Geni.com Review 2023
Suppose you're interested in tracing and building your own family tree. In that case, there is no shortage of online platforms that make this exciting investigation straightforward while allowing you to probe deeper into your past than ever before.
With so many platforms to choose from, it can be tricky to know if you've made the right choice, so today we're going to review Geni.com, a world family tree resource with over 115 million profiles, assessing how it works, its pros and cons and how it stacks up against the competition.
Who Is Geni.com?
Geni.com's world family tree was founded in 2006 and purchased by MyHeritage in 2012. MyHeritage is one of the biggest consumer DNA testing platforms, and its online community is home to 103 million users with 87 million family trees.
Geni.com is a platform that allows its users to be part of something called a world family tree. Instead of creating your own family tree in isolation, you will contribute to a single tree comprised of our collective family history.
They are not a data repository site like Ancestry.com, which is home to a deep array of family records and resources but is focused solely on the collaborative process of family tree building.
Geni.com is full of like-minded genealogists like you, and you can find a wealth of knowledge to help solve your queries and further your investigations in their public discussion forums. Going it alone can be difficult, but this feature means there are plenty of passionate helping hands you can reach out to and learn from.
How Does The Geni.com Test Work?
Though primarily a shared family tree builder, their partnership with MyHeritage means they are a third-party vendor for their official DNA tests as well as DNA tests.
There are nine separate DNA tests, varying from a basic paternal line Y-DNA37 test which examines your history from 37 genetic markers with two more comprehensive options. These are only suitable for men as women don't inherit the Y chromosome from their father.
For women, there is the mtFullSequence test that will reveal ancestry for both genetic sexes. There are varying degrees of comprehensive tests, varying up to $529.
There's a link that will take you to the MyHeritage website to purchase an official DNA testing kit from them.
What Does The Geni.com Testing Kit Include?
We've covered that there's a variety of DNA test options available on MyHeritage, so today, we'll just break down the mtFullSequence test, which is the most basic option for both sexes.
You will receive either two DNA swabs, one for each cheek, which is what you'll use to obtain a DNA sample, as well as two test vials of water solution to store the brush end of your swab.
You will receive a form that you'll need to fill out so your test can be identified when it's being tested, as well as a release form that confirms you're taking the test of your own accord.
You will also find a prepaid envelope that you will send your completed test back in.
How To Purchase The Geni.com Testing Kit
Ordering a test kit on Geni.com is straightforward, simply click the drop-down menu at the top of the home page and select DNA testing. This will take you to a page where you will be able to select the test best suited to your requirements.
How much does the Geni.com test kit cost?
Paternal line tests
- Y-DNA37 - $149 - This test uses 37 markers that can find relatives up from up to 8 generations ago and can confirm your relationship with a male parent.
- Y-DNA67 - $239 - This test uses 67 genetic markers, which will provide a clearer genetic picture and can be useful if you're trying to trace unknown relatives.
- Y-DNA111 - $299 -This test uses the biggest amount of genetic markers of any on the market for maximum accuracy.
Maternal line tests
- mtFullSequence - $189 - This is the highest mitochondrial DNA available and can be used by both men and women.
It's recommended for confirming a relationship in the maternal line and can reveal relationships in up to 16 generations.
Comprehensive ancestral tests
- Comprehensive Genome - $529- This package combines the Family Finder test with Y-chromosome and mtFullSequence test to provide the most comprehensive results possible.
The Family Finder allows you to check all your family lines up to 6 generations back, while the two other tests can reveal a recent common ancestor between you and the other test.
Combined packages for paternal and maternal lines
- Family finder + Y-DNA 37 - $248
- Family finder + mtFullSequence - $248
- MyHeritage DNA Kit - $59 - A link on the DNA test page on Geni.com will take you to a discounted site where you can purchase a discounted MyHeritage DNA kit.
Suppose you choose the kit plus the 30-day free trial. In that case, you'll receive access to all of MyHeritage's member areas, such as being able to explore over 18 billion historical records as well as create your family tree.
How To Use The Geni.com Testing Kit
When removing your swabs from their packaging, ensure you don't touch the brush end, only the handle end, as any kind of contact could contaminate your test, so make sure you remove it from the right end.
Take a swab of the inside of your mouth by scraping the inside of your cheek, then put the brush end of the swab in one of your test containers and press the release on end to release the brush into the vial.
Repeat this process with the second swab and vial; once you're done, place both inside the provided plastic bag.
Fill out your order form, completing the order number with the number you'll find on the barcode at the bottom of your test vials. Complete your release form as well to show you've taken the test of your own accord.
Once all of this is complete, place both your paperwork and completed test vials into the same plastic bag and then inside the pre-paid postage envelope.
The Pros And Cons Of Geni.com
A gateway into genealogy
While many people will simply get a DNA test without understanding their history, a genealogy site like Geni.com allows you to get a grip on the subject by becoming the main researcher of your family tree.
It's a smart idea first to get a practical understanding of genealogy and then purchase your test; this way, you'll find the results more exciting and more actionable within your research.
Certain members of Geni.com are part of their 'curator program' whose it is to organize and maintain the world family tree, removing incorrect results or merging duplicate profiles.
The point of a world family tree genealogy site is to encourage collaboration between genealogists, and the social media aspect of Geni.com enhances that feeling of teamwork. Every member of Geni.com manages their own profile on which they can set their own privacy settings.
Tracing your genealogy can be difficult and lonely work, but with world family tree sites, you can actively engage with other people who share your passion for genealogy research.
You can invite relatives so they can become part of your tree and assist in building it even further.
Geni.com is a paid platform
Though Geni.com offer a 14-day free trial to their genealogy site at the top of your membership, following that, you will be charged $119.40 per year for Geni Pro. You'll give your card details when you sign up and will be billed after your two-week trial so keep this in mind if you don't want to be charged.
Geni.com only offer a yearly plan, so it can be a daunting sum to spend on access to their shared tree.
You can continue for free, but the free platform is restrictive, and non-paying Geni users are unable to match with other trees or access their premium support. Other platforms like Wikitree allow access for free with no paywalls.
Platforms like MyHeritage and AncestryDNA offer a much more intuitive, attractive interface that runs on more modern software, while Geni.com feels outdated and clunky in its presentation. For an expensive platform, you would hope for a more competitive layout.
Limited records and resources
Unlike the extensive databanks of marriage and birth certificates, obituaries, and census records included in AncestryDNA and MyHeritage, there are no such resources on geni.com. So while it's a useful tool for reconnecting and remembering, it fails as a reliable research tool
When And How Will I Receive My Results?
When you receive your results depends on the test that you take. Once your test arrives at the lab, you'll receive confirmation of receipt.
mtFullSequence tends to take around 6-8 weeks to be turned around, while Y-DNA can be 3-6 weeks.
These are advisory times, and it may take less or more depending on how busy the lab is.
Family Tree DNA operates online, so once your test has been received, you'll be able to access an account where your details will be available once they're complete.
Is The Geni.com Test Accurate?
Every direct-to-consumer DNA test provider will supply a test that offers a high degree of efficacy. Still, it's important to note that no matter how accurate a DNA test is, it can never be 100% accurate.
If you find yourself sharing segments of your DNA matching with other people, this will indicate a potential relationship. Still, it won't be able to tell you the nature of the relationship.
The results of your DNA test will be basic, unrefined data that should be used more as a basis for research than the outcome of it.
Will Geni.com Keep My Information Private?
FTDNA won't accept your test unless you return the completed release form that you'll receive with your test. This permits them to share your results and identity to their platform.
This is as far as your data will go, and they will never share it with any third-party research partners, including Geni.com. If you decide to share your results to your Geni.com profile, the partnership between Family Tree DNA allows you to easily upload your results to your profile and remove them at any time.
How Does Geni.com Compare To The Competition?
Geni.com vs. Wikitree
It's hard to pinpoint the exact number of profiles on Geni.com as variables like duplicate profiles, merged accounts, and inactive accounts can muddy the data. The profile figures were at 140 million in 2020, which is far more than Wikitree's 17.5 million profiles, so Geni.com appears far bigger, but the metrics are unreliable.
Assuming they're accurate, this makes Geni.com a far more expansive database with more opportunities to find distant relatives.
Both sites allow GEDCOM file uploads but neither allow you to use them practically like MyHeritage or AncestryDNA; they'll simply be visible on your profile.
The G2G forum on Wikitree is more active and helpful than Geni.com's; the biggest difference is you get it for free. Both sites offer essentially the same service with different applications, so Wikitree wins this by virtue of being a free site.
Geni.com vs. AncestryDNA
These sites can't be compared properly as AncestryDNA is a direct-to-consumer test provider, while Geni.com is a family tree-building tool that offers third-party tests from two larger providers.
In this respect, AncestryDNA wins as you can keep all your research consolidated into one platform instead of getting your test from a separate provider. Choosing either a MyHeritage or Family Tree DNA test from Geni.com will give you two profiles on two separate platforms, but going with AncestryDNA will keep your research in one place.
Both sites allow Gedcom file uploads, but the data is more actionable on the site of the provider of the test and not a third party like Geni.com.
Geni.com can and should be used in tandem with DNA testing platforms like AncestryDNA to enhance your research. You'll find many more profiles on Geni.com than the 10 million on AncestryDNA.
Geni.com: Frequently Asked Questions
Can I invite family members to Geni.com?
When you add family members to your family tree, Geni.com will ask you to fill in their email address, if you know it, which will invite them onto the platform, making their place in your family history more legitimate, extending their family tree and letting them lend a hand to your research.
Should I pay for a Geni.com subscription?
The basic plan on Geni.com is very basic and doesn't allow access to simple features like Tree matching and enhanced searching; features are included free of charge on Wikitree.
There's also a 1GB limit on media uploads, which may suit some but can soon disappear as your family tree fills up. There's also no access to the support team, though you can access the message board.
To have a full experience of Geni.com, you will need to pay for Geni Pro, but other sites like Wikitree offer the same resources with no paywalls.
What is a World Family Tree?
Instead of hundreds of separate family trees, Geni.com believes we are all one family group with a shared history, which can be demonstrated by linking us all together. While you will be creating your own tree based on your family group, it will be incorporated into the larger worldwide tree.
A world family tree site is a great tool when you're embarking on genealogy research as so much of the universal tree has already been built, giving you a massive resource of millions of profiles to find your place in.
The Bottom Line
Geni.com is an interesting site as most family tree builders simply offer the ability to track down relatives and build your tree as part of the larger tree, whereas Geni.com's third-party status with MyHeritage means you can take a DNA test and apply the date to your Geni profile.
They offer an extensive range of autosomal and MTDNA tests with a legitimate, respected test provider with easy GEDCOM file uploads so you can add your data to both platforms.
The big caveat is the $119.40 annual price for Geni Pro, which isn't available on a monthly plan, that you need to pay to be able to use the platform effectively, which is unfortunate as many world tree builders don't charge for full access.
A family tree-building tool is an essential part of researching the history of your ancestors and taking your results further; it comes down to whether you want a paid platform or not.
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