Geni.com

April 01, 2008 By: erik Category: Family, Internet, Reviews, Stuff I Found 817 views

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Yesterday, Hubbers recommended a website called Geni.com to me. It’s a family tree management application. But it can be useful for so much more, because it allows quite a lot of information, such as birthdays, addresses, etc., to be entered about each person, which is only visible to the rest of the family. Remember how one of the benefits I found in Facebook was in storing your contact information in one place that is accessible by only the people you want it to be? Well, that’s also a benefit of Geni.com, at least for family members. There does, also, seem to be some notion of “Friends” in Geni.com, but I hope they keep that aspect of the social networking to a minimum.

I only heard about Geni.com yesterday, but I quickly filled in my immediate family (the interface is amazingly easy), and sent them all invitations to join. Most of them have already joined. My grandmother has already filled in the birth dates and places for all of my uncles, aunts, and cousins. And my second cousin once removed, Mark, the guy that sent me all the photos in my previous genealogy post, has filled in a large portion of his branch of the tree from memory, and promises to do more when he’s got the actual data in front of him.

Second Cousin, Once Removed

Geni.com will calculate this kind of stuff for you. I’d never be able to figure out Mark’s actual relationship to me on my own.

Geni.com also claims to allow export to a standard genealogy data format called GEDCOM, which, in theory, means that the information could be transferred to another genealogy application should one wish to.

Best Online Profile Question EVER

Is this not the best online profile question ever?

All-in-all, I’m quite impressed with Geni.com. I think the benefit of being able to share information to your entire family, rather than have it in a three-ring binder on my grandmother’s bookshelf, is worth any possible risk of having such information readily searchable by a third party. Their privacy policy seems pretty sound. The real benefit of this application is the collaboration aspect. The fact that my cousin Mark can fill in photos and birth places of his side of the tree, and my wife can fill in surnames of her aunts on her side, and my grandmother can enter birth and death dates of distant ancestors all to the same tree is really amazing! Every time I refreshed my view of the tree yesterday, there was more information available because a relative eight time zones away was updating the database. Very cool.

Plus, you can embed a reduced portion of the tree in your blog if you so desire.

 
  • I’ve been using Geni for a while, and though it’s been months since I’ve been back to futzing with my family tree, I do find the birthday reminder emails invaluable. One thing I wished they had (and maybe they do by now) is the ability to recognize similarities between sections of my chart and sections of others and say “hey, looks like you’re related to moondiva3751!

    Wow, somehow I managed to express a desire for a feature and at the same create a screen name for a person I’d almost certainly not want to contact.

  • And my anti-spam word is now “balls”. Heh.

    (I’ve wanted to participate in the spam word levity in the past, but found the humor much too sophisticated for me to match or even hope to follow. Thanks for bringing things down to my level!)

  • Yes, that sort of AI data mining would be invaluable. At the moment, as far as I know, you still have to sift through pages and pages of search results (there were 100 Rasmus Rasmussens already in the database, none of them “mine”) to see if someone has already entered a node in your tree.

  • …(there were 100 Rasmus Rasmussens already in the database, none of them “mine”)…

    What?! 100 Rasmus Rasmussens? Get out of town.

  • Rasmus is a really common name in Scandinavia. Rasmus Rasmussen is the equivalent of Tom Thomson or John Johnson in the US. Statistically there’s gotta be a bunch of them.

  • I joined a mailing list a while back for my family tree, but removed myself shortly afterwards. Plenty of people have the same name as me, but that doesn’t necessarily make them interesting to me. Besides, I have no need to reconstruct my family’s history – we attended a meeting back in the UK when I was a kid and found records proving that our family had been living in the same area of Devon for over 600 years. Once I found that out, I kind of lost interest.
    P.S. So glad my captcha was “dirtypony”.