Should entries be private or public?

Started by Georges M Teitler on Monday, September 13, 2010


Profiles Mentioned:

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9/13/2010 at 1:19 AM

It seems an increasing numbers of new entries in GENI are marked 'private'. I feel this contravenes the spirit of geneology - even if it is within the rules. The 'beauty' of geneology and of GENI is that people find relatives they had lost track of or have never known. Many people left Europe in the 19th and early part of 2oth Century and their descendants in the US have difficulties establishing who their ancestors were. It is only possible to reunite families if entries are 'public'. I have made over 2600 public entries and receive constantly messages from people who have been able to link up with past generations. This then is an appeal to all and everyone who uses GENI to change as many entries to 'public' - except perhaps to living persons and the immediate deceased generation

the default rule that the Geni SW enforces is that any new profile outside of the manager's Family Group, is PUBLIC by default. The Family Group is everybody out to your 4th cousins and your 3rd great-grandparents. This pretty much means that anyone born before around 1850 should be public. This is a reasonable enough "border" to enable people to connect the earlier trees, while still respecting the privacy of recently deceased people.

So it's unlikely that you are seeing NEW private profiles from this period. If you DO find any "historical" profiles that you think should be public, please feel free to post links to them to the Curators assistance thread (see link), and we'll do our best to fix them (not always possible).

9/13/2010 at 6:33 AM

I agree. Private trees are driving me crazy.

9/13/2010 at 6:48 AM

Georges M Teitler if you're referring to the gray padlocks that indicate a comment or news feed story or recent activity is private, these are new because we're introducing more *public* content, but we want to make it obvious for our users which information remains private (which used to be the case for all of the content I listed) and which is now public. We could have instead chosen to put one of those green globe icons on public comments/stories, however we're hoping that as time goes on that will become the majority of what you see.

Private User
9/15/2010 at 8:12 AM

I recently went through the privacy settings on Geni, and believe they are very important and, genealogical progress notwithstanding, that we all should take them very seriously. The dark side to doing all this online is that it is a potential goldmine for identity theft artists and for that reason I tend to keep certain vital stats or living family off of Geni. Just becuase we think it's protected does not mean that is true. The service does provide a means to contact people with private trees, n'est pas?


9/15/2010 at 2:46 PM

First @ David Dreyfuss: I never suggested that all and sundry should be public. Contrary, I said in the beginning that all living persons and one or two generations before them should be private. And only further back it should be public. One can't contact people who died 200 years ago...

Second @ Shmuel Aharon Kam: I do know what is public by default but the circle going as far as 4th cousins and 3rd great-grandparents is miles too big! Often people do know know further than their grandparents and hence their great-grandparents should already in the public domain. It is ridiculous expecting someone to be able to connect to people who lived in 1850. And if there is a lady contributor who has entered more than 6,000 names in GENI and keeps them all private, you can't convince me that they are within your borders of 4th cousins or 3rd great-grandparents. These are selfish people who regard GENI as a one-way-street: they want to see other people's lists but they want to keep all their entries close to their chest. It is against the spirit of Geni!

Third @ Michael Stangel: No, I did not mean what you write of. I mean all those entries which are in the TREE section in grey and the first name is indicated only by an initial and no dates are available. These are the entries which are useless to anyone doing serious genealogy work.

9/15/2010 at 3:31 PM

Thanks for the clarification. There's a pretty wide spectrum of what Geni users are comfortable with being public, from the "don't share my tree with anyone" crowd all the way to the "make everything public" users. We're obviously trying to strike a balance, and while I agree with you that 3rd great grandparents are pretty far up the public domain ladder, we also want to give people a sense of intimacy with their close family members by putting a privacy "bubble" around the people/profiles to whom they most likely have a personal attachment.

9/16/2010 at 3:40 AM

Maintaining the illusion of a "privacy bubble" is the problem. You are simply catering to the paranoia, rather than educating against it.

9/16/2010 at 6:38 AM

How so, Randy? Why is it not possible to apply more-strict privacy rules to the profiles near you, than the profiles for the long-deceased or otherwise far distant relatives?

Mike, no problem creating the rules / application for "privacy".
I think what Randy means is that these rules enable people to feel "protected". As debated endlessly in the Forum, people fear exposing this information, while it is ALREADY freely available online (in the USA at least). In a sense, your "privacy" is catering to this fear.

Given only the names of a 3rd cousin and her father, I was able to track her and her career (a mere librarian), across 40 YEARS of moves through four states, to her present resident and place of work, with photos of each.

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