Advantages Great community spirit, easy enough to search for names
Disadvantages Hopeless support, ease of use depends on your browser
Long on advice, support from other users and fresh ideas, but short on genealogical records and technical support - Genes Reunited has had me as a member since about 2005 and I'm still there! One feature it took me a while to locate but wouldn't be without (Genes don't do a lot to praise the people that - in my opinion - really keep the site going, the members) - are the message boards. In a relatively recent reorganisation, the site has finally sectioned the "Chat" board into actual threads so it is no longer one long, incomprehensible mass of replies from one member to another.For £9.95 a year (as it was when I joined and still is as long as you renew within two weeks, I think, of your renewal date) you are able to contact other users, exchange messages and (if permission is granted by them) view their family tree. The Hot Matches facility is quite good - it seeks out matches with other trees, so that - if you have a Gertrude Rothwell b. 1863 in York - it will find all other matching Gertrudes born in 1863. (The problem is, the matches don't take birthplace into account - don't be surprised if you get a load of matches for a Gertrude born in Adelaide, Australia!) Another slightly odd problem I've encountered is clicking on a match that claims to be with Gertrude only to find the "matching name" is one Sarah Smith b. 1872 in Bradford, Yorkshire (for instance). I have come to the conclusion that this occurs because Hot Matches only update every fortnight. If - halfway through that fortnight - the owner of your "matching" relative's tree realises his grandma (or whoever) was not Gertrude but Sarah and changes it accordingly, Hot Matches will only correct this in its fortnightly reassessment.
Please don't, however, fall into the trap of thinking that Genes provides comparable content with, say, Ancestry or Find My Past for a tenth of the price. It doesn't - what it works best as is a kind of "contacts" database and names database that you can explore. What census records it says it provides (I have been an Ancestry subscriber so have never used them - this next bit I've gathered from the comments of other site users) is actually stored on another site and the credits you buy to view the records you think are on Genes are actually used when you're directed to another site. Genes Reunited do offer a Gold Membership or something similar for about £35 for six months, I believe, but I gather that all you really get is what I described above.Although a good contact tool, Genes doesn't help the "unfamiliar" with any assistance on how to use the site. From the five years I have used the site, I have come to realise that there is a (quite reasonable, in my view) kind of protocol about using the site. I find it best - if I think I've got a connection to someone - to write a brief message, stating who I am interested in (although if you do this via the Hot Matches system). The problem is, you only truly become aware of this as a long-term user who visits the message boards and new users often commit errors that seasoned users find unacceptable - simply because Genes doesn't help them with what to expect.
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