that has been take off  by users can possibly  be restored  after the so called’ dust settles down again”   i just hope that geni  does reconsider  letting the non-pro users back to adding & merging – they have alot to contribute too.

  • lower PRO price

    You price is way above normal levels… decrease the price for PROs and you could have more unssatisfied users signing up for it.

  • Voqo

    1. I remember forum discussions about date standards. It took month (if not years) for Geni to understand (and apply) that there are other date standards than mm/dd/yyyy used worldwide – that US standards doesn’t cover whole world. I remember discussions about “maiden” name. It also took months/years – now it’s “born name” or sth like that. It seems Geni thinks US standards cover the whole world.

    2. Geni is proud to have 57 millions of profiles in the world tree. How small percentage it is? There are more than 300 mln people in the USA only – for now. There were 1 bln people in whole world about 1820, 500 mln in ~1500 etc. (source: Wikipedia). What source of historical profiles you have if not Geni users? Free users mostly (I think)?

    3. Geni has a great vision of one world tree. Great. But why should I pay you to make YOUR dream come true? Almost all of data comes from users – and in that case it’s Geni who should pay for it. AND YOU DID IT by giving us free base and free tools. You have covered our (freeloaders) bills, we did the genealogy job here. But now you’ve finished doing that – so why we should continue? As one of Pro users wrote: “you expect us (Pro users) to do all job, to clean up whole mess – and pay for that?”

    4. There will be no world tree without smaller and bigger family trees. There will be no good big family trees without merging smaller trees. But now there will be no merging without Pro (or active and geek) users in every little tree. And it won’t be, because you *still* think US standards cover the whole world. And what I mean is simply having international credit cards and amount of money people can spend monthly for hobby.

    So maybe you just want not the world tree, but USA tree?

    PS. Sorry for language mistakes, english is not my home language.

    • krishnan s g


    • Rafi_azoulay

      You have only one mistake.
      Geni dream is not “one world tree” that’s the means to get the real dream – more money


    • Freeforever

      use geneanet.org that is professional!

  • Jeff Bynum

    Change it back!

  • Arvuti Katsetaja

    There seems there is a little misconception in Noah’s “Managed by me” tab approach. It covers only the profiles you are the prime manager. As soon as the profile gets merged there is at least 50% probability that you are not anymore counted as the prime manager of this profile. So you cannot find the person on the Geni search without paying. Instead you will find him on Google. Probably even better if you log out of Geni. 
    Yeah, you can edit but if you cannot find? Is this some kind of a don’t show, don’t talk policy?The other problem is with very close relatives like mother or father / grandparents. The collaborative freeloader is at the moment completely helpless when somebody with a PRO badge decides to sodomize them with an uninvited merge. Or even if the merge is wanted you cannot accept it before you pay to the pimp.The only way to protect your closest is to privatize them up to where you can. 
    This is as bad as it can get for the Geni!

    • Aivar

      You can privatize all of them, even 9th grandparent, just wake him alive and make it private and death data just write on remarks field for yourself.

      • Voqo

        And if Geni run some script to auto-make >120 years profiles public, we’ll put birthdate in “about me” field also… even in non-standard way…
        But why we have to fight with Geni?

  • Landau

    Hi. I am a free user, who has used geni heavily since starting just over a year ago. Please allow me to make some constructive suggestions.
    1) the ‘pro’ price is too high. Many are on tight budgets, and this is a hobby (albeit a serious one).  You should consider a graded fee based system, with pro lite (perhaps with all the features that were available for free before), and a regular pro (enhanced searching, better tools, etc.)  The pro lite should be priced to make it affordable even to those on tight budgets. People like me do want to contribute something (in fact, if the lifetime membership was in the 125-150 range, I’d probably sign up…)
    2) another option — like many other sites, solicit advertising.  And then, for the free users who do a search, make them see an advertisement before seeing their results. This will encourage those who want the convenience of not seeing adds to pay for the paid membership, but will provide searching options for those who cannot.   i.e. the paid account makes things smoother, quicker and more convenient — but does not remove basic functionality such as searching and merging.
    3) the search and merge options are important to all genealogists who have contributed to the tree — whether or not they have paid. these need to be restored — albeit with some of the options above.
    4) I am concerned about pros being able to merge my nodes without my permission.  I liked the way it worked previously for non pros — you must solicit the permission of the other owner, and get them to join your family (or vice versa), the  you can merge.  Both owners must approve a merge.  One owner doing a merge opens the way to dangerous things happening.
    5) Some have suggested soliciting donations (many sites work on that basis) — perhaps with a specific amount.
    That’s all for now – -I hope geni takes these and other suggestions seriously

  • Rick Tasber

    WHY WHY WHY!! Please answer my questions and comments, without using one of your “copy and paste answers”. Thank you.Why after 4 years, did you decide to take away, most of, the special gifts Geni offered?  It was working fine the way it was. We got to do our thing and you made enough money to make the recent 1 to 3 hour, excuse me 4 to 5 day update/improvement/overhaul/diabolical scam. Time which WE NOW KNOW was used to revamp the system, that is now hurting so many people. I hate to think it was out of sheer greed, but that seems to be the only answer.You allowed us to use our time and energy to build and grow our profiles, branches and trees, spread the word about Geni and once we were hooked….”Now it’s time, ladies and gentlemen, to get rich”!!!We can use Google for free, Skype offers extras like your “Pro”, but doesn’t force it on us and hurt people in the process….WIN WIN (as they say). YOU CAN DO IT TOO, like the BIG BOYS, if you choose wisely and don’t gamble on the chance of….More $$$ in your pockets (GREED) vs the possibility of, maybe, losing this site (DESTRUCTION).There also seems to be a lot of bugs popping up on this site, all of a sudden, (probably because of “THE FIX”). and you keep responding to with the pat answer… “We are working  on…”…hmmm…Karma???  Thank you for your, NOT copy and paste response or pat answer. Hang in there, this will eventually be over, one way or another….;~)

  • LeadOptimist

    I don’t think the changes are that bad.  It comes to 4.95 per month for a pro membership (one-year).  And for that, we get a valuable service.  I personally think its worth it.  Nothing good is free, and 4.95 per month is not going to hurt me.  The family tree maker software is 40 bucks and you have to pay for upgrades.  What geni is proposing is not that bad. 

    • Nefie

      $5 in some currencies equal a weeks wages in others that may be the rate for a minute’s time as charges by professionals.  There has to be an affordable alternative such as $1/month for a lite package with limited but meaningful rights.

      • Greenecoingentnut

        also with the economy  the way it is the sock market is all but crashing  just maybe none of use will have to worry ….. i have this gut feeling were heading for the biggest depression there ever was and it will beat the 1930′s one all to …. we have never cam out of the so called cover up recessions the bails outs of the banks and credit cards, car companies  the unemployment rate figures is a farse as they do not  paint the whole picture its just a nice white wash job – -   the unemployment figures are a lie  as the are only based on those who are drawing UN-employment  they don’t figure in those who can no longer  able to draw unemployment those figures can’t not be calculate – they don’t count i those who  have  gave up the search for a job and sit home doing odd jobs  etc.  just to get by just to put enough food on the table  as not to starve -  those who do without medical and dental care as that is a ‘luxury’   Social Security ect have not seen a benefit increase in well over 3 years now – because they claim there has been no cost  increase  yet when you go to the grocery stores – prices are going  higher -  gasoline price bounce like a ping pong ball and have not  been under 3.50  for a gallon for so long  those who  do go to the dr. though insurance , medicare et. are only seeing there rates increase they are not  lowering them –

  • Geni George

    @Voqo – Dates aren’t the easiest thing in the world to deal with.  They don’t make a lot of sense.  Trying to handle them in more than one way is tough.  Same with stuff like maiden names.  If it’s a boolean thing, easy.  If it’s not, then that takes a lot of work to deal with a data set this large.  

    Most of our profiles came from GEDCOM imports.  I don’t know how many were free vs. paid.  

    If you share the dream, it’s OURS.  Someone is going to have to run the business of providing the platform, and right now it’s us.  If people don’t want to support that financially, they are welcome to use one of our free (and less feature rich) competitors.  I don’t think that’s unreasonable.

    We’ll continue to monitor the reaction to these changes, and if we find that it’s a detriment to the growth of the world family tree we’ll adjust.

    @Jeff – That’s not the answer.

    @Very Unhappy User – Slow down.  Geni’s vision all along means leaving phrases like “my tree” and “your tree” at the door.  It’s tough to understand, but the vision is “our tree”.  If that’s not what you want, then I’m sorry someone hasn’t made a private family tree site as awesome as Geni.  It’s really important that everyone understands this.  It’s O-U-R tree.

    @Stewart – great point.  It’s not easy to make the “OUR Tree” thing click for a lot of people, but you kind of have to think about things a bit differently than most genealogists have up until this point.

    @Aivar – sad to see you go :(

    @Greencoingenut – We still offer an awful lot to Basic (Free) users.  98-99% of Geni users love what’s free.

    @lower PRO price – our annual account hasn’t changed in ages.  The monthly account is new as of the last couple months.  If we try different pricing, it will happen completely separately of these changes, which we’ll still be evaluating for weeks to come.

    @Arvuti – we’re rolling out some search enhancements today, hopefully this addresses those concerns.  Regarding pimps and sodomization – not nice on a family web site.  Be careful on that line you’re walking, please.

    @Alex Rusinov – Does anyone use “paid” genealogy sites like Ancestry.com or MyHeritage.com?  

    @Previously Happy Free User – assuming we have no desire to add advertising to the site, would you be willing (I’m about to get hypothetical) to pay $1/month or $12/year for expanded privileges (let’s say the ability to keep adding public profiles)?

    @Nefie and @Marnen – it’s not a matter of whether or not people mind the advertisements.  We’re not Angry Birds.

    @Gideon and @Wouter – we understand the private/non-Pro thing is a pain point.  Hopefully the product team doesn’t hate me when I get back to the office and relentlessy bug them about this.

    @Aolejarz7 – look for an announcement I’m going to make today that will probably apply to your society.

    @LeadOptimist – thanks, that’s a simple way to make a case for Geni’s sustenance :)

    @Rick – I don’t get the copy and paste schtick.  I’m trying real hard.  Regarding why we started charging money after 4 years?  We’re a business and we need to figure out a business model that is going to ensure that we’re a business in another 10, 20 or 100 years.  Our outage was unplanned and had absolutely nothing to do with these account changes, and suggesting as much is kinda delusional.  I don’t know where you got your bad information.  And yeah, we’re always working on the site.  Bugs happen.  ALl the BIG BOYS have them too.

    @Landau – Thanks for the constructive comments.  (1) We are working on some initiatives that will allow those who cannot afford Pro to use the site better.  (2) I’m not trying to yell at you, but people think this is the blue pill or the magic bullet, and in Geni’s case, it isn’t.  Advertising isn’t the business model, it’s not going to work.  There are on the order of hundreds of thousands of you who are fanatically using the site, and advertising isn’t going to keep things moving.  (3) We’re releasing some search improvements today.  The merge stuff is probably going to stay Pro, I don’t think there are plans to change that back.  (4) See the comments above about “MY” and “YOUR” versus “OUR”.  (5) Donations don’t provide any kind of long term security for a business.  If we were NPR that’s probably what we’d be doing.

    @Jane – that’s gonna get better today.

    @Prince Corey – You’re a funny dude!

    @HONi – I’m pushing for that.  Please give me more info.  Where are you located, and what kind of payment alternatives would work for you?

    • Voqo

      Thanks for replying.

      About dates: I’m an experienced programmer and I can distinguish between date storing and date showing (and even inputing). It’s not that complicated.

      About dreams: you said “If you share the dream, it’s OURS.” I cannot agree. Building one world tree is your dream, but not mine. I’d like to make my family’s tree – collaborate with my cousins, aunts, uncles etc. – distant or close – and share the tree with them. I don’t mind sharing it with wider family too – in case of finding some common ancestors. Even with The Big Tree. It’s ok for me if there will be some path leading from me to Big Tree – but for now we don’t know it, so our family tree is out of it. But still – there’s YOUR dream, not mine. I could help by building my family tree, by finding and adding my ancestors (more then 5 generations back). Now I can’t.

      One more thing. You answered “98-99% of Geni users love what’s free.”. I think 98-99% of Geni free users didn’t react yet, probably even don’t know about changes yet.

      • Geni George

        This is something that we are trying really hard to message:  Geni is the place where everyone works together on a single family tree of the world.  As a marketing person, it absolutely kills me to say it, but if someone doesn’t share that vision then Geni probably isn’t the best place for them.  That doesn’t mean we want you to leave in any way, but it’s important to understand that the decisions we make as an organization will be completely biased towards that vision, so using Geni as something other than that is at your own risk.  

        We have some pretty good metrics, and we knew that the vast majority of Geni’s users wouldn’t be affected by the account permission changes.  I doubt we’ll be hearing much from the 98-99% of users that are unaffected; they probably don’t pay attention to things like our blog, or merging,  or Pro accounts.  They just like to share pictures of their grandchildren with their families.  That’s cool, too.

        • Philip Weiss

          I *might* be okay with these changes if your notifications worked for edits to profiles.  After having profiles I added, managed, and followed merged and edited incorrectly, where I didn’t get any notification, I can’t buy in to this “let anyone who pays edit” scheme.  Without good notification, there’s no way to keep a commonly edited tree accurate.  And your notification is crapola right now.

        • Voqo

          Thanks for replying.

          Again I think we don’t understand each other. Geni has its dream, I got mine. Our dreams meet themselves on older ancestors and that’s why I’m here. I’m not interested in building other parts of Big Tree (I mean Projects, Kings and Queens lines, Celebrities etc.), but mine. And even if I go Pro (but I simply technically can’t), I wouldn’t do it (participating in Projects) – paying for that wouldn’t change the fact I know almost nothing more about subject of most Project. That is my point of view when I say Geni vision is not mine and I don’t care about world tree.

          But, as I said, our dreams meet themselves on ancestors. 58 mln profiles in Big Tree… Great, but how many of them are localized in Poland? Any? Hundred? Thousand? So I don’t think there will be some Pro user who will merge my tree to Big Tree. First, my tree needs to go deeper in history. But now it will not, because there are “98-99% users” in my tree who doesn’t care and I simply can’t go Pro – I just don’t fit in your US-standard of living.

        • http://www.marnen.org Marnen Laibow-Koser

          I share the vision of one tree, but by restricting me (non-Pro) from merging, you’re making it hard for me to help make that happen. I have found duplicates of lots of my relatives — duplicates which I would be happy to merge — but as a free user, I now *can’t*. So by shutting free users like me out from helping with the merge process, you’re actually *hurting* your own vision.

    • Previously Happy Free User

      I still think adding direct line ancestors shouldn’t be limited for free users. But, yes, I’d be willing to pay $1-$2 per month for the ability to add people to my extended family if ad-supported version wasn’t available AND if I could get GEDCOM exports of my forest.  Just today I have stumbled across 10+ people I would like to add to an in-law tree but I don’t know how to make a request (or even if it would be fair of me) for a Pro user to add them for me.  

      You are going to have to have some established system for adding people to free users’ trees if you are really concerned about building OUR World Tree.  And hopefully that won’t involve asking your paying customers to become volunteer labor responding to the requests of us ‘freeloaders” who can only contribute our time.

    • Unhappy User

      Well, George, all I can say about O-U-R tree as you call it, is that the pictures that I put on OUR tree were taken by me, therefore, they are copyrighted by me, as is the commentary in the notes on some of the people in OUR tree.  Are you saying you now own the copyright to my materials?

    • Rick Tasber

      Geni George, I appreciate your candor and your response…THANK YOU!  Hang in there…Rick ;~)

    • Aivar

      I wrote : I will stay that my tree didnt end up in abandoned trees and some
      totally strange PROs who dont know anything about us will start the make
      mistakes (but, probably they cant, it will be Private :-) – is this means that I`m leaving or you didnt read my post to the end ?
      I`m very upset the changes Geni has done and trust to this site is gone, but I will stay, only do I  want to add any new profiles (if I can in the future) to the OUR tree or complete any merges, I`m not sure, time will tell (depends how Geni will solve his mess).
      In my point of view, at first Geni has to revert all the changes as they were and then start from there again in correct way and also with listening the community. Now Geni has act like some dictator without consulting/listening his users, but where is Hussein now – dead.

    • LeeGonHo

      Commenting on your answer to @Very Unhappy User – Slow down. You say “my tree” and “your tree” should be left at the door. 

      When someone joins O-U-R tree as you say, then tell me why the following is generated by Geni –  lets use the names Carol as tree manager & Laurie as a cousin invited, the following is generated by Geni in their family newsletter and on the home page, Carol invited Laurie to HER TREE. Then when she accepts Geni generates Laurie joined CAROL’s TREE.

      When you invite someone the message generated by Geni is to join Carol’s tree (managers tree) not your world tree (O-U-R tree). 

    • http://www.marnen.org Marnen Laibow-Koser

      George, please use the threaded reply feature, otherwise it’s hard to figure out what you’re replying to. What do you mean by “We’re not Angry Birds”?

      • Geni George

        It’s too difficult to keep up with hundreds of replies if they’re all threaded.  When i say we’re not Angry Birds, I mean that we don’t have millions of addicted users and advertising doesn’t work for us like it does for Angry Birds on Android (or something similarly simple with widespread appeal).

        • http://www.marnen.org Marnen Laibow-Koser

          Huh? Threading makes keeping track of replies easier, not harder. That’s what it’s for.

          And you may not have millions of addicted users, but you have better-targeted ones. I’m sure advertisers would pay more for the privilege.

          • Geni George

            I don’t know what else to tell you other than: advertising is not the right business model for Geni in its current state.  If that changes someday, you’ll know because there will be ads everywhere.

  • Landau

    Hi.  Thanks for responding to my comments. I am glad to hear that some form of pricing adjustments (i.e. for those who cannot afford a full pro account) may be in the works. Indeed, for me, 1-2 per month (with a lifetime option pro-rated acordingly) would work.
    I do want to address the OURS vs. MY issue, which I know is under discussions.  Many of us who use MY may really be talking the same thing as you are, but with a different stress.  I added the 1000+ nodes myself, from my own family data (no gedcom uploads — all done manually…)  I am very happy for others to find my data, and for merges to happen. I initiated a number of merges. I am very happy to be merged into the OUR tree (i.e. the large tree).  Of course, some privacy protections need to be in order, as not everyone wants their data to be public — but the current default to non public takes care of that. I have also added about 100 family documents, and am happy to contribute them to the public knowledge base. However, I owe it to my family members whose profiles I have added (especially the living ones) to protect their information, and to be the guardian / custodian of such. In that sense, the tree is a MY tree.  Some of my family are a bit uncomfortable with having things being so public (i.e. most people do not understand the security nuances, etc.).  So I, like many others, like the  concept of an OUR tree, and are happy to be part of it, but need to retain some degree of personal ownership of our data.  Does that make sense? 

    Another topic that has been an irritant for many of the family members I have added — the default to daily messages has annoyed many people.  I suggest a default to weekly (i.e. all the daily updates turned off by default)

  • David

    Noah has apologised for not notifying changes in advance.  Is there recognition that Geni should also have consulted with its user community before making such changes? To get our views? Like – we might have some useful ideas to contribute?

    • Jane

      Any thoughts on this Geni George or Grant (or Noah?)

    • David

      Anyone going to respond to this?  Yes?  No?

      • Geni George

        I think it has been pretty evident in comments made recently that we don’t feel like we did a very good job on the communication front over the last month.  We’ll keep trying to get better at this.

        • David

          That’s understood and appreciated and I for one am not trying just to get Geni to eat humble pie or confess again and again etc!

          My problem here is that I think that all Geni thinks it did wrong is that it failed to communicate – to tell people its decision in advance.  That to me is not the key problem.  The key problem is that Geni did not CONSULT its user base.  I fear that Geni still considers its user community as people who have to be TOLD what Geni intends to do, rather then ASK THEIR OPINION on what Geni should do, and actually take into account the opinions it hears.

          Please tell me I am wrong and that Geni has learned this lesson.  I am not seeing the evidence.

          • Geni George


            We are taking the opinions we have heard and putting action behind them.  We will be announcing some account modifications soon, and we are looking for ways to make Geni’s for-pay features as accessible as possible, as global as possible.

            I’m happy to hear your opinion on what you think Geni should do to open up permissions, to decrease duplications of profiles, to simply our value proposition for free and paid users, and to generate revenues that will allow Geni to grow and provide more features to more people.


          • David

            Thanks George.
            1. Restricting search is preventing newbies from finding connections on the tree.  It seems pointless that you can search Geni more easily from Google than from within Geni.
            2. Preventing non-PRO members from requesting, approving and completing merges is preventing duplicates from being decreased through merges.
            3. PROs are more likely to like tools that make things easier for them, rather than being left to be merge monkeys for non-PROs.
            4. Revenues could be obtained for specific purchases such as branded merchandise, certificates, plaques, wall charts, etc.  Things such as mugs and calendars that users (PRO or not) could buy as gifts for others.  Pay for the extras, while letting everyone help to improve the single world family tree.

          • Geni George

            Assuming #4 isn’t viable and a subscription model is the business model, how would you propose Geni’s current features line up among Pro and Free?  

          • David

            A. Refer to my points 1 to 3 above for things that I think a non-PRO should be able to do.
            B. I just discovered that where a non-PRO proposed a merge before the changes, but now realises that the merge is bad, they have no way to cancel the merge.  Non-PROs should be able to cancel bad merges before they are completed.
            C. I think much goodwill could have been retained by Geni had the changes been implemented with notice – give existing non-PRO advance notice of changes, and perhaps special offer if they upgraded to PRO in a limited period before the changes were implemented. 
            D. I think there is a case for grandfathering in those non-PRO who have contributed substantially to the tree – to PRO or some subset of PRO.  Recognise past contribution.
            E. I would have suggested that instead of enhancing features to all PRO, the PRO features could have been left as they were and the new PRO features could have created a new “super PRO” category – at higher price – to gain more revenue.

  • Michelle

    I’ll give the alternative viewpoint:

    As a pro user, I appreciate having a little more power.  There are so many times that you try to merge just to find the other person never gets on geni or the person does get on geni but (contrary to the mission statement of one large connected tree) is using it to try to build on their own detached tree without merging.  While you wait and wait for them to finish the merge or even just reply to a message that you sent them, your own tree is messed up with two or more copies of the same person.   I like that in some cases I can complete that now on my own.  I think I’d actually be annoyed if that was changed back!

    Why are people mad that “their” profiles might be merged?  That’s the point of Geni! 

    If you want your own tree detached from everyone else then you should use one of those other sites where you build a tree in a vacuum from all the other users or use only a desktop program.   If you want to work together, then work on Geni.  That’s not new.  I knew that when I signed up.

    I do think that free users got the short end of the stick in two ways:

    - They should be able to initiate merges or finish those that are on profiles managed by them (if those merges need approval) like it worked before for them.  I don’t see why that had to change just to increase the pro’s capabilities.

    - As to how far back they can enter, maybe something could have been done based upon percentages where if they were merging into common tree they could add more backwards since they weren’t just trying to make their own, isolated tree.  If they got stopped, maybe there could have been an appeal process to verify they were adding new info to the common tree.

    • Ladydiane4

       Hello?? Michelle…..I picked this site years ago BECAUSE I was able to build my own tree!  It was to be PRIVATE and PROTECTED!  That’s all I wanted…to build my own tree and make it accessible to my family that would like to join me.  I chose this site because it offered me just that.
      About a year ago I take a look at my tree and low and behold there is more than MY tree.  It was forced down my throat.  I complained and wanted it to go away but it didn’t.  I don’t want to merge with your tree or any one else’s tree!  I don’t want to answer your requests.  First you shove it down my throat then complain that I don’t respond to your requests?

      • Michelle

        Really??? Shove it down your throat. Ha-ha!

        You should read the mission statement and terms of service before you sign up for a site.  Being mad at Geni for making changes to try to realize their mission statement just because it doesn’t align with what you want doesn’t make sense.  Add to that that most the time website terms state that they can change the terms at any time.  If you can’t live with that, you should keep your information just on your PC or set up your own private website (The Next Generation of Genealogy SiteBuilding is excellent, although your family members might still take “your” information and post it elsewhere.)

        Be sure to read the fine print when you go to another site because free isn’t really free anywhere.   If you’re not working with us, we won’t miss you anyway!

        • Ladydiane4

           I did read their mission statement years ago.  It doesn’t read as it does now.
          And, yes..it was shoved down my throat.  I didn’t want it and I got it anyway!  I complained about the mess and it didn’t go away.  What else would you call that?
          I’m glad you can afford to be a pro…I can’t.  I’m a widow living on a small pension and doing everything I can to stay in my home.
          Don’t bother to write back cause I’m outta here!

          • Michelle

            That’s unfortunate that you feel that way.  Best wishes!

          • Anonymous

            I tend to agree with Michelle, I think you missed what this site really is about.

    • Anonymous

      You are 100% correct Michelle.  I’ve been a Pro user for many years now after the option was introduced.  Profile matching and merges have allowed me to find many lost cousins on my wife’s side, including some as close as 2nd.

      I frankly don’t understand the anger posted here and the general paranoia concerning  “ownership” of profiles and private trees.  When I signed up in 2008, I read the mission statement and terms concerning the lack of private trees and understood what that meant.

      The most frustrating thing for me over the past few years has been when other users flat out ignore merge requests for private deceased individuals.  I don’t really understand this attitude as this is the mechanism for finding lost relatives and other tree branches.  I took the time and went through every profile match one at a time (I manage 12,000+ profiles) because I wanted to reduce the duplicates as well.  I even had one user write violent messages about “how dare I merge someone without their permission.”  I found this interesting at the time a few months back as only Curators have the power to do that…

      I would personally like to have more ability to clear off the 370 pending merges on my list that have been sitting there for over 6 months.  If the Pro users can focus on the public side of profile cleanup, maybe the Curators could look into merges where a public and private profile are stuck in limbo.  To be clear, I’m not suggesting that all Private profiles should be merged, but deceased individuals born before 1900 don’t really have any privacy concerns.

  • Landau

    Hi. One more comment from me (as you can see, there is a community out there who cares, and also we now see geni is listening).  I saw your post about the general access to geni for institutions, which is a good thing. My suggestions should be regarded as complementary.  Let this be called a ‘comprehensive geni business plan’. I realize that donations and ads are not the business model, but they could be a component of a comprehensive business model.  This is just a sample (will need to be adjusted by experts).
    3 levels: geni pro (current pricing)  geni pro lite ($5 for one month, $20 per year, $125 per life),  free
    ad page: needed to be seen by some levels for some activities before seeing results
    upgrades:  you can upgrade to the next level at any time if you are on the verge of exceeding your usage allowance level  (pricing needs to be figured out, but some prorating built in)

    allowance levels:
    search:   free   5 per month and must see ad page,  lite  50 per month.  pro — unlimited
    merge:    free 1 per month;  lite — 4 per month;   pro – unlimited
    path display:  free — 0;  lite — 4 per month and must see ad page;  pro – unlimited
    other tooling:  free – 0;  lite (you decide, but some sampling);   pro – unlimited

    benefits:  all users can do some basic functionality and be part of the full tree, albeit with usage limits.  There is now a low cost version for those who are not members of societies (i.e. cannot take advantage of the other option just presented), and who are not very heavy users.
             there is now an enticement to move up:  I bet that some free users, after seeing some benefits, but feeling the tightness of the limits, will move up.

    donations:  present a donation option to have a day of dedication in memory of a loved one, a featured profile of your family, or other dedications (much like JewishGen does — it works — I am sure you will get some bites)

    initial discount (as a sort of apology to regain the good faith that you realize has suffered of late…)  A 15% discount at all levels to new signers on for one month.  That will entice some to join at a comfortable level.

    This will need some refinement by the experts. I do not claim to be a marketing expert. Admittedly, it has some complexities.  However, if you solicit my opinion (as a free user currently), I would sign up for the life lite at 125 (with the initial discount perhaps). The levels would work for me, and I realize I should be contributing financially to the pot at a level that I can afford.

    To geni — if you want to build on any of these ideas, I am willing to help flesh them out with you.


  • Christine

    Whoever said this is killing the golden goose is right on. This whole thing makes the actual tree crippled because the regular users who are happy to add info cannot even do it anymore just because a profile is public and can’t be added to or merged by anyone except a pro.

    See my recent help desk discussion with Amanda below:

    Request #12583

    I want to make profiles private

    Christine DeVillier – Lim Theaw Yan 林小英
    Aug-18 00:48

    Why can’t I make this profile private? http://www.geni.com/people/Sing-Jung-Wong-%E9%BB%83%E6%88%90%E5%AE%97/6000000010283236680





    Dear Christine,

    Thank you for contacting Geni. Please note that the profile for your
    fifth great grandfather is outside of your Family Group. Only profiles
    within your Family Group (third great grandparents and closer) can be
    made private.

    For an illustration of our privacy policy, please go here: http://www.geni.com/company/privacy

    Thank you for using Geni,

    The Geni Team

    Aug-18 2011 14:43

    Christine DeVillier – Lim Theaw Yan 林小英


    Hi Amanda,
    I don’t consider my fifth great grandfather outside of my Family
    Group. How can I decide who’s in my Family Group? You give us no
    parameters to define our family group. That is not fair that an older
    ancestor is automatically within the public domain where other users and
    strangers can change things about him and I cannot even add relatives
    to him. BOGUS.

    Aug-18 2011 15:02

  • 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.

  • Thenewk21

    Thanks Noah. The single World Family Tree is not the goal of the majority of your users. Their goal is to share their information with relatives, (either close or distant) & get information/corrections back. If this results in a contribution to the World Family Tree, all be & good. The changes you have made have alienated the majority of your users, Pro & Free users included, but even though you are noting the dissention, you appear not to be considering reversing your decision. I for one, will be an ex-contributor if you don’t reverse the decision.

    • http://www.marnen.org Marnen Laibow-Koser

      You don’t know what the majority of Geni users want. Neither do I.

      (For the record, I think Geni has made some very bad decisions lately.)

  • Aolejarz7

    I have a very large family tree of my branch of the ancestral the portal Geni. Many people from my tree knew about him and we were very pleased with the the portal Geni. Currently, I am forced to find another the portal where I’ll be able to put the same tree without any restrictions.  The decision about the Webmasters Geni commercialization will cause a sharp drop in popularity recently is an excellent portal. Does that matter if its webmasters take such irrational decisions?. Shame!.

  • Geni George

    Hey everyone, just some general comments since I haven’t had time to respond to everyone individually:

    1) If there is any kind of legitimate issue, it’s important for you to submit a ticket to customer service at http://help.geni.com – I am not a fixer of issues, and they are.

    2) If this is a CS issue, please don’t flood the blog with comments.  It’s just going to make it take longer to get things resolved, and believe me, we want to resolve everything as quickly as possible.  Posting your ticket history here isn’t really helping anyone, and it’s making it a lot harder for people to read the comments (and for me to respond to them).  If you have a ticket, then you already have our ear, and we’re a lot more efficient when the blog is for general communication and our CS team is helping fix issues.

    3) If you’re still frustrated, I understand. (No.  I’m dead serious.  I really do, believe me.)  Trust me, there are plenty of people on the Geni team who are brainstorming about how we can make some changes that will make most of you happy.  We’re not going to revert back to what we were and the most productive thing that every single one of us can do is to start talking constructively about what we can do moving forward.  That means things like localized pricing; a Geni Plus account that has some of the privileges of a Pro account; things like Geni Public Access, Geni graduation, etc.  I can’t promise anything is going to happen, but I think that a lot of people at my company are open to your thoughts, and they want to do what they can to meet somewhere in the middle.  So if we can all try to be on the same team and work together, I think we can accomplish some good things.  

    A few of my coworkers think that the comments on the blog are counterproductive and they have suggested closing the comments until things settle down.  I don’t think that is the right thing to do, and I want all of you to help me create a constructive forum so that we can make Geni better.  I know that you all are aware of how you can be a positive contribution.  And if there are people that think it is productive to continue the negative (and spammy) commenting, that’s unfortunate.  I haven’t taken any action about that so far (except for cussing), and I don’t want to have to.  I know that anyone who is passionate about Geni is better than that.

    4) Everyone at Geni has been working a LOT in recent weeks.  Because of that, Noah gave us a lenient day on Monday, and several of us will probably be working a lighter day than you have come to expect in the past month.  Basically, we’re human beings and we need a little bit of a breather. If you can’t appreciate that, well…that’s tough.  I doubt that I’m going to be spending more than a few minutes away from the computer so I’ll be here all day, and knowing my colleagues I imagine a lot of them will be working most of the day.  All of us care about Geni a great deal.  But I wanted to give everyone a heads up that you might not have the Lance’s of our office jumping in to respond, and Monday might be a slightly less productive day in terms of public conversations.

    It’s been a long week since we released our new account permissions, and I want to thank all of you who have been committed to making your voice heard in an attempt to make Geni a better place.  It’s hard for me to express how much we appreciate the passion, but we really do.  Things are going to keep getting better with this new model, and a lot of that will be because of your feedback and contributions.

    I will do my best tomorrow to respond to individual concerns and comments that aren’t addressed by this post.


    • Jessie Case

      I think I and everyone other Geni user would agree that what would make most everyone happy would be granting us permission to add to our own tree as far as it goes, not just until the 3rd great grandfather. That will fix your problem of unhappy users.

      • Geni George

        So let’s assume that’s not going to be the case for at least the next few weeks (at a minimum) and try to be constructive from there.

        • Paul

          I buy into the idea of constructive and objective feedback, but you all need to understand, and I think you do, that your changes were handled poorly.  I also understand that you are trying to build a business and that you need to monetize your investments, but I suggest that you have made serious mistakes about the difference between free and pro and you might have also chosen the wrong prices for your market.  If we assume that, at least for the next few weeks, we can no longer add relatives beyond our “immediate family,” then for at least the next few weeks, I will not be introducing new potential customers to you.  I’ve added hundreds in the past and I have more to add at this very moment…relatives who I have visited in their home, but cannot bring to “my” tree.

        • http://www.marnen.org Marnen Laibow-Koser

          How is this constructive dialogue? You say you want our input, then when you get it, you wave it away with “sorry, not gonna happen” and no further explanation.

    • Anonymous

      I agree that turning comments off at the moment is the wrong decision. While there are PLENTY of completely useless comments I think it will only further aggregate many individuals on Geni and within the genealogy community at large.

      In terms of constructive feedback: I think the best suggestion I can offer right now is to enable us to help you. I would like to see a voting system put in place for feature suggestions, etc. similar to Votebox (https://www.dropbox.com/votebox ), UserVoice (example at http://ideas.joomla.org), and/or http://getsatisfaction.com/geni. I would like to help you figure out a way to make money and keep the users satisfied at the same time. I know everyone says that the changes were made to help reduce the number of duplicates, encourage merging, etc. but I ultimately believe that it has to do with that AND money.

      Heck, I am living just down the street from your offices for another week, I can come talk to you in your office. You could even hire me as an intern. :)

      • http://www.marnen.org Marnen Laibow-Koser

        Disqus does have e-mail notifications.

    • LeeGonHo

      The only reason I am posting to this site is because I submitted a ticket 4 days ago. So far all I have gotten was a confirmation the day I submitted my post. Well I did as you said, now what?

    • Voqo

      First of all, thank you Geni for all you did for free users. BTW, in Poland 15.08 is a holiday, so on Monday we didn’t work too :)

      Did you think about possibility to pay-for-using-tools apart from pay-for-time (I mean $5 for a month)? There are months where I do nothing special in the tree, so that month paying would be wasting my money. I imagine some pre-paid account and charging small fee for some actions I would do – i.e. merging trees.

      That doesn’t change the fact I think merging in close family group should be free for all. I see some comments about paying just for searching and think it would be ridicolous, because of Google etc. Also adding ancestors in straight line (one by one, not Gedcom importing) should be free with no generations blockade. There’s mostly no other way to connect to the Big Tree as you dream of.

      Next thing: you turned back possibility of seeing who’s manager of searched profile. It’s great, but why we (non-Pro) cannot contact with her/him? Is contacting between Geni users also reserved for Pros?

    • B G Nilsson

      You wrote ” - So if we can all try to be on the same team and work together, I think we can accomplish some good things.”
      Isn´t it this the lot of us “free users” is asking for ?

    • LeeGonHo

      The only reason I am posting to this site is because I submitted a ticket 7 days ago. So far all I have gotten was a confirmation the day I submitted my post. Well I did as you said, now what?I posted 2 days ago and see you replied to Jessie Case the posting below this. Please how about responding to me?

    • Gksolum

      AND now we are unable to submit anything @ the help desk option….I am NOT able to submit a question/concern @ that site.   It’s pretty much, “Our way or the highway!  We really don’t care!”  UnREAL!  As a retired teacher I am very UPSET with the latest developments on your site!

  • LeeGonHo

    The only reason I am posting to this site is because I submitted a ticket 4 days ago. So far all I have gotten was a confirmation the day I submitted my post. Well I did as you said, now what?

    • Margaret_a_jones

      I submitted a request several days ago, and still do not have a reponse.  I thought that was one of the advantages of being a PRO member.  Like to see what kind of response others get.  I am really disappointed in the pro membership.

  • Rita Park

    I know you are suggesting no more comments but if you don’t get feedback you won’t know how we feel,if you actually care.
    Sure,I initially joined Geni about 15 months after you started,because you were free. I was a complete novice & never expected to have thousands of people in my  extended family tree, all of whom are now in the Geni database. The information , I and family members that I invited to join, have added have cost us thousands of hours of research & data entry plus many hundreds of dollars. The information researched could never have been found & verified in Geni as Geni is only the recipient of this information. So therefore you have gained considerably from all the users
    to this site for which will now be your financial gain.
    I could have put my tree into a site,to which I subscribe , that supplies me with factual data covering many aspects of my ancestors.In hindsite they deserve the collated data more than Geni.
    I have enjoyed using Geni over the last 3+ years & it is very sad that it has come to this end.
    recipient of this information.

  • Anonymous

    Friends (?)
    When you can not continue to develop freely and present their family tree on Geni portal, the question arises: Does it makes sense to continue using the site?. If I can not add cousins​​, who instructed my family tree on Geni site, does it make sense to hold further dead tree on this website and thus enlarging the large crowd of cousins ​​and cousins ​​of the group of disappointed and frustrated users of the portal Geni, for which no no room in the portal Geni?. !.
    Webmasters of Geni say: We will meet you half way!. I will not leave you at the meeting, I’m not going to retreat! …  
    Webmasters of Geni: you are looking for new solutions, but without respect for your users, and it makes you lose respect. Just!.

  • Olderthandirtiam

    Hello geni. I have a bit of a dilemma, I have a family tree that my uncles, aunts, cousin,and second cousins and third cousins have put together. it took many many years to find all of this information. they were able to go back 12 generations from my grandparents. My dilemma?? well all i have is a few pictures of this tree and needless to say not the easiest thing to view and read. I have been building my tree here on geni and it has been quite fun. but now that i have gone beyond my 6th grand parent you are stopping me from entering this very important information. yes I am a lowly free user but should i not have the opportunity to add what information i already have and make it available to other users. At this time I am unable to purchase your pro-geni but who knows if the information i have to enter is an important link to someone out there that needs to get some answers for their tree.

  • Ivok

    I joined geni, a free site, over a year ago and got hooked on my family history and researching church records. I loved the site and collaboration and merging common relatives. As a “thank you” I wanted to upgrade to PRO (not that I needed the benefits). I’m glad I didn’t.
    Now after holidays I can’t accept any merges or even add my 6th great grandparents unless I pay! No geni, you can’t force me to pay.
    After reading all recent discussions and blogposts I simply don’t trust you anymore.
    Good bye and rest in peace!

  • http://www.geni.com/people/Bradley-Zehr/6000000005404360326 Bradley Zehr

    “Geni’s goal is to create a single, accurate family tree of the world.”  The recent changes to non-Pro users fly in the face of this goal.  The reasoning put forth is thus: “By limiting the creation of new historical profiles to Pro users, the number of new duplicate profiles will be significantly reduced.”  Just how does Geni expect that non-Pro trees will be merged into the big tree without non-Pro users extending their trees out to where it duplicates a profile already in the big tree?  If my non-Pro tree extends only to my third-great-grandfather, and I sit here with the name, birth date and place of my fourth-great-grandfather which I cannot enter into my tree due to non-Pro restrictions, the big tree may never become aware of this pending connection point.  I as a non-Pro user am helpless to add the data that would create the necessary duplicate to flag a Pro user to make the merge, and bring all the people from my tree into the big tree.  It seems me that in order to increase the inclusion of new trees added by new non-Pro users containing new profiles not yet in Geni’s big tree, you would have to allow non-Pro users to extend their trees all the way out to the point where they finally create a duplicate.  I added over 4,000 profiles to my own tree on Geni for over a year before I extended out far enough generations to snag a match to the big tree and pull in all of the profiles to the big tree.  What good would it have done for those thousands of profiles to sit there unconnected because I wasn’t able to add that 5th-great-parent that pulled them all into the big tree?

    Geni, you should come up with a way to allow non-Pro users to extend their trees indefinitely until a duplicate is created, while preventing unnecessary duplicates if you can (perhaps real-time duplicate checking as profiles are added, and should a duplicate be found, lock that profile from further profile associations until a Pro can evaluate the match and perform the merge.  Blindly blocking non-Pros from adding valuable profiles to the tree the way you have seems contrary to your stated goal to me.

  • Soon to be former member

    I joined GENI years ago at the invitation of a nephew.  I liked the concept, but found the site lacking.  I went into the blogs and made suggestions (not criticisms) and have never been so quickly attacked by the “fans” of any social site as I was here.  The attacks were so severe and pointless that I quickly deleted most of my contributions to this site to avoid interactions with anyone but immediate family.  I have not been on this site for months.  I checked in today and found, for the most part, my immediate family has abandoned GENI so I will likely delete the rest of my contributions and my account.  Based on that, here are my parting messages to two groups:

    GENI management: I understand you are trying to do a good thing here, but the actions and words of some of your members are extremely offensive and need to be addressed.  I find the general level of dissatisfaction with GENI in your own blog has only increased in my absence.  The attacks on members with suggestions or contrary views by your “fans” are still going on – so there is still nothing for me here to return to.  Other sites never allow such immature behavior and remove any such offensive material as quickly as possible.  (BTW – I won’t be checking responses to this post so any inevitable invective directed at this post or me will be futile.  Plus, any invective will simply serve to prove my premise.)

    Dissatisfied GENI members:  Delete your contributions and leave.  Let the “fans” have this site and do not help them build the great fiction they call the BIG tree (don’t get me started on that topic).  There are better sites out there where everyone is treated with consideration and respect – even when they are expressing a different idea or opinion.  It’s a discussion for the greater good and mutual benefit not a name calling match.  Since moving to such sites, I have actually gotten valuable help from these nice people and the progress on my genealogy projects has been amazing – and – lots of fun!

  • Greenecoinggennut

    Its sad you will not allow no pros users to access and merge their profiles – or add on to them  and going to a dam library  is an inconvenience  all way around when all the materials to work with sits at home on a self –

    plus allot of the computers are used  by children etc. and time is limited   sometimes to less than 15 minutes to a half an hour  nut  worth a tip to  go to   the lobrayr to work and   your family genealogy without your books and multitude of files that are on your personal computer -  pictures pdf files,     worst of all focing library use will just produce more junk  as one called it off the internet –

    the non pro users are needed back  to merge  their own trees and to add on past the 4th generation -  like

    but of course by  George’s comment  “We’re not going to revert back to what we were and the most
    productive thing that every single one of us can do is to start talking
    constructively about what we can do moving forward.”


     the no pro users should still have the merging privileges and to be able to add on to their tress….

    • Margaret_a_jones

      That is how they make there money.  They are not going to listen, it is about the bottom line.

  • Michelle

    I am very annoyed that I can no longer control my own profile.  Another person, whom I don’t know has created a profile for me and I can’t merge the profiles.  I have spent a lot of time both inputting and sharing data with Geni and their users and I resent being taken advantage of.  It’s outrageous that I can no longer merge the profiles I spent time creating.

    • Timaneco

      Listen that “the other side also spent time creating profiles…”

  • Whatdoyou

    “Geni’s goal is to create a single, accurate family tree of the world.”

    Never going to happen.  As mentioned in numerous posts, what is out there is so inaccurate that it will never meet the goal and the arbitrary changes by the so-called curators only make it worse.

    Geni management keeps changing the rules and then claims the changes reflect what was always the stated goal of the site.  Spin it as you may, but a lie is a lie and always will be.

    The recent changes in your site prove you are not about providing a site focused on customer service.  Customers – especially those with the free accounts have little if any say and obviously mean little to you and your “goals”.  Alienating your customers only adds to the inaccuracies by creating huge gaps in the tree that ought not be there.

    Will be happy to see the day when this site is no more.  Those of you who agree, make this day come sooner by deleting all the content you added to this site and delete your account.

    • Anonymous

      Yes, Yes, Yes !!!

    • Aivar

      My previous post in this blog was deleted as it never exist because it contains some links to articles/reports abot Geni out there from there past. Is anything changed since then and after recent changes ?
      Just Google “Geni.com RIP” and find out.
      Probably this post wll be also deleted, probably Geni is afraid of truth ?

  • fedupwithgeni

    Geni.com and their “curators” have also violated copyright laws by stealing family trees and GEDCOM files that were downloaded by these free users that were copy written.  I have two words for those who feel their personal genealogy information was ripped off and unfair tactics to bully users into paying for access to their genealogy information – “CLASS ACTION”.

  • Allangway

    Why cant I send birthday or any type of cards any  more? Can you tell me how to fix this?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ZKAZVGR43UG5BU5KGRHWUPVIEA Charles B

    I will be working on taking down my stuff into an account I manage myself. You provided software and allowed me to contact people for the past 5 years, then suddenly I had to go Pro. 

    Sorry, that is lying to a user. Your goal of one world tree should be put on Open Source so that it truly is a collaborate map of the world, not YOURS or MINE, but OURS. 

    My family has enjoyed my entries, but now I will try to work on some Family Pro stored on my own computer or site so I have it again.


  • Anonymous

    Bay, GENI !…

  • Davidtugwell

    This is an absolue disaster!!!!
    You are now locked out of adding relatives unless you pay.  However they try to explain it, it comes down to Geni profit on our hard work.  Well we will see how much profit they make when we delete our family trees.  Mine is 1300 names with photo’s and supporting evidence.  Bye bye Geni and hello to Ancestry.com

  • Anonymous

    I totally agree with Jessie!. Webmasters of the Geni website work to the detriment of Geni portal. This is bizarre!. Right?.

  • http://pedja.supurovic.net User ripped of by Geni.com

    This is ridiculous! With every single move you make Geni less and less usable!

    I did lot of research and spent lots of resources to colect data I voluntairely provided to Geni to create Family Tree of the World. As return, I got free service to enter and maintain data.

    Now, Geni is taking away all data I colected and provided and disabling me to access them or continue to add more data.

    This is wrong! You are ripping all of us!

    After all efforts and resources spent on geting data I AM NOT WILLING TO pay Geni to get Pro account. Actually, if you do not allow me FULL access to all data I entered, I see no other way but to ask you to return all data I (and people I brought to family tree I created), entered and remove them from your service.

    What you are doing now is not what we agreed few years ago when I decided to provide data to you. You broke the deal, and you cannot just get away with it! That would be stealing!

    • Anonymous

      Viewing and editing permissions have not changed. You can view and edit an profile you have permission on.

  • Anonymous

    I totally agree with Jessie!. Geni Portal Webmasters of the portal Geni work to the detriment of the portal Geni. It’s very strange!. Right?.

  • Anonymous

    I think that the webmasters of this web site Geni should withdraw all your changes in the portal, which was not consulted on the introduction of its users. In addition, they should apologize for any changes in the functioning and providing the portal Geni recklessly made ​​without consultation with the users of the portal Geni.

  • Karenmattox

    I have one of the largest trees on Geni, I can no longer add family members to a profile or merge it in spite of constant and frequent requests other members can still send to me to do so. I am incredibly disappointed, the web site that I have been using for years is now useless. I am extremely tempted to close my account and remove my tree completely. You’ve gone the way of ancestry.com now…. Useless unless you pay through the nose.

    • Anonymous

      Hi, Friend Karenmattox !.
      Ja zrobiłem dokładnie tak samo jak Ty chcesz zrobić. Zlikwidowałem moje drzewo (także bardzo duże !) w portalu Geni. Ponadto poinformowałem moich przyjaciół genealogów w całej Polsce oraz moich krewnych o przyczynach podjecia tak radykalnego kroku. Wielu moich polskich i zagranicznych kolegów genealogów zamierza uczynić dokładnie tak samo. Geni upadnie !.

    • Anonymous

      Hi, Friend Karenmattox!. I did exactly as you want to do. Liquidated my tree (also very large!) In the portal Geni. Furthermore, I informed my friends genealogists in Poland and my relatives about the reasons for such a radical step. Many of my Polish and foreign fellow genealogists is going to do exactly the same. Geni will fall!.  Andrew

  • http://twitter.com/SigmaAlphaPi Sven Albert-Pedersen

    Hahaha, just got hit by that, right in the face today. I was happy to have found someone who could expand one of my trees brances from around 1800 nine generations back to around 1500. Wanted to add that. BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANG.

    As having read through that a little, I think I’ve found some kind of workaround – will try later, if that works.
    Tell you how: As I understood, the addition of ancesctors is restricted to a certain level of generations – not by a certain year or date.
    I’ll bring back to live the last man or woman in the tree and invite him to the tree using an eMail-address (easy to get from Hotmail, Yahoo or whereever), where I will have access to. Add my information using that account, grant my own personal self all rights for the new entries.

    Click “Like” if you think that might work!

    • Yo Baby, Yo Baby, Yo!!!

      My dear friends at Geni – especially all you Non-Pro users – it works.

      I wish happy adding of “ancient” profiles, creating more and more work for Pro users merging trees.

    • Yo Baby, Yo Baby, Yo!!!

      My dear friends at Geni – especially all you Non-Pro users – it works.

      I wish happy adding of “ancient” profiles, creating more and more work for Pro users merging trees.

  • Perribrou

    Who do you call when Geni takes you money and doesn’t provide the service paid for?

    • Anonymous

      Hi Perribrou,

      Please submit a ticket in our Help Center http://help.geni.com/ and we’ll be happy to assist you.

  • Dcabcabin

    REALLY INVASIVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


    TAKE ALL MY PERSONAL INFO AND THOSE OF ANYONE RELATED TO ME OFF YOUR SITE NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Timothywleslie

    Letting people spend a TON of time uploading info to a site for YEARS for free, then suddenly cutting off their access to the very data that THEY uploaded unless they pay this exorbitant fee is appalling. Thanks for wasting my time, you won’t get a cent out of me. If/when I want to pay THAT much money, I’ll goto Ancestry.com.

  • Cactuscuty

    I would like to get off your $%&* tree site.  Need to talk to a real person.  Do they exist?

    • geniblog

      If you have found your listing on the site and would like to be removed, please read our FAQ for instructions:  http://help.geni.com/entries/486381-i-found-my-listing-on-your-site-and-would-like-to-be-removed

  • Blu2ms

    I have tried to use gedcom export but it doesn;t work!!!! you lied

    • geniblog


      Any Geni user may export a GEDCOM of their tree for free. Can you please get back to us with more specific information so we can better assist you? Are you receiving an error message?

  • selbam0 alias A. R. Selby

    Geni Is the Worst Family Tree Website out there. It is a shame it combined with My Heritage, as that site is 100% times better, I have removed My account 10 times, searching for family the web site still shows my account as active, I wish they remove me completely their testimony page is full of crap, as you can’t add ged’s you can not download ged’s (which is the format which trees are stored in) You always start from scratch and once some one merges you without your permission, even though it’s wrong, it can not be removed or deleted. Any thing that has a connection to it whether you have done it or a stranger has done it, it can not be undone… My tree on here has been contaminated, and is being used against my will. I have removed my whole tree, and I request for it all to be deleted and people are quoting this work as proof even though it is incorrect and as the author, I am Angry! Geni is very Poor quality when it come to family tree’s.

  • Jerome

    I just discovered Geni in early 2014, so I have not read all the posts below. I am retired and have no intention of paying $119 a year, year after year after year, to participate in this tree. On my father’s side, I researched over 2,000 descendants of my paternal gr-gr-grandfather and published the data in a book. Owners of the book have already put all my data on Geni (misspelling my father’s name in the process). On my mother’s side, I have traced my ancestry using authentic sources all the way back to Clovis with innumerable other ancestral lines as well. I cannot enter this data because it was blocked and then deleted, nor access the Geni tree where they are kept because I have not paid for the “privilege.” I have spent 40 years on both of these projects, but Geni will only take from me, not give back anything.

    • geniblog

      Hi Jerome,

      Since this post was first published in 2011, we’ve had some great changes to our membership. Several features that were once paid are now free, including adding unlimited people to your tree. We’ve also added some very exciting new features to help make researching your family tree even easier on Geni, including Record Matching and Smart Matching to your Geni profiles. For more information about our newest features, please check out the News section of our blog http://www.geni.com/blog/company-news