Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Official Response from

My mistake. I had thought to use as a genealogy research collaboration site for posting my tree and hoping for communication with a heretofore unknown distant cousin that may have inherited the family bible or an ancestral tintype. After reading through Geni George's official response to me, Ol' Myrt here stands corrected.

If you'd like to read Geni George's response to my previous blog post, didn't ask my opinion see:

After looking at things from Geni George's point of view, I better understand the intention of the site. Then it all makes perfect sense. See this from George's comment:
"Geni has always had the vision of a shared tree.  This is something that we have been trying really hard to communicate over the past year, and most of the bloggers we have been working with have failed to understand it:  we view the tree as "everyone's" tree, not "your" tree or "my" tree.  This is such a paradigm shift for genealogists, and we feel like it is vital for people to understand that the wiki vision disregards the notion of sole ownership.  Does this make sense?"
If genealogy bloggers have "failed to understand it" then I guess has wasted time marketing to genealogy researchers such as dedicated genealogists so motivated as to write blogs about all things genealogical.

I think of my tree as my research. I do get that I don't own my genealogy, indeed I share my heritage with many other descendants, most of whom I don't know. However, I am doing research, and if every time I come back to look at my online tree things have been merged without logic discernible by me, there is chaos. I may eventually get to the same conclusion as another researcher, but isn't the environment for such researcher collaboration.

Hmmm, Ol' Myrt sees a conflict here. In this paragraph, George explains they are going for "serious genealogists".

Geni George says "We made this change as part of our ongoing attempts to make our business model one that is sustainable for decades to come.  Some have pointed out that they think we are doing this for short term revenue gain, which is not true.  And when we make adjustments to our business model in the future, people will speculate, but the fact will remain that we are simply trying to remain a viable business by providing features that serious genealogists find valuable." [Emphasis added.] 

But then in response to the following question, Geni George explains's focus is really on basic users who are working on a "social network for families," which in my mind is reaching out to living generations and not doing ancestral research.

[Myrt wrote] Restricting collaboration to those with Pro accounts sorta defeats the purpose of a freebie account, doesn't it How will anyone see a benefit of going Pro?

[Geni George replied] First, we feel that allowing Basic users to build out to their 3rd great grandparents and fourth cousins provides a very ample opportunity to determine whether Geni is a suitable solution for building a family tree.  Second, while you and almost every other commenter on this blog post are more serious about genealogy than the average person, it must be noted that the vast majority of our users are participating as part of their close family network; a social network for families, if you may. [Emphasis added.] By far, most of Geni's users are unaffected by the changes we made last week."


If that vast majority of users wasn't affected by the change, then this means the vast majority of users are not genealogists. I don't want to collaborate with non-genealogists. I use Facebook to network effectively with my non-genealogist living family members.

It is then only the vociferous genealogists using who are complaining.

So basically,  genealogists shouldn't be angry with We are mistakenly trying to use the service -- one that was designed to bring current living family members closer together -- mistakenly for genealogy research collaboration. (Did I say mistakenly?) There are viable alternatives.

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


  1. Excellent comment and clarification on Thank you for helping to demystify the situation.

  2. Whoa. I've followed this whole thing with only mild interest, since I'm not a Geni user and am in general unlikely to use an online tree.

    But this? This is fascinating. Because if they're trying to make a social networking site for living people...yeah, good luck with that. Because that Zuckerberg dude and/or the Winklevoss twins already have that covered, and I certainly don't need another unnecessary social network.

    I wonder if this was REALLY the plan all along, or if it's a shift in direction and they just don't want to say so.

  3. I had thought to use Geni too, not anymore!! thanks for posting this!!!1

  4. I knew from the get go that having two goals - that of providing a social networking opportunity for cousins - and that of providing a genealogy collaboration - was going to be something to watch out for, knowing that someday there would be some way the site would try to make money. I was hoping it would be with advertisements (and a fee for avoiding the advertisements) instead of this. It did worry me that it would be "our tree" instead of "my tree", but I figure that what I have on my database at home is protected, and by sharing my tree, other collaborators can help correct and enhance the info I have added. You are right, this change certainly makes it sound like they would prefer to make it a networking thing (or maybe they figured out that genealogists would be more willing to pay for the genealogy stuff).

  5. Time to put Geni back in the bottle!

  6. I joined Geni about 2 years ago, before getting on facebook, as a way for kinfolks to find out about their ancestry without having to get a Ancestry account or some other such account.

    Until I read this post, I hadn't been on Geni in eons. I only ever had the free account, and since I obviously wasn't using the darn thing, decided to close the account.

  7. Hey Myrt!

    I think sharing with your non-genealogist family members has lots of value.

    You can't share private family history through Facebook. The privacy settings there are all wrong for it (and wrong for other reasons, but that's a whole other story). So, if you're looking for what Mavis was looking for, i.e. a convenient online way to share the genealogy research you've collected with your loved ones, then I think you do need something that's different from your desktop family tree software,, or Facebook.

    Naturally, my vision for that something is, not Geni. :-)

    There's collaboration that can happen with your non-genealogist family members too. They might not ever become genealogists and may not do any research. But they can enrich profiles of people in your modern family history with photos, personal memories, and tidbits of information that you might be missing.