There has been a lot of controvery about Geni.com's announcement on their Blog Geni.com Pro Just Got a Whole Lot Better which says that from now on any Pro user will be able to make changes to MY tree without my permission and free account holders can no longer post profiles past your 3rd great grandfather. You can read Geneablogger’s Geni – Stuck on Stupid blog post, DearMYRTLE’s Geni.com didn’t ask my opinion, Randy Seaver’s What about Geni Free? post and so on to hear some bloggers’ reactions. I’ve actually been complaining about Geni.com for months now but I seemed to have been the only one who thought there was a problem.
I had been keeping my comments to myself thus far because I had not seen any effects of this other than the usual several requests a month from people wanting to merge my people with their people. However today I went into my (free) account and saw a "revisions" tab. When I clicked on it, I was surprised to see that 142 changes had been made to my tree, including ones in which someone had changed the parents of my ancestors. NOT OK.
First of all, I do not believe in the Universal Tree. I think this failed miserably with Ancestry's WorldOneTree which used algorithms to piece same names together. Secondly, I think this is an effort for a company (and I'm not necessarily saying Geni.com is doing this) to try to own as much genealogy as possible.
With that said, I became a Geni.com user early on when it was still in beta after weighing my options for several months. I even convinced my family members to join and they have been adding their family members to it as well. But I stopped using it as soon as I "accidentally" accepted to collaborate with someone and then everyone they collaborated with started making changes to MY tree. My family members started emailing me and asking me why people we didn’t know were making changes to our tree. I tried to talk to geni.com and I couldn’t get any straight answers. Had I known when I joined in August 2008 what their intentions would be, I would not have gone through all of the trouble to set my tree up on this site and to invite my family members to join.
I’m pretty disappointed and nagged by this because I feel like the free users are the ones who put most of the content into the geni.com database and now geni.com is selling this to the pro account users. I feel like this should have been disclosed 3 years ago when I joined. I understand that plans change and technology changes, but I feel like there should have been an opt out option. I was already hesitant about putting my tree online and the only reason I chose geni.com was because it WAS PRIVATE. Amy Coffin of the We Tree Blog mentioned her disappointment over the lack of privacy controls as well in her Where Keggers and Social Genealogy Intersect post. Now I have to try to explain to all my family members what these changes mean and let them know that they don’t have to upgrade to a Pro account if they do not want to.