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Geneanet, a company unlike any other!

Posted by Jean-Yves on Jan 3, 2023

We often hear questions and remarks about whether to participate in contributing to Geneanet or to choose a Premium subscription.

As we do every year, we feel it is important to recall the principles which guide our work at Geneanet with its special model, in particular one year after our rapprochement with Ancestry.

How does Geneanet work?

Geneanet is based on three founding principles: contributive, collaborative and freemium.

Geneanet is the largest community of genealogists involved in mutual aid and sharing in Continental Europe. It’s a website with more than 8 billion data points provided by members, collaborative projects and partners.

The contributive aspect is about family trees and associated documents (family pictures, archival records, etc.). We host 1.7 million family trees with over 1.9 billion individuals.

The collaborative aspect is about the many projects supported by Geneanet, for example pictures of graves and cemeteries (“Save our Graves”), indexes and registers (vital records, censuses, parish registers, Napoléon military muster rolls, notarial documents, and other archives), and collaborative trees (the Filles du Roy, the General Slocum disaster). It’s also original projects like “Now and Then”, comparing historical and modern views of a place.

Today, there are 5.3 million pictures of graves, 84 million images of archival registers, and more than 171 million individuals in the collaborative indexes.

The site supports heavy loads with more than 100 million requests per day, 10.4 million visitors per month, 380 terabytes of redundant storage on 60 high capacity servers located at different sites.

All of these services are developed and maintained by a team of about thirty enthusiastic people based in Paris, France.

Geneanet is a “freemium” website

Geneanet is based on a “freemium” model which combines a free website and a Premium subscription.

Every member has access to a free offer with comprehensive features. This offer allows you to build a family tree with an unlimited number of individuals, available online (with privacy controls), ad-free, and with a number of tools for customization, printing and alerts, as well as a basic search engine by last name, first name and place. Unlike some other websites, you don’t have to pay to view the family tree of other members or to contact them.

The free offer also provides access to all content shared by our members. All contributive data is available for free for all Geneanet members.

Geneanet also offers a Premium subscription which includes, among other options and services, advanced search with additional criteria: spouse, parents, name variants, wildcards, nearby places, the automatic matching of your entire family tree with the Geneanet database, e-mail alerts which allow you to receive a weekly email summary of the latest entries, access to the Genealogy Library with millions of books and newspapers with more than 3.7 billion indexed individuals, access to genealogy society indexes provided by Geneanet partners, many Ancestry collections, and personalized website support.

Geneanet: a company, a website, or a community?

Geneanet is simultaneously a company, a website, and a community!

Geneanet is a company with paid employees and clients. Geneanet is also an Internet site. But above all, Geneanet is a very active community with its members and its volunteers.

Geneanet is at the service of all of its members, Premium or not. An important part of Geneanet’s activities consist of developing and promoting projects which benefit the entire genealogy community.

Geneanet, a free collaborative website thanks to Premium subscriptions

Sharing, mutual help and collaborative projects are fundamental to Geneanet. This is a large part of its attractiveness.

When you subscribe to Geneanet Premium, you’re not just getting services and partner data reserved for Premium members; your subscription also supports the development of the free sections of the site.

It is a bit of a paradox: Premium members pay so that Geneanet can remain an open and free website.

Subscribing to Geneanet Premium is not only a way to access Premium features and partners’ collections, but also to allow our special model described above to exist.

The Premium subscription was formerly called “Club Privilège”. Our first subscribers had few extra benefits and subscribed mainly to preserve the free site.

We feel that it is important to remember our roots. For over 26 years, we are proud to have succeeded in preserving this balance, in an ever stronger spirit of mutual collaboration.

In conclusion, you are all part of a single community of mutual help and sharing. Whatever your level of Geneanet use, you are welcome! If you subscribe to or renew a Geneanet Premium subscription, keep in mind that you are not only purchasing a product, you are sharing a certain concept of what genealogy is.

Update January 20, 2023

Many members reacted to our blog post, thank you very much for your feedback.

Please note that if you have questions, it’s best to ask them in Geneanet’s forums (menu Community > Forums), you will have a much faster and more efficient response.

Some of your comments have encouraged us to share more information.


The equilibrium between the free and Premium parts of the site

We have members who use the site for free and feel there is too much Premium content compared to free.

For every feature and data collection, we have to arbitrate between offering them to all, or only to Premium members.

Concerning site features, the choice is permanent. However, we do sometimes make Premium features free. In the past, for example, we eliminated advertising on Geneanet which was a regular source of revenue for us. Recently, we made some Premium functions free for all, such as the Consistency Checker, the search by couple in all records, and the search by event.

For content, our rule is simple: all content contributed by Geneanet members is available for free.

We would also like to thank all those who share their family trees, their photos, their documents, or who participate in collaborative indexing. We should also thank the Geneanet team, who develop and manage these projects with dedication.

All this free content is possible thanks to your participation and its smooth operation is assured with the support of Premium subscribers.


Premium subscription and contribution

Some members think that they should have a free access to Geneanet Premium when they contribute to the site.

This is a good idea only at first sight. First of all, the majority of Premium members are also contributors. If there were no Premium members, there would be no Geneanet.

Moreover, a member who just copies an existing family tree or register would be considered a contributor. This would happen at the expense of data quality, and the spirit of mutual help and sharing so important at Geneanet.


Geneanet without Premium, or Geneanet paid subscription only?

A member told us that he would prefer Geneanet to be a site with advertising, fewer options and services, but totally free…

With such a model, the free part of the site would probably be smaller, and tiresome to use with ads everywhere and a limited technical infrastructure. Our existing model gives us the liberty to first and foremost best serve our members as we see fit, without depending on advertisers who are unpredictable by nature.

Others suggest that we should require all members pay an inexpensive subscription.

This would go against the model of a free and open site.

We take our “Freemium” model seriously and we are proud of all our members, whether they are Premium, contributors, or just users. We are proud to welcome our whole community in its diversity and to share a certain concept of genealogy.

Geneanet is not only a company with paid employees managing a website with “customers”. It is above all an extraordinary community which every day practices mutual help and sharing, and participates in a number of collaborative projects.

Among the testimonials we have received in the past, one from Susan Powers seems to express how many feel:

“I have been a member of Geneanet for several years. I started out as a free member, went on to a paid member and I have even worked on some of the sharing projects. I have NEVER been disappointed. I will continue to pay for the services Geneanet provides as long as I can, I am thankful for all the help members and services here have given to me.”

Don’t hesitate to add your own testimonial in the comments below!


I need to know where Geneanet is located so I can will be able to join.

Answer from Geneanet: We are based in Paris, France, including our international team which coordinates Geneanet in 9 languages other than French!

Looking for my great grandfather. My gather is Surles d Freeman sr’ grand father is William Henery Freeman

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