How do you do genealogy online?

I have three simple questions for all the readers of this blog:

1) Do you use one or more online family tree websites such was,, or (their family tree features, not necessarily their databases)? If so, which one(s) do you use?

2) If you use a family tree web site, list what you like best about it – and what you like least. Also, for sites that offer subscription plans, do you pay a subscription or only use their free features? If you don’t use any family tree website, is there a reason you don’t – and is there something that would change your mind (i.e. if they only offered X I would use their site)?

3) How do you interact with other relatives when doing your genealogy research? If through a website listed above, how does that work? If you intact in a different way, such as via e-mail, explain how well that works.

I hope you will share your experiences with the various services available online, so others can learn about how different readers of this blog are using those services, successfully or less so.

If you have a twitter account, please tweet this post to your followers so we can get as many responses as possible. You can find my tweet of this post at and re-tweet it.

Please post your answers in the comments to this post on the blog.

2 thoughts on “How do you do genealogy online?

  1. I’ve received e-mail responses (from those who subscribe to get e-mails of my posts) and they’re all very interesting. I’ll post the comments I’ve received so far. I won’t post the names, but if you’re one of the people whose comment I am posting, please feel free to add more in another comment here and identify yourself.

    Comment 1 (BR):

    I do not use an online family tree website (of any kind) for the following reasons:

    1) Online FT websites do not require verification of the data posted, promoting circulation of unverified and inaccurate genealogical information.
    2) Copyright infringement issues.
    3) Privacy issues.
    4) Continuous and intrusive spam e-mails from one website informing me that they have found “matches” or additional family members, when it was not the case. This activity resulted in my canceling my membership and deleting all my information from their site (My Heritage).

    I do not have Facebook or Twitter accounts either, and probably never will have, as I do not find it necessary to be in constant contact with the entire world about the minutiae of my daily life. I share information about my research with others in an adult and scholarly manner via e-mail, by telephone and snail-mail and other appropriate methods.

    Comment 2 (DM):

    I use Geni and My Heritage, mostly Geni for communicating with family. I use Legacy to keep my tree on my computer.

    Comment 3 (JK):

    I use and post parts of my family tree to that site. I am very selective in what I put out on line having been burned once with someone using my information as their own – I don’t put sources out there and only put a few generations.

    I have heard from several people because of the postings that I have out there – and know that I never would have heard from them in any other way.

    I usually use email to “talk” to “relatives” regarding genealogy. I do have several cousins who are interested and do talk on the phone and have done research with them together in person.

    Comment 4 (SL):

    Some of my family started using GENI, and originally I contributed, but have not been doing so recently. Why? Simply at one of our JGS meetings here, the speaker mentioned that once you put the info on line, the GENI group owns it, and can keep it ad infinitum.—I also find it very frustrating to get notices about ‘family’ who have nothing to do with me or with anyone else, but are someones tenth cousin twice removed etc etc et al…

    I have Family Tree Maker [2005 and next one too] and it has been OK. I am just starting to get into looking at the My Heritage site, and will probably switch. It looks very interesting.

    I use Ancestry intermittently, but only for information–when I know I will have time to go on line–or when I am taking a course like the Jewish Gen course in Genealogy. I am fairly competent on computers, but I find Ancestry to be a very frustrating site as I get hits that have no connection in any way, shape, or form to what I have asked for… An example is asking for info only from Connecticut and getting all of the US. I did not upload my tree because of this frustration.
    I use the Family Search and Jewish Gen sites more.

    Through Jewish Gen, I was fortunate enough to make a connection with a relative and we have been communicating via e mail. However, we still haven’t met in person. Other relatives I update from time to time if there is anything of importance to tell them. Most are not interested.

    Also, there was one comment on the Facebook page (, which I will reproduce here as well for those not reading the Facebook page (but of course if you’re on Facebook I highly recommend following the blog there as well.

    Comment 5 (KF):

    I started a Geni account but have not added much to it, I like that you can update it. Had some things on Ancestry that were sent out but found out later were incorrect and was not able to change the information.

  2. I don’t use an online site to upload my tree for privacy reasons. I did however create a tiny tree with me, my spouse and my parents just for the purpose of allowing those searching for me or my parents to contact me.

    I use facebook for gathering information about living relatives. My email correspondenceconesswa with living relatives hasn’t generated much interest in helping me with the family tree.

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