Can I use other peoples data from GENI

+5 votes

I have found a lot of info, dates etc on my Great Grandfathers brothers and sisters and their children on GENI. I know I can copy those.

But there is also interesting anecdotal stuff and profile photos (from private collections I presume)  and personal recollections and some  stuff from books that they give the reference for. Am I allowed to copy those as long as I give the reference to GENI? All born before 1800's. I give an example of one that I did.


WikiTree profile: Leila Schweizer
in Policy and Style by Philna Victor G2G Crew (800 points)

2 Answers

+10 votes
Best answer

Several issues here, relevant to using data from any user contributed site like Geni (or any website for that matter):

  1. See the wikitree [ Copying Text] help page about dos and donts of this practice. (It is generally frowned upon)
  2. When citing, be more specific. Citing is like citing a library. But in this case a private library where one has to have membership (paid?) to enter. In this case we can see enough data without membership to see that at least the narrative includes the name of a person who contributed some amount of the info. Include her name in the citation. Include the date you accessed the info on the other web site because as we know, web pages change and even go away. What you saw yesterday may be different from what I see tomorrow. There's also the name of the profile manager of the Geni profile but we have no idea if he did any of the research for any of the data on the page. There's a good chance HE copy/pasted the narrative from somewhere else. Which leads to:
  3. Does the profile on Geni (or any other web site) cite its sources? If not, it's horribly unreliable and copying or even referencing it perpetuates potentially bad data. If you cite or reference an unsourced web page, say so in the citation or reference. You might include a link under a See also... section at the bottom of the wikitree profile. But still add the comment that it's unsourced. 
Bottom line-- and I know I might be in the minority here -- I'd avoid linking to unsourced web pages.  Exception might be when I can find this information in no other place. But I'd put caveats all over my citation. 
by Jillaine Smith G2G6 Pilot (775k points)
selected by Natalie Trott

One way to find out where something like this came from is to copy a short but unique piece of text and paste that phrase into your favorite search engine. I just did this and found what appears to be the "original" post by the woman named in the Geni narrative. See:

It would be better to cite that than a Geni profile that copy/pasted the text without citation. But even that Rootsweb forum post doesn't cite her sources.  

EDIT: I take that back; she mentions a book by Constantine Victor SCHWEIZER. You might try to track that down.

So you might want to track down the researcher and see where she got her info from. Maybe google her and see if she's published her work online and see if she cites her sources there...

Unfortunately doesn't always come up with the original entry.

I  tried it using a profile that I know was copied completed with inline references  onto Geni (don't know whether to be flattered or miffed!) When I cut and paste from the wiki profile into google all I get is the Geni entry. Just in case it 'knew' that I was on the wiki page I then cut and pasted phrases from Geni and got Geni.

That is annoying! but ...

Then I tried the same thing on the father's profile . The  Geni  profile was also copied but  actually has a link to wiki-tree as the source. In this case  I found that wiki-tree and not Geni came up when I searched phrases on Google.  

I  think that it may be because the father's profile has not been edited since it was written and so the date precedes the Geni copy. I have made a couple of minor, more recent edits to the daughters so the date on the page is later than the one on Geni.
Helen, I understand.

When I've had similar experience, I've varied the search phrase used. Either another phrase from the text, or a shorter phrase.

What's worse is when you get a google search results page that is FILLED with different online trees...
Thank you very much that is very helpful. I still find it difficult to know when and where to stop. Example: Should I open a profile for my gggfather's brothers and sisters if I have only names and say death dates from GENi? Or should I rather stick to just my gggfather and spend the time to try and find his birth certificate when I already have his death certificate and will? Thanks for the help.
A death certificate and a will are great sources.

If the siblings are not mentioned in either of those, You could list his siblings in his narrative, citing the Geni profile. But I'd probably hold off creating profiles for them until I had a better source.
+4 votes
I NEVER site Geni as a source. I do use their trees for clues as to who the ancestors are and then go look for sources elsewhere - usually Family Search.
by Robynne Lozier G2G6 Pilot (895k points)

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