MARC M COHEN
I cannot speak to all the online collections of family trees. However, I can report bad experiences with two of these websites:
1) Ancestry.com. Yes, they are a great resource for census records, ship manifests, and other documents. However, in researching my GGF Tzvi "Harry" CHOMITZ ROSENTHAL, who came to NYC circa 1896-1898, I found an entry that appeared to reflect the facts about him and his brother with remarkable similarity. However, there did not appear to be any information on whoever posted it. So, I spent hours on the phone with the Ancestry.com staff, trying to persuade them to check their backups, records, or whatever. They concluded that there were periods when Ancestry.com had a problem with recording the identities and contact info for people who posted family information. What a waste!
2) Geni.com. This website is absolutely terrible — almost criminal insofar as it allows members not only to copy unvetted information, but to take over the family trees of other people who stop paying membership fees and to actually go into your tree and delete individuals or even whole branches.
My cousin Vivi WEININGER in Israel started a WEININGER tree (from Czernowitz, Storozhinets, Drachinets, Costestie, & Cabesti in Bukovina) on Geni.com. Enthusiastically, I contributed a large amount of material, on my WEININGER- RÜBNER (RIBNER)-CANTORSZY (plus Khotyn, Bessarabia) family trees and soon we built a very extensive tree. However, I was using the "free" membership, until this crazy guy from Israel who claimed to have a million family members on Genicom, took over my tree and deleted several adopted children. That move would have been very hurtful to those adoptees and to their families. I emailed back and forth with him, but he insisted that it was his right to claim any tree to which he could imagine a connection.
So, I complained to the Geni.com staff, who said that if I paid for membership, that I would have a "protected" family tree. I started paying the dues, and was able to reclaim my tree and reinstate the adopted children. Then, someone else took over part of my tree for my uncle Sheldon ROSENTHAL ROEN and his family. This person turned out to be a first cousin, once removed, of his first wife, Selma POLLET, who now claimed ownership of that part of my tree. We had a big argument via email. Again, I was able to reclaim that part of my tree. But what a pain..
One day, I discovered that there was a lateral link from my WEININGER GGF to another WEININGER who had copied my tree into his tree. I emailed him and asked what evidence he had for this connection. He said the dates of birth were close, so therefore, they must be brothers.
Subsequently, when I ceased paying the blackmail to Geni.com, someone else deleted that entire branch ROSENTHAL-POLLETT from my family tree. At that point, I gave up completely on Geni.
Perhaps Jewish-Gen should prepare and post a "Consumer Reports" type evaluation of the various and sundry online family tree websites. This report would detail the pluses and minuses for each website, and perhaps even develop a numerical rating scale. Jewish-Gen could perform a similar service with regard to the proliferation of DNA testing services.
All the best to everyone,
Marc M. Cohen, Los Gatos, California, USA
BARAK/CANTORCZY: Khotin, Bessarabia; Strorozhinets, Bukovina, Ukraine
CHOMITZ/HAMETZ: Ionina (Janina), Greece; Ignatovka, Ukraine; Kiev Gubernia, Ukraine
COHEN: Dinovitsi (Dunayevtsy) Ukraine; Roman/Tirgu Frumos, Romania
KORNITZKY: Kiev Gubernia, Stepnitz/Stepantsy, Ukraine
RÎBNER: Storozhinetz, Costesti (Costyntsi), Drachinets, Cabesti, Bukovina, Ukraine
ROSENBERG: Tirgu Frumos, Roman, Romania; ISRAEL
WEININGER: Cabesti, Costesti, Drachinets, Czernowitz, Bukovina, Ukraine