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ENH: Improve living relatives board guidance

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ProfilePosted byOptionsPost Date


JaneyCanuck Report 18 May 2011 21:51

Obviously, users of the Living Relatives board are almost all completely new to the site, apparently being drawn in by publicity surrounding a television program in the UK.

Too very obviously, none of them has a clue how to use this site.

Apart from the privacy violations occurring hourly ...

These users evidently have no idea that the site has family trees that can be searched for the people they are looking for.

One of the posts on that board that I reported as a privacy violation was talking about the family of a member of this website -- a couple of quick records searches and then a tree search found the family in question in someone's tree here.

If people posting on Find Living Relatives are not doing anything as basic as a tree search beforehand, how is this site helping them???

It certainly isn't going to find them their family members from a post on Living Relatives ...

A little guidance, maybe?

They've paid their subscription fees; give them something in return.

At *least* put information at the top of the Find Living Relatives baord about creating and searching family trees at this site.


Cynthia Report 18 May 2011 21:57

I don't believe this!

I have just posted on GR FB page about how some of the queries could be resolved simply by people looking in Search Trees - if they were advised about it of course.

I would say 'great minds'......but in this case.......perhaps not ;-)



JaneyCanuck Report 18 May 2011 22:03

I wonder whether either of our brilliant suggestions will get read, let alone heeded?


Cynthia Report 18 May 2011 22:18

Wouldn't it be great to think that they were working on solving the problems?

Ooops... another of those flying pigs just went passed! :D


JaneyCanuck Report 20 May 2011 20:55

I just had a look at the Living Relatives board ... and before I completely lost the will to live, which it will rapidly cause me to do, did a quick check for one of them.

Somebody looking for her birth mother, giving too much information, of course, about an unusual name.

I did a quick tree search.

Another person has the birth mother in her tree (as does the poster).

Has the poster done that search? Is that other member known to her?

Who knows?

Not me, because I am simply not going to start checking for every post on Living Relatives to see whether there are tree matches that the poster may or may not be aware of, and then PM the poster to enquire.

GENESREUNITED, while that entire board is a terrible disservice to people paying money here for the sole purpose of posting on that board (as is evident from the number of 1 and 2 post-count posters), it is simply unforgiveable that no guidance on the use of the site is offered ON THAT BOARD for all the new users who are obviously totally ignorant of how to do these things.



Maddy888 Report 21 May 2011 09:20


I have read your thread with a personal interest on the Living Relatives board. I have posted on there and found my Father after 40 years. All in about 4 weeks. Amazing.

I recognise both your names for having helped me in the past and know that you are 2 of the great volunteers on these boards that carry out, tirelessly,( without reward,) searches on behalf of others. Thank you. The regular volunteers on these boards should recieve a discount on your memberships.
I don`t think we should pan Genes too harshly, at present, with issues relating to this board as it is in its infancy, hopefully somebody is scanning the suggestion pages on behalf of Genes to note peoples queries. Perhaps they should have a moderator(s) taken from the pool of volunteers to oversee specific boards and to put forward suggestions on everybodies behalf.

I agree that there needs to be an ABC on how to search for a living person_First Steps constructed by Genes. And a much more simplified outline of the rules.The lack of Communications from Genes with members directly or via the boards needs to be addressed by Genes.

I would like to request that we do not forget that this site is to help build trees and extend families, otherwise whats the point in coming on here?
The Living Relatives board cannot be treated in the same way as the other genealogy boards, it is of a more delicate, direct nature, postings made by many desperate people_ looking to find thier Mother, Father etc rather than someone that lived 100 years ago.
I think that Genes has it right by not allowing progress to be made public with each thread, maintaining privacy.

For my searches there were members with the names of those that I was seeking in thier trees: They could or would not assist me further_of course they are not obliged to do so and there were those that genuinely knew no more than I. Hence my putting a message on the LRBoard.

But, the abuse manager staff need to review this board properly in the way that they handle complaints, with no contact with the postee. That is just cruel.

I`m not having a go ladies, but please don`t assume that all people posting there haven`t already followed the basics in looking for family members, but always put the question to them_in case they are unaware that that is a method of searching open to them.

I am one of those that breached privacy rules, apparently, and was given no warning of what I was doing wrong_here Genes must contact the poster directly and outline the content they want edited or removed clearly giving thier reasons as to why and working with the individual to come to a compromise.

This did not happen in my case initially. A member on Genes made a complaint that I was searching for my Father, a person known to the family, and my post was persistently deleted without reason. I was hopping mad at one point. Had I been told what I needed to change I would have done so immediately. Anyway, after about a week of going back and forwards I was helped with my posting by the Genes Team.

My Father. ** It is my right to search but not my birthright as previously assumed_lesson learned_thank you volunteers.

Desperately seeking a parent or child or looking for siblings is fraught with emotions, highs and lows. Hopelessness. Brick walls. And I most certainly do not wish to undermine anyone that is seeking distant family or friends, to deny them thier feelings, not at all.
Of course we have to post personal details, how else are we going to find them? Time is not on my side to have a long relationship with my Father. what time I shall have with him is all down to the volunteers on Genes.
Think very carefully before complaining about too much info put on the boards, it was difficult enough to find him, but I would have welcomed anyone contacting me to address any privacy issues with my post.

Good luck to everyone that is searching for living relations.
Well done and keep up the good work to all of the volunteers that give up thier time, you really do make a difference to peoples lives.


TootyFruity Report 21 May 2011 10:21

Chatham Lass I am so pleased that you found your father however I do disagree with something you said

"My Father. It is my birthright to mention his name, DOB, place of birth and a rough outline of his geographical journey in life, his known workplaces and jobs, last known addresses and give any distinctive description of his physical features in order that someone who knows him may recognise the description for him and also to help the volunteers have as much info as possible in order that they may help. The volunteers found my Father, thank you"

I don't believe it is anyone's birthright to disclose personal information about another living person without their permission or knowledge especially over the internet. By publishing a potted history of his life including his date of birth could seriously compromise his security. Only the person themselves, in my opinion,has the birth right to disclose as much as they like about their lives and nobody else. It should be remembered that we are all strangers and posting on these boards are not only seen by the members of this site but anyone who cares to google a name.

Once again, I am really pleased that you had a successful outcome to your search


Lindsey* Report 21 May 2011 10:31

Hi Chatham lass, I'm interested to know, if you had been given a form to fill in, rather than a blank message spot to post in , would you have felt more confident ?

I'm thinking that with spaces for , name ,relationship, age, area last known , etc a standard form of asking for help would be better ?
Then anyone interested could contact you for the details via PM., what do you think ?


TootyFruity Report 21 May 2011 10:58

Lindsey* I think a proformo would greatly improve matters and prompt seekers to what is and is not appropriate. Also it should not be too difficult to implement.


Cynthia Report 21 May 2011 11:23

Good new for you Chatham Lass, and that's great TF says, it isn't really your 'right' to post details of other people's lives as there are some people who may not wish to be 'found' and would be extremely displeased to know that their personal details were being shown on here.

There have been some good suggestions made by experienced members but we have no idea whether GR are reading them. :-(

Regards. Cx.


Gins Report 21 May 2011 11:32

Just let people reply to the question asked on LR board then we can all see whats happening even if it is just....I have PMd you whatever


JoyDean Report 21 May 2011 11:37

I am pleased for Chatham Lass that she has contact with her biological father, and hope that the outcome of her search will be a happy one for her, for him and for their families.

However, I must strongly urge people not to post in public such personal details about living people. Chatham Lass's search seems to have been successful, and that is good. The current television programme sponsored by genes reunited has shown, so far, good results for all from searches.

However, unfortunately, happy outcomes are not always the case. A biological father or mother may not have told anyone about the existence of a natural child, for their own personal reasons; the biological father may not know of a natural child's existence. Just think of the possible painful repercussions within extended families should such a person's private details appear in public. Once personal information is posted on the internet, it can be passed on to others.

I agree that no one has a right to post personal information on the internet.


JaneyCanuck Report 21 May 2011 14:40

First: "But, the abuse manager staff need to review this board properly in the way that they handle complaints, with no contact with the postee. That is just cruel."

I absolutely agree.

That board is no more than a cash cow for this corporation.

People find it through publicity associated with the current television program, I assume. They pay their $20 (who knows, some may be paying full pop for a bunch of services they have no need of) and stick a post on what is essentially just another "missing person" bulletin board -- one of many on the internet, most of which are free of charge.

It's easy to see from the view count on each post that they are being read only by regular users of the board, and by very few of them at that.

The current practice of deleting w/o explanation or assistance is just another reflection of the venality behind this board. Take the money and run. Provide no service for it other than what is available elsewhere free of charge.

"My Father. It is my birthright to mention his name, DOB, place of birth and a rough outline ..."

There no such thing as a birthright, and while it may be your right (in that there is no law to prohibit it) to post this kind of information about *anyone* on the internet or publish it elsewhere, it is not decent. And no website owner has to permit it on their site.

The main thing is that there is no *need* even to state that the individual being sought is one's father or mother or whatever the relationship is.

*That* is the initial breach of privacy. That is what the person's spouse, children, parents, employer, neighbours, clergy ... may not know. In fact, in the case of a birth father, it is what the person *himself* may not even know.

*That* is the huge concern with that board. All of the personal details, *in association with* the stated relationship. (Of course I agree that the personal details in themselves can go too far and be totally improper.)

Many posts on this site have gone way farther than that. Details of a mother's adulterous relationship with the poster's father, details of abandonment by a father, allegations of bigamy, and on and on.

*None of this* is germane to the search for an individual. If the individual's friends and family don't even know about the child, how would that information help anyone to recognize the person being sought from the description?

You may have a right to publish this information, but in the opinion of many it is a disrespectful thing to do ... and I fail to see how it might endear a poster who does that to the person they are looking for, in at least some cases.

Yes, this sort of thing is permitted all over the internet. "Because everyone else is doing it" is *not* a reason for a reputable, respected internet site to permit it.

As far as answers in threads -- the fact is, as is known to the regular posters here commenting, that the privacy problems seldom arise in the answers posted, they are in the question posted.

When replies can be posted in threads, the problem of simple deletion w/o explanation or assistance is less likely to arise. Usually, a regular will say "could you please delete the information about ..." and even send a PM to the poster to explain what to do and how to use the board. If anyone replying posts too much info in the thread, other posters will almost certainly request that it be removed and request review if it isn't.

Making it impossible to reply in the threads has in fact made this whole problem *worse* -- less guidance for posters, more risk of privacy violations, less likelihood of assistance being received and thus of finding the person sought.


Maddy888 Report 22 May 2011 11:07


All of your viewpoints make for fascinating reading and further confirm that the Living Relatives board needs much more intensive review by Genes.
And a sign of some sort that they are paying attention to its members.

Where I am coming from is that I had been served with censorship without reason or the opportunity to edit my messages, without constructive advice on how to post without causing concern to others, until much later, after some heavy wrangling and upset with Genes.
Eventually I was helped and better informed_lesson learned. But it was all so unnecessary. There has to be better implemented rules and approaches to the postee by the Genes Teams on any of the boards.
It is highly likely, as goes for me, that when posting here, it is sooo personal from all viewpoints within, that perhaps we are not thinking clearly when looking for a living relative and need to be corrected quickly, which is not happening.
For every message posted on the LRBoard each case is different.
One for you to take into account, politely, is that my Dad has always known of his 5 children with our mother, and for a time before leaving the Towns came to visit us and one of the reasons he stayed away was because he felt we would be better off and so on, this we know but you don`t, different social times. And we are not little children that have rushed in when making contact with Dad. We took a risk and it paid off and even had we recieved a negative response that really would have been ok as we could say that we tried. I take on board the security concerns, thank you, but it should be Genes telling the postees this and not relying on the researchers to do thier job for them.
Even I can see that there is no point in posting affairs or other negative details or the like.

Sorry, I don`t agree with the Living Relatives board progress being made public, the way it is allows a certain amount of further info remaining private, which is usually updated content on the Relatives lives. I cannot describe the emotions that one goes through and how tense the situation becomes as results are narrowed down, confirmed, and re-verified, the anticipation and expectations are high as is rejection.
The runaround, upsets, longing, being stalled without explanations over the years adds to the frustrations and curiosity of wanting to be in touch with a member of the family, even if it is just to finish the story. At the end of last year I asked a member of his family if there were any medical illnesses that run in his family, we needed to know, no reply ? We still need to know. Now that is a birthright that everyone does need to be informed of.
He is my Father and I should not need to justify why I would like to know more about him, but I do take on board your points of privacy on the internet.

Had we not been given the runaround by ` others`_ all they had to do was inform us of his situation in life, we would have been satisfied. From various quarters, over the years, we have been made to feel bad that we as his children should give full explanations as to why we think we had the right to search at all, if you get my drift. So that contributed to my being adamant and self-righteous on my rights, thank you for pointing that out to me.
Putting out there his last known details up to , at least, 30 years ago-- not yesterday, would you say that was wrong?.
It most definately has been a learning curve for me.

I am all for filling in a form to request information about a living person and then submitting that to the Genes Team for review before being permitted to post on the boards.

I don`t know of the TV programme that is referred to, I joined Genes to expand my relatives beyond the 2 dozen that I happily grew up with and have since become hooked with this enjoyable hobby. I shall always be eternally grateful to the volunteers here on Genes for all their input into my many requests for help. And lets hope that Genes listens to what you have to say on the new changes and suggestions for improving this site.


TootyFruity Report 22 May 2011 15:45

Chatham Lass even if you knew of a hereditary disease in your family does not mean that you will be tested for it unless it is something like Huntingdons Disease.

There is a hereditary disease in my family and the consultants advice to us was not to test for it but to live our lives as though it has not been passed on because if the test was positive then it can consume our lives in trying to limit its effects rather than living life for today. Also knowing that we had the disease in our family would not effect the treatments should we display symptoms they would simply test for it along with other possibilities and treat accordingly. Okay, not knowing can also be consuming, if you let it but my philosopy is not to worry about something that may never happen.


Maddy888 Report 22 May 2011 16:28

Hi Tootyfruity.

Point taken.
But not the case with us.
Thanks for your reply.


TootyFruity Report 22 May 2011 16:37

Hi Chatham Lass

I wish you well


JaneyCanuck Report 25 May 2011 22:29

I have just reported a post on Living Relatives (already ticked as "answered" so serving no purpose anyway).

In it the poster gives a variation of the information (obviously inaccurate) she had given in TWO posts previously, both of which I had reported as being serious violations of privacy and both of which were found to be improper and deleted by the site management.

This Living Relatives thing is working so well, isn't it? Well, for people who want to smear allegations around the internet about third parties who have not consented to being discussed, maybe it is ...

That this individual could TWICE have her posts deleted and just keep on doing the same thing is evidence that the site management is completely failing to provide proper instructions and insist on compliance.


Maddy888 Report 26 May 2011 07:16

Hi Janey,

Couldn`t agree with you more about the LRBoard needing urgent review.
Chances are if the person is re-posting with a similar message, then they have not been told what needs to be changed /edited, as happened to me.
And I did not realise until I posted on that board that the Abuse Team do not consult with the Genes Team which I find incredulous as they work within the same company.
The rules must be clearly defined, they are not. And sort out the lack of Communication.


JaneyCanuck Report 26 May 2011 22:52

It transpires that when posts are deleted and notices are sent, NO REASON is stated other than a general statement about unacceptable content.

This is really beyond belief.

Somebody is fixing not to renew their subscription when it comes due ... and that somebody is me.

The b*s are getting me down, I'm afraid.

Too much nonsense to wade through for too little reward, these days.

I'd held out great hope for the new régime, but my hopes have been dashed.

Money seems to be the name of the game, and "family history" is coming a distant second to tabloid television and the profits that can be made from it.