So Was I Too Rough on Geni?


In yesterday’s post Geni – Stuck on Stupid I basically did something I do from time to time: got up on my soapbox, went on a rant, a diatribe.  Everyone knows I very often tell it like it “tee eye is” as I call it. My Harper Valley PTA moment I guess. My mom was full of them which I absolutely loved because it taught me that there are times when you just have to stand up and speak your mind. But to also take responsibility for your words.

Was my rant justified? Probably? Was I being fair to Geni? I think so. Was I right? It isn’t about being right.  It is about thinking, evaluating and believe it or not, caring.

Thomas cares? Of course I do.  If I didn’t I would have ignored the entire community conversation and gone on my way with other things.  I do care and I think that there is quite a bit of good for our community that can come about from this current online conversation about Geni and its decision.

I used a lot of relationship analogies in yesterday’s post and they still hold true.  One thing with being in a relationship, that I’ve found at least, is that it should be high on conversation as well as action. When there is a falling out, though it may take time, there should be conversation. And it has been proven that when these things happen, we get introspective.  And that’s what is important – we talk, we examine, we discuss and we go on to forge those ideals which are meaningful and important to us as a community.

So here goes.  I very likely will touch upon these topics over the next few days especially with an Open Thread Thursday post (it was high time to revive that anyway):

  • Given Geni’s goal of a world collaborative family tree (and it is the goal of other vendors as well), is this even desirable or attainable? Does it have value? If you were king or queen of the genealogy world, how would you build such a “definitive” tree?
  • Are we as genealogy bloggers justified in expecting a certain level of engagement with genealogy vendors? Are we looking at this as a courtesy, an entitlement, a right? What value does such engagement have?
  • Genealogy data is very personal, despite the fact that is is just that: facts and many of which are in the public domain.  Should family historians have a sense of ownership for this data? Stewardship? Does this work for or against the collaborative family tree concept?
  • With Geni, where do you think things will be a year from now? Seriously – think about other vendors in the genealogy industry who have done stupid things. What did it take for them to be in “right relationship” with the genealogy community? Was the reputation ever restored or did they move forward with a few dings and dents?

Is the community’s relationship with Geni repairable? To an extent but it will take time. Should we continue to be critical? Yes if critical means solid evaluation of a product or company and reporting to the community especially when a company engages in certain practices. We should hold each and every vendor to the same standard.

Finally, on a more personal level, I want the community to know that despite my harsh words for Geni and even some of their team members like  George Gearhart and Grant Brunner, we are dealing with people and feelings here.  Geni, up until now, has been heavily engaged with the genealogy community and they have a great team of front line workers like Grant and George.  Seriously. I suspect they’ve been given the crap job of selling something that no one wants and the decree came down from the mountain top. I want the community to understand this and know that I’m not always the best example of how to treat a genealogy colleague.  For that I am sorry and apologize. I can empathize with them because for years I was in the same position of selling something that stunk and I had to tolerate the feedback and criticism. So all I’m asking is that when we engage with vendors and others, we try to separate out the “company” from the “people” who unfortunately have to deliver and appear to believe in a bad decision.

Disclosure:  Please see Disclosure Statements for more information on my material connection with genealogy vendors and organizations.

©2011, copyright Thomas MacEntee

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