Wednesday, August 17, 2011

You could've at least taken me to dinner first ...

I don't purport to be an expert on ... well, anything ... and I'm pretty sure I don't carry as much weight (geneablogger-ly-speaking) as Thomas MacEntee, or DearMYRTLE, Elizabeth O'Neal, or Amy Coffin, but I'm going to put my 2 cents in anyway.

I originally uploaded my GEDCOM to about 2 years ago (when membership was free) just to try it out.  I wasn't a big fan of the layout, and the whole process seemed rather clunky to me from a usability perspective.  So I neglected ignored my tree until a few months ago, when all the hoopla about AncestorSync erupted.  Needless to say, that still hasn't gotten out of beta, so my tree continued to sit there ...

With's recent announcement about the changes for Pro users, I was taken aback for several reasons.  First, when I originally signed on with, I was under the impression that my tree was MY tree.  Not part of a global "world tree."  And that I would have sole control over my research, being able to merge or collaborate as I saw fit.  Fast forward 2 years ... now the rules have changed.  The TOS should have mentioned I would need lube.

Over the past week, I have briefly commented on a couple of posts made by Amy Coffin and Elizabeth O'Neal about my frustrations with the news, but have otherwise bitten my tongue.  Mainly because I don't like to badmouth companies who are just trying to make a buck.  

I just saw Tamura Jones' mention on Google+ about a message from the CEO of with some clarification regarding the recent changes to
"The changes we made last week were designed to accelerate our progress towards our goal of a single, accurate family tree. By limiting the creation of new historical profiles to Pro users, the number of new duplicate profiles will be significantly reduced. And because of their new permissions, Pro users can now merge existing duplicates faster and more effectively. In fact, merging has increased by 75% because of these changes." (emphasis added)
I bet it has.  If I had the ability to hack everyone else's tree, my merging would probably increase by 75% too.  Fortunately, all those darn duplicates will be eliminated because no one with a PAID account would possibly upload a duplicate profile.  Right?

CEO Noah Tutak goes on to say:
"We understand that users who have entrusted Geni with their data are frustrated that they can no longer merge with other trees or add distant relatives with a free account. However, I do want to clear up a few misconceptions about the changes that we made:
  • Viewing and editing permissions were not changed at all. All users can still view and edit the same profiles they could before last week.
  • GEDCOM export is still a free feature, as it was before the changes. All users can export a GEDCOM of their tree.
  • All users can use the “Managed by Me” tab to search for profiles they manage."
I want to clear up a misconception for Mr. Tutak:  I wasn't frustrated that I couldn't merge or edit or add distant relatives.  I was frustrated because the research that I spent so much of my incredibly-hard-to-come-by time compiling and analyzing over the last 10+ years was going to be chum in the waters for a feeding frenzy of geneasharks who, because they have a paid account, their research is deemed more accurate than my own.  Whether they bother to source their facts or not.  If's goal is to have a "single, accurate family tree," they better start hiring people to verify facts and sources.  Otherwise, it's just going to be a free-for-all of merge/edit battles, which will eventually blow up in their collective faces. (Of the many merge requests I have received, NONE have offered proof of their data.  None.  Zero.  Even after I requested it.)

Now, I am in the process of deleting every individual on my tree (one by one, which is excruciatingly time-consuming, because even if I cancel my account, I cannot delete my entire tree).  This was a decision I made based upon one simple fact: Pro users have carte blanche to edit/merge MY profiles however and whenever they wanted.  

Incidentally, why is it considered a "bonus" that I can search my own profiles, or export my own GEDCOM?  I can already do both of those things with my offline genealogy program.  I will say this ... the inability for a freebie member to search the entire site for matches to their tree will end up costing money ... why would someone pay to join a site when they can't see a potential benefit?  I can understand not giving permission to merge or edit other profiles, but not being able to see them at all?  Gimme a break.

So ... see ya,  I'll stick with my WikiTree profile.  It's still free.  And it's still mine.

Thanks, Thomas, for letting me borrow your soap box.


Elizabeth O'Neal said...

"No one with a PAID account would possibly upload a duplicate profile."

HA! Like Find A Grave, right? Entire cemeteries are duplicated! ROTFLMAO!

And just to be clear, I carry absolutely no weight whatsoever. Except on my own bones. ;-)

Everything else you've said = AGREED!

Geni George said...


I'll take you to dinner. I hope you're still following along and contributing to the conversation on the Geni blog. We have some fixes that we're releasing today that should make searching and finding your profiles easier. There were some unexpected difficulties surrounding that when we made the account updates.

It's also important to understand that Geni considers the profiles to be "OUR" profiles (not Geni's, but everyone's). That's so much different than the "MY" and "YOUR" tree philosophy that most genealogists have, and it seems that a lot of people have trouble understanding that. I'm happy to talk more with you about it if you think it would help.

Thanks for taking the time to write and care about Geni.

Chris Whitten said...

Thanks for the nice mention of WikiTree, Jenny. I'm glad you're part of our community.

Unknown said...

Thanks for taking the time to comment, George. I do appreciate it. Unfortunately, I don't think it will make a difference at this point. I'm all about sharing. I just don't think that my hard work (and proof) should be so easily discounted because I'm not a Pro user. Take away the merge-on-a-whim option and make it so I can search the entire site, and I might consider returning. Heck, I might even become a paying customer. And you won't even have to spring for a meal.

Unknown said...

Chris, thanks for stopping by!

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