One thing I want to do is with this blog is take a look at some of the different websites I use or have used over the years. There is nothing Brooklyn Genealogy specific about these sites, but they have been a big help. Right now I want to write about Geni.com.
Years ago the Ancestry.com family tree was almost impossible to track a family with. You could only view the current “pedigree” version of the tree which only show an immediate family. Husband, wife, kids. At the time I was using Geni.com, which allows you to build a normal viewable family all on one screen. I would print out each separate section of the tree that I was researching at the time, and be able to quickly check relations, dates of birth, date, marriage etc etc. It didn’t take long before a had around 200 ancestors in the family tree.
As times changed, so did the Geni.com tree, which now only lets you add 100 family members in its free version. There was a time I paid for a year of membership to see if their version of “member connect” would match me up with distant family members building trees on the Geni site.
Unfortunately, somebody decided that I was related to them, and connected my family to theres. Long story short, I now have an additional 250 people in my family tree that are obviously not related to me. They are from Indiana. They were in Indiana way before my people came from Germany, and they are still in that part of the country. My family came from Germany and went straight to Red Hook, Brooklyn, and stayed there. None of the brothers and sisters in that family tree match any of the siblings in my tree. With all that being said, I guess Geni allows people to just go and attach trees for any reason, and now I am stuck with an entire tree full of relatives that I’m not related to because we both happen to have a John Zimmerman in our pool of ancestors.
I’m sure there is some way to undo this problem, but I can’t figure it out to save my life. I can’t even delete the members of the tree, presumably because I am not a paying member anymore and can not alter my over 100 member family tree. Whatever the problem is, it has kept me away from their website for a long time now.
Everything they do on Geni.com now has been replicated by Ancestry.com as far as I can tell. I think they charge a comparable price with almost none of the content that Ancestry offers. They have done one good thing though. If you follow the Geni.com Facebook Page, you will get the little profile matches that connect random famous people. Something crazy like, “See how Mitt Romney is related to Barrack Obama”. Apparently they have genealogists that just focus on building as large a tree as possible for every known person that’s ever lived. When they make a connection, they post the link. They also have the market cornered on the “how are you related to this famous historical person” angle. The idea is that everybody is related to everybody else.
There is a certain logic out there that says if you multiply the amount of ancestors you have for 25 generations, that the number (over 33 Million) is some multiple of the earths population. So basically, allowing for geographic constraints, everybody is related to everybody else, having several different mutual 25 x great parents. It seems Geni.com would like to connect it’s members to some of the more famous historical members of their trees, aswell as with each other. Ancestry.com would be wise to attack this method of interaction with it’s members.
Besides that, Geni.com does not have any advantage over the Ancestry.com tree or service, and that angle, in part at least, can be followed on Facebook by liking the Geni fan page.
If you are one of those that have traced your ancestors back to around the 1700’s then you may want to go and enter those names into the free version of the Geni tree and see if you merge with some historical persons tree. Or some current celebrities tree. Take care not to waste your 100 by drifting off into cousins, etc. But maybe they won’t allow a merge even with a match if you are not a paid member. Who knows. All in all, I am pretty upset with the Geni site, and they get no trafiic or money from me anymore.
Please share any corrections, comments or experiences on this subject. Thank You!