The following is an announcement from Pearl Street Software, owners of GenCircles:
GenCircles has been around for more than 4 years. In that time, the site has grown tremendously and now represents what I believe is an incredible resource. Unfortunately, what has come with this is a significant increase in our costs to provide this free service. We have reached the point where action needs to be taken in some fashion. I am reaching out to our users to get feedback and look for support for a plan I'm considering to fix this situation. I'd like to see GenCircles continue to exist and provide for genealogists for years to come. We must do something or else we will have no choice but to eventually shut the site down. This is very hard for me to fathom and something I am hoping we can prevent. However, we will need to start charging for something on our site if it's ever going to make it. I have a plan that I'd like your feedback on.
Here is our proposed solution:
GenCircles would remain free to search, view, and upload new data. The viewing of SmartMatches will come with a low annual fee of $30 per year. I believe this is a very fair rate since Ancestry's OneWorldTree sells for $50 per year, and most think it isn't as good as GenCircles' SmartMatching. If we implemented something like this and it was a success, GenCircles would actually be able to afford to have us spend a lot more time on it. The site would actually start improving again (for both free and paying customers) unlike the situation it's in now, where development has slowed down quite a bit as we've tried to control the costs.
Then, we went ahead with the plan after getting positive feedback... here's the result: https://www.gencircles.com/signup
I'd like to make it very clear that we're not charging for user data... we're just charging for SmartMatches and an ad-free experience. Everyone can still view, search, publish, etc data on GenCircles.