Public Editing for Pros

Posted June 23, 2011 by George | 42 Comments


(Update 6/30/2011:  There is some confusion about the scope of this feature.  Only public, unclaimed profiles can be edited by Pro users).


Geni’s goal is to build a single family tree of the world. We believe that millions of users working together is the best way to create an accurate and complete world family tree. Of course, working with other users mean that you get some bad information, along with the good. This is why we’ve worked hard at giving users ways to view and undo changes made to profiles.


Nearly a year ago, we added the revisions tab to profiles, which lets you view changes to profiles. Over the last year, we’ve steadily enhanced this feature; you can now see how a profile has changed over time, and undo changes to correct bad profile data. We’ve also made it easier to see which profile data is supported by sources, including in-line viewing of sources.

Our long term goal is to let any Geni user contribute their knowledge to any public profile (note that there are no plans to make any changes to the privacy of users and their close relatives). As a step towards this goal, we have opened up editing permission on public profiles to all Pro users.

When you see the Pro icon next to the Edit Profile link on a profile, that means that you can upgrade to a Pro account to edit that profile. You can even edit the profile during a 14-day free trial of Geni Pro.


All profile updates made by Pros can be reverted by other users who can edit that profile; Pro users will not be able to make changes to the tree or relationship information for profiles, merge a profile, or edit profiles that have been locked by a Curator. Here is what a Pro user will see when they edit a public profile:


If you are already a Pro, you can now work on any public profile, including updating information, correcting mistakes, and adding sources. If you are not a Pro, you will see your profiles get richer and more accurate over time. And if you want to update a profile, you can start a free trial of Geni Pro rather than waiting for a manager to accept your collaboration request.

One more note: make sure that you follow profiles you’re interested in, so you’ll be notified of updates to those profiles.

Post written by George

George joined the Geni team in September, 2010 as Geni's marketing director. You can find him on Twitter where he never posts but is happy to respond: @georgegeni

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  • David

    Sounds like an exciting change.nnSeeu00a0 more discussion.nCan Pro members now merge as well as edit all public profiles?n

  • Murali Ravipudi

    This is a good idea. u00a0One feature/issue I want to highlight:n- when I create a profile and add email address to it, an invite is sent to that individual.- that individual logs into geni using his email but does not do anything but simply make trivial change/s to his/her profile and leaves- now this profile is locked out – I am not able to edit/update the profile and the individuals we are talking about are many times not very net savvy (they mostly use email probably), and cannot get them to open up the profile for editing.u00a0It will be great if geni can keep me as manager of the profiles I created apart from the individual of the profile.u00a0

    • John Sparkman

      I whole heartedly agree with Murtali – the Manager’s rights should not be relinquished to someone when they have their e-mail captured and so-called “claim their profile”.nnThe original Manager should retain editing rights.nnIt is absurd to allow any disconnected PRO to be able to edit Public profiles, but DENY a Manager rights to correct / update etc someone by virtue of the fact that the incumbent member had a brief scrutiny of the Profile and then “disappeared into the sunset” as they were not interested any longer, or even for that matter changed their e-mail address.nnLast pleading – I am NOT in favour of ANY PRO user changing simply ANYONE’S profile.nnI am a PRO and would not want to access someone’s profile where I do not have a relationship with them either as family or as a MANAGER.nnFar better to contact their MANAGER as in the past. Is this not what the concept of COLLABORATION is about.nnI suppose mine is a cry in the wilderness, and I wonder whether did a survey before embarking on this RADICAL initiative.

      • Jmforll

        If someone goes in, but does not set a Permanent Password, then you are still nmanager, and can still edit the profile.u00a0 You only lose editing rights if they nset the Permanent Password (and don’t change to make it editable by others).nnnu00a0nnI definitely believe they should have the right to control their profile, nlock you and everyone else out.u00a0Just as you should have the right to lock neveryone else out of your profile.u00a0u00a0nnu00a0nnDo youu00a0feel everyone should have tou00a0let everyone inu00a0their Max Extended Family nhave editing rights onu00a0their Profile?nnu00a0nnOn the other hand, if I invite someone beyond my Max Extended Family, and nthey claim their profile – I want to still be able to see it.u00a0 nu00a0

        • Maintwin3

          One of my relatives “joined”, locked me out, changed her profile (including the spelling of her last name), signed out, forgot her password and has never returned to Geni.nMy cousin invited her niece, who “joined” and thought it was a game. She added 200 bogus “friends” to the family before she tired and left that mess attached to our family tree. She was also a “one day geneologist” and signed out never to return.nNot all who enter have good intentions.

        • John Sparkman

          You seemu00a0NOT to have understand the point I make and now seem to think that I want EVERYONE to have access.nnSurely if I ORIGINALLY captured them, and if I am the MANAGER, then I should continue to have access. After all I put the data there in the first place and surely common sense says that I must have a legitimate relationship with that data.u00a0 If I “Invited” them by capturing their e-mail address, surely I have a LEGITIMATE relationship.nnThis has nothing to do with Passwords and I am not sure what you mean by PERMANENT PASSWORD.u00a0 It has to do with TREE / PROFILE MANAGER access.nnWhy allow ALL PRO users access (without a password) but NOT the Profile Manager – that is my point.nnHope this makes things clearer.

          • Jmforll

            John – in order to log in to Geni, you have to enter your e-mail address and password.u00a0 All PRO users have to do this, all regular users, etc.u00a0u00a0 Geni gives you a temporary Password to use to log on for the first time, which you can change to a permanent one of your choice.u00a0 Since you stay logged on unless you log off, many folks may not notice this – had you forgotten you logged on?nnNo, the fact that you “invited” them does not prove you have a legitimate relationship.u00a0 nnRemember Geni’s idea that this is not Your[My] tree — everyone in your Family Group has editing privileges on all unclaimed profiles in the Family.u00a0 You are apparently suggesting a category where you can edit but not the other Family Members.u00a0 You are suggesting that just because you entered my name and then invited me (for example) you should always be able to edit my profile – yes?u00a0 But are you willing to reciprocate?u00a0 And why should whoever entered it first be the only one – this sets the stage for races – and/or for folks creating duplicates they merge, sou00a0all can beu00a0Managers.u00a0u00a0 nnYes, it is very annoying.u00a0 But the idea behind it is that folks should be able to control the information listed about themselves – which I think is a good idea.

    • Manuel Andrade

      I fully agree with you.nMyself I have input over 2000 individuals in my tree and some of them have just logged in once.nBut I think that after a couple of months without any activity from they (or maybe a year?), I think I was able to make changes. I am not sure how long a profile manager must wait in order to have the possibility to edit again the assumed profiles…

  • Bernadette


  • PacNorWest Geni

    I have huge concerns about this feature and am NOT pleased by the development.u00a0 I will actually be keeping more profiles private as a result.u00a0 There are very few individuals who use sources for their changes.u00a0 If this feature REQUIRED the use of citations and support for changes it would be acceptable.u00a0 Until that point – anyone who pays a fee can completely corrupt a tree.

  • Jmfredman

    This is an unwise change, especially without having polled the users first. u00a0All my profiles will now be made Private unless and until you provide an Opt-Out avenue.

  • John Sparkman (PRO)

    u00a0I wonder whether did a survey before embarking on this RADICAL initiative. nnPublicity “after the fact” is hardly consultation.

  • Ken Tregear

    If a Pro makes a public profile private, what happens?

  • Denise Merton


  • Philip Weiss

    I have made as many profiles private as I possibly could, after this. u00a0

    • Reibur

      I am not even goign to try makingu00a0 profiles private I worked so hard to make the public so others could see merge inu00a0 and colloborate – - i am not sure am fond of this Idea -u00a0u00a0u00a0 butu00a0u00a0 figured in way it was goign to come to itu00a0 -u00a0u00a0 now we have no control over any of the profiles we manage -u00a0 have put onu00a0at least with colloboration -u00a0 one could select who they wanted to colonorate with – who could edit their profiles – etc. -u00a0 nice to be stripped of the privileage of being able tou00a0 have some control overu00a0 the profilesu00a0 that one managesu00a0u00a0 i haveu00a0 many on thatu00a0 show biological and adoptive parentsu00a0 which i want to remain that way – -u00a0 now i will have tou00a0 keep an eye out for those who will freely detachedu00a0 these down to one single set of parents which is wrong to do. u00a0u00a0All I can say if you change anythingu00a0 DOCUMENT ANOTATE andu00a0 leave a very good reason why your are chaning a profile behind -u00a0u00a0u00a0 nnu00a0

      • George Geni

        Hi all,nnGrant and the blogging team will be communicating a lot more over the next few days, but I want to share why we felt comfortable taking this next step forward towards true collaboration:nn1. Revisionsn—————————nAll data that changes on Geni is tracked, and everyone can see a full history (including who made the changes) for public profiles. People will make mistakes, but if they do, it’s easy to correctnn2. Master Profilesn—————————nAny profile that is properly sourced is eligible to become a Master Profile. The Curators are happy to create Master Profiles for the public profiles you manage if they are legitimately sourced.nn3. Profile and field locksn—————————nWhen there are disputes or issues, Curators can lock Master Profiles, as well as individual fields within them, to prevent edit wars.nnWe do not currently allow Pros to alter relationships for any public profile, or for them to merge any public profile. They can simply edit the profile data. In the near future when we can provide the ability to “undo” merges and relationship changes, we will move in that direction.nn-George

        • Jmfredman

          Again, did you ever poll the membership? u00a0We understand that as designers, you are excited to provide a new functionality. u00a0But without making it optional, and without providing a public opportunity for beta testing, you are alienating the very core of your membership.u00a0nnHave you not learned from Facebook’s repeated debacles with respect to user privacy and controls?nnYour statement may make technical sense — u00a0but in the real world, it makes no sense. u00a0Your suggested avenues are unworkable for anyone who does not have unlimited time, forever, to review all revisions made by Geni Pro revisers to the hundreds or thousands of profiles that we manage. u00a0Few of us have either the time nor the inclination to do that.u00a0

          • George Geni

            We work very closely with the Curators before we release major features like this. u00a0nnAllowing everyone to work together on the public data is the essence of collaboration. u00a0Geni’s goal is to create a platform where genealogists can collaborate to create a single world family tree. u00a0This is simply a step in that direction.nnThere are adequate safeguards in place to protect all of the data that has been (and will be) entered on Geni.

  • Ken Tregear

    This is causing problems in my tree already.nThere are two new users (who are therefore unfamiliar with Geni) who immediately opted for the free Pro option. Both of them displayed a profile in edit mode, decided it wasn’t the profile they wanted, so changed the names on it to the profile they wanted, and pressed SAVE AND CONTINUE.nnI now have to hunt around to find the extent of the damage as most of my profiles were created before the FOLLOW feature was available and I got no warning.nnIf I’ve already been impacted by two users, I wonder how others in Geni are faring. Then again, their profiles in the tree were probably created before the FOLLOW feature was available, so they wouldn’t know anyway.

  • Johan Pettersen

    I am strongly opposed to this . Already too many profiles are kept private . I would have liked to se everyone following these simple rules .nProflies of living persons : Can (or should?) be kept private .nProfiles of dead persons : Should (have to?) be kept public .u00a0nIf we are allowed to edit any public private , we should have to refer to a public and reliable source .

  • Bernadette


    • Kimandra

      I am so with you on this.u00a0 I to am a fully paid up pro and am very much opposed to this invasion.u00a0 Facebook, Twitter and phone hacking now Geni Hacking.. and I’m in this for quite a long haul…..

  • Tal Ha

    I am going to delete all the profiles I have created in this website.nI can’t believe that everyone can now edit my personal work. This is such a bad thing to do.nThis is horrible news. nGeni Is prioritizing people who pays 5$ over someone like me who created 2,000 profiles with full details and pictures. I AM LEAVING GENI !!!!!u00a0u00a0u00a0u00a0 G_O_O_D __ B_Y_Eu00a0u00a0 ! ! !

    • Anonymous

      You apparently lack the understanding of how this should work. Geni is all about collaboration. The access to edit your profiles by Pro members is rather limited and can be further limited should there be any need for it on specific profiles. It is also tracked and the revision history is visible to you and anyone else for review. Surely you cannot claim to have all information about everyone in your tree? There might be others who can fill in bits and pieces?nAlso consider Wikipedia and how it works. This is pretty much similar. You surely can’t claim Wikipedia is a failure? It’s a gigantic success! So is Geni – and this change here further enhances the collaboration spirit of Geni. If you’re the kind of guy that keeps your information private then good bye to you and good riddance. I hate running into duplicates of profiles I manage and finding them private with very little information to compare. When they are private I cannot drill into their relationships to compare.

  • Christine

    I hate this feature. I want to change most of my managed profiles to private now, but there is no way to “mass change” them; I have hundreds to change and this is ridiculous. At least make it easy for us to update everything we manage to “private” in one click rather than click through every profile. Geez what a mess. I do not care if every revision is reversible, I don’t want to have to reverse hundreds if not thousands of illegitimate revisions, again: RIDICULOUS. Please give us a quick toggle private/public button on our lists of relatives or managed profiles.

    • Tal Han.

      Create a fictive profile which will be a family member of the profiles you want to un-publicize. Then just claim this user by sending an invitation to this user. You will also be able to change this profile’s parents and navigate through your tree so you will be able to be a family member of whoever you want to change its profile.

  • Kirsten

    I totally agree – it is far too easy to make mistakes !!

  • John Sparkman

    I am quoting George Geni and this is the scary part.nn=”’”u00a0If you are not a Pro, you will see your profiles get richer and more accurate over time. And if you want to update a profile, you can start a free trial of Geni Pro rather than waiting for a manager to accept your collaboration request.=”’”nnIf I want to corrupt something – just go for a free trial Pro run – wreak havoc and the bail out.nnGee George Geni – is this really such a wonderful idea.nnThere are weirdos out there in case you have not looked recently.nnI am a PRO (fully paid up and NOT a wannabee)nnJohn

  • Vrbno

    No myslu00edm si, u017ee jste zase nu011bco plu00e1cli od stolu, aniu017e byste se informovali hlavnu00edch spru00e1vcu016f jednotlivu00fdch rodu016f! Nenu00ed mou017enu00e9, aby ten, koho hlavnu00ed spru00e1vce kontaktoval – neboli pozval na jeho emailovou adresu, byl obdau0159en jakkoli mu011bnit ostatnu00ed profily, jejichu017e nenu00ed spru00e1vcem! Hlavnu00ed spru00e1vce by mu011bl – aniu017e by pouu017eil GENI PRO – mu00edt pru00e1vo kontrolovat a opravovat vu0161echny profily stromu!

  • Aubergineintexas

    How are we going to handle such things as hotly contested disputes over differing research? I have one such pranch in my tree where there are two distinct schools of thought. Creating One Big Tree would be great had we definite data, but currently we do not. nWe really need ways to toggle branches off and on. (In my particular case I wish to view relationship paths that do not include one branch of research that is questionable in my mind.) nThanksn

  • Lindakayewing

    I have been a subscribed pro member for less than a year.u00a0 Iu00a0now have been blocked out unless I start a new family tree.u00a0 Why?u00a0

  • Chaver

    To PacNorWest Geni: Geni was created for the sake of Genealogy, i.e. for people with common ancestors to link up and expand their family tree. This can only be achieved by having ones more distant and considerable time deceased relatives as public portraits. Those who wish to keep their tree strictly private are really better off to write it on a pieceof paper and put it under their pillow or in a bank safe. One would think that members of Geni have a bit more trust in each otheru00a0and do not assume right away that there are numerous Taliban-like people around whose only pleasure in life is to destroy other peoples’ trees. Where would humanity go if everyone suspects every other people to be of one with bad intentions?

    • egc52556

      I’m using Geni to share with other people in my family, not with everybody in the world.u00a0 We’d like to be able to reasonably share responsibility for edits amongst ourselves, but that is a very small group of editors indeed.nnOther computer systems have solved this problem with access lists and groups, not just status of user’s account.n

  • guest

    I had to close other account due to WRONG changes by another. u00a0ALL my listings are now “private” as a result. u00a0This feature is NOT a good one at all!

  • H Tracy

    Could someone help? How do I unmerge my family tree from another person who I have asked to? The other persons tree has really messed up mine and I need to delete it from mine so I can continue with my researching of my tree. If you could help that would be great. nnHelen

  • Bernadette

    Due the problems I had with someone getting into my tree and changing the status of my living relatives to deceased I SAY NO TO THIS NEW IDEA……still never received a good reason from geni how this collobrator got into my private tree!!!!u00a0 get rid of it~~~

  • Djlmorgan22

    Thanks for the warnng.u00a0 I guess I will change my profiles to private so that they will not be corrupted.nThis is a step backwards.n

    • Chaver

      You said it: THIS IS A STEP BACKWARDS! Remember that Geni exists not for your own private little tree which you could also write on a piece of paper and hide under your pillow but it is to give you the chance to find ancestors you did not know of. Someone else may have a large list of people long dead and by entering such, he may ‘touch’ some of yours – or vice versa. The danger of someone ‘wrecking’ trees is totally overrated. In a portrait under ‘Revisions’ one can see who made any changes to the portrait and if it is really a rogue then one can report it to Geni and the person is thrown out. THERE IS NO ANONYMOUS WRECKING OF PORTRAITS OR TREES IN GENI! (And those who are scarred stiff should not use Geni at all!)

      • Bernadette

        Chaver, my private trees were entered and all my living relatives were changed to deceased.u00a0 We know who did it and reported it to geni….they still havent addressed the issue and that was two months ago. Someway, this person got into our tree so perhaps you should not feel so comfortable with the fact THERE IS NO ANONYMOUS WRECKING OF TREES IN GENI….BTW, we did not know the person personally…I was literally ignored by Geni for an answer to how this could have been done…..and all the living relatives changed were PRIVATE….. SO DONT BE SO SURE OF WHAT PEOPLE CAN OR CANNOT DO!u00a0

  • Mjb4x Brs1

    I printed my tree on home computer (8 pages) so I would have the 100% proof of what tree should be! u00a0Will print list tonight. u00a0ANY changes now require an e-mail to me and proof that changes are needed. u00a0 I have over MANY hand-written pages of family history stuff put up here—I am 1 of only 3 left in my family doing genealogy and we are ALL seniors.

    • Jmforll

      How did you set this up?u00a0 My understanding – if these profiles are private unclaimed, basically they can be edited by the same folks who can see them – mainly those folks in your extended family with claimed profiles – and I know of no way to require them to get permission from you to do this editing.u00a0 If there is such a setting, please share it!