23andMe Wants You!


23andMe Wants You! 

In the early years of 23andMe DNA testing, the site seemed like a useful site for researchers. Then all that changed.

For the next few years, many genealogists and family history researchers felt unwelcome at 23andMe. Family trees were removed from the site, and moved to MyHeritage. There was no useful linking to these trees, and match profiles were closed by default. Among active researchers, 23andMe matches were notorious for never answering messages (in site), rarely granting matching, and not being interested in finding common ancestors, even if they replied. The messaging system was so bad that there was a Chrome add-on to make it usable!

Times have changed - family tree tools

The designers of the site seem to changing all that, and inviting us researchers back in. If you have a 23andMe kit and log onto the site, open up Settings and scroll to Preferences at the bottom of the Settings page, you will find the Beta. Select Become a tester, and you will have some new options available.

As a beta tester, in the FAMILY & FRIENDS menu, you will now see


The family trees are back in a different form. Beta testers can click the Family Tree, then wait a few minutes while a tree is generated. Once it pops up, you'll see yourself and your top matches and any close family members displayed at the bottom of the tree, and some question marks in circles. Click on one of the circles above your profile photo, and you'll be able to put in your parents, and then grandparents. Here is a bit of mine, so you can see the circles before and after you add information:
Lola McBee Cowan's parents in 23andMe Family Tree

If you choose the wrong spot for them, as I did at first, you can easily clear the information and add the ancestor who best explains your closest matches. Correctly choosing the placement will eventually help predict where unknown matches belong, I assume. So as you correct or confirm your relationship with your matches, I believe that your the tree will get more and more useful to you.

Here's how to edit or confirm relation that in the match's profile:
From DNA Relatives, my sister's profile: Edit Relationship


How to find and place DNA matches into your family tree 


23andMe has a new, exciting finding aid, and I hope you will try it.

Go back to Settings, scroll to Edit enhanced profile then Share a link to your online family tree. At that point, log onto FamilySearch. Then, you see your ancestors on 23andMe like this:

To 5th-Great-Grandparents are available

More in-depth information on using this new capability with lots of great screenshots: https://dna-explained.com/2019/08/20/23andme-connects-up-with-familysearch/

Seeing your own ancestors displayed is very cool. Suggestion: check each ancestor in the FamilySearch world family tree, and clean up any mistakes, duplicated profiles, etc. As more people opt into the beta, they will see the links to your ancestors, so you want to present well-sourced and correct profiles, family groups, and relationships. Note that the information displayed on 23andMe is not dynamic. At the top of your ancestor list you'll see the date on which you linked your tree. If you have made any major changes, especially linking different DNA ancestors, you'll want to refresh that information. 23andMe's link to do that is called upload your new tree.

Use the filter

To see who else in your DNA Relatives has opted into the beta and added their FamilySearch tree, go go DNA Relatives (Family & Friends > All DNA Relatives). Look on the left side of the page, where filters can be activated. The new filter, if you have opted into the beta:

Check the box to apply filter
As you can see, I have 5 DNA Relatives who have FamilySearch trees linked to their profiles, out of 1582. That is one more than last week -- word is spreading! Once you click the name of one of your matches, you can see their list of ancestors by scrolling down a bit. So far, one of my matches and I have identified our most recent common ancestor using this new tool from 23andMe!

If you have little to no experience with FamilySearch trees, start here: https://www.familysearch.org/blog/en/getting-started-shared-family-tree/

My goal this year was to get as many DNA match cousins placed on my family tree as possible. Since I have far more close matches on Ancestry, much of the work has been done there, and I'm well into 4th and 5th cousins. However, the other sites are all getting more and more kits uploaded, and have been improving their tools to help us genealogists and family historians. It is fabulous to see 23andMe join them.

Valorie Cowan Zimmerman

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