Monday, June 27, 2011

Answers to my Questions about MyHeritage Trees

I asked several questions in my 23 June post Connecting to Other Researchers Through and received an email yesterday from Gilad Japhet, founder of, with responses.  Here are my questions and Gilad's answers:

1)  Can a member of my site add, edit, or delete my data, notes, images, etc. that are in my tree?

The answer is yes by default, but this can be prevented in the site settings, if not desirable. If you wish, you can also prevent others from modifying the tree, but still permit them to add photos. Adding photos is often a great way of collaboration that cannot create much harm especially if you ask your family members to add photos of themselves and family members close to them. It’s also possible to send photos directly to the site from email or a mobile device. Each member of can decide whether the tree should be fully collaborative, partially collaborative or not collaborative at all and in their strict control.

2)  Can a member of my site upload a GEDCOM file to my site?

The answer is yes, because a family site can contain more than one tree. The trees are kept separate. However, if this is not to your liking, then as site manager you can remove any tree that others members of your site have uploaded. The facility to upload trees is useful for sites that function as a surname association and collect multiple trees from their members and make them available to the members for perusal.

3)  Can a member of my site download my original GEDCOM file, or a GEDCOM file of the current site?

This is up to you. There is a setting to control whether such download should be permitted or not.

4)  If significant content was added to my site by other researchers, can I download the information via GEDCOM to my desktop software program?

Yes. Exporting your data from is always available and always free, and includes all photos added to the tree. There are no size limits to exporting your own data.

5)  If other researchers add content to my site, will the Family Tree Builder desktop program capture it through the automatic or "on demand" synchronization feature?
Not right now, but this is planned for the near future.

6)  Can I remove a site member from site access and privileges if I decide to do that?  How much control do I have?

As site manager you control the member list on your site and all privileges, you can revoke membership of anyone in a few clicks through the site member list.
Comment posted by Caroline Pointer:  Randy, is there a place to put a description of the tree so that visitors to the tree understand that this is a collaborative research tool and not an "end product"?

Answer for Caroline: yes, the site manager can edit the welcome message of the family site to specify what the tree is about and whether collaboration by relatives is encouraged or not. There is also a description message for each tree that can be edited to describe the family tree as a whole and indicate the main ‘missing pieces’ in it where help by others is requested.

I really appreciate Gilad taking the time to answer my questions about the website.
I went exploring in the MyHeritage account and found that:

*  The site manager can permit or prevent a GEDCOM download by a site member, or any MyHeritage member, in the "Family Trees" tab, and the "Edit Tree settings" link.

*  Site member contributions can be controlled through the "Settings" tab and the "Privacy" link (click the "Advanced" button for more options on Members).

*  A site member can be approved or removed using the "Home" tab, and the "Site members" link.  The site manager needs to click on the "Review request" to approve or reject a request to be a site member.  For a previously approved site member, the site manager needs to click on the "More" link and then the "Remove from site" link.

I was mistaken in thinking that MyHeritage would synchronize both ways with Family Tree Builder (meaning if I added content to the online tree, then the FTB database would be modified, and vice versa).  It appears that a user with Family Tree Builder 5.1 software can modify the online tree on demand or automatically from within FTB 5.1.  I will look at that soon, because it may be very useful.

Gilad's statement that they are working on the "both ways" synchronization is encouraging.  When that works, then information added or modified on the online MyHeritage tree could be added to the desktop software tree.  However, that adds the complexity of other users potentially adding "wrong data" to my tree, and potential "Content wars."  As Gilad notes above, the site manager can control content additions by guests and site members.

The URL of this post is:

(c) 2011. Randall J. Seaver. All Rights Reserved. If you wish to re-publish my content, please contact me for permission, which I will usually grant. If you are reading this on any other genealogy website (other than through an RSS feed), then they have stolen my work.

No comments: