Building the “Big Tree”

Posted October 29, 2010 by Geni | No Comment

Recently, when we introduced Curators, we noted that Geni’s mission is to create a shared family tree that connects all of our users. We wanted to share a little bit more about what this vision means and how we are going to get there.

For centuries, people have studied their family history in order to document their ancestors and find new relatives. However, there has never been a great way to share the results of this research with relatives, or collaborate together with others researching common relatives. As a result, the same ancestors are researched over and over again, often from scratch. By combining this research into a single tree that everyone can work on together, users can focus on verifying information and on new avenues of research, rather than spend their time duplicating research that somebody else has already done.

Because users start with their own tree when they first join Geni, they often add relatives that are already part of other Geni trees. All of these duplicates must be merged together to create the one shared tree that we are working towards. Over 45 million profiles have already been linked together on Geni into what is known as the “Big Tree”.

In order to help accomplish this goal, Curators can now merge together public profiles that are in different trees. Public profiles are distant relatives and ancestors (your third great grandparents and beyond) shared by many users. As public profiles you’re connected to are merged with their duplicates, you’ll instantly benefit from other users’ research, and maybe even meet some new distant cousins.

As always, we take the privacy of your close relatives very seriously. Profiles for close relatives that you’ve added to Geni are private, which means that only you and your family can view these profiles. Only your close relatives can merge your private profiles, and even if your tree is merged with another tree, your close relatives will remain private to you and your family.

A few more things:

  • You can always export your tree as a GEDCOM file if you’d like to keep a local copy
  • For more on profile privacy, see our Understanding Privacy on Geni page
  • If you have any other questions or concerns about this, please let us know at