Brief Downtime

Posted January 24, 2007 by Geni | 44 Comments

This morning Geni experienced a brief outage related to one of the fixes we released last night. If you were able to view your family tree earlier this morning, you may have noticed missing relatives or branches of your tree. We are currently updating Geni with a new version of our relationship engine, which should restore any missing portions of your family tree. Please note that no information has been lost, and Geni should be back online within the hour.

Thanks again for actively participating in our beta, and stay tuned for updated functionality regarding expanded relationship types and family structures, more flexible deleting rules, and internationalization.

UPDATE: We are back online as of about 1:00 PM PST. Please let us know if you see any irregularities in your family tree, via the Contact Us form — in particular, if you attempted to add back missing relatives to your family tree, and are now seeing duplicates.

UPDATE 2: If you are still seeing the maintenance plumber, try holding down the CONTROL key (sometimes labeled “Ctrl”) on your keyboard while clicking your browser’s Reload button. 


  • Richard L

    Should we notice anything different/new with this new version of the relationship engine?

  • Todd Benson

    Whew! I was sweating it there for a while. Please disregard any of my Customer Service emails!!!
    Suggest: Announce planned downtime or when unplanned downtime occurs.

  • Avram

    Your service is great. During this downtime I was afraid that I’ll lost some of 209 added relatives but they are all here. Keep up good work!
    p.s. Add some anti spam protection for our emails at this blog : )

  • Chris

    Are you adding security to your service. With some of the information that you are asking for, it would be nice to be able to have some type of https option.
    Otherwise, awesome service!

  • Richard L

    I have not been able to view my Tree today; i can only see my profile and List view.

  • Kelly

    Can you please consider adding a “What’s New” page to the site which gets updated when you roll out fixes, similar to those in Google products (Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Reader)? That would help us devoted fans figure out what fixes and new features you are implementing.

  • Linda

    I can’t see my tree view tonight. 01/24/07, I’m able to use the list view but unable to add any new names. What’s up with the website? Anyone else having trouble tonight?

  • Aex

    Performance tip:
    I now have over 380 nodes in my tree and can’t view it in IE7 anymore. Firefox still works fine.

  • B

    Can’t view my tree tonight…

  • Monica

    Just wanted to hop on through and tell you “what a GREAT idea!”. I have some things that I’m looking forward to that I believe are already on your list… (partners etc.) However, I just had to give you a virtual pat on the back.
    Great job! I’m having fun!

  • Adam

    To Geni staff: Yes, you have a great service. But you security SUCKS. It took me 5 minutes to discover a trivial way to download anybody’s family tree data!!! I was only trying to backup my own tree and found out I have access (as a regular users) to any of the 930K trees within geni. I contacted you about this issue yesterday and have no answer since. Perhaps this will be a quicker way to let you know. Contact me for more information.
    To other users: Fortunately I was able to obtain only the tree-view data (names, photos and relations between people) and not the profile data, which seems to be protected at least against the most trivial attempts. I doubt the whole site is secure if they have such bugs present.

  • Lawrence Blumberg

    Still can’t see my tree – as of 12:39 am

  • Sunny

    If the following is true, than this is extremely worrysome. Is there any way to delete entire accounts including all family data?
    “To Geni staff: Yes, you have a great service. But you security SUCKS. It took me 5 minutes to discover a trivial way to download anybody’s family tree data!!! I was only trying to backup my own tree and found out I have access (as a regular users) to any of the 930K trees within geni. I contacted you about this issue yesterday and have no answer since. Perhaps this will be a quicker way to let you know. Contact me for more information.
    To other users: Fortunately I was able to obtain only the tree-view data (names, photos and relations between people) and not the profile data, which seems to be protected at least against the most trivial attempts. I doubt the whole site is secure if they have such bugs present.”

  • Marc

    Hello, thanks for your work and effort.
    here are a suggestion list :
    - use the same person on a family tree, to avoid duplicate, why : my wife’s brother is married to my sister therefore he should appear on my family tree and on my wife family tree.
    - possibility to show an information from the contact page on the tree view, for example : date of birth, with age.
    - birthday reminder : a report which show in the next 20weeks who will gain one year. Or an iCal export to be used for example in GoogleCalendar
    - when people are dead, grey out there box, so it’s easier to identify them on the tree view
    - how do we connect two or more trees, if some relative already started the family tree on their own and we would like to bring them together without loosing our effort.

  • ken horn

    suggestion: export to gendat or similar
    – freedom to leave is the only way to ensure you wont take me for granted
    – backup / restore, offline usage
    – make it worth the effort to use your editor
    - down again..

  • mike

    2 suggestions:
    Can there be additional fields in the profile basics for an Alternate Name?
    Many people, most notably those of asian descent have 2 names; one, spelled using the characters of their native country and another version spelled using western (English) characters. For example, the famous figure skater “Midori Ito” is from Japan. In the west, we call her Midori Ito but in her home country of Japan, she is actually:
    伊藤 みどり
    (the above Japanese characters may not display properly if your computer doesn’t have a Japanese font installed)
    This wouldn’t help only those who use international characters in their names. Sometimes names are changed due to emigration or even for legal reasons. In many cases they are true alternate names and using the “nickname” field doesn’t really fit.
    Also, I would consider changing the phrasing “First Name” and “Last Name” to “Given Name” and “Family Name”. In some cultures, the family name is the name actually spoken first. Making such a change would help avoid unecessary confusion. To go back to the Midori Ito example above, in her native Japan, if someone were to speak about her, they would refer to her as Ito Midori not Midori Ito.

  • Debbie Greenwood

    Have just joined Geni and filled in my profile but cannot add any members and cannot gain access to my tree which currently has 2 members… this due to the problem mentioned on your blog?

  • Randy

    A few more wishlist items:
    - captions for photos
    - better abbreviations for long and repetitive associations (I swear, right now, I’m reading: “Edward is your grandfather’s great great great great great great grandfather’s great great great great great great grandfather’s great great great great great great grandfather.” – that’s a bit excessive)

  • Geni Team

    Adam and Sunny: We are aware of the problem with visible family data, and have applied a fix that we will be releasing this morning. This bug was introduced with a recent change, and to our knowledge, relationship information has only been visible for a short period. Please note that this particular fix will not require us to take the website down. We will post another comment when the change has been applied.
    It is possible for user accounts to be deleted. If this is something you’d like to request, click the Contact Us link at the bottom of any Geni webpage to let us know.
    Thanks for continuing to help us improve Geni. We are working on several most-requested features and improvements, and will be publishing a new post with details soon.

  • Geni Team

    UPDATE: As of 11:30 AM PST, the fix to our XML has been applied. (See the comment immediately above for more information.) If you are signed in as a Geni user, you will only be able to see family information relevant to your own family tree. As always, if you are signed out or are not a Geni user, you will not be able to see any family information.

  • Alex

    I just wanted to point out that performance appears to be MUCH better tonight. We can be quick to point out when something is wrong, I want to be just as quick to point out improvements. Whatever you did is a significant improvement and at least I noticed. Thanks for a great product.

  • Dave

    It would be a nice feature to show the family tree spread out geographically based on address as another view option.

  • Tim

    There’s a bit of a bug in the display of names in the tree view – long names are truncated.
    For example, if the first name is “Really Long” and the last name is “Name”, then the name displayed on the tree will be displayed something along the lines of “Really Lon.”, even though it still appears that there is room for the name.
    A suggestion for a solution could be to suffix a really long name with an ellipsis, rather than a period/full stop. Another could be to expand the size of the node to accommodate the name. Otherwise, it just looks weird…

  • Grzegorz

    And what about other languages GUI?
    Most of my family members are Polish. I would like to invite them to GENI and I’m not sure if they can speak English.

  • Jesper

    I just started using Geni (which by the way means Genius in Swedish) yesterday and I must say that I’m impressed and excited to see what future versions bring.
    I read something about the order of names, and I agree. I would love to see a more dynamic way of writing the names. In Sweden, many people have their second name first. And some have their first name in the middle of a bunch of names. Wouldn’t it be good if you could have some way of writing all names in the correct order and make some kind of notification which name is the “First name”. For instance, my name is Claes Jesper Karlqvist, and people call me Jesper, not Claes. But in Geni I have to write my name as Jesper Claes Karlqvist.
    Otherwise – thanks for a great beta and looking forward to every new update!

  • Jesper

    Hi again!
    I remembered something else that I would love to see – I started reading other peoples’ entries, but they were so many, I had to stop after a while.
    There are instances where people change their names (not only in marriages).
    I have changed the spelling of my last name. And my mother had two “maiden names”. First she had my grandmother’s maiden name, then my grandmother married and my mother got their new last name and finally when my mother married she got my father’s last name. Also, a friend of mine (not in my family though) changed his name completely (both first and last name), but his birth certificate still shows his old name.
    And how about transsexual people? Not that it’s HUGELY common, but I’m sure that there will be a need for them in the future (just thinking of possibilites here, being a programmer myself).
    Oh, and when it comes to translations into other languages, I’d be happy to help out translating into Swedish.

  • Michael

    I find the email function rather restrictive. Several people I have emailed say they have not received it. Perhaps it just gets lost in their own inbox or spam filter, but their exist (as far as I know) now way to resend the link to their node. NEEDS A WAY TO RESEND THE LINK TO THE NODE.
    Also, limiting one email address to one person doesn’t work well for people (i.e., husband and wife) who share an email address a bit restrictive as it would be good to invite both individuals, hoping that at least one of them will follow through to the Geni site.
    Still a great site, anxious for the improvements.

  • Alex

    Monor bug. My recently joined list says 16 but only shows 12. Either the counnter or the display is wrong.

  • Roger

    Improvements needed:
    Allow middle names to be entered at the primary data entry point, instead of having to go to “edit” to enter them.
    Allow a space for counties in addition to other geographical entries now available.
    Make the wife’s maiden name the default (original )entry, with other choices available to the data entry person.
    Don’t truncate the last name. Allow more space in the little pedigree baloon to accommodate long names.
    Thanks for listening.

  • Randy

    Regarding Roger’s suggestion to allow middle names on the data entry screen, I’d go so far as to allow full names (including maiden names), dates of birth and death, and places of birth and death, all in the add screen. It would be far easier than the current system of having to go back and edit each record, which is rather tedious.

  • Leslie

    I am loving this site, although I have noticed 2 different options that effect me personally, that might be a good option to have… an adoption button, and also the option of having a child and not being married to the other parent. (we have that a lot in our family ;))

  • Leslie

    I do have one other suggestion… a place for wedding/divorce dates.

  • ancey jean

    For the date of birthday, or Death, i notice is an integer, in a lot of my family in old time, i have as date: Before 1720, or after 1720, or between 1725 and 1728, or estimate 1752, or maybe in 1740. Could you add just before the field Date a special field for these features.
    Thanks a lot.

  • Patrick

    I would like the option of changing the display name on the tree. My father and I have the same first and last names… but I am known to everyone by my middle name. It would be great to only display my middle and last name, which I could do if there was a “nickname” field that displayed on the tree (i know there already is a nickname field, but it doesn’t display).

  • Kendra

    Love this! It’s very easy to use and non-intimidating!
    It would be nice to be able to mark or tag photos that have more than one person in them so I don’t have to upload them repeatedly for multiple people (might save you a little server space, too)!

  • Fritz

    I have some little suggestions:
    Currently, when you click on the little “+X tree”, it has the same effect as clicking “view tree”. I think it would be more useful if it would keep the tree centered on the current person, but add the people from the “+X tree” you clicked to the current tree, instead of centering it around another person.
    Also, it seems as if some names are cut off and have the end replaced with a dot even if it’s just one letter, which could be easily displayed instead of the dot (e.g. “Lengthy Nam.” for “Lengthy Name”).
    And I think it might be nice to have a “view only” mode where the yellow arrows and the “Add X’s Dad/Mom” fields would not be displayed.
    Plus, it would be nice if you could post comments on the blog without having your e-mail address displayed (you know, spambots, etc.)

  • Alex

    I like the idea of being able to enter more information on the initial entry screen. However if you do this please keep the default entry screen the way very simple (the way it is). It is non intimidating which is one of the great appealing fetures of this product. You can allow the genealogy junkies like us to switch over to a more advanced data entry screen and even capture that as one of our settings and use that mode as default once we have set it.

  • Sunny

    Just a small request and comment:
    Firstly – thank you for adding several more degrees, including that of MD.
    As such, I wish to request that those who have earned an MD or PHD have the suffix of Dr. – for those who have earned an MD, perhaps the type of physician/surgeon they are. This way, family members can harass us for medical advice more easily ;)

  • Randy

    I really like Alex’s idea. I’d like the initial entry screen to have an ‘advanced entry’ button on it that expands it a bit and allows me to enter full name and title and dates, rather than having to go back and edit to enter these things.

  • stew278

    The number one suggestion that I could give for future functionality would be an export option. I see others have suggested this as well; I’m just reinforcing a popular point … let us export data into a user-friendly format … something that would be usable for years to come and to easily backup data that we’ve created.

  • LorriM

    As of today, Jan. 29, 2007, I can’t see my family tree, and can only see my profile and my “list”.
    I also like Alex’s suggestion for an advanced screen, and an export option.
    What about an option for having a child, without being married? One can’t do that, at the moment, without it looking as if the child is from a current marriage.
    The “dot” at the end of a surname…is this due to space constraints in the name? My surname is cut off, and ancestral surnames are cut off, with the “dot” at the end.
    Other than that, I love the site! :)

  • LorriM

    Thank you, Geni Team, for the quick fix…I am now able to view my family tree.

  • Curtis Bard

    In my humble opinion this method of online collaborative genealogy is definitely the wave of the future. I hope you will work with the staff at FamilyTreeDNA (Founder/President: Bennett Greenspan: to find a way to integrate their DNA data matches into your graphic interface to clearly and visibly show genetic confirmation of user entered genealogy lines (red or green connecting line perhaps?).
    Perhaps it may be helpful on Geni with streamlining some data entry/delete problems, if an adninistrator for each line were appointed, who would have overriding privlidges.
    Also at some point it may be avantageous to allow users to have a “release” option to allow their (non-living) data to be searched/viewed by others.
    Many of us would be happy to be able to purchase charts (especially large roll-up or frameable charts), books, My Genealogy books, etc. that would allow convenient and appealing off-computer display of their Geni data.
    Thanks for your efforts and good luck with your future innovations.
    keep up the good work!

  • LorriM

    Curtis: A “release option” is actually a good idea. On many archive sites (and in person), one can’t even look at data of non-living people, which is less than 100 years old, due to privacy issues,
    And, I agree with the family charts, maybe in 2-3 varied sizes. Also, I think the ability to download a tree, would be nice, and would be beneficial. And, of course, I am speaking about purchasing them, even the downloadable ones.
    Keep up the great work, Geni Team!