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Working with Relationships

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Working with Relationships

Some of the most common questions on Geni are about the relationship calculator. This project is designed to give an overview of the relationship calculator tool and answer some of the common questions about using it.

This page is intended to be a quick reference. If you don't find your answer here, look at the Geni Help pages or start a project discussion.

Simple Overview

Geni's relationship calculator appears at the top of every profile.

  • If you are connected to the same tree as the profile, you'll see either (a) a calculated relationship, or (b) a blue box that says How are you related?
  • If you click the blue box Geni will look for a relationship. If Geni doesn't find a relationship within a set amount of time, it will change to a green box that says No path found.
  • If you not connected to the same tree as the profile, you'll see No relationship found.

Basic Concepts

Geni Help: What if there is more than one relationship path between two people?

  • Relationship paths are calculated by Geni. This means that other users cannot help you if you find a problem with a certain path.
  • The relationship calculator looks for the closest blood relationship before it looks for relationships by marriage (except your actual husband or wife).
  • Geni displays only one relationship even if there are many relationships.
  • Geni caches relationships for several weeks. Recent merges in a line can affect the result.
  • Geni limits the amount of time it spends looking for a path. Geni might not find a path or it might not find the path you expect.
  • The quality of relationship information depends on the accuracy of the links between profiles. Parent conflicts in the line can affect the relationship path.

Pinning a Relationship

Geni Help: How to Find Other People's Relationship Paths

Recalculating a Relationship

In some cases you might be able to recalculate a relationship. This functionality varies depending on (a) whether you are a PRO user, a Basic User, or a Geni volunteer curator, and (b) how recently the path has been recalculated.

If you are able to recalculate a path, you will see a recycle symbol (two arrows in a circle) next to the relationship. If you click that symbol Geni will recalculate your relationship path to that person.


  • the server updates relationships periodically
  • basic users cannot see the refresh icon
  • PRO members can force a refresh about a week after a previous refresh; the circle icon will present to them if it is available
  • Geni volunteer curators can force a refresh about a minute after a previous refresh; the circle icon will present to them if it is available

Remember: Geni looks for the shortest path, Geni uses cached paths, Geni limits the amount of time it looks for a path, and parent conflicts can affect a path. So, the re-calculated path might not be the one you were expecting.

Walking the Path

Search for discussions about Walking the Path

It is sometimes possible to "train" Geni to follow a particular path. You can do this through a process called "walking the path". When you do this, you are showing Geni the path step-by-step. Geni will then cache the path for several weeks.

To walk to path, go to Profile View for one of the profiles, then click on the next person in the path, then the next, then the next. Each time you click on a different profile Geni will calculate the relationship from the previous profile.

For many reasons, this system doesn't always work. If it doesn't, then it doesn't.

Creating a path

To connect two unconnected paths

  • - go to profile page A, pushpin, create path from A to X
  • - go to profile X, pushpin, create path from X to B
  • - go back to profile A, pushpin, go to X
  • - now just walk the path as provided in path X to B

Geni will actually optimise this path sometimes, and it will shorten it automatically, not always though.

"walking the path" means you MUST visit every profile in both paths, no shortcuts.

Understanding what "X times Removed" Means

There are a number of postings which can be found to explain the common English "relationship" text; here are a couple of them:

One mental "visualization" of "Blood" relationships is that of a simple ladder ascending from one profile (e.g. yours) through the generations to a common point, then descending back to the "other" profile. When there is an "X times removed", that means the number of steps on each "ladder" differs by "X". What the "X times removed" doesn't indicate is which side of the "ladder" is shorter than the other.

When one starts talking about in-law relationships, that simple "A-frame" ladder becomes a whole series of interconnected ladders, with some of the interconnections between the ladders being spousal/partner relationships ... which can start looking like a series of mountain ranges if the connections are drawn out.

You can use HistoryLink to help pinpoint bad relationships in the path.

Problem Profiles: This option can identify parent conflicts on direct ancestors. It can be helpful for non-curators looking to identify Zombies and Private profiles that should be Public. Future options may include adding some basic data validation for common genealogy problems that usually indicate bad data, such as people living past a certain number of years, number of children attributed to a couple being larger than a certain threshold, or children's birth dates that occur before a parent's birth or more than a year after a parent's death date.