Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Geni.com didn't ask my opinion

Rather than beef up the options on the fee-based Pro accounts, in 11 Aug 2011 post Geni Pro Just Got a Whole Lot Better Geni.com has decided to restrict options on the freebie accounts, thus effectively rendering a freebie account worthless. Geni.com users are complaining loudly (see comments to that announcement blog linked above) and many are flocking to other freebie online tree sites.

When I received the Geni.com announcement, I was stunned.
Of particular concern is the ability now granted ANY Pro Geni.com user to modify my personal tree without my permission.
Chris Witten of WikiTree.com (a Geni.com competitor) made comments (now removed from the FB lineup) that he had noticed a sizable flock of Geni.com users moving to his free WikiTree.com site. To this I replied on Facebook:
The concept of my online tree being essentially hijacked by another pro user's merging of data really steams me. We've got to learn how to use the cloud and collaborate without sacrificing control of our own data. THIS is why PC-based genealogy software isn't going away anytime soon.
A leading GeneaBlogger wondered why the genealogy blogosphere had been essentially quiet on the subject with so much happening as a result of Geni.com's ill-fated announcement. To this I replied:

I think what we've learned is that if a genealogy website wants to make a major change, it should do it in the summer when typically we're all too busy with vacations to complain much. We're doing family reunions and tromping through those cemeteries we couldn't visit during the inclement winter months.

My response was swift and sure -- though on FB, where I tend to post some things now more frequently than in my blog. (I knew I would be away from my keyboard most of the day yesterday, and didn't want to hold back on receiving comments from people.)  
My DearREADERS, you can follow that thread of responses over on my Facebook page:

In his post Geni Changes, Tamura Jones explains:
One reason for this change, not mentioned in the blog post, perhaps because Geni.com assumed everyone already understood that, yet stated in comments, is that Pro users no longer have to worry about people that won’t reply on merge requests. This is, or rather was, a common complaint of Geni.com users.
Please note the updates with additional information on the bottom of Tamura's article.

Randy Seaver is likewise concerned, though he said in "Geni Pro Just got a Whole Lot Better." But what about Geni Free?
The AncestorSync program has potential to help me add content to the tree, but it is still in development and beta testing. So I'm waiting for AncestorSync to work flawlessly by interfacing with my RootsMagic tree and the Geni tree.  When it does, I will use AncestorSync to add content to my Geni tree.
My thoughts followed Randy's:
Maybe it is in anticipation of increased server usage when AncestorSync goes live that Geni.com made this change? Obviously Geni.com hopes every freebie account will move on up to the Pro side.
There is also concern about how one must have a Pro account to search the entire Geni.com site of online trees. To this I reply:
Restricting collaboration to those with Pro accounts sorta defeats the purpose of a freebie account, doesn't it Geni.com? How will anyone see a benefit of going Pro?
Restricting a freebie account to three generations doesn't give a freebie user enough ancestors to find possible matches either, particularly as younger folks join in the mix.

Last week, Ol' Myrt here was interviewed for an upcoming episode of Geni.com's podcast. The airing of that podcast may imply I approve of the Geni.com changes in account services, which I do not. During the podcast, I specifically recommend maintaining an online tree for the ability to collaborate with other researchers. 

Recouping from this faux pas isn't impossible. Geni.com needs to reverse its policy change and immediately institute a plan to vet major changes with its choice of leading genealogy bloggers who have a long tradition of understanding what their readers want from genealogy vendors.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt     :)
Your friend in genealogy.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. When FamilySearch started new.FamilySearch the caution to the members was: do no use this as your source of your personal family tree. If you do not not have your own get PAF or one of the other affiliate software companies for keeping your personal family tree on. As it has grown and more people use it offering differing opinions, I see why using the internet for your tree is not a good idea other than collaborating with others.

  3. I will be very curious to see how they handle the reaction to these changes. Companies make mistakes, but it's in the handling of the aftermath that you find out who you're really dealing with.

  4. I barely have time for PC based files and couldn't imagine not having complete control over my tree.I can only blame myself for questionable entries.No cloud climbing for me.

  5. Why don't we all unite in a Facebook group or something like that?
    Today I cancelled my automatic Pro account renewal.

  6. Tree hijacking can be a real problem, especially if someone is not scrupulous about sources, etc. I had a tree on geni.com. A cousin innocently uploaded his gedcom but didn't do it correctly, resulting in duplication of some data and deletion of other data. Neither one of us could get it sorted out completely. That is an example of how even a well-meaning "hijacker" can mess things up.

  7. @Hummer, I could be wrong, but I don't recall seeing that disclaimer when I signed up for Geni. I don't use it for my main database, thank goodness, and I now feel very sorry for those who do.

    @Kerry, I so agree. I do hope that Geni will see how unhappy their users are and make amends.

    @Geneatherapist, good luck with your new journey!

  8. I am rather smitten with the intelligence shown by New FamilySearch and its integration with desktop software. We have our own trees, as usual, plus collaboration online while maintaining 'ownership' and being given credit for our contributions to the bigger picture. It looks very good already and is bound to get better.

  9. I am just upset with Geni because their goal is a "world family tree". Well that's not my goal so I would like to pull my tree. The problem is that pulling your tree takes your whole family. I at least got all my photos deleted today, but I can't even find how to delete the profiles I control. When I try to delete my account it asks if I want to transfer the profiles I control to someone else, or to the public domain. I want neither; I want them deleted. Time magazine had rated this web site as one of the best years ago and that's why I tried it. I thought I was assured then my info was private. What a joke! Thanks for letting me rant.

  10. This is the reason I do not like online trees (apart from the face that so many are badly sourcd and often wildly inaccurate, and are encouraged to copy one anothers mistakes). The same thing happened when MyHeritage took over Gencircles a few years back. I had a tree on Gencircles, but can't access it on MyHeritage because it exceeds their size limits on free trees.

    The owners of such sites also try to restrict collaboration among genealogists by only allowing you to contact other genealogists if you pay them. See Geni.com — a flawed site | Hayes & Greene family history.