|Type||Privately held company|
|Headquarters||Los Angeles, California, USA|
|Founder(s)||David O. Sacks
|General manager||Michael Stangel (USA)|
|Industry||Genealogy, Social networking services|
|Alexa rank||7,595 (May 2015[update])|
Geni is a commercial genealogy and social networking website, owned by Israeli private company MyHeritage. Launched on January 16, 2007, the Web 2.0 company stated that it aimed to create a family tree of the world. While family profiles are private, Geni’s mission is to create a shared family tree of common ancestors. By combining research into a single tree that users work on together, users can focus on verifying information and on new avenues of research, rather than spending time duplicating research that others have already done. Over 98.6 million profiles were created on Geni by over 5.8 million users as of December 2010. Geni was the original parent company of enterprise messaging service Yammer, which became part of Microsoft on July 19, 2012. In November 2012, Geni was acquired by MyHeritage.
Basic (free) members can build a tree, offering an unlimited number of profiles, basic support, merging of trees (linking of duplicates), and uploading up to 1GB of media. The Pro subscription removes the media upload restrictions and adds premium support, enhanced searching, and tree matching, which identifies duplicate trees that could be merged.
At the website users enter names and email addresses of their parents, siblings, and other relatives, as well as profiles with various fields of biographical information about themselves and their relatives. From there users may graphically manipulate sections of their connections network to create a complete personal family tree.
The service uses the contact information to invite additional members to join, and builds a comprehensive social network database from the information collectively entered by members. For now users may only see information belonging to themselves and to people in their immediate network who have given them permission.
Family Tree Awards
Members of each family are ranked by the number of contributions they make to the family tree and are given awards within the family tree itself. Contributions categories include Number of Profiles Added, Number of Invitations Made, Photos Uploaded, Videos Uploaded etc. The top 13 people in each category receive awards. This feature urges users to generate more contact and to compete with each other.
Discussion forums and projects
Each family tree features a family discussion forum where messages can be posted and responses made. It can be used as such a digest for family news. There are also public discussions, profile specific discussions, and project discussions.
Projects are special interest groups organized around historical topics (e.g. "World War One - Casualties"), immigration patterns (e.g. "Norwegian American"), occupations (e.g. "Librarians"), place-names (e.g. "Christ Church College, Oxford University"), or any other subject of general interest that will foster social discussion among members, as well as providing a portal to which biographical profiles may be linked.
Each person who has linked to their family tree via their email address can elect to be notified about various activities on the tree, such as when new people are added, if any pictures are uploaded, when someone posts a message on the discussion forum, or someone has a birthday etc. Notification frequency options include none, instant, daily and weekly.
While Geni has the ability to allow users to import their family history using the GEDCOM format, this facility has been "temporarily"[update] disabled for almost 4 years. Geni found it was duplicating thousands of existing profiles, without adding much (or any) new information. They plan to re-enable GEDCOM imports once they rewrite the importer to take the close family profiles and screen out the rest.
Around August 2008, Geni facilitated the ability to merge family trees where they overlapped via common ancestors or living relatives. Individual privacy is maintained by settings that allow tree members beyond a selectable distance of relationship to only see limited information about a person such as their name and relationship to them.
World Family Tree
The rate at which these extended trees grow tends to increase as the trees become larger. Some extended trees or "forests" have snowballed. One in particular has become significantly larger than any other. As of January 27, 2009 it contained 7.7 million profiles and was growing at the rate of approximately 2 million profiles per month. On July 11 it surpassed 20 million profiles and on August 16 it crossed 23 million profiles. At the end of February 2010 it had passed 35 million profiles and by the end of that year it was just short of 50 million.
The large tree is colloquially referred to by many Geni genealogists monitoring this phenomenon as "The Big Tree" or the "World Family Tree". Genealogists can "walk the tree" from one end to the other, or "up" toward the past and then back "down" to the present on another line. Within this tree, people are either connected by "bloodlines" or through marriage. Bloodlines (which can include adoptions and illegitimacy, either acknowledged or unacknowledged) are represented by names in blue; marriage connections are represented by names having a new colour for each marriage. "Straight blue line" relationships are those have a high likelihood of shared DNA, although DNA connections cannot be proven by genealogy, only by DNA tests.
Geni also features a section in which one can view the top profiles on the website. The top profiles include U.S. presidents, athletes, and other famous people such as inventors or historians. Examples: George Washington, Babe Ruth, Thomas Edison, and Benjamin Franklin. Geni users can find out if and how they are related to such persons via their existing connections in the World Family Tree.
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