. . . a single, collaborative world family tree . . .

Started by Peter De Bie on Friday, August 12, 2011


Profiles Mentioned:

Showing 451-480 of 514 posts
1/5/2012 at 8:05 PM

Jason, I think that you have to be a collaborator to change the order of marriage. Unless you are a collaborator, the tabs are grayed out except Basics and About me. It makes no sense to me but that is the way Geni wants it.

1/5/2012 at 8:16 PM

ah ok, yes you cant do it because that isnt revisionable yet, once it is revisionable it will be available

Private User
1/5/2012 at 8:24 PM


The point of this discussion is that in August Geni REMOVED collaboration from Geni. The whole idea of the August change was that you don't need to collaborate any more if you are a Pro member.

I am wearing the fallout.

The greatest thing about Geni was the collaboration - I enjoyed it immensely - now it's gone.

Private User
1/5/2012 at 8:36 PM


Have I learnt nothing from collaboration?

I'm not sure you understand what collaboration is, exactly.

Geni is now just a communal repository - collaboration is not involved. The other name for a communal repository is a data dump.

1/5/2012 at 10:53 PM


I had a feeling that you might be working in a related field.
Anyway it is clear Geni really needs someone.

1/6/2012 at 6:53 AM

Ken, everything still works as before. All you need to do is become a pro member. Not much to ask to keep geni going.

1/6/2012 at 6:55 AM

ken you know the geni data base crashed just before the August changes took effect? there was some data loss, so it might not have users at all

1/6/2012 at 11:40 AM

"Anyway it is clear Geni really needs someone."

What Geni needs is someone who can make Flash work since they seem to be determined to use it. I have just spent almost an hour trying to add a new picture to a profile but of course that includes the "Geni will be right back" waiting time.

Private User
1/6/2012 at 12:00 PM


The problem with Geni is that nothing fully works beyond birth and death dates. This would satisfy most people, as it is all they expect from a family tree.

We've been able to re-establish ourselves on myheritage, but it had to be done from the ground up - Geni's gedcom just contained birth and death info plus photos.

I'm happy with their data protection - we've our entire family tree on DVD, which also made appreciated Christmas presents.

From our point of view, to remove collaboration and make Geni a free-for-all scramble, with almost no revision material available, was fatal.

This can't be imported back to Geni as Geni will just strip most of the info out, but it can be imported to other sites.

1/6/2012 at 1:22 PM

IMO Geni is not and never was the right site for a complete family tree with all that additional info mostly only passed verbally from generation to generation, for a full private family tree. There are other and better on-line - or even better, off-line solutions for that.

Private User
1/6/2012 at 1:45 PM

We found that out the hard way. We want to share the info, so we want it online. It took a while to find an appropriate site.

1/6/2012 at 1:49 PM

Randy, I'm a pro member, but I agree with Ken. The collaborative part of Geni has almost disappeared. There are thousands, if not millions of duplicate profiles on Geni, but it's almost impossible to merge them together because of too many rules (you have to be a pro member, you have to collaborate with the managers, and the profiles have to be public).

1/6/2012 at 1:56 PM

you dont have to be a collaborator to merge if you are pro, thats only if their tree isnt part of the big tree already

1/6/2012 at 7:29 PM

All I can say is that I am a pro member. i probably work on geni more than all of you and almost certainly have added more profiles, and the program works fine for me. I have been doing genealogy for almost 40 years and this is the best program out there. Are there problems? Sure. The tree match algorithm is very flawed and needs improvement. We curators are constantly suggesting improvements. But I recommend you all should stop griping and get back to your genealogy. If you find a better program, go ahead and use it. But until then, just use geni as best you can. Non-pro membership is not for any serious genealogist. But then serious genealogists are used to paying for useful programs. Just because geni gave you the goods for free for a while doesn't mean that they aren't worth paying for.

1/7/2012 at 12:54 AM

All I can say is that I FULLY AGREE with Eric.

I am a PRO Geni user since Jan 2011, and have always had nothing but help and assistance when needed from Geni staff and more specifically from UNPAID Curators and fellow PRO users.

To those that complain about limited functionality for FREE members - all I can say, it is the likes of us PRO PAYING members that allow you access to Geni, albeit on a limited basis.

There is no UNIVERSAL LAW that dictates that a Free service should be the absolute right to access by all to the same functionality as paying users.

There is a good deal of co-operation from PRO users towards non-pro users where PRO users complete merges and generally assist others, with the hope that they will also become PRO members and thence pay to assist in improving Geni.

Surely those that ride on the backs of paying members should tone down their complaints and rather pay to assist grow Geni into the sort of program that you wish.

My only wish is that PRIVATE profiles should be able to be merged and if people do not wish to place their Family Tree on a Public platform, well that is their right and then they should invest in a stand alone program which can be loaded onto their laptop and consulted behind locked doors.

It is most frustrating having to crawl over brokem glass to beg a Manager to change a profile (or a series of profiles) to Public so that a logical merge of duplicated profiles can be done by a PRO user in good faith.

There should be Curator discretion to merge a private and a Public Profile when requested.
In many instances it is ignorance of the implications of a Private profile by newcomers (or family members who have viewing access) when they do not realise that the Private profile is shut off from world view particularly those wanting to merge their separate Tree with another once they realise that there is a duplicate structure placed on it by a non-family member who is on the fringe of their family group..

Just my thoughts for the New Year.


Private User
1/7/2012 at 9:13 AM


The topic of this discussion is the changes introduced by Geni in August.

Prior to August, it was possible to have your profiles Public (and on full view to the world), but members would have to collaborate with the creators of that part of the tree to make alterations, or merge.

Geni changed that. If you want your profiles to be publicly viewable, they must now also be publicly alterable.

This enabled members to change information with the surprising pretext that they have different information, therefore the existing information must be wrong.

Previously, this would have caused a discussion (it's called collaboration), but now the information is just changed. Why bother contacting someone? - it slows things down. Members such as myself are leaving the profiles private to force collaboration, seeing that Geni removed collaboration. The fact that you can't see them anymore is a situation created by Geni - I would like you to be able to view them, but contact me before altering/merging.

I don't recall payment being in this discussion, but as you've raised it, I'd be careful criticising the basic members - they're the ones that created the millions of profiles that make you feel it is worth paying for.

1/7/2012 at 10:27 AM


Thanks for advising me of the topic of this thread - strange that you assume that I did not know what it was about. Please read the concerns expressed in the first opening post and you will realise that collaboration and payment featured in it. (This perhaps addresses the issue you raised in your last paragraph)

If you read my comments about Free vs PRO membership and the different permissions associated with each, you will realise that I am remarking that to have broader priviledges payment is necessary.

I stand by my statement - Free users are riding on the backs of paying members - They are using Geni but are not willing to pay for it but still complain that they are being short changed - strange logic there.

I have no doubt that the so-called Free members have placed huge amounts of data on Geni - that is academic as it does not benefit me and it was not the reason why I commenced capturing my Tree on Geni - it was my wish to capture over 40 years research by my late parents and to share it with the broader Family which in my case stands at 1,091 Family Members with 30,650 ancestors.

As a general rule it could be argued that someone willing to pay is a serious Geni user and not someone who would arbitrarily change or amend data without addressing it with the manager of that profile. There are naturally exceptions to the rule and one could expect this from a program with millions of users.

What is notable is that there is a history of what was changed under "Revisions" and also an e-mail trail to the manager when there is a change to a profile managed by him/her. Hence no unannounced change whether accidental or deliberate. There is also the ability to review previous data and challenge the person that altered it to supply proof. The thread is about collaboration - but perhaps it happens now in a different way.

If you read my lead in, I was supporting the views raised by Eric - a Curator and doubtlessly someone who is dedicated to Geni.

I am not denying that many Free members have contributed data to Geni - but of what use is it to non-family members if they make it Private and then just do not respond to requests to collaborate etc.

I am not taking a shot at the Free members who only too eagerly respond to requests to collaborate, but rather to those "invisible" people who wish to isolate themselves and their immediate family profiles from more distant relatives who would like to collaborate with them.
(So the non-collaboration is not only a Geni instigated issue but is also as a result of individual Managers isolating themselves and not responding to requests)

Then there are the Geni users (as I have said) that are not even aware that their Profiles are Private and do not have a clue how to change them. I classify them as the part time users who get quite annoyed when their small group of profiles become merged with a larger tree and their family suddenly exceeds 100 which effectively locks them out of updating more profiles to their previous insular family tree.

My answer is Pay and take up a PRO membership and unlock the restrictions. - so you see the concept of payment is linked to PRO membership and greater functionality - ergo - a World Family Tree of collaborators who are PRO members sustaining the research, maintenance, salaries of Geni staff as well as the extensive hardware required to accommodate the millions of Free users.

You are entitled to your views as surely I am to mine.


Private User
1/7/2012 at 11:38 AM

Revision material is available for the basic details only.

When you have had documents, photos and a multitude of Timeline Events removed by persons unknown (such as I have), then you may take a different view. These cannot be recovered. Events have been modified, and are totally wrong - I've no idea of who, when or why.

Managers were advised if any of there profiles were merged as from November. This is an improvement. The merges between August and November can only be found by scanning the whole tree. I've found a few that are wrong - they can stay like that.

As I've mentioned before, two branches of the tree are changing to become the same as ancestry.com - it is entirely wrong - they can stay like that also.

Geni provides web-hosting only - just like Facebook. The software provided is questionable (the comments about using Flash keep growing, for example).

I've been sufficiently interested to detail the problems I've been experiencing in the hope that Geni might address them. Despite several months of doing so it is obviously to no avail, so I've moved elsewhere (like many others).

If genealogy for you consists solely of boxes with birth and death dates, then you will appreciate Geni. If you wish to go further then Geni does not fully support this.

Becoming a Pro member wouldn't help me at all.

1/7/2012 at 11:53 AM

Randy and Richard, Well said and thank you. I too find this to be a great program with any and all of the functionality that I find necessary. Please keep up the good work in helping to build One World Tree that is reasonably accurate, and has the sources to back up the assumptions.

Private User
1/7/2012 at 1:31 PM


We've been watching the developments of Geni carefully as we anticipated that it would be the ideal place for our research.

With the help of three historical societies, we've been able to get very detailed genealogy, including sources (no exception), very many documents and several thousand photos. This is the culmination of many years of research, and we finally got everything in gedcom format.

There are now 375,000 profiles in the collection, and these are all in gedcom format. Very few of these are already in Geni.

Specific areas include the First Ships into Christchurch, New Zealand (63,000 profiles), First Fleet into Wellington, New Zealand from the Tory onwards (57,000 profiles), Immigrants from the New Zealand Company (47,000 profiles), Second Fleet into Sydney, Australia (66,000 profiles).

We entered a few thousand by hand into Geni, and looking at the condition of them now, it became questionable whether we had picked the right site.Geni does not accept imported gedcom files, and has difficulty with exporting.

The entire collection is based on Timeline Events, that Geni cannot fully support, and would strip out even if it did accept a gedcom files.

From the comments of various curators, who believe that the research is disposable and no-one should mind if some of it becomes corrupted, we made the right decision.

If anyone is interested in the above areas, please feel free to contact me. It is now part of an enormous private tree in myheritage, for which we are endeavouring to provide read-only access.

1/7/2012 at 1:56 PM

ken im very actively adding New Zealand pioneers into geni http://www.geni.com/projects/New-Zealand-Pioneer-Families-1800-1900 and its sad that you would want to pull out and go else where. I would love to help with your research.

1/7/2012 at 3:26 PM

Ken, Are you paying for MyHeritage? Why not also pay for geni? As for the gedcom upload, that is a more difficult issue. I was able to upload 50,000+ profiles before geni stopped allowing imports. it took a while for everyone to merge duplicates and clean everything up and there are still problems, but I am certain that the data is vastly improved now, thanks to the collaboration of other geni members. Is all your data linked together in one gedcom? Or is it more like passenger lists? Have you had any discussions with geni about the possibility of an upload? As for the "condition" of the profiles, I wonder what the issue really is. Many times there are conflicting sources and you just have to pick one over the other. My view is that if someone cares enough to change something, they are probably closer to that profile and might be in a better position to make the decision. Certainly that is not always the case, but then with now 70,000+ profiles under management, i cannot pretend to control or police every single one of them. That doesn't bother me. If there is an area where I am sure I am correct, as a curator I can lock the profile and prevent changes. But so far I have not had occasion to do that. So much of what we do is based on educated guesses that I cannot take it too seriously if someone born in the 1700s is mistakenly listed as the child of the second, and not the first, wife (a common area of disagreement). Life is too short to get upset over such things.

Private User
1/7/2012 at 5:16 PM


There is no point in continuing with Geni. Geni does not support Timeline Events, which make up 100% of the collection. As I discovered, if someone changes or deletes a Timeline Event, no-one is informed, there is no revision material, and you don't know who did it, why or when. Timelines are ignored in both Geni gedcom imports and exports

Geni has the About Me field, which I view as a mistake It just collects assorted texts, and is incomprehensible after merges. The info that is in About Me should be in Timeline Events

An obituary, for example, belongs to the death event, and a gravestone photo should be attached to the burial event, not the profile. A voyage to America should be an Event, not simply noted in About Me.

Whilst we have meticulously done this, I do not recommend it to Geni members. You can type it in, but Geni will not support it after that - no revisions, no nothing.

In answer to your question, they are all linked into a single tree, with myself as the central person.

There is no point in becoming a Pro member - all the information is available via Google for free.

Myheritage has a wealth of research material available, especially regarding Australia and New Zealand. We will spent the next many months pursuing this.

The decision by Geni to make all profiles publicly alterable without collaboration, from our point of view, was fatal.

1/7/2012 at 9:02 PM

Richard and randy,

Well said. I guess you cannot win them all.



1/8/2012 at 12:41 AM

OK, Ken! I see what you mean. Maybe it is possible to consult Geni staff to see if they are willing to change the program to meet your needs? Geni team has listened to their customers once, don´t know if that´s still true...

1/8/2012 at 1:12 AM

yes geni is always listening to suggestions, their are a number of improvements in the pipeline currently. I have suggested things in the past which have been implemented.

1/8/2012 at 8:38 AM

Michelle Elena Kempner, maybe there is some way to import Ken's data.

1/8/2012 at 12:36 PM

Ken, yesterday I planned to ask you - if you prioritize your Problems with Geni is ??

A) Free vs Pay
B) Private vs Public & Control (collaboration, msg. requests prior to changes)
C) Foundation Structure (timeline, fields, etc.)
D) Gedcom Import & Export
E) Recovery from Changes, Merges or Deletes
F) etc. ??

Glad to see you explained Your Timeline usage - and your Concerns with it.
Solid Foundation, Recovery, etc. - Concerns All of us - and Yes, Geni should concentrate on Foundation issues - and not New Bells & Whistles (pdf interpretation, etc.)

1) Gedcom: Import, Export - from day 1, Geni should have made sure - Fields used in Gedcom (genealogy software transfer medium) - were also used on Geni. No data should be Eliminated - in Import or Export. Field mapping, cross-referencing, etc. should be used - to Retain All information.

2) As to what goes in the About - sure, some of the information "should" be in the Timeline. However, I rather have some information in the About - since sometimes it's the only place People look at. Even I sometimes add a Source Reference URL in the About - instead of in the Source section - since it Does Not allow Text with a url (like in About).

3) Images - better to have: obituary, tree, conscription, etc. Image as the Primary Image for the Profile - vs. No image at all

4) Why become a Pro - I can get All the information via a Google search - True, but you Can't be part of a I tree large Group expanding your tree and links to others, be they dead or alive.

I would say it's Fairness, as Nothing is Free - someone had to spend the $$'s and Time making the information Public. However, if a person (I am not saying You) - is only interested in Copying information from Free Internet sources - and creating Private Trees on Geni, other Genealogy sites or their PC - to have 100% Control (claim it as theirs) - it is their choice. They know exactly where & how they got the information.

Ken, this thread reminds me of quitting a job & the boss saying; "why didn't you tell me you weren't happy" - followed by; "what can I do to have you stay" ??

You will do - what you will do. However, I don't think Geni is as Bad as you are portraying it - and hopefully in the Future - will become Much Better.

Good luck to you anyway :)

Private User
1/8/2012 at 1:49 PM


Thanks for the reply.

I have been complaining repeatedly since August, as I'm sure many readers will know, of the problems we've encountered, and that I've described in detail at the time.

The significance of August is that suddenly the profiles were available to be altered by anyone. Before this, the problems were in a contained environment (about 45 researchers, in our case), and therefore able to be controlled.

You are right that it is the problems with the fundamental elements of Geni that are of concern. An external check of 100,000 profiles in the Geni tree found 23,412 errors (son born before father, for example). These edits would be simple for Geni to add so that the creator is warned at the time of entry, but no - you can put in rubbish. No other site does this, that we know of.

I therefore regard the quality of the Geni tree as very low. In my own case, some of the branches of the tree are so wrong, it was hard to know where to start - so we didn't. As sources are infrequent, upon inquiry we discovered that the most common source was 'someone else's tree' - not very promising.

Payment was not an issue. I'm sure it will continue to increase on all sites - it's the way of the world, although Geni is way overpriced for simply web-hosting with no research material available.

We have made our MH tree publicly viewable, and are getting further collaborators joining already, to assist - the tree is growing rapidly. Geni worked like this until August.

Regarding photos, you can attach them to an Event AND make them the primary photo.

Regarding URLs - we banned them. As the active life of a valid URL averages less than 4 years, they have no place in genealogy. Some people took some time to get a hang of the alternatives.

Most of the research was off-line, so the presence of the documents is ultra-important - there are thousands.

I'll sign off with this - I've been belly-aching on issues in assorted discussions and blogs that it's become stunningly repetitive, with no outcome. If you want an all-encompassing reason for not continuing, for us, it's that Geni has lost credibility.

To all, all the best with your endeavours.


1/8/2012 at 1:51 PM

For a Pro Geni is great for building an extensive family tree and next expand that into a forest. Geni may not be the right venure for extensive ancestors research, though.
And for anybody wanting to build his own and very private trtee with hiw own and very private research into his ancestry, no doubt an off line program to fit on his own and very private computer is the way to go. Trying to do that on Geni only leads to unacceptable levels of frustration for same person - and for other members of Geni more interested in building a large interconnected family tree and - forest.

We cannot be everything to everybody, OK?


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