Privacy Proposal

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Revision as of 22:12, 11 September 2008 by LarryB (talk | contribs) (Forest -> Family's Family)
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Since we have released our GEDCOM Import and Tree Merging features, we have seen tremendous growth in the size of our largest trees. These large trees have caused performance and privacy issues for some users. In addition, we know that many users would like a more open collaborative environment, especially for sharing distant ancestors they may have in common with other Geni users.

We will continue to take steps to ensure that we provide an appropriate level of privacy for each of our users while maintaining site performance. As a result, we'd like to propose some changes to our privacy features that we believe will provide:

  • Increased privacy for users on large trees
  • Increased openness for users who want more collaboration
  • Increased performance for every user

Although we believe that the following is a reasonable, well thought out proposal, please keep in mind that this is only a proposal at this point, meant as a starting point for a discussion with you, our users. As with any change, we want to ensure that the changes benefit our users and are in line with their needs. Please give us your feedback on the changes proposed below.


You control the privacy of your profile and all of the profiles you have added to the tree. See "this page": for current privacy defaults.

Here are a few terms (some new) that are useful in discussing these changes:

  • Family Your Family is a group of your relatives that you choose. This is the group of people that you want to collaborate and share with on Geni. By default your Family includes you and your spouse's blood relatives out to 5th cousins. For more details see this page.
  • Family's Family Your Family's Family is the Family group of everyone in your family group. Alternately, your Family's Family is anyone who has a Family member in common with you.
  • Our Family When referring to a profile you manage, Our Family is your Family group and the profile's Family group.
  • Our Family's Family When referring to a profile you manage, Our Family's Family is your Family's Family and the profile's Family's Family.

Your Profile

Forest -> Family's Family

For profile privacy, we'd like to replace the Forest as a privacy group with Family's Family (as defined above). We believe this is a more useful group for profile privacy, since you are no more than two degrees away from anyone in this group - they are all people in the Family group of someone in your Family group.

Search privacy

Many users have been frustrated by their inability to find other users they are connected to through their tree. As a result, we would like to make all users searchable by anyone connected to them. Keep in mind that when someone finds you using search, your profile privacy settings will determine what they can see in your profile. Also, you will still have the ability to choose whether or not you are included in our public search index.

Managed Profiles

You manage the privacy of all of the profiles you have added to the tree. Currently you have separate privacy controls for the living profiles you manage and the deceased profiles you manage. This forces to you to set one level of privacy for all of your deceased profiles. We have found that many users want a lot of privacy for the profiles of their close deceased relatives, but they would like to share their distant ancestors that they have in common with other Geni users.

To satisfy this need, we have replaced the living/deceased distinction with managed and shared. Your can use your managed settings to choose the appropriate privacy levels for the profiles you want to keep more privacy. You can make the rest of the profiles shared to increase collaboration with other users.

Fully Managed Profiles

You will continue to control the privacy settings of the profiles you manage, except you will have one group of settings for all of the profiles you manage (rather than one set for living and one set for deceased).

For managed profiles the defaults will be:

  • Our Family can edit their profile
  • Our Family's Family can view their full profile
  • Anyone can view their limited profile from the tree
  • Anyone connected can search for them

Shared Profiles

The biggest change we are proposing is the introduction of shared profiles. You can choose to make any profile you manage into a shared profile. A shared profile is a profile that you would like to make more open. This is useful for sharing profiles with other users who may share the same ancestor and for enhanced collaboration with other Geni users.

The following rules apply to shared profiles:

  • Anyone can view their full profile
  • Anyone can find them using search
  • Anyone can view their profile from the tree
  • The manager, the manager's Family, and the profile's Family can edit the profile
  • Profiles of minors are never shared

By default, a person's profile would be shared if:

  • The person is deceased
  • There are no living people in their immediate family

Unlike fully managed profiles, you can not control any of these privacy rules for shared profiles. However, using a simple checkbox on the profile, you can choose at any time to apply your managed profile privacy settings to any of your shared profiles (reverting it to a fully managed profile). You can also choose at any time to make any of your fully managed profiles into a shared profile.

Invited Profiles

One final change we are considering: When you invite someone to join Geni, the profile manager's settings continue to apply to that profile until the person accepts the invitation. As soon as someone joins Geni, we apply the default settings for a claimed user to that profile. This means that even if you family member joins Geni, looks around, and never comes back, the default privacy settings for a user applies.

We would like to continue to apply the profile manager's managed setting until the user sets a permanent password. This will give you more control over the profiles of infrequent users, or family members who abandon their profile.

Future plans

Finally, we plan to follow up these proposed changes with these addition, related features:

  • Larger GEDCOM Imports will be possible because of the increased privacy and greatly enhanced performance. The primary performance issue under the current privacy rules is a result of very large blood trees. The new privacy rules eliminates this issue, enabling users to import very large GEDCOM files without diminishing their performance.
  • Request to take over management for profiles managed by someone else. With these changes it is inevitable that some users would like to take over management of certain profiles, such as their direct ancestors. We plan on giving you the ability to request to take over management of individual profiles from the current manager, with their approval of course.
  • Profile submissions will let you submit profile edits for profiles you don't have permission to edit. Once the profile manager approves the edits they will appear on the profile.

Your Feedback

Thank you for considering these changes. We know that many of you have many hours invested in capturing your family's history on Geni. Please let us know what you think in this Forum thread.

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