November 24, 2015

Social Genealogy: The Mistakes You Made That Sent Potential Cousins Away

Social Genealogy: The Mistakes You Made That Sent Potential Cousins Away…And How You Can Fix Them

One Administrator, Many Trees

As genealogy and DNA sharing has evolved, there is still one very important rule to follow: Whether you’re sending a message to someone who administers another tree in Ancestry, or you’ve seen a thread in Roots web surname or location lists, or, you think you have a close cousin connection in any of the various DNA testing sites like 23andMe or others, the one thing you can do to further your research easily and quickly is to BE SPECIFIC when you contact them.

Periodically, I’ll get a message from someone who has been looking at the 23andMe site where I am the administrator for three different people: myself, my brother and my husband. Most of the time, I can determine which genome they want to connect with because I recognize a surname or they actually TELL ME which one they were looking at.

What should you include in your communication with a potential cousin? Here’s some ideas.

  • The name of the tree, or specific person’s name for a genome. For instance, you want to connect with me and were in my Yates (1) tree. Please note that specific criteria.
  • Are you looking at a genome? Was it Dave ____, Carol ___ or Jim___?
  • Are you replying to a thread about a surname? Please include a first name of your ancestor with that surname if you have one. Include any dates or locations as well. This would hold true as well for inquiries about a location.
  • Are you sending an email? Please don’t put “genealogy” or “family” in the subject line. That means nothing to anyone and will likely get deleted. Instead, have it read something like, “Re: Joe Black, 1812, TN”. (I have three Smith lines, hence the request for a first name when contacting me).
  • Tip: If you choose not to include your email address in the body of the email, but still want to share it with your recipient, just write it as webducky AT (instead of the @ symbol) People are more apt to reply via email than through the website’s message feature. Including your full email address online is a sure way to ‘invite’ email scrapers to send you spam.
  • Tip 2: Follow the rule of WHO, WHY, WHAT, WHEN WHERE.

The bottom line here is, you need to provide the most information to your recipient to ensure your success.

Be courteous and forgive someone if they don’t reply right away. You don’t know what’s going on in their lives. Genealogy and genome sharing is fun and helps to share a clue to ‘who am I’? for everyone involved.

Thanks for reading. Have a comment or suggestion for this topic? Please do! Interested in what your DNA says about you? Feel free to click the 23andMe graphic in the sidebar.

© Carol Wilkerson – 2015 All rights reserved.

You might also like to read:

How DNA Testing With 23andMe Averted Serious Surgical Complications

Genealogy: Why You Still Need To Use Message Boards And Mailing Lists


It was important to me to have my DNA tested now so it was “banked” and might be a source of future studies for my health. Today, I read an article that poses the question, “Is Fibromyalgia A Mitochondrial Disorder?“. I maintain that I have had fibromyalgia all of my life. I may not have always known it, but I felt the effects when I was very young and they have never ever gone away.

While I understand  :-( the reasoning behind the FDA limiting the health results of those of us who have taken the 23andMe DNA tests (my brother has also taken the tests to fully round out our DNA profiles) but it infuriates me a bit that I may have a medical breakthrough in my reach, but not in my grasp. I won’t go into the money and lawsuits part of it all, but suffice it to say that’s probably what drives the reasoning behind it.

I invite any of my genealogy/DNA savvy friends to weigh in and leave their thoughts.

My 23andMe Results Are In! I\’m Pleasantly Surprised!


A J Jacobs Global Family Reunion Set For 06 June 2015 In NY

In case this event hasn’t been on your radar, please add the date to your calendar for A J Jacobs’ (yes, we are cousins!) Global Family Reunion to take place in New York on 06 June 2015. He’s hoping to break the Guinness World Record in a completely familial way, by showing that we all are related.

Guest Webinar – A J Jacobs Click on the link to view it. Runs 43 minutes.
Personally, I think this is brilliant because it makes logical sense. No, I’m not a Vulcan, but logic pretty much guides my life and my research in turn. How?

Logic and Genealogy

  • Here’s one example, when you add birth and death dates for someone, and then add a child born to the mother it’s logical (but not impossible) that the female can’t have children too close in age to her own.
  • Using logic you look at the location of where your ancestor lived and when they don’t show up in a census for that location, maybe they didn’t move but the county or state boundaries did so.
  • Using logic you know that everyone on this planet is of human origin, and anthropologists have proven we originated in one location (Africa) and then we migrated all over the planet. It’s not too much of a stretch to think we all might be cousins.

AJ Jacobs - Carol Yates Wilkerson

From Six Mothers – Many Tribes

Genealogy Tips and Advice

How Do Cousins Get Removed Or Ignored

  • Quick post for my readers who get confused over what it means when someone tells you you’re X amount of times removed. Read this article from Ancestry that explains why and how it happens.
English: A chart illustrating the different ty...

English: A chart illustrating the different types of cousins, including genetic kinship marked within boxes in red which shows the actual genetic degree of relationship (gene share) with ‘self’ in percentage (%). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

DNA Cousins Are A Special Breed And It’s Harder To Determine A Surname Connection

I have three different DNA results on 23andMe for my brother, me and my husband Jim and my email address is used for cousin connection for all three. I’ve also uploaded our raw data to GedMatch that also includes a way to connect as well via email. Three results to maintain and cousins contacting me makes for a bit of confusion because…

  • They don’t consider that there might be one person maintaining multiple profiles for family members. [Include which person’s DNA profile you were looking at].
  • Their message is so cryptic and lacking in even the basic details like how they think there might be a connection. Just this week I got an email that said, “We’re cousins! Welcome to our ever growing family tree.” Huh? [At least try to add your main surnames so we can check our family tree index. I don’t have a memory of each of my thousands of surnames].
  • It doesn’t occur to them to further the possibility of proving a connection by also including their family tree on a site like Ancestry for comparison. [How can we connect if we don’t have any way to compare surnames? Let’s make it as easy as possible to do that.]

Make a small flow chart to post near your computer so you remember to include as much as you can in correspondence. Include as much personal information as you’re comfortable sharing (First and last name, email address where you can be contacted; a link to your tree where it can be viewed online; your website or blog address, etc.)

Source for Cousin Relationship chart “Defining Cousins.” Defining Cousins. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Feb. 2015.  Rootsweb/Ancestry