Wednesday, August 17, 2011 - It's not Just Me Afterall

There has been a lot of controvery about's announcement on their Blog 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 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 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 is doing this) to try to own as much genealogy as possible.

With that said, I became a 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 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 database and now 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 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. 


  1. Ginger, I agree with you. I am very frustrated and embarrassed that I have to explain these new Geni developments to my family when I was the one who convinced them to join in the first place.

  2. Hi Amy, I am always surprised to see that my family members are still looking at the site. I've kind of left it as "don't ask don't tell" for now and let them decide what they want to do. They might find the Universal Tree aspect to be a valuable tool. a kegger partying fool you were huh? Learn something new every day!

  3. I upgraded to Pro just before this happened. I am NOT AT ALL happy with this. I don't have a big tree there, so I don't think I will worry. It can just sit there and change the way anyone wished to change it. I am "disacknowledging" this tree. I won't be going back to

  4. Yes, I think they will be losing a lot of customers with these new changes. It is already evident in the increase in traffic at other places like Thanks for reading and commenting :-)

  5. Very interesting to hear from someone who recognized the problems early on. I love collaborative research, but not collaborative trees and especially anything that remotely smacks of a One World Tree. Sorry to hear that people are messing with your tree.

  6. Thanks Greta, they can have at it I guess. I just feel bad for my family who have entered information on their in-laws and their children. Information that I never even got out of which I would have liked to have had!

  7. I had been away from Geni after I had entered a basic tree that dated back to 850AD. I logged on today to the message that I can only see 100 people and to find my tree went dead above my great great grandfather! If I sign up for pro, will all that data come back?


  8. Hi Tim, Your tree will probably still be there, but it has probably been modified and "taken over" by now - meaning someone has taken over ownership of may still be a co-owner. But to my knowledge, you cannot tell who made what changes to the profile or when. It's very frustrating.

  9. First time I've been bit by the bait and switch of the online behemoths.. there is something wrong with my data entries being used by the collective when I entered the data to begin with.. and then not being able to reference the data that I entered.

    All a business model, but I was never even sent an email to tell me this was happening. I haven't had an email from them since May, and those were all about telling me who's birthday and anniversary it was.

    I feel pretty jilted. Not at all excited about signing on, that's for sure.

  10. Tim yes I was very upset by the whole thing. In fact I exchanged several emails with as they had initially asked me to try their service out while it was still in beta back in 08. I started getting notifications that so and so was taking over a profile or making changes and I got worried. I am a free user as well. Now I do not want to reclaim my tree because I do not know who changed what. I'm still mad about it all.

    1. Hello to all,
      I made the mistake of joining Geni, yes l know I was stupid! I should have checked other links to see what others thought of Geni, I entered my Family Tree which went back hundreds of years I never gave anyone permission to merge my Treeyet this so called curator merged my Tree and then gave copies to over 50 people who have nothing to do with my Famil Tree, he then made changes and took over my Tree all without my permission.
      I emailed complained etc, they blocked my right to make changes edit, all because I went in and removed the names and dates on my tree so they can no longer view the names etcon my Tree, they were furious, my happy.
      The only down side is all of these other people have copies made by that very rude curator.
      I am still waiting for an apology from them regarding the unauthorized merge.