Contact Your Matches Soon!

A Segment-ology TIDBIT

Contact your Matches soon! This is an imperative!

Over 12 million atDNA kits have been sold. Two of the largest companies are AncestryDNA and MyHeritage, who really push for hefty, annual subscriptions. Because of this, and several other reasons, our Matches are dropping out in droves. If you don’t act quickly, many Matches may never see your message. NB: AncestryDNA, 23andMe and MyHeritage all use a messaging system – if your Match pulls the plug, you may miss out on the chance to ever make contact.


-Make up a standard message to include your real name and email, and perhaps a link to your Tree. Express your desire to determine your Common Ancestor(s), and promise to help them through the DNA maze (if you’re reading this blog, you already know more than most Newbies.)

-Send this message to your newest Matches – while they are still logging on to see their ethnicity and closest Matches – before they decide to drop out.

-Give them a way to contact you later (maybe after they lose interest in DNA)

-You will STAND OUT as one of thousands of other Matches, as someone who cares enough to make contract, and as someone who may be able to help them.

-As always, the recommendation is to start with your closest Matches and work your way down the list, as your time allows. Include as many new Matches as possible.


[22S] Segment-ology: Contact Your Matches Soon TIDBIT; by Jim Bartlett 20180415

28 thoughts on “Contact Your Matches Soon!

  1. I have contacted a number of my matches from both and FTDNA. Most have not replied at all. I have also been contacted by a few with private trees who want to discuss a possible connection. the first group bother me but only because they do not give any answer even if no. Of the people with private or no tree who contact me I give the same answer- either post a public tree or I can not be of help. I have over 45,000 matcher with and most do not have a tree of any type posted. At FTDNA I have only had one person refuse to cooperate. He said he would only work with people with his surname. My 2nd Great Grandfather on my surname line was a NPE. I try to contact anyone who’s match look possible and will cooperate with those looking for family do to adoptions. I have gained several cousins when several of us worked together to figure out if and where the adoptee fit in the family. Having even a wrong tree helped there as we had a start point as to what they knew already.


    • James, There are a lot of different reasons why someone takes a DNA test – many different objectives which don’t coincide with my own. I’ve been a genealogist for over 40 years, and I try to lead by example – I share what I have with everyone. It doesn’t always work, but I’m at peace with that. Jim

      Liked by 1 person

    • I think there needs to be an option for a small charge to maintain messaging and contact services without search capabilities.
      At the moment the system is rather like paying a large regular amount to keep a hostage alive.
      Two things you can do to help yourself if you stop paying a sub. – 1)make sure you have set preferences so that you receive notifications of messages sent
      2)when you send anyone a message, include an email address. If they have stopped their subscription but are still receiving notifications, they will still be able to email you.
      These steps certainly work for one of those providers.
      But that provider seems to have changed available access options for people from time to time and some people do not realize these options are available.


  2. Hi Jim,

    One thing I am finding at Ancestry is that some of these testers are just putting their toe in the water and they do not have a subscription which enables them to view the tree link I send to them. Fortunately I have my my paternal side on Wikitree and so I do send that along for paternal matches. I always provide at least a tree link and if possible I tell them something about their nearest ancestor in my tree. Even if they don’t respond, they will have some useful material someday if they choose to get interested.


  3. Hello Jim, Thanks for your blog today. I miss these when you are not talking. I’ve been having really good luck with response from matches at 23&me. With TNE I began trying to write every match with our YES matches included in the message. I save the match list of each person and keep a master list of matches at the segments on each chromosome. It is very revealing without a lot of work and the matches on each segment are included in a list that pretty well line up my maternal and paternal surnames. This has led to more and more matches at ancestryDNA trees with my 23&me matches. Very pleased with the results after very nearly 700 personal contacts with matches. Still a work in progress but seems to prove itself the more matches I work with. Have you considered writing a blog about how this EU stuff is going to impact us on autosomal work……………..all I’ve seen so far seems towards yDNA with little or no comment on autosomal sharing. Again, always appreciate your messages wherever seen. Linda Stanfill McKee


    • Linda, Thanks for the kind words. I love the 23andMe “Yes”s – just wish there was a toggle to see only the Yes Matches! Under the old experience, with FIA, I wrote to every Match, and thereby kept them on my list. I’m not a lawyer, and won’t be writing about the GDPR. I feel the companies will tell us what to do. And FTDNA has already – I am a surname Admin and have access to that info, but I’ve always been very careful to protect privacy. Jim


      • Jim, Appreciate your thoughts on the EU privacy issue. What I am trying to figure out on the contacts at 23&me is the tiny little message box where we share with the match goes straight to their inbox. Would there be a chance of privacy breach when the information is directly from 23&me message box on my private account to the match personal inbox? I’ve yet to see any discussion on this issue. These member accounts all seem to be very well guarded by 23&me. I’ve not seen any particular mention of autosomal vs yDNA etc with the FTDNA output. All seems to be treated the same based on the FTDNA emails. Linda


  4. Dear Jim,

    I have done enough segment mapping to understand the power of it but don’t have mush time to invest in it right now. When I retire, I will do this.

    Lou (a member of your Metzger/Kieppert TG)


  5. there its a limit on how many messages you can send on ancestry before you get marked as spammer and then blocked. What are you doing to prevent that ?


    • R H – three things: 1) I try to change the subject line or the first sentence slightly; 2) I contacted AncestryDNA when they first started blocking me – I showed them the standard message I was sending, and they agreed I was not a spammer and lifted the block; and 3) I spread my workload around to the various companies so I don’t send a lot in one sitting. Jim


      • thank you for responding. For me I tend to want to work on something until I finish or do a significant portion before I move on to something else. 23andme does not have this limit. I wish ancestry would increase the limit before they mark you as spammer. After all ancestry should know we have lots of matches and if they want us to communicate with them it seems they could help by increasing the limit or not having it :). Takes a lot of time to create an individual message for each one.


      • R H – again – I use a standard message most of the time, and modify it slightly, some of the time (I’m trying to get around a computer algorithm, not a real person). If you still have trouble, call AncestryDNA and talk with them. Jim


    • R H – 1) I have a standard message with a place for my input – e.g. “I agree with the Ancestry Hint that our Common Ancestor is ” – I then just fill in the blank space and hit sent. 2) I use several title phrases – e.g. We share a lot of DNA; Some of our Shares Matches have the same Ancestor; etc. 3) when I was blocked as a spammer years ago, I contacted AncestryDNA and gave them samples of my standard messages – they’ve not blocked me since.


  6. Only very rarely do people get in contact with me. Feel that there are just not that many people who are interested in pursuing things. I used to contact quite a lot of people, not now, loads of work for such little response. I still do the work though, hooked as I am. Thank goodness for Gedmatch but even there so few people bother to publish their surname interests.


    • David, I think overall I get about 40% response (counting some followups) – so if I send out 10, I’ll eventually get 4; if I send out 100; I’ll get 40. And my Common Ancestor rate is 650 based on about 10,000 Matches so about 6.5% return. Actually, I haven’t contacted all 10,000 Matches (now up to 15,000 Matches with a recent download from MyHeritage – with which I am just getting started), so my ROI for CAs is somewhat higher. The BOTTOM LINE: you reap a percentage of what you sow – so sow as much as you can! Jim


  7. Thanks for the reminder Jim. I always include my e-mail address in my message at the sites that use a messaging system. And I ask if they will send me their own e-mail address. Quite a few times that has helped to bypass the message system. I have also heard back from persons I have contacted years after my original message. You never know when one of your messages will strike gold.


    • Veronica – I use a spreadsheet, and from time to time, I sort it and move smaller segments out of the main list. This “forces” me to focus on the larger, usually more productive, segments. If/when I get through all the longer segments, I can always lower the threshold a smidgen. But, so far, my experience is that I keep raising the threshold – I’m using 15cM regularly, and still am behind. And from time to time, I add the smaller segments back in and look for the ones that fall into Triangulated Groups I’m pretty sure of – these smaller segments in those TGs are sometimes found to have MRCAs several more generations back;>j Jim


      • Jim, I am using Genome Mate Pro which I like because it makes you focus on each chromosome. I regularly try and make sure I’ve contacted all my higher matches, regularly change my view options. As you say though Ancestry, 23andMe and MH all have inherent problems due to messaging. I agree sometimes people get back months later, so you shouldn’t give up trying! I try and at least contact all my 4C matches at Ancestry and MH but it takes a lot of time and effort when you manage multiple kits. 23and me is difficult. I try and keep us sending sharing invites but it seems to be never ending!


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