Andrew de Naray -- I applaud you for your bravery and I am with you all the way!
Erica, I wish you would have taken the opportunity like the rest of us and I wanted to comment a little on #1. The technology that allows this to all happen is the Internet and before that I was a Sysop of my BBS. Back then it was all about the phone line and using that to have pools of information come together. I feel Geni has inherited the properties of the dial up line and kinda modeled it in such a way that allows us to bring the information together in such a way that it becomes useful to a family tree researcher. But I think the most important aspect of Geni that is unlike any other major commercial website is that Geni allows you to do that with no limits to the amount of information you can add, the amount of media etc. Take a look at findagrave.com or even wikipedia and imagine what those sites would look like if every person was limited to just 250 photos and remember not every person on those sites takes advantage of the 250 photo limit. I think you'd find on those sites that people upload thousands of photos and I just can't imagine what a site like findagrave or wikipedia would look like if after the 250th photo that was it. That's why I really wish you would have taken advantage of the Geni Pro life subscription because you'd then see what the rest of us are seeing on this site. Granted there are some that do invest in the yearly membership and some Geni Pro lifetime subscribers may opt into the five year membership plan but the thing is that none of these other websites do that and I feel that there is going to be an impact to this website if Geni stops supporting the Geni Pro lifetime subscription.
Now you've given me something to comment on - the unique value of Geni and a bit of it's "institutional memory.".
I believe Geni has created the best on line collaborative site ever and look forward to it's continuing growth and improvement.
I started in family research with books and Lotus 1-2-3 spread sheets. :) (BTW - they still work!)
A lot of what you describe is exactly Geni's heritage, and they've created something new and unique from that strand, as well as the other strands of FaceBook & Wikipedia. And it's not easy to do all that in 5 years, and I don't know what the next 5 years will bring. I do hope MyHeritage can begin to appreciate the incredible value this "property" actually has.
For me it's about building and creating and sharing information. I wish I had bought a lifetime membership when it was on offer (I bought annual subscriptions instead). Because the learning value from one week on Geni is worth the annual charge to me. Because creativity has no dollar value. Because the passion and commitment and spirit of Geni members is beyond price, and needs to be understood and rewarded in every conceivable way.
@Erica Isabel Howton as far as constructive criticism, I like the idea of the posters who are suggesting ways that membership could roll over as it expires every five years. Another option would be to program the site so that lifetime members would still have access to all the Geni capabilities that they did prior the the buyout, but just no access to the MyHeritage searches. (Basically like Ancestry.com, where you would be alerted that there are record hints available, but you cannot view them unless you want to pay for it). Personally, I would be intrigued by, and willing to pay for access to, any records available for my ancestors that I do not already have. A teaser like that could could possibly them recoup any lost revenue from honoring lifetime memberships.
I think what @Lois Harriet Lubin is getting at (and I agree), is that there is not even a hint of remorse about this. We were just emailed and told matter-of-factly that we are basically getting hoodwinked, but "Hey, this is such a great deal for us that you just need to get over it!" REALLY poor method of dealing with people who obviously believed so much in your product that they were willing to plunk down what, for many, is a small fortune to have guaranteed access. There wasn't even an offer to give a refund vs. transferring us to MyHeritage access.
And to @Enrique Treat Gleason-Aguiluz, Esq. -- I agree that it would be interesting to know how many lifetime subscribers they have. In other words, how much do they have to lose from just simply grandfathering lifetime subscribers in, versus alienating them by treating them so poorly. Really? Is it really worth it to rip off the very people that cared about your service so much that they were willing to pay a lot of money to "get married" to it for lifetime?! It's just totally counter-intuitive. And wrong!
Andrew de Naray -- Very nicely summarized!
It would also be nice to quantify the value of all the work contributed to Geni by its Lifetime Subscribers. I am certain that we Lifetime Subscribers have made quite a significant and impressive contribution to Geni. In essence, we've been paying to do a bulk of the work for Geni. Yes, it's true that we each benefit tremendously by paying to do the work for Geni but, at the same time, Geni is also benefitting tremendously from the sum of all of our individual profile contributions. For example, in less than one year I've added 3,732 profiles, I currently manage 4008 profiles, and I've invited 32 individuals.
Andrew nicely thought out suggestions, thank you. I'm trying to think from my own point of view. The record hints might drive me out of my mind: I'm not good with naggers, and would rather go looking when I need to / want to. But that's me! Paying per record is definitely a quite valid option.
Here's a question I've been thinking about. My bank (grin) hasn't managed to stay the same for five years, much less my lifetime. Yet when I trace "my bank genealogy" guess what - it's the same bank as my first passbook savings account for baby sitting money at age 11. Would they have "honored" lifetime memberships if they had had it as a promotion instead of toasters?
Erica Howton I really think that's an apples to oranges comparison. I've never purchased anything from a bank that was considered "lifetime," so I don't get the similarity. In fact banks probably wouldn't sell anything termed for a lifetime for this very reason...
Perhaps Geni was foolhardy for selling lifetime memberships, but that does not absolve them from honoring them, IMO.
If you buy something with a lifetime warranty, does that not cover the product for its lifetime? Maybe it doesn't cover the product if the product itself changes hands, but if you are still the original owner of the product, and the company that created the product still exists, then it seems to me that they should honor that contract.
"Perhaps Geni was foolhardy for selling lifetime memberships, but that does not absolve them from honoring them, IMO."
"I've had an at&t credit card with a no annual fee lifetime guarantee for about 20+ years. It keeps getting traded around to different banks, switched from visa to mastercard, but the no annual fee part has never changed."
Boy if a credit card company and various bank can honor a lifetime agreement, you'd think anyone could!
Jill Anne Bogdanowicz-Wilson -- Well stated! If reputable American companies can do it, Geni and HM Should be able to do it!
Got my reply from subscriptions today, and all they want to offer is a refund, which of course does not address my concerns at all. I spent the time to add more than 18,000 profiles. I'm sure I can't get them all out because I work with collaborators, so not all of my profiles connect to each other. I simply want what I paid for - the right to work on my tree for as long as I care to do so!
Private User, it's true, this goes beyond money. There has been time invested.
And another question is, now that they have changed the rules, what is a "lifetime subscription" worth? If say, 5 years is now worth roughly $400, then what does that mean when you multiply by how many remaining years you would have utilized your subscription? Hypothetically, I could live for another 50, or maybe more. So, although it's better than nothing, a simple refund still doesn't truly fulfill their obligation as far as I'm concerned.
And to your point, if you discontinue your use of Geni now, how many hours of your life were spent contributing to a site that you no longer use? What is the dollar value on that?
I'm just sick about this. I really thought Geni had a great mission, and now they're ruining it with this nonsense.
Same thing here! Same offer, but I'm not impressed!
Andrew de Naray
I couldn't agree more with your message.
For me personally I don't want to abandon my work! I've put too much into it. I still think it's a great site, I'm just not happy with what geni is doing about us - the lifetime members.
I'm holding out hope that they will make this right.
Look here! What you sow, so shall you reap
There is a site called wikitree.com and even though it's not as popular as Geni.com and it may not have all of the features that Geni.com has, it is free and paid for by Google adsence revenue. You could potentially get a refund from this site, move all your tree data to wikitree.com and then you could use that money for things like getting ads off of findagrave.com grave pages, a dna test on someone or anything else you were needing. The only thing I'm not sure about is who owns the rights to the content that is added to geni.com or if anyone can take anything that's public including photos and move the content to wikitree.com. If anyone else has any other reasons why this idea would be problematic please tell us otherwise that settlement sounds good to me. I don't know what else I'd ask for.
I am not an attorney but I believe from reading
The issues to be careful about when downloading data from Geni are:
- no vandalism on Geni
- copyright issues especially with photographs
Nothing upsets people more than seeing their personal photos on other sites (and they had not given permission). Often I imagine it wasn't even meant - just was part of the GEDCOM. So - think that part through with care.
We pay for records such as census reports. I wouldn't care to see that document donation I've made to the Geni tree elsewhere without my explicit authorization.
That said, I believe in backing up my tree, and that's what GEDCOM export is for.
Jeremiah please do forgive me for being a tad cynical.
I like the Wikitree site. I like the WeRelate site, which is also free - and in fact set up as a non profit corporation.
But this is not the same as Geni. For one thing, server storage costs money. I have always paid for it. I will always pay for it. And I also pay for my computers. :)