Geni.com — a flawed site

I was doing an internet search for Growden / Growdon families, on which I’m doing a one-name study in the hope of being able to link the different branches together.

I came across a reference to a Nancy Growden, in a family tree on a site called Geni.com.

I wanted to contact the person who posted the tree, but the only way I could do that was by actually becoming a member of Geni.com. It seemed easy enough to join, and looked quite interesting so I thought I might as well join and see what it was like.

But I had let myself in for a frustrating couple of days.

The registration asked me to upload a GEDCOM file, so I did.

It then asked me to identify myself on the GEDCOM file I had just uploaded by choosing my name from a list.

The choices on the list were the wrong person, or an undefined person.

But by the time it had finally assimilated the GEDCOM file it had me as the wrong person — my wife’s 5-great grandfather, born in 1640. Then began a frustrating search through help and faq files to find out how to correct this. But since I couldn’t find myself on the tree I had just uploaded, there wouldn’t be much point in trying to correct it anyway.

Eventually I decided to delete the entire thing, and try again, registering from scratch, uploading the GEDCOM file again, and waiting a few hours for it to be assimilated.

But the same thing happened, only this time it identified me as my second cousin once removed.

I decided to waste no more time on it, and delete the account for the second time.

But then I saw the message saying that I could ask for assistance in correcting the problem.

Well, I tried that, and then came the real kicker. In order to ask for help to find out how to correct the errors their clunky and faulty program had made, I would need to sign up for a “premium” account at $9.95 a month. Now that sounds like a scam. Offer someone something free, but broken. Then when they discover it’s broken and are about to toss it, offer to fix it if they agree to pay an exorbitant monthly fee! There’s chutzpah for you!

If I try something free, and it works well, and I use it a lot, I’ll consider paying for it. That’s the shareware principle. I’ve done that with two genealogy programs I use all the time — Family History System and Legacy. I used the free version of each for a couple of years, and decided I was going to go on using them, so I sent the money. But that was after I had used them and was satisfied that they worked well.

But when, like Geni.com, they ask money for something that I’ve discovered works badly from the get-go, thanks but no thanks!

And if they’ve tried one scam, maybe they’ll try two — I hope that when I closed my account they deleted my GEDCOM file and the information they imported from it into their database, but perhaps they are the kind of unscrupulous people who will keep that information and then try to sell it to someone else.

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