Last year, I started building a family tree at Geni. It was my little private tree as I built it up. Earlier this month, I pulled off the dust cloths and introduced the little tree to my family.
My expectations were minimal. I just wanted to use Geni as a repository and back-up site for all of the family photos that were coming in from all sides. Any time I make contact with a distant cousin, there are always photos to exchange. This Geni tree would help me share those with my family.
I also wanted a location for basic information on my ancestors. This tree is not sourced. The audience does not care about sources. Not every one in my family is interested in this history, but their kids, grandkids, etc. might be. I just wanted a static place where this information would always be available for those who wanted it.
The results were positive. People joined, commented and looked at pictures. Some added family members. My dad was able to get my mom's side of the family in on it. She has a gazillion first cousins, so I now have a gazillion first cousins once removed.
I built my tree carefully. I entered all living people using their first names only. When they were invited to the tree, they could change their names, add last names or do whatever they wanted to their profiles. I just didn't feel comfortable doing it for them.
As for the deceased members of the tree, well they got the full treatment. I'm trying to build a little profile of each person. All of their pictures are tagged. Obituaries are added if I have them. I'm trying to rebuild their lives through the events timeline. I add census information when I can. I add a little to the tree each morning so there is always something new to look at. That's my m.o.: telling the stories of those who can't.
I'm still a little suspect of Geni. I have all my account preferences set pretty much as private as they can be. I'm hoping others know how to do the same. I don't like all the emails Geni generates. I'm hoping others know how to fix that and don't think I'm the one sending them (go to Settings, people!).
Some of the bugs are frustrating. My updates aren't showing up, so nobody can see what I've added on a given day. Yesterday, all the profile pictures I added disappeared. I added them again today, but you wouldn't know it from the updates.
Geni is like family. It has faults, but I like it anyway.