Thursday, January 27, 2011

23 and Me Results - 614 Matches in Relative Finder

That's right, I have 614 Relative Finder matches. I was just hoping to get a few. 

I ordered the 23 and Me test around Thanksgiving when they started the big sale but waited three weeks before finally getting psyched up to spit. My kit arrived at their lab on December 18th and the initial results, which included my Maternal Haplogroup, came in on January 24th so it took just over five weeks. My main interest is in the Relative Finder part of the test and those results became available 2 days later on the 26th.

Relative Finder is basically a list of people who are predicted to be your cousin based on shared DNA. They provide a predicted level of relationship - like 4th cousin - but can't tell you how you might be cousins. That's up to you and the people you match to figure out. 

614. Seriously.

One of the first things I realized was that I should have been studying about this whole process while I was waiting for the results. Since I didn't do that, I spent most of yesterday trying to figure out where to start. I still need to do a good deal of reading but here's how I decided to approach things - at least for now.

Your profile can be set to either private or public. If you make it public you control which items you make public. Since I want to make connections with these potential cousins, I decided public was the way to go and included my name, country of birth, country of residence, ancestry, and, most importantly, family surnames. I added every surname I know through my 6th great-grandparents and even included some possible names for brick walls that are unproven.  

Even though my profile is public, I still have to contact the people I match to see if they are interested in comparing family trees. Some people use 23 and Me for the health related part of the tests and they have no interest at all in the genealogy parts so there is no expectation that all of my 614 cousins will want to play "Who's Our Common Ancestor?" with me. Since I have a website with most of my data I decided to add a page that might be useful in sorting out these relationships. I listed the same surnames that I included in my 23 and Me profile and added a link to my closest ancestor with that surname. I also included a list of some of the places where my ancestors lived. That page is here.

The other thing I decided was to start by contacting the people on my list who have made their profile public and listed some of their surnames. I'm thinking they are likely to be the most motivated to figure out their connections. I did send one contact yesterday to someone who didn't meet that criteria because at 3rd cousin they are the closest predicted relationship and so were first on my list.

The thought of trying to figure out how I am related to 614 people is starting to seem like an impossible task. Heck the thought of trying to figure out how I am related to 25 people sounds pretty daunting. How can you even do that? I mean lets say I match with someone and we figure out we have a common ancestor. Is that then definitely the reason we matched or is it possible that we have some other common ancestor that one or both of us do not know? Obviously, I still have a lot to learn about this process.

This is going to be a long term project. If anyone has experience with 23 and Me's Relative Finder, I'd love to hear any advice you have.


  1. I am thinking a special group of Geneablogger 23 and Me Newbies should form! I hope to learn from those that are ahead of me. But we need to all compare notes on this stuff and maybe we can help each other. Very nice post Linda!

  2. Lisa, Susan at Long Lost Relatives - - has a blog roll for DNA posts so that should be a good resource.

    Definitely we all need to compare notes and help each other out.

  3. Great post and idea about the page. And I like a newbie group idea too.

    I'm poring over my father's results (he actually did what he was supposed to do!) and am a little overwhelmed - 990 "relatives" though most are 4th cousins or more. Practically there'll be little chance of finding connections since we only go back a couple generations on his side.

  4. Linda, This is wonderful, I'm so impressed. Also, your list of surnames and places is a nifty idea, but I wish my names were on your list!

  5. Oh my! 990! I am overwhelmed with 614. Honestly, I'm starting to see this as a hopeless cause. I hope I'm wrong.

  6. Hmmm ... I'm wondering whether I should try this? I think I'll wait and see what kind of experience you have.

  7. My 337 now seems rather puny! All mine are predicted 4th cousin or later. You're lucky to have a predicted third cousin in there.

    I'd join a geneablogger DNA newbie group.

  8. "...getting psyched up to spit."

    "play Who's Our Common Ancestor?

    You crack me up.

    And it looks like you have your work cut out for you. Good luck!


  9. Barbara - Thanks. I wish we had some names in common too.

    Greta - Oh heck, just jump in and be as confused and overwhelmed as the rest of us that have taken this plunge.

    Shelley - I just read your post today and learned there are separate settings for making the profile public everywhere. I'll go do that next. (BTW, I have a niece who moved to Australia, she lives in the Brisbane area.)

    C - You constantly crack me up.

    Kathleen - Thanks.

  10. Hi Linda,
    It is great and you will have fun sorting it all out! Don't despair with the number though.

    You'll probably find only a fraction of those 614 will make or accept contact (unfortunately). Many people are testing for medical reasons only and aren't avid genealogists like us.

    Even a fraction will keep you busy for a long time!

  11. I'm in the same situation with almost 1000 potential cousins. My results became available a few days ago. A few people have accepted my sharing request. So far, I have no clue how we are related. I will concentrate on the closest- 4th, 5th, and maybe 6th cousins.
    Good luck and I hope you make some matches.