Ask a Curator – Nov. 5th, 2010

Posted November 5, 2010 by Geni | One Comment

Each week, we ask the community to assemble a list of questions for our Curators, and on Friday’s we post the Curators’ responses on the Geni blog.  You can find the link to our current “Ask a Curators” discussion on the right-hand bar of the blog; feel free to ask any questions you’d like.  You can also follow the Geni blog project, which will enable you to be notified each time a new “Ask a Curator” discussion is posted.

On to the questions…

What are the some of the steps you take when you come across a duplicate Public profile which is not yet in the Big Tree?


The first thing that I do is take a look to see who is listed as a manager of the profile. If any of the listed managers are someone who is already collaborating with me or one of my other collaborators, then I immediately take steps to merge the profile with its match. If, however, there is only one manager, then I look at many other factors like a) how long ago has the manager last logged in to Geni?,and b) how restrictive are the privacy settings on the profile?

Because the Big Tree is so huge and has such an incredible number of problematic areas to work on, I put “hard-to-get” profiles on the bottom of my priority list, unless it is apparent that the profile has been abandoned (i.e., the original creator and manager have not logged into for a very long time. At this point in time I never purposely try to merge with profiles that a user is actively trying to protect from merges, even if they are already connected to the Big Tree. But I can foresee a point in the future (when we’re scraping the bottom of the barrel in the final phases of the cleanup effort) when it will be necessary to ask those remaining holdout managers to start cooperating.


If I keep coming across the same manager in several profiles in a particular area of the Big Tree, I am going to reach out to that manager and explain the Big Tree project, then invite them in. If I get no response and the manager has not been on line in a long time, a year or so, I’m going to merge that profile in. Geni considers profiles abandoned if the manager does not log in at least annually. If I get no response and the manager does not meet the abandoned criteria, I’m going to skip that profile for now.


I personally try to avoid trees that are not yet part of the big tree as merging these in just causes me a lot of work in the areas I work in and can cause upset with the manager if they are not sure about joining the Big Tree.


I try not to add duplicates into the tree if they aren’t already attached to the Big Tree, because some people may be uninterested, extremely private, or working on a project for work or school. I’ll let them ask me, and when they do, it gives me a chance to explain to them what the Big Tree is and what they are risking, such as others who share the same ancestors being able to edit, delete, invite others to the tree, etc. It gives them options, usually they turn the request down, but sometimes, they end up in the tree anyway as they had already sent others merge requests for similar ancestors.

If another user comes across a Public profile which is a match to one of their own profiles – but they are not Collaborating with the Profile Manager – would you be OK with those people reaching out to you for assistance? If so, how might you recommend them doing so?


I prefer that discussions be started from the profile “discussion” tab so the profile in question is tagged, easy to find, and members of the community able to offer their assistance as well.


I’m OK with people reaching out to me by emailing me on Geni. In the past, some people have searched for and called my phone number and I’m not cool with that at all. It’s very disruptive to my personal and professional life. However, if the other party they want to merge is non-responsive, I am not going to merge their profiles together. I may give them advice and reasons why the other party is not responding to their requests, but I will have to decline. It’s not my place to merge a Non-Connected profile to one that is in the tree, for reasons I said above: Projects, Privacy, No Interest


I think there should be a ‘contact curator’ link as well as ‘contact manager’ link on profiles that have a curator or curators. In the absence of this or if the profile is not curated I would say ‘send message’ in inbox.


Please reach out to me! I don’t care if it’s an inbox message or a discussion post. Be detailed in what you want me to do. The more info you give me, the more help I can be. Same goes for two people when no one is a curator. Reach out! Talk to one another. It’s amazing what can be resolved with a little polite conversation.

What are the benefits of being a Curator; how has it made cleaning up the Big Tree easier or more efficient?


The additional tools at the disposal of curators does make cleaning the tree more efficient. The main difference for me is not so much efficiency but a heightened sense of care and concern about what I do when working in the tree. Yes, curators have special tools. It’s up to us to use them wisely.


On the historic tree we are able to merge duplicate profiles even if we were previously unable to because we were not collaborating with the manager. We have a dedicated curators discussion tab so we can discuss problems with each other and have also used this to discuss difficulties with the Geni team and these have for the most part been addressed rapidly making our job easier and easier. Although I haven’t personally gotten going on Projects I think this has for other curators been a major leap forward. The ability to lock profiles may be controversial with the regular Geni user however in the areas where I work if I don’t lock the profiles the tree goes back to being a mess very quickly and I would never have been able to clean it up.


The benefits of being a Curator is that we can clean up messes rather fast. When I mean messes, I mean a profile that contains 60 managers and just about as many spouses, children, parents and siblings…and any errors that are in there. While before, we used to have to try and detangle it or end up emailing the help desk to do it for us. This allows the help desk to focus on real Geni needs such as technical issues, bettering the site, billing, marketing and whatever they do in their office, etc, rather than dealing with everybody’s personal mistakes that could be resolved if they have patience, or “Ask a Curator” if it can’t.