Genealogists tend to be a little nearsighted in their use of online genealogical tools. They get comfortable with one or two websites and seem to ignore the rest. Geni.com has been online since 2007. Here is a statement about the website's goal from the website:
Geni is solving the problem of genealogy by inviting the world to build the definitive online family tree. Using the basic free service at Geni.com, users add and invite their close relatives to join their family tree. All Geni users can share photos, videos, and documents with their families. Geni’s Pro subscription service allows users to find matching trees and merge those into the single world family tree, which currently contains over 100 million living users and their ancestors. Additional pay services include enhanced research tools and premium support. Geni welcomes casual genealogists and experts who wish to discover new relatives and stay in touch with family. Geni is privately held and based in Los Angeles, California.
In November 2012, Geni was acquired by MyHeritage Ltd. and is now a MyHeritage company.MyHeritage.com recently used the content of this huge single world family tree with other sources to create the new Theory of Family Relativity DNA analysis tool. One thing that distinguishes the Geni family tree from other "universal" family trees such as the FamilySearch.org Family Tree, is that Geni.com works on two levels: the free level allows the user to enter and maintain their own individual family tree and the Geni Pro level is a subscription-based moderated and curated experience in building the world family tree.
One key to the Geni.com experience is the staff of curators. Here is a brief description of the curator's job from the website.
The goal of Geni has always been to create a shared family tree, so our users around the world can meet new cousins and discover how they relate to historical figures as well as well-known contemporary public figures. Geni designated a group of experienced users as Curators to help achieve this goal. Similar to Wikipedia administrators, Geni Curators are volunteer Geni users granted special privileges by Geni to help maintain and improve the quality and accuracy of the Geni World Family Tree.
Geni Curators are specially selected based on their integrity and the quality of their work on Geni. Candidate Curators undergo a nomination and voting process. Accepted Geni Curators are formally appointed and, like Geni Employees, they sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) with the company to ensure they protect data confidentiality.Here are some of the things Curators can do that shows the major differences between the world family tree on Geni.com and the Family Tree on FamilySearch.org.
Curators have the following privileges:As you can likely tell from this list, the Geni.com experience is vastly different than other websites such as FamilySearch.org Family Tree. However, the FamilySearch.org Family Tree is entirely free and do not have anything corresponding to a moderator or curator level of usage. However, any comparison is not really possible because the usage and goal of both are extremely different.
Each of these privileges also contains safeguards to make sure that they are not used irresponsibly, even by accident. As expected, Curators have already had a significant impact on the quality of the data on Geni.
- Designate Master Profiles and, optionally, lock them down so that only Curators can edit and merge them.
- Add curator notes to profiles to help prevent bad merges and edits.
- View and edit any profile including Private Profiles when requested by a user.
- Merge duplicate historical profiles and connect new users to the World Family Tree.
- Convert historical living profiles to deceased.
- Convert deceased famous and historical profiles to public (if they don't have any close relatives on Geni)
I think there is definitely a place for a universal family tree such as the one being built by Geni.com. I get Record Matches on MyHeritage.com from the Geni.com family tree and those can be extremely useful. If you are a frustrated FamilySearch Family Tree user, you might want to consider working on Geni.com. Of course, you will have to accept the fact that full use of the program will cost some money and take some real effort.