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Geni combines family-tree building tools with community collaboration. It allows you to build a tree, add photos and videos, and then to work collaboratively with other members to fill in the gaps. A new automated matching system also provides suggestions on potential relatives and tree branches which you might have missed.
The site offers free membership, although this is very limited. You can begin to build a basic tree and invite other members to join you. You’ll get the most from this site if you already know that a decent number of your family members are signed up. You can then share your images, memories, videos and more, building a more complete picture of your ancestors. Members are able to upload unlimited media, if they wish.
If you’ve already done considerable work on your family tree, you can upload your GEDCOM files to your Geni.com account. This means you won’t lose any research you’ve done or will do once you’ve switched over. There are more than 140 million profiles to explore too, which means the likelihood of you finding other relatives is pretty high.
A 14 day free trial of the full pro membership is available. This allows you to explore the site completely and to give the tools a test run. The family tree builder is better than many out there, but we’re not completely convinced about the merging of trees. This can lead to some errors if another person has not completed theirs properly, and it also means your information is available to others. Although the site claims you can keep your information private, sharing your data might make this more difficult, and some users have complained that their ancestors’ profiles and biographies have been “taken over” by people who aren’t related to them, or who have a different spin on their lives.
Joining isn’t particularly difficult but you do need to include your credit card information. It’s important to remember to cancel the free trial if you don’t want to be stung with a big bill, as membership is charged per year and is over $100.
If you wish to collaborate on your family tree with your living relatives and friends, Geni might be a good option for you. You can upload unlimited photos and videos, plus add notes and share stories, building a fairly complete picture of a person. However, there isn’t a large data bank of historical documents and reports, which means a lot of the research can be hearsay and guesswork. As such, this is a useful tool for reconnecting with family and remembering your relatives, but it’s not necessarily the most accurate tool for historic research.
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