Agneta Åhrberg - Geni is a hybrid. The World Tree is not the only Goal. Private sharing of Family info with one’s family is just as important.
You joined very recently. When I joined in 2007 there were no Public Profiles (just private) and it was not yet possible to merge trees - if you and your relative both started trees, you were told you would have to use a different e-mail address from the one on your tree to see their tree, and the trees could not be joined (tho it was something they were hoping to be able to do in the future).
I agree there are private programs, however many of us do not have any of them but rather discovered Geni, and went with it. It is set up for folks to use to create a tree with very little knowledge or skill, and with a promise of privacy, etc. Many of us are not as knowledgeable about Programs available, dangers of the internet, or etc. as many others. We accepted Geni’s word and expect Geni to fulfill its promise.
The first article I saw about Geni was: http://magazine.uchicago.edu/07910/features/take2.shtml
In it, it quotes David Sacks about Geni:
"“We want to be the repository of all your family’s information,” he says. If users enter cause-of-death information about family members, he wants the site to help predict genetic susceptibility to illnesses. If it appears that someone is at an increased risk for heart disease, the site could advertise exercise books or specific medicines. He wants people to see what cars their family members are driving, what books they are reading, and what music they are into. …” This is clearly talking about folks entering lots of private info on Geni for sharing with their family. This is just as important as the World Tree.
My view - In order for both the Goals to be somewhat fulfilled, compromises must be made. I can live with the one Geni set out – that we can make profiles private back to the 3rd Great-Grandfather and out to 4th Cousin. I think that leaves plenty of historical (famous and ordinary) long-ago folks for people focused on the World Tree to work on, without impinging on those of us focusing on our Family, whether Sharing with our Family or creating for future generations or etc.
I think the Geni-team should concentrate on how to make those Private Profiles actually Private to Max Extended Family only, rather than visible (and editable) to so many folks not in their Max Extended Family. Not eliminate the ability to keep Profiles Private!!
On the other hand -- Geni's changes to search make it impossible for a Basic User to click on a Public Profile that comes up in a Geni-search (yes, we can go around this by using Google, but newbies probably do not know this) - this makes it harder for the new user to discover Public Profiles that are matches for ones in his/her family.
I am perfectly willing to support going back to allowing all users to search for Profiles AND click on and see the Public Profiles.
Would also support - AND be able to message folks with claimed profiles and the managers of Private unclaimed profiles (from the info coming up on the Geni-search window) - as it used to be.
Think this might address the problems of the new folks discovering their connections already on Geni at least as much as forcibly making more profiles public. Or ???
Once again you make such wonderful points.
Have you given a thought though to the numbers of unnecessary duplicates, introducing errors, into our common share ancestors?
You probably know that I've spent a couple of years now, as part of a team, trying to consolidate and keep clean the families of the 21 Mayflower passengers of 1621 with known descendants. They number some 20 million today.
How could Geni be helpful for a beginner, likely eager to discover this ancestry, with the private profile argument you make? There is enough mythology as is .... :(
Lois@ "Geni is a hybrid. The World Tree is not the only Goal. Private sharing of Family info with one’s family is just as important. You joined very recently. When I joined in 2007".
There has been a lot of water flowing since 2007. Things change and so Geni. Even since I joined last summer things have changed on Geni. I liked the design, compared to other possibilities. There are things that have changed since 2007 you doesn't seem to like and things I don't like.
The most important thing to you seems to be the "private" thing. To me it was a combination to bring my research material into a medium where someone younger than me could continue and cooperate with others in our different branches. I that sences I have had success. But the younger people are busy with their job and children. But a cousin of my mother's have started and help his grandson, who is as old as one of my sons. And On Geni they are connected! For being able to keep together and arrange cooperation in the future. Some of them just keep in contact on Facebook, but the, Public, relation started here at Geni.
That kind of using social media is important to me. For the privacy of ours we keep another tree on a private program. Several relatives of mine, collaborators at Geni, have the same and we can do exchanges in mail or messages because we do trust each other.
Many projects on Geni is depending on that people can trust each other and treat people in a good way. Some may be interested in some subjects within genealogy rather than just "my heritage". With your attitude some projects could immideately close down. E.g.: All european immigrants into USA from Europe is kind of bye-bye. Most of the swedish immigrants to US left Sweden from 1850-1910. The same from Denmark, Ireland, Norway, Italy .... In some aspects it was a private matter but in other not. Younger people in US do look for their roots in different places in the world.
How should they meet success if we close everything into "privacy" and it will be impossible for them to find that Mary something, mum said something about who came from Sweden or Switzerland ... By your way, Lois, they could discover what their parents or grandparents allow them to discover.
If they have parents and grandparents. ... . who like to tell or doesn't like to tell.
There are many interesting things within and around genealogy. One question of non-interest to me is to discuss issues were I understand the goal is not solving problems, cooperation and collaboration. It's just vasting of time.
For the record: since my July 2010 post to this discussion I have changed my private/public criterion for profiles within my ancestral tree. Now, anyone who died before 1976 is public, and the rest are private, irrespective of birth date.
I find defaulting 3rd and 2nd GGPs private to be counterproductive. Many of us start off knowing all our first cousins and many/most of our second cousins, but few/none of our 3rd and 4th cousins. Finding the latter on Geni, and merging our sub-trees, requires the shared ancestors to be public.
Hence, it seems to me that, for private/public purposes, the use of a circle of radius 5 is not good. Instead, it should be an oval that is wider than it is tall, encompassing 4th cousins, but only up to great-grandparents. Anyone outside that "radius" of a claimed profile should be public, unless living.
Erica - not quite sure what you mean by: "How could Geni be helpful for a beginner, likely eager to discover this ancestry, with the private profile argument you make?" -- I think it is Geni's decision to change what happens whan a Basic User does a Geni-search that hampers the Basic User's ability to use Geni to discover when their ancestors are already listed on Geni and then connect, not whether folks decide to have those Profiles Public or Private.
If we had the old way -- still available to Pros, I believe - the user would Geni-search, for example, on their great-grandfather's name, see that there is already a /another profile for that name with same family members, send a message to the manager of that profile, discover if in fact it was same family -- if close enough relationship, one would send other an invite to matching Profile in his/her tree, and poof, trees could be merged; and / or they could send invite to join Family Group, check things out, then the Pro could take care of merging them.
I do not see how keeping the profiles within Max Extended Family Private would hamper this. I do not see how, given present situation, making them Public would help if they were not attached to the Big Tree.
This doesn't mean it isn't so, just that I am not currently seeing it - enlighten please.
Agneta - Geni's facebook page still states for "Company Overview" that
"Geni is a free fun tool for:
* Building your family tree.
* Preserving your family history.
* Scrapbooking the lives of you, your kids, and your whole family.
* Remembering loved ones.
* Staying in touch with your family."
This is now, not 2007. Geni now, today, is clearly stating that Geni is for "Scrapbooking the lives of you, your kids, and your whole family."
In one of the first contributions to this discussion a user writes he finds it "anoing" to be met by all these private profiles.
At most I work in the 1600-1800:s and practically most in the end of 1700 till maybe early years of 1900. My grandfather was born 1880:ies.He died 1957 and my grandmother 1961. Close them down ? Or open and collaborate? Both had many sibblings with the same parents.
Some emmigrated to US. Is it by the purpose of integrity a question for me only to klick the Public/Private button and make my grandparents to persons connected to me only?
In the midst of 1800 about 6000 people left Sweden and Denmark for Utah and Salt Lake City and the Mormon church. Here om Geni there is one main project about these people (among all them who came from UK and other countries). I'm not related to these people but I'm interested in the history, the journey and the development.
My conclusion is about genealogy, which have kept me busy since 1980:ies, that I can give and take information, collaborate, develope, translate an so forth about people so to make it easier for better understanding of life. It's not just a rabbel-babbel with names, dates, graves but rather a base and a frame for the future.
To build the future on secrets or wrong data is not the rigth way for me. To be sure of getting things correct openess, willingness and collaboration is essential.
As an example [.com/projects/Mormon-Pioneers-1847-1868-Master-Project Mormon Pioneers 1847-1868] would be a real mess if it was aloud to have Private profiles.
The same with all the genealogy work that has been done in US in respect to all hertage to New Sweden settelers. We can then register the people that left Sweden and Europe but actually don't tell anything about what happened with all this people/families from around 1800. That would be a construction of an total amnesia among people in US as we only may speak about happenings and doings without mentioning persons with names and ages.
Well then, is that what genealogy is on Geni I must say it's odd.
Agneta - as far as I know I have no direct connections to Mormon Pioneers or the New Sweden Colony. However by following these projects - and many others - I have learned about the history of my country (ies) and its peoples. Not only is this genealogy, it's taking genealogy in wonderful new directions. This is what I like about the Geni site.
My main interest on Geni is exploring my Max Extended Family and providing a reason and a topic and a vehicle for connecting with 2nd and 3rd cousins of mine, many of whom I had never met or even heard of before. Most I found how to contact without Geni, but the fact I was putting the tree up on Geni inspired me to contact them, and I included info on Geni and the offer of an invite to it in my initial contact with them (often, possibly always, by phone). I am interested in documenting family history - and allowing those who claim their profiles to do similarly, even to accepting that one relative insists on repeatedly changing the identity of their partner instead of changing that person to an ex- and adding a new Profile for a new partner, that another deleted his children and nephews and nieces, that others do not want their exes up at all, etc. And no, I make no difference at all between adopted children and birth children except where I it is a blended family, with info on both sets of parents.
Folks I saw had put profiles up that were matches to my relatives (I am talking private profiles) have frequently responded to my geni-messages to them (in one case I went and phoned them before they had responded, I think all others who were relatives have responded to my geni-message). I was not upset by the fact that the relatives I connected with via geni-message usually preferred not to merge, and in at least one case we still keep in occasional e-mail contact.
I always sent a message with how I was related, and giving my contact info -- and usually - I think always - responded to anyone who did the same to me. I often did not respond to folks who simply sent a merge request - and then Geni switched to merge requests coming from merge-central, so there wasn't anyone even to respond to, not even with a 'who are you, how are you related to so-and-so'.
(Aside - the recent changes leave me very uncomfortable at the thought of making further contacts with additional relatives I have not connected with - a shame since I was just about to try phone numbers for another 3rd cousin I have never connected with when they instituted the can't add past 100-profile limit for Basic.)
Projects are recent, and definitely should not be an excuse to destroy one of the two major focuses of Geni.
My comment there about Projects was in response to Agneta's comment above, including:
"With your attitude some projects could immideately close down. E.g.: All european immigrants into USA from Europe is kind of bye-bye. "
Geni has promised me the right to make my ancestors, even if deceased, private back to my 3rd GreatGrandparents, and I want that right preserved. I have no objection to Projects - just to folks insisting in order for Projects to work the way they want them to, then this right which Geni has promised us must be changed / lessened / eliminated.
I am still working on collecting thoughts and reminiscences from folks, as well as researching; having all of this forcibly made Public would not be cool; putting it on Geni for the others in the Family to see, comment on, discover would be cool. If Geni had a 2-tiered system, with a Private profile for Family and a Public one, quite possibly I would have some info I would be willing to make Public. But insisting that what we want to share privately should of course be made Public or else we have no business putting it on Geni seems wrong to me - especially when Geni has from the start and is still insisting this sharing of Family Info is what Geni is for, promising the info will be kept private, etc.
Lois I think you're really missing my point I'm afraid. Many of us dont have much information beyond the immediate family, and your method simply does not work for people who do not have your patience and willingness to coax details out.
But in a collaborative effort using publicly available information, we can come together, publicly, and not only make a family story - we can use that data for a new kind of history, one told by ourselves and not "the powers that be.". This is a powerful and amazing adventure. I'm only saddened that someone with your attentiveness doesn't want to.be part of it.
Geni removed collaboration in August, which is the point that Lois is making. You've made the point that collaboration requires patience - it is a two-way street. Genealogy is worth the effort - it often takes weeks/months to verify a single fact but the outcome is worth it.
Our genealogical group started in 1927, and we have amassed a formidable collection of personal letters, diaries, photos - none of which is publicly available. These have been made into a life-story of each individual, and are represented in their timelines, which is the standard genealogical approach.
The original members of the group have long passed away, but they had many occasions to speak to the original Australian pioneers and to record their story. We've picked up the baton and are expanding this as much as we can. It's a fascinating voyage that most of our group have been on for most of our adult lives.
It is now the digital age, which gave us the opportunity to share this incredible information with everyone. Most of it is in various computers, in various formats, and we've been steadily converting these to gedcom formats. We've about 500,000 so far and are hoping for the full 3 million by the end of the year. The Queensland groups have been hampered by the flooding and cyclones, so the extent of their collection is unknown at this time.
After much looking around, we selected Geni as the ideal repository for the entire collection. Geni enables us to present the whole thing as part of the world tree, with everything publicly viewable, but only alterable by those who choose to collaborate. Ideal!
Then came August. Everything became alterable/deletable by anyone. Collaboration not required. As you point out, this requires a degree of patience, which Geni members don't have or want.
As the standard convention of timelines has been used, which Geni does not support (there are no revisions, notifications), Geni ceased to be of interest, and we realised that the time spent on Geni had been wasted.
I'm saddened that Geni has become just a family tree with just birth and death dates and little genealogical content. It showed such promise.
Erica - I feel like I understand totally what Ken is saying and where he is coming from. I speak and read English and understand all the words you used, but ...
what I get from your description is -- you have had good luck asking folks to collaborate (which term Geni just uses for Public Profiles), you have not bumped into problems with Pros just changing data in Public Profiles you care about without consulting others, or if they did, you can accept and correct, you are having a good time working on Public Profiles and feel the collaboration is working well for you there. This compares with my communicating with a few relatives in one branch of my tree about that branch, a few in another branch about relatives in that branch, etc., almost always about Private Profiles (and when Public, it is generally because one of my 3rd cousins often did not realize when Geni defaulted the Profile to Public, and if I asked if he wanted it Public, he would thank me and make it Private). One of these relatives of mine enters some sources, others enter no sources at all on Geni, but if I e-mail asking one where info came from about such-and-such, he so far usually has a good, interesting response. You and I have both found a comfortable way to work with others on Geni. We are each playing a slightly different game, both of which Geni supports.
Have I come close to understanding you?
Somewhat. But I think what isn't getting across clearly is how much of an absolutely unknown, to the 10th generation, family tree Geni has offered me that could not and is not replicated elsewhere nor in any environment but the public / collaborative. If you're going back further than 1900 it needs public profiles or we learn nothing - at least for me.
I completely agree with Ken. I would be much more comfortable with public profiles that anyone could see, but not change. If I take the time to research and input data I don't want just anybody to have the ability to change what I have spent time researching. I welcome collaboration, which would allow open communication/discussion after which I could make an informed decision about allowing someone else access to profiles I have added.
I don't see any problem with historical profiles. I presume that this was the reason that Geni changed the rules.
Anyone born before say, 1700, would have no significant information available to make this an issue - in fact, you'd have problems verifying birth and death dates by themselves. Go back further and the guesswork increases.
If Geni was serious about attracting new Pro members and retaining existing members, a two-tier approach becomes rather obvious. This is much as it was before August, although the dividing line would need attention - it used to be generational (4 generations back?). Anything prior to the dividing line would be truly public, anything after would require collaboration to change.
This would satisfy those who wish to use Geni for family use, and not upset the followers of Alexander the Great.
The only decision for Geni would be where to put the dividing line.
The dividing line is still the public / private choice as in the policy statement. Would your scheme allow those of us who choose to work publicly and welcome new collaborators that choice? Ken, the more I learn about your situation and the work you've done, the more sympathy I have for the errors you've encountered. But please take my word - in my areas of the tree, which include the amazingly public and historical AND the impossibly obscure - Geni collaboration has only enhanced the tree. The errors are in all the copies of profiles and trying to get the merges clear.
We also haven't talked about casual users, abandoned trees, and ... Umm ... Really bad attitudes.
Erica, I admit that I am focused on my fairly close family history and I don't want some stranger going in and changing things without some discussion. You absolutely have valid issues with the historical tree and many duplicate profiles. It's not an easy problem to solve, but I still find myself thinking that Ken's suggestion of picking a date like 1700 or 4 generations back as a dividing line is a possible solution.
I have made a lot of my family public so a couple of people I've met on Geni can see the profiles and documents, but it makes me nervous that making profiles public could possibly result in someone going in and changing things with no communication. On the other hand, I welcome the input of anyone who might be able to trace my roots. There was a time when I would have trusted people to do the right thing, but not everybody agrees on what the right thing is and, as you mentioned, a few people have "really bad attitudes." When I made profiles public, I just crossed my fingers and hoped for the best, but it leaves me with the uneasy feeling that I could lose my hard work. I freely admit that I have a very small amount of information compared to what you and Ken have done, but it's still important to me. It just seems like there ought to be some way to find a middle ground.
Would it help you to hear that in my public tree in Geni there have been no real errors by collaborators or PROs? There's only incomplete information we all need to do better on. Ken's documentation is something for me to aspire to!
I am truly shocked that anyone would "want to" change documented events in a profile. When I see anything documented I feel free to merge - AND resolve any data discrepancies to the sourced facts. So then it's easy to do.
Your last word Erica is 'attitudes' and that's why I did not lika to be part in the further diskussion. I don't like to be namned "anyone" who can go in and out of peoples trees and "distroy" and be accused of being less knewing, less trustable an so on.
My attitude is that people mostly do things in order to make something good. It migth become 'wrong'. But is that "distroying years of work" to anyone. I did several wrongs when I started up at Geni last year. In my own tree. There where connections I had no experience of how to deal with. I must say: I only had to ask the closest manager or a curator to help me to correct.
I also, in my search for a specific person/profile meet another parts of the World Tree with the same family name. We are not related. But my good what a mess!! While looking for my special relative I fixed some of the mess. I rekogniced some persons and could give some more information to different profiles. Although not related. The messages I got from the managers were very nice. They said "Thank you" or if I had asked something gave an answer on the question, told they had fixed a year or a place or frankly answered "I don't know". Always nice and polite from all around the world. For one familyname, in a family I have one relative, there was about 1500 profiles. If I look now there are less than 1000 because of merges.
Yes there are name questions: How dare you to change? I have worked with this for this long and ..... Well then, without asking me for how long I have done anything in genealogy, what competence and exoerience I have, my answer is: Maybe you can have use of try researching in a slightly other direction? Test another way to look at the problems that always are? Maybe you can find somthing new.
In all social medias it's good to work together out from a standpoint that be sure all others would like to make something good and do try to do good things. Everyone is not good at everything. (That's a fruitful attitude that works well on e.g. Wikipedia, Project Gutenberg and Project Runeberg etc.)
Of course one can always meet troublesome persons doing odd things. I have had some messages (two to be exact) of pornographic caraqter on Geni. I erazed them and sent a message to Geni-Team. I have had messages (three to be exact) from rude and probarbly ill users. It's a little group that have extremaly locked opinions about genealogy and they express themself by different sorts of 'punishments' to the profiles!! Me and my friends have decided "Let it be as they like. They will probarbly die sometime."
I myself have some opinions and are open to discussion so to make it able to have one goal-Tree instead of 3, 4, 5 or more parallell trees. It must be expensive to Geni and it makes the searchpossibilities a nigthmare since the servers must be more overloaded than would be the case if people cooperate.
As I said before the really privat things I keep on my homecomputer and not on the social media Geni. That's a question of safety. But to close profiles where the data already is available in other internet places is really odd and only make Geni slow-slower- slowest.
Maybe someone could solve that problem by rethinking about the Privat/Public-problems that are.
Erica, Ken, Barbara - one problem with stating how we want things to work is that Geni (at least some of the time) uses the term "historical tree" to mean anyone outside your Max Extended Family - so 1) the actual folks in it is different for each person, and 2) for each of us, it includes, for example, our 3rd cousin's grandchild - someone definitely not born long-ago, but probably alive and younger than yourself. If one says "historical long-ago folks" instead of just "historical folks", this might help some, but would still have some people thinking it did not include the common ordinary not historically important folks. I do not know how we can communicate totally clearly on this.
But - but it actually may be more of the problem than one might think - reading promises that you understand one way, but which others understood another way, may well be part of why folks keep thinking that others are not doing what was agreed to, what everyone said they wanted, etc, etc.
Put another way -- We don't want to state what we want, have Geni agree to do it, and only afterwards discover they weren't using the terms the same and so we have something completely different from what we meant.