How Accurate is Geni?

Started by Vicki Thomas on Wednesday, June 20, 2012


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6/20/2012 at 1:36 PM

I have been on Geni for a couple of years and lately have put more time into it. I looked up some of my Scots ancestors and did the research and found that I am connected to various aristocrats and once I connected with the profiles I see now that I am a blood relation to hundreds of kings queens and royals from virtually every European nation and can even go back to King David, Solomon and Abraham. I came late to the party here but it seems to me that people have been putting these genealogies on the internet for the past twenty or thirty years and there have been many pairs of eyes on them to get many of the bugs out so probably most of this stuff is true. I do not doubt that there are little errors here and there but I am wondering how solid the evidence for all this is.

6/20/2012 at 5:05 PM

As you say many pairs of eyes have reviewed the Geni tree so it should be reasonable to assume it is as accurate as it can be.
Does that mean it is all true?
The fascinating series (in my opinion) Who Do You Think You Are included in one episode a isit to the College of Arms in London. One of their most cherished documents is a pedigree of William the Conqueror which traces his ancestors back through various generations back to Jesus then to Noah, Adam and all the way back to God himself (including Thor and Odin in the process though i forget where exactly).
I'm not sure what the Geni profile for William shows (frankly i'm not interested) but if it did mirror the College of Arms then it would be a reasonable statement that it was an accurate record supported by written historical documentation.
Solid evidence 1 : historical accuracy ?

6/21/2012 at 3:59 AM

Good point. Frankly I have not even paid attention to any sources on the master profiles as there was just so much to assimilate. I will go back and look at this. It seems though that the connection to King David and beyond is based on one ancestor that traveled from what is now Israel to England and married into the Iceni tribe, making Boudicca one of my long lost grandmothers. I did notice trees connecting real people to mythic figures and I think it is wrong to do so. Although I am doing some reading and maybe some of these mythic figures like Thor were actually real people way back. Still delving into these areas. Very interesting.

6/21/2012 at 4:16 AM

Well Santa was a real person, why not Thor?

6/21/2012 at 10:22 AM

How could I resist?

No matter where you find your information, sources are the key to credibility. Everything else is conjecture...

6/21/2012 at 10:24 AM

No Jesus in there, but remember too that there will be many, many paths through 65 generations...

6/21/2012 at 10:41 AM

And the hard job is to prove them all with reliable and trustworthy sources. As Mike says, that is the only way to make them credible. Many ancestral lines looses their credibility a lot closer than at William, the 3rd great grandson of Rollo.

There are plenty ancestral lines that looses their credibility around 1500-1700 that some people are copying/have copied and without chenking anything more have added them to the genealogies here on Geni.

So don't trust everything you find here, and before you make a fool out of yourself by telling everyone in your family that you are descendants of XX when you are not, check if the line between your family and this XX is credible.

6/21/2012 at 11:25 AM

This is from long before the Internet, by the way. In America there was a "pedigree craze" in the 1880s - 1920s - all kinds of adverts would go out saying "if your name is XxX, there is an UNclaimed inheritance in England waiting for you!". Otherwise sharp Yankees would take up a family collection to hire a genealogist in England to research and hopefully get "our share.". The more scrupulous would report back - sorry, you've been conned, there is no such Castle of Glimmerick." etc. (this happened in my own family.). The less scrupulous? (shudder)

6/21/2012 at 1:32 PM

So funny...the Jesus to William the Conqueror line! Anyone who knows the Bible and looks at that knows it is incorrect! God destroyed everyone in a flood except for Moses, his wife and sons. Sons names were Gershom and Eliezer, wife's name, Zipporah. They would have to be in that line and they aren't! LOL My 2 cents... Oh and btw, it says William the Conqueror is my 24th great grandfather. Do I believe it or not???? LOL

6/21/2012 at 3:23 PM

Some interpretations of the Moses story put the number of humans on board the ark at 72, some people don't believe it at all!?!
Even before the internet or America people lied about their heritage, my understanding is that the kings of yore insisted that the holy family be shown at the top of their tree, after all how else could they claim divine authority to rule?
Regarding your second post, would i be correct to say you have not Found Jesus yet?
Boom tish.
As Remi says without trustworthy reliable sources it's all just conjecture, but who or what is really that reliable so long ago?

6/21/2012 at 3:29 PM

Have we discussed the difference in calendars yet? Oral traditions have been validated by astronomical events. And doesn't writing begin with "I, Hamurabi, King of Kings, divine son of ...."

6/21/2012 at 4:39 PM

I see in young children, and their ability to absorb information and language skills with such ease, the talents that perhaps adults in our culture have lost as we are trained to rely from an early age on the crutches of the written word and more recent forms of media.

6/22/2012 at 4:09 AM

Getting back to a few points...none of my family was ever interested in proving any pedigrees. A few of us got interested because we wanted to know where we came from. A lot of people in the U.S. are here and they have really very little clue as to who their forefathers were. When we started putting together info and going on GENI this is when by happenstance we found these things. I am assuming if any person could document it they would find that they were also similarly connected. Some people have better access to records and it helps if your family was connected to royalty and their decendants as these records were more likely kept and recorded.

6/22/2012 at 12:00 PM

"When we started putting together info and going on GENI this is when by happenstance we found these things ... "

Yes, that's what happened to me on Geni as well - and the value of "collaborative genealogy.". I pick my "interest areas" to work on and further document for all my cousins.

8/21/2012 at 2:15 PM

One problem Erica is that some of the family is even skeptical of what I have found on GENI, including my own mother. She is not into family trees and such and does not know anything about it but when I tell her what I have found I don't even think she believes it. Of course its not her background that can be traced back its my dads and he's been dead since 1977. He would be spinning in his grave if he knew of all the kings, queens and royals he was related to. He would probably be more interested in knowing he was related to Thorfinn the Skull splitter and "Braveheart" rather than the kings anyway. He fancied himself kind of like a tough guy so he would love the idea of being related to Vikings. So I keep this in my head and do not tell anyone. I told my son and he thinks its pretty cool but smiled skeptically.

8/21/2012 at 2:37 PM

Great story! My father wanted to know about the writers, teachers, scholars, artists in his tree. He knew the "math" - I.e., that all of us with Western European / English background connect to Charlesmagne; and he knew our likely descent from "the baggage train of William the Conqueror.". Who married in with the local Saxons, who had married in with Vikings, etc. Etc.

The Geni tree does reflect the broad stroke of known history and population movements. But of course the devil is in the details and finding interesting ancestors and cousins the pleasure of this application for me.

8/21/2012 at 3:01 PM

Just remember one thing, and as a norwegian with a high probability of viking ancestry, I can say this, it is extremly hard to verify a viking ancestor, and in my allmost 30 years of genealogical work, I have not been able to verify a single claim to a kinship with a specific viking yet.

Also rememeber that if you claim to be a descendant of someone, it is up to you to prove that the relationships all the way back to this person is credible, and preferably provable.

Vicki, I like skeptisicm, it makes us do a better job proving our relationships.

8/21/2012 at 3:15 PM

Oh I agree Remi. We know from history that Vikings settled and intermarried all over. But to know their exact name and pedigree? Well, I'd say the northern persons have some work to do.:):)

8/21/2012 at 3:20 PM

BTW Geni says Thorfinn I Hausakljufer 'Skull Splitter' Einarsson, Orkneyjarl is your second cousin 28 times removed via Normandy. :)

8/21/2012 at 3:22 PM

yeah, yeah yeah........

I stopped listening to fairytales when I was 10, and I have no kids, so I haven't told a fairytale to anyone yet.

8/21/2012 at 3:59 PM

Well I have no way of verifying anything, all have is what I have found on GENI. I have looked at GENI alot and there are numerous ancestors from what is now Norway...I do not know if they are Vikings, I call them as such. Some apparently settled I think by force in Scotland and northern France. I was surprised at this but thinking back it makes sense...the original post I had was to question the accuracy of what I have found here but now I know I would not have the time or money to do independent research...GENI will have to be good enough.

8/21/2012 at 4:12 PM

Vicki we have projects to work on specific groupings of profiles together. That way no one is re inventing the wheel or spreading themselves too thin, particularly across tricky historic zones. Take a look through sometime for a grouping that tickles your historical imagination.

8/21/2012 at 4:29 PM

Okay I will look into some. Possibly there will be some regarding Vikings.

8/21/2012 at 4:41 PM

Vicki, Geni is by it self not a source, it is just a genealogical software where people store their ancestry. If a profile doesn't have any sources or information about where the facts are coming from, you either have to use that information to find the sources yourself, or you have to ask the profileowner where his information comes from, and how much he trusts this information, ot look at the source he mentions, yourself. Doing this research is genealogy. Just relying on other peoples work with secondary and tertiary sources is not good enough.

Vikings lived in the timeperiod ca. 800 to ca. 1066 AD. And the coutries they lived in were Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Iceland. Ofcourse expanding to England, Scotland, Ireland, Normandy and Newfoundland. A few vikings got all the way to Jerusalem and Instanbul (Konstantinopel).

Just to expand on what Erica say. Geni's profiles, by itself, is by far not good enough to make your own genealogy trustworthy, unless the profiles on Geni has good sourced notes in their About me, or their profileowners has sourced their information with as primary sources as possible.

I, myself, am not using the source tool on Geni, because it is to cumbersome. It takes to much work and time to add sources to Geni the way they have done it now.

So, if anyone wants to see my sources, they have to ask me, and I can look it up in my own personal genealogical software, where this job is a lot easier, and takes half of the time.

Time is the thing us genealogists doesn't have enough of. I wish Geni inc. understood this.

8/21/2012 at 5:01 PM

Remi, do you have any suggestions for how we can make it more efficient to add your sources and cite them on the corresponding profiles?

8/21/2012 at 5:25 PM

Just to pipe in on citing sources. I am experimenting on using citations in the description field of timeline. Much easier to cite an individual event fact from a valid secondary or tertiary source that way than uploading.

8/21/2012 at 5:39 PM

Sources should be "remembered". A lot of the times I use the same churchbooks as a source. When I have added a churchbook as a source, the software should remember the same churcbook when I search for it, and all I should need to do is to add the pagenumber of where data is.

In my software that is what I'm doing, and ofcourse I can then also add url's to the source so that an online sourcepage could be linked.

A lot of our sources are coming from offline books, newspapers, gravestones and a lot of other sources, you need to have a source tool that can be used as a source database for every kind of sources. So if I find my information in a book, I need to have the possibility to add the name of the book, the authors, the publishers and published year, and the pagenumber. This book (source) should then be saved in a database, so that the next time someone is adding (or looking for) the same book as a source, the Geni software should have a possibility to make a search either automatically or manually, to find the same source.

There should also be a possibility to merge sources that obviously are the same or that curators/pros find to be the same source, but are written in a different way by different users, then you would in time have a good source database with good sources.

So if I wanted to look for a churchbook for a parish in Norway, among the sources on Geni, I could search either word in the sources database. For churchbooks i usually write "Kirkeboken for Kongsberg, nr. 4, 1756 - 1768" which translated to english means "Churchbook for Kongsberg, no. 4, 1756 - 1768", ofcourse since Geni is an international site, sources should be categorised under which country they are in and what type of sources they are.

What is needed in a source citation is:
Media: Book, film, manuscript, newspaper, gravestone, electronic, video, map, photography, other (and a lot of other types of sources).
And for the main sources database there need to be a note field, where other information can be written, like email-addresses, webaddresses, and that the source doesn't have pagenumbers and a lot of other things that apply to the general source.

On top of that there need to be an area where you can write the specific source information for the event, like pagenumber, specific notes for the event, exact wording of what the source say and a field where you can grade the quality of the source in primary, secondary, tertiary and worse.

In other words make it like most other offline genealogical software does it, you don't have to try to invent the wheel again.

8/21/2012 at 7:34 PM

Include a standard academic citation maker as well. The OCLC database in the international library consortium and has an API. There is open source software used in universities worldwide. Then we move beyond genealogy and into the world of serious scholarship, all using the same standards (much as Remi described very nicely).

<private> McCann
8/21/2012 at 9:15 PM

all good ideas.. but will geni inc listen? I doubt it... but they could prove me wrong. i have found that most all good ideas at least around here are ignored

8/21/2012 at 9:54 PM

It's a matter of a small company with a big wish list, and a measure of how much success the application has already that we'd like to see it develop.

In the meantime there is plenty of tree building and sourcing to do.

Showing 1-30 of 81 posts

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