Enhancements for Geni Basic Members

Posted March 1, 2012 by Amanda | 49 Comments

Update March 2014: For current membership offers and subscription pricing, please visit the Geni Help Center.

Today we’re announcing some great enhancements for our basic (free) members that will make Geni better for the whole family.

Free Gifts for All

Birthday and anniversary gifts are now free for everyone! Help your family celebrate their special day by sending them a birthday or anniversary greeting accompanied by a special gift that will make your message truly standout.

Add More to Your Family Tree

A few months ago, we added profile limits to our membership tiers. Users in large trees had to upgrade to a premium subscription before adding new people to their tree. Your feedback came in immediately; you told us that this change limited your family’s ability to contribute to your tree. We heard your concerns and we think we’ve come up with a great solution.

All users can now add 100 profiles to their tree without upgrading to a premium subscription. This means that every relative you invite to your tree can add up to a 100 new people with a basic (free) membership.

We believe this change will help you grow your trees with your families – after all, isn’t that what Geni is all about? Thank you for being passionate about Geni. We are continuing to work on more enhancements to make collaboration even easier and hope to have them announced soon.

Post written by Amanda

Amanda is the Social Media Coordinator at Geni. If you need any assistance, she will be happy to help!

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  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_EWYOBPX5KFMRUG3R4ZUHUEH5ME Renee

    “We believe this change will help you grow your trees with your families – after all, isn’t that what Geni is all about?”

    Then why have a limit at all?

  • Nickvet419

    It’s ok to charge a membership fee for research, documents, adding photos, but why limit our networking ability to add more family to the tree. We all have hundreds of 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th cousins that you will never know about and will never have the opportunity to offer membership to you’re site because of the cap you place on free members to invite/add family. 

    • Anonymous

      There is no limit to the number of people you can invite to your tree. Once you invite relatives to join, they can help build your tree by adding more profiles. Every basic member can now add up to 100 profiles. If you would like to add beyond the limit, you can upgrade to a premium account.

      • Nickvet419

        How can we invite them to their profiles if we can create them?

        • Anonymous

          Enter their email address in the profile to invite them to join. Once they accept their invitation, they will be able to help you continue to build your family tree.

          • Piret Dahl

             Geniblog, Your answer is clearly incompetent. If a basic member has reached his 100 limit, he can add no more profiles and if he cannot add the profile of a distant cousin he wants to invite, there IS NO PROFILE to enter the email address.
            AND if he simply invites his relative as a new member, their trees will not be connected and CANNOT get connected, as either of the basic members cannot connect their trees by merging!
            Plus the new tree of the unconnected relative will be creating lots of duplicate profiles that also cannot be merged. How is that working for the goal of One Big World Tree?

          • Anonymous

            Piret, you can ask your relatives who haven’t hit the limit to help add more profiles to the tree or at least the profile of your distant cousin. You also have the option to upgrade to a free trial of our premium subscription to add the profiles yourself.

      • Nickvet419

        What I would be suggesting is limiting the information you can add to a profile as a basic member.  The 100 is great for a tree just starting out, but trees will be broken if you just invite family without being able to create the profile first.

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

    This is really good news! This should give basic members enough experience working in the Geni tree to see what an extraordinary tool they have in their hands. 

    Good job, Geni!

  • http://www.facebook.com/muammar.ishak Muammar Ishak

    This is a great move to give at least 100 profile to everyone that had join the geni with basic acc.. much better than 5 profile..
    Usually all my relatives that I had asked to join geni are not interested to do genealogy research.. what they only want is to add their own family(their parents, siblings, and children).. Absolutely 5 profile limit is not enough for that…
    Plus those that want to feel the experience to do genealogy research will have more chance to test it…
    I support this move so much :)

  • Dan Pancamo

    I really geni now

  • Dan Pancamo

    I really HATE geni now. Still limited to 100 is crap.

  • Markjoffe

    Why did it take so long to react to useres feedback ?

  • http://www.geni.com/people/Daniel-Birchall/4681781505150021815 Dan

    Amanda, I like this announcement as a Pro user, and I’ve actually been actively promoting Geni to my friends and family, and explaining that they should invite family members to work collaboratively on it, thus getting the ability to add many hundreds of profiles.

    And of course, I realize that 100 profiles is enough to add someone’s 2 parents, 4 grandparents, 8 great-grandparents, 16 great-greats, 32 great-great-greats, and half of their 64 great-great-great-greats.  By that point, there are very good odds they’re going to start duplicating profiles other people have already added to their own trees, or the World Family Tree.

    I’m a little concerned about what happens at that point, though, because it appears that basic users don’t have the ability to initiate a merge any more, and I’m unsure whether they even have the ability to approve one that’s been initiated by a Pro.

    I know when my tree got to the point where I hit some well-documented person for whom there was a Master Profile, it was a “Eureka!” moment.  Suddenly, thanks to the hard work of many other people, my genealogy went a LOT further back, and had a LOT more cool people in it.

    If I hadn’t been able to link into the World Family Tree, that “Eureka!” moment wouldn’t have happened, or would have taken far more time and work to happen.

    I certainly agree that data quality is important, and I don’t want everyone and their brother adding spurious data to the profiles of Mayflower passengers, or whatever.  And I have nothing but praise for the fact that Geni allows interconnection in the first place, since other sites often want to show me the same prominent person in 400 detached trees, which is useless at best.

    I’d really love some more detailed explanation about how Geni plans to continue expanding the World Family Tree by connecting more people’s personal trees.  I think you’re doing a great job as far as people’s common ancestors 200+ years ago, but for many people, there are a lot of unknowns in the 1800s, and making it easier to find those relations and link into the World Family Tree could lead to a lot more “Eureka!” moments.

    • Terry (curator)

      This is a very good point Dan. That limiting Basic users to encourage them to join the throng is one thing but when those limitations are also limiting the Pro user and potentially causing problems for the future if they ever do become pro in terms of duplicates is really what the Geni team need to be resolving now.

    • Anonymous

      Hi Dan,

      Thanks for your feedback. You make some interesting points. I’ll pass it along to the team.


  • Dennis Persson West

    It doenst matter what you do from now on. You have already killed your site. After you did your “enhancements” last year i think that MANY people understand what online sites can do to thier data.
    Personaly i have all my data locally and then upload it to my personal site. I can their invite my friends and families to my site to look or contribute to it. It only cost me $20.

    I was very loyal to your site until last year. I added a lot of profiles and invited every person i know, now i have to explain to everyone what you have done. I almost feel ashamed for having invited them to your site!


  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=635711555 Timothy Ignatius Xavier Rutnic

    That’s what’s called a baby step and gets you nowhere. I still want to be able to add more family myself. Why am I being punished for having added over 100 profiles?

  • Douglas Jackson1

    Not good enough I’m afraid! Be prepared to lose a great deal of “basic” members to other, more generous “free” Family Tree sites!:(

  • Jill

    My family isn’t interested in joining – they are quite happy to let me do the work, So that puts a lid on adding anyone else to Geni. I cannot merge or accept/decline a duplicate – so that puts a lid on growing 2 trees (theirs and mine) in an organized format. Hundreds of duplicates will now grow because of this rule. Geni is still not giving us what we want – even at the basic level.

  • http://www.facebook.com/GeoffTrowbridge Geoff Trowbridge

    Excellent news.  The 100-profile limit is perfectly reasonable (in fact, quite generous) for free users, and best of all this gives Pro users more incentive to invite additional family members to the tree.  Kudos to Geni for recognizing the problem and correcting it.

    To those other commenters who are still wailing and moaning in the wake of a very positive development… suffice to say nothing will ever make you happy.  If you can’t at least acknowledge a step in the right direction and give credit where it is due, then your complaints have no merit.

  • Erin Spiceland

    Amanda, how does Geni plan to keep users from creating more claimed historical profiles to artificially facilitate adding people to their tree? I can see this making trouble in the tree.

    • Anonymous

      Hi Erin,

      If users come across these in the tree, they can use the Report feature to report it as claimed historical profiles. We’re also discussing ways we can better handle these too. 

  • Dr Usman Sadiq

    Thank you Geni, you are wonderful

  • Disappointed (ex-)Geni User

    Sorry Geni, you lost me and my thousands of profiles months ago. I’m not willing to play your games after you use me and the thousands of hours I spent building up your website with promises of being connected to a world-wide family tree, only to limit me later with threats of not being able to properly maintain, add to, or edit my family tree without paying crazy subscription fees. You don’t even offer any original content (like Ancestry.com).

    It’s your users that made your company worth anything, and now you’re selling our work as your own and alienating all of us. Shame on you.

  • Bill

    The limit increase to 100 for basic members is good news.

    Can anyone from Geni clarify if basic members can accept a merge request initiated by a Pro member? Prior to the limit increase, a basic member could not accept a merge if they had added more than 5 profiles. 

    • Anonymous

      Hi Bill,

      Only Pro users can accept merge requests.

      • Anders

        The issue here is that you’re putting limitations on core functions of the site instead of offering actual premium content to pro accounts. Also, this being the internet and all, I really think you need to listen to the users concerns, or I’m thinking it could backfire on you.

        Also, in my opinion, the subscribtion fee is fine, but I hate that I have to pay for a full year at a time. Would like to see monthly, and quarterly options. At least try it out (or analyze it), to see if you’d make more money that way. I’m sure you would.

        Anyway, thank you for a fun site – hope you’ll make it even better :)

  • Mark

    Great news? I’m sorry, I don’t think so.

    “A few months ago, we added profile limits to our membership tiers.
    Users in large trees had to upgrade to a premium subscription before
    adding new people to their tree.”
    That was indeed a strict limitation to the previous possibilities.
    Now all users can suddenly add 100 people to their tree, and if they
    want to add more, they have to pay money. It used to be unlimited. And
    I don’t understand. Geni wants to grow big and doesn’t allow us to
    make it bigger. Geni, you don’t understand: don’t make it difficult or
    expensive to add information: you’ll be the loser in the end. I used to
    be enthusiastic, I’m not any more and I know many people in my tree who
    have already turned their backs to you. They don’t bother about Geni
    any more, they never visit the website any more. Google for instance
    has never limited adding information or made it more expensive than
    free, Google is growing and Google is making lots of money. And lots of
    people like Google. This is just one example of a web based company
    that understands what’s it all about.

    I also read: “Thank you for being passionate about Geni.” Well, I’m
    not any more and as I wrote, many people I know aren’t either. I used
    to be, but I’ve lost my enthusiasm and many people with me. Geni, do
    something to earn back that passion, because you’re on a very slippery
    slope right now.

  • Racib0

    After november I don’t trust you… :(

  • Gene

    Imagine Wikipedia placing limits on their most active contributors… Sure, the business model is not the same, but both owe their content to the contributors and Geni decided to stiff theirs in order to pressure them to go Pro. Most of them are more likely to go elsewhere.

    And what is the remedy? NEW members get 100 profiles to add. Not the person who contributed to Geni, built the tree and invited a distant cousin. Makes no sense. The person who SENT the invitation should be getting some kind of reward when it is accepted (e.g. the ability to add another 10-20 profiles). This would also encourage people to send invitations, win-win-win.

    Another thing that makes no sense is that people who descend from historical profiles are ”discriminated”: typically, they already have countless distant blood relatives in the tree. After the previous change, they could no longer add anyone. Now, hopefully, they can add 100 on their own regardless, so hopefully it’s addressed. Still, it would make more sense to look only at somewhat close relatives when determining this limit. Who cares if my ancestor who lived ten generations ago had a famous sibling with a gazillion descendants? What does it have to do with me and why should it impact my limits?

    Finally, taking away the ability to initiate merge was plainly a bad move that will hurt our ability to build a single family tree of mankind. It directly contradicts Geni’s declared mission.

  • http://www.racibo.pl racibo.pl

    Sorry, I thought that now I can add 100 profies. You step back and give us a small good information. BUT NOT. What’s mean “all users”?

    You write: “All users can now add 100 profiles to their tree without upgrading to a premium subscription. ”

    - I’m geni (sad) user since 2007 and I CAN’T add any profiles! There is message: “Basic accounts are limited to 100 people. Upgrade to add more people to your tree.”. So your information is not true. Or I’m not an “all users”.

    • Anonymous

      Hi, it sounds like you have already added 100 profiles to your tree. You can upgrade to a free trial of Geni Plus to add up to 1000 profiles to your tree or Geni Pro to add unlimited profiles.

      • http://www.racibo.pl racibo.pl

        1. Yes I added 311 profiles in 2007-2011.
        2. I can’t “upgrate” to a free trail because I had it in 2009.

        You should write: “All users can now add 100 profiles (but not you Jakub) to their tree without upgrading to a premium subscription. “

  • Z Mitchell

    Wholly smokes. Admittedly I’ve been away from Geni for a while after adding a heap of data several years ago. Now I log back in and see I’ve hit a 100 person limit and need to upgrade to a paid account to keep using it in any meaningful way. A quick look at the main blog and all I see is people outraged about all the changes that have happened. I quite honestly don’t have the time to dig into what has change what hasn’t what I would now need to pay for in order to use this site. All I know is what I thought was a great community based tool, that I thought would have a long life and serve as a great historical resource for generations to come seems to be crumbling under the pressure to generate revenue from its users. I appreciate there are costs associated with maintaining a service like this but there have been other such web based community tools that have found ways of sustaining themselves without handicapping their users and less they pay a subscription fee. I really like geni, but to me it is a historical resource which I check into a few times a year and the idea of having to pay a monthly subscription fee in perpetuity in order to maintain its usefulness is very saddening. I hope you figure out whether this is meant to be a profitable enterprise of resource for the world’s community and if (hopefully) the latter, you think of some more creative ways to sustain it than chopping so many of your users off at the knees.

  • Eldon Clark

    I am a lifetime PRO member so this doesn’t apply to me. What I want to know is why did it take 20 days to make the news feed? Also, why do I have to sign in to another site to post to what is supposed to be a Geni blog?

    • geniblog

      Hi Eldon,

      We released a fix for the site announcements today. You can read today’s full release notes here: http://help.geni.com/entries/21152271-march-20-enhancements-to-project-images-and-some-fixes

      Although the news feed announcement was not working at the time, we did post this announcement on the blog, our Help Center and our social media sites. 

      We us Disqus for blog comments, which allows you to post a comment with your email address or by logging in to various social media sites.

  • Abgafg

    A, I have geni pro and received an email about upgrade with a huge discount to “lifetime” membership.  Unfortunately, deleted in error.  Any way you might have the info.  I believe the upgrade was under $200. if I remember correctly. 

  • Chirag S

    This is slightly better – but for people such as me who added everybody else are locked out.

    The limit should be changed to adding 100 non-members (count every person that I add, but allow me to add more – when they actually join GENI as member).

  • Etzur1937

    I’m tring to send  a birthday greeting but i can’t send a free gift no picture are appering

    • geniblog

      Please submit a ticket in our Help Center so we can better assist you 

  • http://www.facebook.com/andrea.mosconi Andrea Mosconi

    Is 9 months after the “lot better” changes in Geni and still we have to see any improvement on the merge situation. 

    I wanted to write my comment there, but (for some reason) the comments have been closed on that thread.
    It would be so simple to fix: basic user can only authorize merge initiated by a pro user and/or can only request merges for profiles in their immediate family. This way pro users (i’ve been one for the past 3 years) could still cultivate their tree with the help of their family members…

  • Rachel

    I’m the only person in my family, my husband’s family, and my biological family who does any family tree reserach.  Do you know how many profiles there are in 6, yes SIX, family tree branches???  More than 100.  Several thousand and that’s just scratching the surface.  I “splurged” and bought a Pro membership last year at the old rate.  I didn’t pay much attention to the new rates until my account expired in May.  I now can’t access MUCH of the information that I added because of the limitations to basic users, and I can’t afford your ridiculous new rates.  Thanks for ruining something that was almost good Geni.  Wow.

  • Mjrhodus

    Geni I am just as upset as the 40 something users that commented before me. I read these comments and thought why should I add to the comments??? Then I concluded I should add my comments because maybe there is a slim chance that you at Geni would realize that you need some kind of compromise. Remember the mistake Coca Cola made with new coke? Think about the mistake JC Penny’s has made more recently and some how they find space to come crawling back to their client base like the likes of the mistake Netflix is trying to recover from… You should offer a $5 a month plan that only allows to build family tree. If people want to add photos and all those enhancements – they would be in another membership. I am like many others on this site . not everyone in my family is in to family trees and that seems typical that only one or two people in a family is into family research at any given time and to expect that all of my relatives are going out to add their 100 names is a stupid idea. Next, what good would it do me anyway – I need a pro account to merge them into mine. duh! Like others I have spent many hours on this and then to be baited and switched – I ask everyone to go to PC Magazine and contact that writer and ask him to do an update story on how happy Geni members are these days after being baited and then switched. Geni I do commend you for allowing a space for us to Yelp about your once great product. Good things come and go and that is a fact of life. The Romans, The Greeks and all those prove my point. And now Geni has come and gone…. bye bye Geni.

    • geniblog


      We’re sorry to hear you’re unhappy. Please know that once you invite your relatives, they can add directly to your tree for free. There’s no need for them to start a separate tree that would have to be merged in later. 

      We understand that there are some people who cannot afford to upgrade to a premium subscription. In that case, Geni public access may be the right option for you. With Geni Public Access, users can experience the benefits of Pro for free at their local library or genealogical society. Simply contact your local public library to sign up http://www.geni.com/corp/geni-public-access-program/

  • Jake6621

    Sorry, not going to renew. You’ve gotten really expensive and there are lots of other ways to do the same thing.

    • geniblog


      We’re sorry to hear that. Did you know that if you are a current Pro subscriber, your current subscription rate will remain the same at the time of renewal?

  • austin

    I am not sure Geni understands the problem here. These reductions in service rip at the heart a quality genealogy website. Talented genealogists will flee. Duffers like myself wonder about downloading a gedcom file and moving to another site. And ones who are left will be the either too young or too new to maintain accuracy. Find some other way to raise money. Your proposed re-organization is just not attractive.

    I added most of my 300+ profiles while still a basic member. Now a “pro” my only interest here is to attract other genealogy oriented family members. I call Geni a genealogy website with a “social media” aspect. Using Geni I have been able to find over 7 other genealogy nuts who further post on GENI. But the ones I find normally already use Ancestry, FamilySearch, or some other site. When they hear about the social media aspect, they too want to get involved with GENI and enter some of the info they have as basic members. (normally they add their own tree) I am now having a problems getting anyone to add anything to GENI. They would rather point out their tree on Ancestry or give me raw data deal with GENI. Now what I am getting is children in photos and facebook type anecdotes about living relatives. They certainly will not pay for over 100 entries.

    • geniblog

      Hi, this blog post is from 2012 and is no longer relevant. We have since changed our subscription and pricing, including allowing users to add unlimited people to the tree for free. Please see our FAQ for information about our current subscriptions and pricing http://help.geni.com/entries/471431-Is-Geni-free-