Overwhelmed by volume of Birthday Reminders

Started by Private User on Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Showing all 16 posts
Private User
1/12/2011 at 3:13 PM

Thanks to my Grandma who throughout her life kept extensive genealogical records, this week I have joined Geni and already entered in roughly 1700 relatives. To my dismay Geni thinks that I (and everyone I've invited to join my tree) want to receive birthday reminders for everyone on my tree. That comes to an average of 6 per day, every day.

Geni defaults everyone who is alive to send birthday reminders to everyone, regardless of how distant the relative is. So I get reminders for the great grandson of a cousin of my great great grandma, telling me that they're turning 62. Not helpful.

Perhaps the biggest problem is that Geni even sends out birthday reminders for my dead relatives that I simply don't have death dates for (yet) These are people I don't know if they are dead or not. You can imagine my horror when I invited a cousin of my Grandpa, only for him to receive a painful birthday reminder for a deceased sibling two days after joining.

Not pleasant. Yes I know Geni has an option to turn off all birthday reminders, but since many of my relatives I have invited and plan to invite to the site are elderly, and are not tech savvy enough to unsubscribe (don't even know the definition of the word), I need turn this feature off by default for my entire tree, and everyone who joins.

Ours is a midwestern family, with over 40 families in my tree having more than 8 children each in the tree (mostly baby boomer generation and prior) and so, simply put, birthday reminders are just not helpful, as I have not met the extreme majority of the people in my tree more than once, and many of them, not ever.

So how do I turn off birthday reminders for all future people I invite to this site?

Please don't make me manually go through 1700 profiles, turning them all off manually.

1/12/2011 at 3:21 PM

Here's what I did - first of all I turned off Geni notifications for myself and just check my Geni homepage daily for things like birthdays. I found out how my family members could turn off notifications and sent a bulk email from Geni to all the descendants. This was a little more complicated than I would like.

I also wanted to be able to turn off notifications by default for my entire tree. I STILL think this is a necessary feature.

I agree with you on this and am glad that you have posted this to be discussed. I would rather that people were able to opt in to notifications.

However I know that for my family, there are some that LOVE getting the birthday reminders.

Private User
1/12/2011 at 3:27 PM

"I would rather that people were able to opt in to notifications. "

Exactly. And see, birthday reminders would be JUST FINE if they were only sent to the immidiate tree.... such as:

A persons':
First Cousins
Children and Children's spouses
Grandchildren and Granchildren's spouses

THAT's the list. Other reminders are almost never relevant. I think if this was a default, and then people could opt in to more than this, that would work for 100% of people.


1/12/2011 at 3:28 PM

Here's what curators and Geni help told me to email to my relatives. I empathize with non-technical family members. My mother signed up for Pro and is constantly confused by Geni's many features and navigation. I wish we could turn off options for our family.

If you're tired of receiving all those e-mails from Geni, there is a way to avoid them;
- Click on Settings (on top of the screen),
- click on Notifications (in the News and Notifications section),
- untick (remove the tick) on all areas/boxes where you don't want to receive e-mails about,
- click on Save changes

I cannot change the settings for all of you from my profile unfortunately, and several of you have mentioned getting too much email from Geni.

Private User
1/12/2011 at 3:35 PM

Yes, I considered sending similar instructions. But I actually plan to use facebook to find distant relatives, and then send them invites if they are necessary. If all goes well I hope to invite 100 people most of whom I have never met and don't know.

I don't want their first experience to this site to be getting the daylights spammed out of them and then buried, somewhere in my invitation and the Geni spam, is my instructions on how not to get spammed.

I won't do that, and if I have to I will go through my 1775 records and manually set them all to "do not send birthday reminders"

But I hope it doesn't come to that.


1/12/2011 at 3:50 PM

Steve, I am adding Noah Tutak to the discussion, in case Geni has any future modification planned that would alleviate this situation.

Right now I think that you can only do what I did.

Noah Tutak is there anything else that Steve can do?

I know that the email that your family gets has a button on the email itself that they can click to stop getting mail from Geni, or so I heard. I haven't looked for myself. But it is the proverbial chicken or egg problem, as you said.

Private User
1/12/2011 at 5:19 PM

Yes, there is that, but like I said, I don't want the distant relatives that I invite (people that don't know me) to have their first experience being receiving six birthday announcements per day of people they don't know. I want the site to seem relevant, and that way they are more likely to stick with it and input additional details about their portion of the family.

And of course, it also doesn't deal with the birthday announcements of people who have passed away that I don't know have passed away.

Private User
1/12/2011 at 5:30 PM

One other note, the 1775 people I have entered in are, primarily only one branch of my tree. My maternal grandmother's side. Her side accounts for roughly 1300 or so of my relatives, and my Grandma kept equally impressive records for her husband's family, my Grandpa. The other 300 or so are my father's father's side of the family, and I haven't even started on my father's mother. (I haven't even entered in her parents yet.)

When I'm done I expect I will have entered in 3,500 to 4,000 total individuals. That's when I plan to start inviting distant relatives. At that point I'll be receiving 10-15 birthday reminders per day, and so my problem here, I think, is evident.

I am a computer geek, and from a programming side, I think the simplest solution would be to make a set of tools for "profiles managed". I would like the ability to turn off birthday notifications for all of them, and another feature I would like is the ability to easily set profiles as "public", say, for anyone deceased born before 1920. I am not concerned about privacy going back that far, and I would like to share my data as much as possible.

Private User
1/12/2011 at 5:49 PM

Here is another issue that is related to this, that I have mentioned on the forums before and Geni staff has acknowledged but has yet to do anything about... Every one of those birthday messages you get offers for you to leave the person a birthday message on their guestbook... EVEN if they aren't signed up for geni! What sense does this make?? Many of my older generation family who uses geni then thinks they are leaving a message for their niece/nephew/grandchild, etc who will never get it because they never activated their profile. This needs to be ended as well!

I agree with the above suggestion of the default being the immediate family members, with the option to include others at will - such as by adding them to your "family group" perhaps?

And here's a question, I keep getting emails every time a merge is completed or a collaborator accepts my requests yet I see no way to turn these off without opting out of emails all together. Suggestions??

1/12/2011 at 7:08 PM

Hi Stephen, and welcome to Geni. We do have plans to address this. A few months ago we started moving over to using "following" for notifications. The last thing that we have to move over to the new system is family group notifications. Currently you receive notifications such as birthday reminders for everyone in your family group. This is your fourth cousins and closer by default. When we switch over to following, we'll likely make this circle smaller by default, and it will be easier to control.

Until then, each user will manually need to adjust the size of their family group or change their notification settings.

Private User
1/12/2011 at 8:10 PM

Ok, well I'm glad you guys are working on it, and I'm glad this relatively minor problem was my biggest problem on the site. I guess I'll just wait until I finish entering everyone in my trees, and then spend a day going through all 4,000 individuals and turn of birthday reminders manually.

I just can't risk inviting someone else who immediately gets a birthday reminder for someone who passed away in the past 20 years (most of my trees haven't been updated since the late 80's)

Makes for a bad first experience on Geni.

1/12/2011 at 8:54 PM

Stephen - I had a similar issue. I did a lot of research on Ancestry and Intelius and using other people's work that was dated. When I entered the profiles into Geni, I had the unpleasant choice between marking people "deceased" who were quite old or leaving them living and knowing that family members would be reminded of their birthdays. I chose the latter and got some gentle reminders that so and so had died. The former would have provoked much less gentle responses.

1/12/2011 at 9:00 PM

Hi Stephen, I feel your pain and am thankful for my currently much smaller tree. As I am the family geek I'm building out the family tree.

Many of the distant relatives I've found and invited to Geni, get overwhelmed by the email flood and either switch everything off or add geni.com to their spam filters. The email flood is NOT just for birthday reminders. Every change in the tree triggers a notification by default.

I'd love geni to send just ONE daily/weekly update by default and add the option to get individual emails.

My 300+ tree already generates 6-8 messages per day to my poor relatives.

As a result many stop visiting or worse - don't update their part of the tree.

1/12/2011 at 9:10 PM

I love Geni and am sad that some of my relatives don't visit it as much as they did. The thing about genealogy is that it's very inclusive, which means you include people of all ages from all over the world with all levels of education, speaking many different languages, and very diverse in their degree of computer literacy. Which means you have to make a good first impression on a very diverse set of people.

Private User
1/13/2011 at 6:24 AM

@Noah Tutak : "We do have plans to address this"

I am so glad to hear this! Now maybe I can get back to working on the tree (I had to stop adding photos etc because each time I did so it spammed my older relatives who complain weekly rather than investigate "settings")

Private User
1/13/2011 at 11:16 AM

@Noah: "Currently you receive notifications such as birthday reminders for everyone in your family group. This is your fourth cousins and closer by default. When we switch over to following, we'll likely make this circle smaller by default, and it will be easier to control."

Admittedly I don't really understand what "Family Group" is for other than this, but can you please just set new accounts to default to first cousins and closer? Please? That would save me at least 10 hours of work, and would let me start inviting relatives.

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