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Hello new SA GENi user: privacy/stick_figures_blue.jpg (please scroll down for Afrikaans - & if you're more bilingual than me - please help with my translating & add in other SA languages you speak. )

So you've started your GENi tree & now you want to know what more there is, & who to ask, & if you can even risk making mistakes.

This is our letter to you from the South African area of the tree to say, "Welkom cuzzin, we're so pleased you've joined us. We're here to help and to tell you it's safe to risk making mistakes cos we'll help you fix them too."

This is what Geni's about for us:


We’re trying to build ONE WORLD TREE by sharing & merging all our little family trees until there is 1 profile (with no duplicates) for every person who ever lived. Today our tree is this big.

You will know when your individual family tree becomes merged into the big world tree because the statistics box on the right hand side of your Homepage will suddenly tell you that you are connected to thousands of people. (The connection is not necessarily through your direct ancestors, but can be through various in-laws etc). Don't freak out when it happens! This is a good thing.

Once you’re into the big tree, you’ll be able to get the programme to check for you if & how you are connected to anyone else in the big tree by clicking on the option at the top of their profile. So you can spend the next couple of weeks working out how you're related to Old King Cole; the Vikings; Paul Kruger; Charlize Theron etc etc :-)

The South African tree is quite special; in that we have a lot of the European profiles already in; with records for most of those progenitors as they got off the boat (SV/Prog in the profile suffix means this is an SA Stam Vader/ Moeder/ Progenitor) – so it is relatively easy for many South Africans to get into the world tree once they’ve put in a couple of generations of their own grandparents. If you descend from the older families in the country - the Dutch, the Huguenots and the 1820 settlers - you will find that you are related in some way to most of the other SA Geni users too. (In the worldwide Geni Curator forum, the SA Curators are well known for being the most closely related of anybody. For example, Sharon is 7th to 9th cousins with: John, June, & Daan.)

(We are still trying to get the amaZulu & amaXhosa tree to beyond the ‘big name’ royalty stage, though. So we're desperately looking for contributions there. )


We’ve come a long way, and what ‘free’ users can do changes from month to month. (If you’re a free user – let us know when you need a Pro user or a Curator to help you to do things.)

In the first days - about 200 South Africans were there to start to build their family trees. First one here, and then a link there to another profile (there were no tree matches then) and so you made contact and tried to find out if the other person would consider a merge ...Some people had many years of researched data. Then, as now, there were those with less and others with more accurate data. Quite a few gurus in the genealogy world played along. Some may still be here, but some are gone, and it was a privilege and honour to have their participation. We are all still benefitting from it.

People were also more or less interested in their pedigrees. Many just wanted to see their place in the tree for posterity, never needing to see it again. Some just wanted to get birthday notifications. Some have died. But many who came to Geni as beginners, then started their own serious research into genealogy.


The concept of collaboration and merging can be quite difficult to understand in a world where your data may have been obtained bit by bit with difficulty and hard work. There are those who think they have good enough data, and then there are those who process data document by document, with every detail carefully researched - even writing and rewriting books about who was who amongst our ancestors.

It is likely that these concepts of international online collaboration are still difficult for some people - as with everything where you don’t know what to expect: People ask "What will happen to my data? What about other people's dates? Will it change mine when I merge a profile with another? Will I lose management on my profiles? And what about my security?" (Tip: If these are your problems, the answer is for you to keep a separate copy of your tree in your own database as a back up. See how to export your GEDCOM.)

Then there are those who just want to do their own thing and to build their own family tree, and they really object to the idea of sharing it. (Tip: If this is you, then Geni may not be the programme for you. There are several programmes designed for this kind of single user, but Geni is not one of them, because it has collaboration as its basis.)


  • Merging two profiles, means the resultant profile will now have both managers as co-managers. (When we get all the way up to Charlemagne – there are 500+ and we’ve stopped adding new ones because virtually everyone in the West is descended from him!)
    • The programme will tend to defer to the profile with the most info & sources. It will, however, collect all the text in the About Me from both the profiles. Here is a Starter Kit for How To Add Text to a profile or project.
  • Any merge issues - like conflicting data between the profiles - will come up in a table for comparison in your Merge Centre (Top right of your page:- little square next to your little profile pic: - click on it for the Notifications menu to drop down, then choose Tree Matches - & it will open your Merge Centre to show you the Data Conflicts. If the profile you've just merged is one you are Following or Managing, then it will appear there for you to view and decide between any data conflicts that occurred when you performed the merge) and from there the merger/ collaborator/ co manager will choose the best data in each field. (Here is where sources on the profiles are worth their weight in gold.)
  • If, as a free user, you're battling to merge duplicates of profiles, please post your requests in the Please complete my merge request Discussion.


Sharing always involves risks and requires that you trust people’s best intentions in order to reap the benefits of other people trusting and sharing with you.


By comparison to the amount of data you can access on Geni, very little deliberate vandalism takes place.

  • You can report deliberate vandalism if you see it
  • We can revert vandalized text in the About Me
  • And Geni has also put into place VOLUNTEER, UNPAID!! :-) CURATORS to keep a watch out for such things and to help protect all of our data: They use tools like:
    • Making profiles with good data Master Profiles (MPs) so that their data is deferred to in merges, unless the merger manually overrides that.
    • Curator notes at the top of profiles can alert users to the typical mis-merges that happen on that profile;
    • Locking fields, relationships or whole profiles (as a last resort) can put a break on repeated mis-merges on some profiles.
    • Curators can also undo incorrect merges for you, if you contact us.


  • Send out and accept Collaboration requests with everyone working in your area (unless you have a good reason to mistrust them). Especially, collaborate with everyone you can on the SA tree, and join the collaboration pool project too.
  • Work together to help new Collaborators to quickly and successfully merge their tree into the big tree – or we all end up merging in endless duplicates.
    • But also remember that Family Requests are best only accepted from people whose family you are actually in (check on the ‘connected to’ option at the top of their profile) - because that provides access to your private profiles too.


  • Adding your sources in the About Me – even if they are just: ‘this is the url of the site I found it on on the internet’; or ‘my granny’s bible’; or ‘my uncle’s memory’; or ‘my tribe’s oral history’. It helps everyone to be able to see where info came from when two profiles waiting to be merged have slightly different data for the same person, and someone has to decide which is likely to be closer to the truth. if you have documents that support the information you have entered add them to the profile (use the little link to the right of the information field in the edit screen).
  • Engaging in our research Discussions attached to the profiles. This is where we log the process of the detective work we do to figure out what is the best data to go on the profile. Even if its the kind of post that says, 'Why are we even looking at her?' or "I've heard about him, but I know nothing else" - Because they're the ones that make this kind of record of research accessible to other people who might come along later and think its all too dry to bother to read; & they're the ones that mark our reasons for, & our jump-off points into, why we researched the aspects we did. As you can see, I hate the idea of wasting good research energy re-inventing the wheel - so keeping an informal, chatty log of the research process we followed, is an important aspect of all of this, so that we/ or anyone else in the future, can take up where we left off when we come back to it.
  • Being very careful when you are merging two profiles, that they are, in fact the same, and checking that the best sourced data is retained in the profile details. Watch for any curator notes at the top of the profile too – telling you where the profile might run a risk of being mismerged
    • And getting a curator to help you fix it if you accidentally mis-merge the wrong profiles, & find yourself stuck. We’ll do it happily – because, rest assured we’ve all made those mistakes too – and it’s better to fix them asap, than let them create bigger and bigger birdsnests (‘rompslomps!’) as people merge into that wrong merge.
  • Being very cautious about the matches list suggested by the programme in your Merge Centre, which is wrong 9 times out of 10! And we could say more about this, but please know that we’ve told Geni what we think of it ourselves!
    • BUT ALSO REMEMBER that when you’re starting to enter your family tree onto Geni for the first time, you do need to keep a watchful eye out for the matches the programme flags that look like profiles already on the tree (the programme will flag them on the tree view where you're entering them, as soon as it realises it) – because merging with these will get you into the big tree much faster. Many of your family members may already be there as Geni profiles without you having to enter them – ie you won’t be creating lots of duplicates of profiles already on the tree that need to be merged in by other people.
      • (If you’re worried about not being a manager on those profiles without having a duplicate profile that you manage merged in – then rather just send a management request by using the pull down menu option on the top right of the profile.)


Like on the playground at school:“Hey You! Watch out for the marbles!” Think a bit before you just run through our game ..”

  • Geni is about a tree. Not 2 or 3 or 1000 trees. A tree. ONE profile per person who lives or has ever lived.
  • If your tree is not right, my tree is not right.
  • The easiest way to get your tree right is by having more people work together (collaborate).
  • We "old geni's" no longer have our own data. Our data is yours. We give you free access to our profiles, information, assistance, time and share our hard work and knowledge alike. All we ask in exchange is your careful work.
  • So be careful with OUR tree. Yes, our tree is probably wrong and yours right. But we want to get it most RIGHT together - based on the best and most reliable sources. Let's talk our differences out, and discuss why we do certain things as we do. Even the best research data is not always 100% reliable. Everyone makes mistakes.

Take into account, the less we waste other's time, the more time we collectively have available to build a better tree. You're wasting people's time the most by:

  • Not accepting collaboration requests from someone who works in your part of the tree
  • Taking months to complete merge requests
  • Having profiles in your tree beyond two or three generations back that are set as Private or as erroneously ‘alive’ .
  • Not paying attention to the data especially on SV / PROG (Stam Vader/ Moeder/ Progenitor) profiles.
  • Duplicating profiles that then have to be merged in, rather than just requesting management on those profiles. If we all work together for our tree in the same mindset, it reduces the number of profile updates that have to be done.

"Solving geneology" is the newest game in town:... the concept has developed into a genealogical 'wikipedia'. Come build and work together on one of the most gripping projects that is rewriting the history of humankind.

Lots of love, The South African curators baby_heart.gif


(Afrikaans Translation awaiting help from YOU!!)

Hallo daar! Pas op vir die deurmekaar raak! Dink so bietjie voordat jy sommer dwarsdeur ons speletjie loop..

  • Geni gaan oor 1 boom. Nie 2 of 3 of 1000 bome nie. EEN boom. EEN profiel per pesoon wat leef of nog ooit geleef het.
  • As JOU boom nie reg is nie, is MY boom nie reg nie.
  • Die maklikste manier om jou boom reg te maak is deur met meer mense saam te werk (collaborate).
  • Enige iemand wat aan hierdie projek deelneem sal graag help waar hulle kan. Vra ons gerus om te kyk as jy hulp benodig oor hoe die dinge werk...
  • Ons "ou geni's" het lankal nie meer ons eie data nie. Ons data is joune. Ons gee jou vrye toegang tot ons profiele, data, hulp en tyd en deel graag ons harde werk en kennis. Al wat ons in ruil vra is samewerking - en versigtige werk. As daar verskille is, word dit bespreek en uitgepluis sodra konsensus bereik is. Almal moet saamstem oor die rede waarom ons sekere dinge doen.
  • Wees versigtig met ONS boom. Ja, ons boom is dalk verkeerd en joune reg. Maar kom ons maak dan seker en maak saam die boom REG, gebasseer op wie die beste en betroubaarste BRONNE het. Selfs die beste navorsers se data sal nooit 100% betroubaar en reg wees nie.
  • Almal maak foute.
  • Neem in ag, hoe minder ons van mekaar se tyd mors, hoe meer tyd het ons gesamentlik beskikbaar, om 'n beter boom te bou. Jy mors almal se tyd die meeste deur:
    • nie "collaboration" te aanvaar as iemand met jou boom oorkruis nie.
    • vir maande nie "samesmeltings versoeke" voltooi nie. (Merge requests)
    • nie alle profiele in jou boom van diegene wat oorlede is (veral verder as 2 of 3 geslagte terug), as 'dood' te merk en 'openbaar' te maak nie.
    • neem kennis van die voorstel ten opsigte van profiele op SV/PROG. As ons almal saamwerk om ons boom op dieselfde manier op te stel verminder die aantal profiel "opdateer".

Wenk: Dis makliker vir almal om bestuurder op profiel te word deur te gaan na "versoek bestturderskap" (request management) in plaas van om 'n profiel by te voeg en dan saam te smelt ("merge").


Soos rekenaarstelsels ontwikkel is daar maar 'n leerkurwe en so was dit dan ook met Geni. Dit sal vir etlike jare wat kom nog so wees. Geni het ook dan nie oorspronklik die wetenskap van geneologie self mooi verstaan nie, maar in die "Facebook"- era wel die "netwerk" deel daarvan. Wat hulle goed reggekry het, is 'n werkende en kragtige "tree view". Dit is self ook iets wat maar oor tyd verbeter het .

Aanvanklik was daar na raming so ongeveer 200 Suid Afrikaners wat begin met hulle stambome op Geni begin het. Eers het 'n mens hier en daar 'n skakel ("link") met iemand anders gevind ("matches" was daar nie) en so het jy dan maar kontak gemaak en probeer uitvind of die ander persoon dit sal oorweeg om 'n profiel saam te smelt.

Sommige het baie data na jare se navorsing gehad . Soos nou was daar dan ook diegene met minder en andere met meer akkurate data. 'n Hele paar Gurus in die stamboom wêreld speel ook van die begin af saam. Party van hulle mag dalk stil wees, maar hulle is daar en dit is 'n eer en voorreg, om hulle deelname te hê. Ons almal baat daarby.

Nie almal het ook dieselfde belangstelling in hulle stambome nie. Baie wil net hulle plek in die boom sien, of vind, om vir jare nooit weer daarna te wil, of hoef te kyk nie. Baie het op Geni met erns hulle eie navorsing begin en is besig om te groei en te leer oor hierdie wetenskap. Sommige wil net verjaarsdag-kennisgewings kry. Sommige is reeds intussen oorlede.

Die konsep van samewerking en samesmelting ("collaborate" en "merge") was (en is) redelik moeilik om te verstaan, in 'n wereld waar jou data so waardevol is en stukkie vir stukkie moeisaam, deur harde werk en baie onkostes bekom, word. Daar is diegene wat dink dat hulle goeie data het, maar dan is daar diegene wat dokument vir dokument verwerk het en elke feit sorgvuldig nagespeur en selfs besig is om boeke te skryf en oor te skryf oor wie, wie in ons voorsate was .

Vir nuwelinge is daar 'n paar moeilike konsepte. Jy weet nie wat om te verwag nie en daar is baie vrae. Wat gaan van my data word? Wat van ander mense se datums? Gaan dit myne verander as ek 'n profiel met andere deel? Verloor ek bestuur van my profiele? Wat van die sekuriteit van my data.

Wenk: As enige van die bogenoemde probleme of vrae op jou van toepassing is, dan is die antwoord dat jy jou navorsing in jou eie databasis moet hou. Daar is verskeie programme daarvoor ontwerp. Geni is nie daarvoor ontwerp nie en werk op 'n basis van samewerking.

Dan is daar die wat net hulle eie ding wil doen en hulle eie stamboom wil bou en hulle is besorg daaroor om hulle goed te moet deel. Vir hulle spesifiek is hierdie webwerf 'n uitnodiging en herinnering dat "Afrikaners is plesierig en dan maak hulle so..." Kom bou saam en werk saam aan een van die mees aangryplike projekte en die herskryf van die mensdom se geskiedenis. "Solving geneology" ... die konsep wat ontwikkel is 'n geneologiese 'wikipedia'.


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South Africans' Geni Landing Site. WELKOM CUZZINS!
First port of call for South African GENi