Curators merging is insane

Started by Roger Jarl on Thursday, December 9, 2010


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Showing 61-90 of 96 posts
12/11/2010 at 10:20 AM

Well, I've never been a Bush supporter, but yeah, I guess that really is the bottom line here! Since Geni has made a commitment to the collaborative shared tree as its main model, that's the way they are going, and each of us (myself included) has had to decide whether to support that or leave. There's not really a third option.

12/11/2010 at 3:16 PM

Pam, I take issue with your approach of love it or leave it. This idea of having super power users (curators) that are able to merge trees they know nothing about is absurd. It's a grand experiment which won't fly. The tree is a mess not because of your hard work, but because of the nature of genealogy and history. There are as many viewpoints on what happened as there are people to read about it. This is a truth that is self evident :)

Private User
12/11/2010 at 4:56 PM

Around 400-thousands profile have been merged so far.
How many reports about bad merges done by curators is reported?

Private User
12/11/2010 at 5:29 PM

How can we/others/you know what have been reported.
"This idea of having super power users (curators) that are able to merge trees they know nothing about is absurd".

12/11/2010 at 10:26 PM

Beth, I'm charmed by your point of view. It's very refreshing to hear someone make the key point that "The tree is a mess . . . because of the nature of genealogy and history." Do you have professional training in history? You've said the same thing in different ways in a couple of places. I don't think most historians even learn that until they take Historiography in grad school.

I disagree with you about the feasibility of creating the Big Tree -- I think it's doable -- but to make it work, Geni will have to come to terms with the element of human judgment. Both the credulous, who accept everything they find in a book, and the hard-headed, who think they are demanding "just the facts", will have a sharp learning curve about historical methodology, about the social construction of relevance, and about living with ambiguity. I look forward to it, and I hope it doesn't leave any scars ;)

12/12/2010 at 12:06 AM

Thanks Justin - glad someone thinks it's charming! I come to this viewpoint all on my own - whilst conducting my own research and talking to those who share my joy and frustration in the genealogical journey. Too many disagreements, facts that turn out to be stories, and just lack of good information often leads all of us down rabbit holes that take us months, if not years, to climb out. My tree here on Geni is but a shadow of it's real self. I have yet to determine if I want to spend hours and hours on here merging and correcting, only to find out that it needs to be corrected yet one more time. I stil can't figure out why Geni is so single-minded in it's quest for "one-tree" but I doubt if it's all that altruistic. Carry on - for now, I watch.

Private User
12/12/2010 at 12:46 AM

I would be pleased to be counted among the hard-headed.

Many will continue to insist that an ambiguity exists long after the facts are settled by due diligence, giving equal weight to that which is utterly refuted.

But you're right about the social construction of relevance. So long live the fur-bearing trout.

12/12/2010 at 12:50 AM

Beth, I agree with you re the nature of genealogy and history (no, I don't have a PhD). And some comments (and merges) I've gotten about my own tree have done nothing more than tick me off, since the people "playing" in it don't have any relations there! Not only that, in some - or should I say many - instances, there are no sources but word of mouth and family plots in graveyards. Records are unreadable or have been destroyed; as someone else mentioned, children have been disowned by parents, or have themselves denied their parents' existence. It doesn't make one's tree wrong simply because no one else can find a record (e.g., in the case of family bibles STAYING in the family!).

One of my pet peeves is the changing nature of profiles; one day I can be descended directly from someone, and three days later the same person will be my 14th cousin's great grandfather's wife's husband's cousins's 15th cousin!! That makes lots of sense. Especially when the same relationships exist in that second meandering path. AND, in that sense, that person isn't related to me; my cousins' cousins aren't MY cousins if they're in-law families. (Sorry if that's confusing.)

With only ONE MP, not all of us will be able to see our direct lines. That's the only reason I became a paying member, and I don't have the money to throw away. Most recently - and for the past several months, since before the privacy changes and before the MP merging started, I haven't even been able to download all the people in my original uploaded family tree! If I'm lucky, I get a tenth, if that, of the number of individuals originally uploaded.

Just as a note, I think it's a great idea to include the mythologicals, as long as they're noted as such (mythology has been a lifelong love of mine). It's such fun to see the relationships come out of the mist and into the real world, so to speak. My own research is on my computer (and many back-ups), and safe from interfering fingers. I doubt my family's tree will ever be complete - I've yet to see my lost Baileys and Bakers and Wansors et al crawl out the woodwork here. <Sigh> Still hoping some long lost relations will show up...

12/12/2010 at 1:03 AM

Ooh, I love hearing smart, epistemological discussions about the always-incomplete and provisionally constructed nature of historical knowledge. Keep this one going, poststructuralist friends! But Justin makes a good point--those of us who are curators aren't all trying to fit everyone in human history into a neat, tight grid. We are well aware of the ambiguities, and we are and have been avidly lobbying Geni to keep creating and adapting Geni's structure to allow us to best be able to express those ambiguities, the unsureness, the provisionality of our conditional structures. But we need to at least attempt to gather our collective knowledge in a centralized place, piece the puzzle together as best we can, noting those places where "facts" give way to mere speculation, and trying to find meaning in the act of weaving itself.

I think there's an in between here--it will never be absolute, but the process of making connections will reveal to us larger, previously unseen patterns and structures, which then have the potential to help us to see the bigger picture and broaden our scope.

Roger, while you CAN disconnect your nobility branch if you like, if it exists elsewhere in the shared-tree don't expect it to remain unmerged for long.

The whole design / tool-set of Geni is geared towards finding matches between trees... and merging them, regardless of Curators. It has been this way for years before Geni recently added the Curator team.

12/12/2010 at 7:24 AM


I loved your point about: "We have to be very careful about our assumptions. Until we know better, it's safer to err on the side of inclusiveness and add a note, "traditionally ascribed as parent of X, but proven otherwise by source Y" ...

And also the importance of an anthropological approach. For instance, both of us have looked into the Cherokee tree, and learned, I believe, that the concept of "family" was not quite the same as the current Western model. War captives, ex-slaves, etc. were adopted and given full lineage rights.


As extra copies of ancestor profiles reduce down to one and are made as correct as possible, in fact the relation-to-self will become more accurate and more precisely revealed and traced. To expect a moving database to reflect more tangential paths in a fixed and defined is unrealistic ... also, why is it needed? We are fortunate to have the Geni algorithm as a tool. I really don't want to sit there and recalculate all the time!

As an example in my own family lines, by helping to clean up, I am discovering that I descend from the same progenitors in three or four (or more!) different strands. Surely that will result in different paths depending on my start points?

Is everyone clear that in "one world tree" you can choose your view and area of concentration? I sometimes think users are overwhelmed by the complexity of the views available in the application.

Well, that can be simplified, as well as by using personal filters to better focus on your own historical interest areas.

Since the study of history calls on the work of everyone who has come before as well as those working now, I don't quite understand why anyone would want anything *but* "one world tree."

12/12/2010 at 7:42 AM

Another great discussion. I wish you could teach people how to come up with informed hypotheses. My greatest frustration will likely not come from the people who are hard nosed and stick to only the most well documented "facts" but from those who have no methods and just attach profiles to trees willy-nilly. Isn't it funny that medicine, science and history are all about hypothesizing and using common sense. Some people think science and medicine are cast in stone and history is squishy. Too many people believe if Glenn Beck says it and it fits their world view, it's fact and otherwise they reject everything else as "hypotheis" using this term as a dirty word.

12/12/2010 at 11:15 AM

LOL, Hatte. I can't believe we've worked George W. Bush *and* Glenn Back into this discussion!

I totally agree that informed hypotheses are the most we can hope for in terms of many historical relationships, especially those that lack documentation. In those cases, I believe that what Geni's open source "about me" can offer is the opportunity for a wonderfully rich discussion exactly about those well-informed hypotheses. Let's say, "Here's the evidence that we have and here's the evidence that we lack--how can we best interpret that?" Having *all* of us able to contribute to that discussion is so much richer than having one "writer of a family history book" come up with a singular interpretation, in my opinion. THAT's what I'm looking forward to as we move forward with the master profiles.

12/12/2010 at 12:49 PM

I'm very glad you said that, Pam.

One of my fears with MP's has been that it will shut down the question "why."

To me, dates and places are tedious and why I turned off history is school. But *why* people did what they did, went where they did, made the choices they did ... now, that is fascinating.

Private User
12/12/2010 at 1:57 PM

couldn't agree more.........we are one world tree......if someone chooses to limit their areas of interest , they can. i see many families on the tree that only include for instance one child when there were many. i believe the picture becomes more clear the more "leaves" we have. same goes for daughters, concubines and wives. they all should be listed & fully named.
some families do not name daughters, which hopefully is not happening today. tree/index/6000000004405270551#6000000004405313143

first address is geni-alexander ramsey

second address is peerage with information that could be added to tree...........CANNOT ADD DUE TO MANAGERS SETTINGS.

this is an example of managers ,not having their settings to public, simply stopping all additions to the tree. why? we have the information.

when this happens (which is common) you have to create a whole new branch to add the new information.........this causes duplicates and the need to merge....but since the very people who had their settings locked are the very ones who will not complete the merges.....hence a growing mass of duplicates.

Private User
12/12/2010 at 2:05 PM

right on........if anything geni could be more inclusive......right now there is no way to create a dna family and a familial family (if that is correct word). many people have both. adoptions another. could lead to pressure on states to release long deceased records. this would open up many lines of the tree. connections would multiply.

12/13/2010 at 7:38 AM

Actually I think the reference to being "bushish" was directed at not being "treeish" rather than President Bush, ie: If we do not want to be included in the "One Tree", then we are being a "Bush"

12/15/2010 at 11:44 AM

Today I got an e-mail from the Geni team with information on what we have discussed in this thread. Any one else here who got it?

Now I been thinking which way to choose. I guess I'll hang around for maybe a year or so, and then see how the "big tree" has developed. I understand that I cannot take the "big tree" to serious. I've seen connections to Jesus, God, Apollon and a lot of other mythological names. It's impossible to avoid such things with a site like Geni, which is open for everyone.

My "real" genealogy research is best kept within my own local application/database.

Private User
12/15/2010 at 12:33 PM

The Geni message was sent to all users with public profiles.

12/15/2010 at 12:34 PM

Roger, all users who manage public profiles should be receiving the email, according to Noah.

Glad you've decided to stay.

12/15/2010 at 6:28 PM

Interesting, why didn't they send it to all Geni users? Why just the ones with public profiles? From what I understand, Geni wants to encourage folks to join the "big tree" so why not tell everyone. On another note, while I was encouraged that they finally sent out an email - it was silent on the fact that merging can be done without the consent of the profile manager. This is a key component and the one that seems to cause much consternation amongst Geni users. I've been checking out lately and this may be a better site for my private tree. I'll wait and see how things progress here on Geni before I join the "big tree". However I never expect to keep my entire tree here. Too diffilcult to manage when trees get so big.

Private User
12/15/2010 at 10:05 PM

roger your "real" genealogy research is exactly what the tree needs.
yes there are many mistakes and wrong connections but with research they will eventually be corrected by the truth or become dead ends. people will continue to make mistakes and merge the wrong people. the people close to that branch will see the errors and they can correct them or discuss them and decide what is correct. as we go back on the tree we eventually get to more and more myth, legend and word of mouth with little if any written backup. the tree becomes less and less specific. god,adam and eve, & mythical creatures have no place in the tree. dna has to take over at a relatively recent time. for most people that would be long before the the birth of christ. anything before that would almost certainly be a small ruling elite. "joe the plumber" would not be recorded. we need serious people contributing . not easy to collaborate.

Private User
12/15/2010 at 10:19 PM

i don't quite know what you mean when you say"However I never expect to keep my entire tree here. Too diffilcult to manage when trees get so big."
if you know the essence of your lines why wouldn't you publish that information. it is public information that you have gathered from many sources and it is a piece of the big puzzle. we need all the known pieces.i feel all brothers and sisters should be shown if they are known. don't forget your lines double each generation. lots of people share your 10ggf & ggm with you. it is their history also. by the time you get 30 gen back one has more lines than you can imagine and the people connected to those lines is totally mind boggling. personally-the BIG TREE is the "TREE" my branches are growing and a very small part of that tree. i try to take care of my branches from my children back. i leave it up to my nieces and nephews to carry their lines on. i leave to my cousins to fill in their branches......what's to manage?

12/16/2010 at 6:31 AM

Jon - what's your point? This works for you - doesn't work for me. I'm not going to spend time re-entering data into Geni when I have an established tree already going on Once "connected" to the big tree, I lose control of my research and then must spend time "correcting" duplicates, merging and what not. I'm not interested in this and that's ok. As I have said in the past genealogy fascinates me as a research project, not as a way to find out who my 110th gg is.

12/16/2010 at 6:44 AM


As a curator I am far more interested in researching and documenting as well, and my area of scope is something like 1400-1800, England, Scotland and mostly America.

I have found the quality of Ancestry trees to be so variable that it's difficult for me to use them as reliable sources. Even if a more contemporary family is well sourced with census / birth / death records, there is no easy sourcing from the rich array of books and documentation of earlier times.

The curatorial program, to my mind, not only forces me to use those resources --- it forces my collaborators to explore those resources as well.

Once you start reading the books and the sketches, you start to learn the flavor of the person and their lives.

Private User
12/16/2010 at 10:07 AM

it is difficult to collaborate

Private User
12/16/2010 at 1:39 PM

I totally understand Beth's concerns. The last two years, I have spent too much time correcting spelling errors, faulty assumptions and historical inaccuracies. My own research has suffered.

A couple of months ago, I decided to step back from Geni. I will still correct glaring mistakes as I come across them and will alert the curators to problem areas. But I will not be as active as I have been.

Most of my research is not published on-line. It is shared with close family members and, when I am finished, it will be donated to the Canadian Archives.


12/16/2010 at 2:14 PM

That would be awesome, DL. Good work needs to be shared.

I hope to "read" your tree one day.

12/16/2010 at 6:57 PM

Erica... I'm not so much using the "trees" as their library of historical documents. Also adding my own information gleaned from other books, etc. I can manage this from my Family Tree software and updates each other. I agree that one has to be careful with undocumented information in other trees. The problem with Ancestry is that it's not all that user friendly and many have trouble navigating the family tree. That's why I have information on Geni, it was an easy way to get my family to enter information that I transferred over to the Ancestry account. Geni has a nice graphical interface, but I have not found it at all useful for researching my Sicilian roots. For that I do maintain my own "research" website and,believe it or not, have been successful at tracking down possible relatives on Facebook. So you can see why I'm not all that interested in complicating my geni tree, although I may change my mind some day. I also recently checked out . They appear to have a similar approach to Geni except they allow one to keep the family tree free from"merges" without consent. It's also easier to upload net GEDCOM files when not merged. Anyway, that's my take on things so far. Genealogy is a great "vice" and it's nice that so many people are interested in it!


12/16/2010 at 7:13 PM

Beth makes a good point about uploading net GEDCOM trees.

Showing 61-90 of 96 posts

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