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  • Frustration with responses from Family Finder matches

    I received my Family Finder results not too long ago and have been more than happy with the service Family Tree DNA has provided. Even though I haven't been able to connect my family tree to any of my matches, I'm still fascinated that we share this common bond of DNA. I've even uploaded my raw data to gedmatch.com to gain additional matches.

    I chose FTDNA because of its reputation among genealogists and hoped that my matches would be as eager to discover a common ancestor as I am. I have a very well fleshed out family tree with just a few lines that abruptly stop at around the 3rd or 4th great-grandparent level, and my hope was that I might come across some clues to those lines via DNA cousins. I also hoped that I might be able to help others out, considering I have a well researched and documented ancestry (crossing my fingers there aren't any NPEs ).

    While I haven't been able to draw a connection to any of my 13 close matches, I have initiated a few correspondences with a few very nice and helpful matches. On the other hand, I haven't received responses from others, which surprises me since I thought most of us were drawn to this company for the genealogical aspect.

    When I send an introductory email to a match, I'm friendly and try to let my matches know how excited I am to explore common ancestry via our Family Finder results. I then include links to my personal site with pedigree charts for each of my grandparents along with a very brief summary of those sides of my family (dates, origins, etc.). I'll mention where I think we may be connected based on surnames they've listed on the FTDNA profile (I have vastly different backgrounds on each of my grandparents so this makes it fairly easy), but I also let them know that I'm keeping an open mind that we may very well connect on another line. I also ask if they'd be willing to share their GEDCOM or at least a detailed family tree for a few generations - I am more than willing to do the bulk of the leg work.

    Often, when I DO receive a response which seems to be only 50% of the time following the email I outlined above, a match will usually respond briefly and say that they don't recognize any of my names and then simply include a list of surnames - no context whatsoever - dates, places, marriages, etc. I'm surprised that they've put so much money into this product but appear to be reluctant to pursue common ancestry with others. I feel bad responding and asking them to offer more - I don't want them to think I'm pushy. I guess I should outright ask if they'd be willing to assist me in exploring our connection further.

    Perhaps my matches have far more matches than I have and are fatigued by the process. I really wish Family Tree DNA could do more to encourage people to share family trees. I think it would be great if FTDNA could offer a small discount to those who upload GEDCOMS to their accounts.

    Does anyone have suggestions or tips to increase the response rate from your matches?

  • #2
    what to do

    Originally posted by jennyology View Post
    Does anyone have suggestions or tips to increase the response rate from your matches?
    I have encountered the same situation that you have described and I have posted a few messages saying about the same thing that you have said. I have not posted a GEDCOM but I am happy to share surnames, dates, and places and to point people to my ancestry.com tree which I feel is much more useful than a GEDCOM.

    I would rather that the uncommunicative ones NOT associate an e-mail address with their accounts if they are not interested in genealogy to the degree that I am.

    My closest match (3rd cousin, etc.) insists that we are NOT related. I didn't know what else to say to him after that.

    Others have insisted that in their family, no one had surnames, yadda, yadda, yadda.

    My next approach is to pay for several of my key cousins to be tested. That way I'll be able to figure it out for myself.

    Comment


    • #3
      I've had much better luck here than at 23andMe. On their "Relative Finder" page, I've sent an introduction to the closest 20 matches, but the only people to even acknowledge my inquiry were two people whose profiles were already public. We're now "sharing genomes," but one hasn't responded to a subsequent message.

      Here at FTDNA I'm running about an 80% reply rate to my 24 FF matches. Most of them responded with at least a surname list, some geographical locations, and more information for those who hadn't already posted GEDCOMs. I've been corresponding with a few of them back and forth every week or so. We still haven't figured how we're related, but I've used their information to focus my research.

      Originally posted by econnore View Post
      My next approach is to pay for several of my key cousins to be tested. That way I'll be able to figure it out for myself.
      That's a good idea... The cousin part I mean, I'm not so sure about the paying part .

      Comment


      • #4
        One may feel frustrated but there are many solid reasons for some folk not wishing to get too involved. One of my close matches outlined their daily schedule and it was clear thet they had a great deal on their plate.

        Many folk are reluctant to become too closely involved with strangers and this too is understandable. The predominance of pen-names can bear witness to that.

        Some folk have very limited objectives in taking a test at all. Not all are interested in family history. There are many more reasons, all quite acceptable, for unenthusiastic responses so we have to live with it.

        However, that being said, it would be nice perhaps if folk could/would indicate at the start what their situation is.

        For example, if they have no intention of dishing out ancestral names they could put a comment to that effect in the place where the ancestral names usually appear.

        One idea, and potential fun, is for FTDNA to allow a "title" (as some forums do) that one chooses to indicate one's level of involvement. I, for example, might be a "Ferret". Others might be a "Dormouse".

        How about some more "Titles"?

        Comment


        • #5
          One issue I have is I have a family tree for just my maternal and paternal lines. These are very large French families often with nine or more children. It would take me years of research to develop a tree that could incorperate cousins who do not share those names.
          Brunetmj
          FTDNA Customer
          Last edited by Brunetmj; 21 April 2011, 06:26 PM.

          Comment


          • #6
            Sigh.

            Meanwhile, I too have a closer match (3-5th cousin), with a surname that matches my maternal grandfathers mothers maiden name.

            The father of my match was born 40km away from my grandfathers birthplace in East Prussia.

            Sounds pretty good. But no response so far.

            Comment


            • #7
              I'm having the same issue

              I haven't had replies from several 4th cousins.
              And even a 3rd cousin who is very reticent and not wishing to communicate.

              I'm so annoyed. I send them a link to my tree with a very nice polite email message. My tree is full and goes back 5-9 generations. I'm willing to do the work and pinpoint the common ancestor for them.
              After all ... it's probably going to be easy because my tree is so informative.
              It's not such hard work with a full tree ... it's often not terribly difficult spotting the connection when one has all the siblings available.
              I can tell they've accessed the the tree link ....but haven't bothered to reply to me.

              I do have a paternity issue there and the 3rd cousin match is very important to me.

              Why oh why do people participate in a geneology service if they don't want to share info ?
              Perhaps they don't want to explore all of their history? Maybe only doing this to find some Jewish or Native American? Or perhaps it's not even them who did the test?

              If anyone has some useful technique to get these people to communicate I'm all ears !!!

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by royfarnol View Post
                One may feel frustrated but there are many solid reasons for some folk not wishing to get too involved. One of my close matches outlined their daily schedule and it was clear thet they had a great deal on their plate.

                Many folk are reluctant to become too closely involved with strangers and this too is understandable. The predominance of pen-names can bear witness to that.

                Some folk have very limited objectives in taking a test at all. Not all are interested in family history. There are many more reasons, all quite acceptable, for unenthusiastic responses so we have to live with it.

                However, that being said, it would be nice perhaps if folk could/would indicate at the start what their situation is.

                For example, if they have no intention of dishing out ancestral names they could put a comment to that effect in the place where the ancestral names usually appear.

                One idea, and potential fun, is for FTDNA to allow a "title" (as some forums do) that one chooses to indicate one's level of involvement. I, for example, might be a "Ferret". Others might be a "Dormouse".

                How about some more "Titles"?
                What about :

                - 'rude and not interested'
                - or 'devious' (ulterior motives and not even me who did the test - but I'm not going to tell you that)
                - or 'too busy'
                - or 'I don't know ...it's my wife who is doing this thing for me'
                - 'did the test but now I've got to keep the family secrets'
                - or 'I have no idea who my ancestors are'

                LOL it's a struggle

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by genopj View Post
                  What about :

                  - 'rude and not interested'
                  - or 'devious' (ulterior motives and not even me who did the test - but I'm not going to tell you that)
                  - or 'too busy'
                  - or 'I don't know ...it's my wife who is doing this thing for me'
                  - 'did the test but now I've got to keep the family secrets'
                  - or 'I have no idea who my ancestors are'

                  LOL it's a struggle
                  --'just throw me a bone' [me]
                  --'so famous we don't use last names' [most of them]
                  --'hi, cuz' [the wonderful ones; you know who you are]

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by econnore View Post
                    --'just throw me a bone' [me]
                    --'so famous we don't use last names' [most of them]
                    --'hi, cuz' [the wonderful ones; you know who you are]
                    or ....
                    - 'you're not as high-class as me and I don't want to go any further'
                    LOL that one's quite bad !!!!

                    or....
                    - 'you've got this ethnicity/religion in your tree and I definitely don't have any of that in my tree. I'm going to ignore you as I'm 100% of the ethnicity I strongly identify with' (?really)
                    - 'my family came out on the first ships .... you've obviously made a mistake thinking we are cousins'
                    really? We didn't all fit on the Mayflower
                    - 'someone bought this for me for Christmas and I'm not interested in geneology'
                    - 'oh bother .... I thought I gave them that email address I hardly ever use'
                    - 'I'm getting really tired of this ... I keep getting all these matches'
                    genopj
                    Registered User
                    Last edited by genopj; 22 April 2011, 01:01 AM.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I ran about 40% responses in Affy. I have only tried once to contact an Illumina but no response from the Brit...On 23and me, about 10% respond. I looked at the MYLife site today & found that a 50 year old housewife from Beverley Hills did a search for me in January. I remember getting a decline to my invitation to share genomes in that month. I guess Spokane isn't high class enough...

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        It is frustrating however, let me give you my situation. I manage 6 kits about to be 8. This is for my family and my husbands. When you write to someone please include the kit number that you match. It helps a lot.

                        I haven't created a family tree but truthfully I have so little information about both sides of my family. My grandmother was adopted, Newfoundland doesn't have an extensive paper trail (pre 1890) and my mothers parents came from Lithuania. However, that is no excuse. I should prepare a gedcom of what little I do know. I truly appreciate those people who share their gedcoms with me. I know it took a lot of work and their sharing shows that they really want to help me help them find our match. Another hinderance is that I manage some cousin kits and I am only interested in the side we share. There isn't anything I can do about a cousin who wishes to remain anonymous. I share what I know about both sides but since I know so little about my own family and less about the other side it is hard. As for my husband's family, they have a lot of history and someone on that side needs to do a gedcom. They wanted to test but sometimes even I question why.

                        A few months ago I got an email when we were in the middle of a family emergency. The timing was just bad and they didn't say what kit they matched. I can't find it. I would recommend that if someone doesn't reply to try a few months later, it might be worth it.

                        I did family finder to find family connections. I am not fortunate enough to be filling in some limbs I am looking for the big branches right off the trunk. I will work with anyone to try and find a match however, due to the reality of my life it may not be an immediate response. I have gotten more requests from people who tested with 23andme than with FF. They found our match from gedmatch. Gotta love gedmatch! Everyone should download their raw data there JMHO.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          When you write to someone please include the kit number that you match. It helps a lot.
                          Kit number? In FamilyFinder, all that is available is a link to initiate an email. No kit number is visible. On my email subject line, I put "Family Finder match (their surname)

                          I should prepare a gedcom of what little I do know.
                          Yes, please!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I wish I was one of your matches! I'd love to have someone close w/that much information & willingness. I have the some experience as others; but I also have the Ashkenazi effect (too many results). In fact, I got this message on my FF page today - maybe this will reduce my results effectively.

                            You are seeing this message because we believe you have some Eastern European Jewish ancestry [note - duh] and are therefore part of an endogamous population. Over the next few weeks, we will be modifying our Family Finder matching algorithm. The changes will affect the match list for Ashkenazi Jews. We are implementing this strategy to down weight your match relations to reflect more accurately your relationship to other Ashkenazi Jews in our Family Finder system.
                            But I have the same frustrations. It sounds like you're doing the right things. Other people have searched for their match on Facebook and surprisingly, have made contact there. (Once you initiate the email from FTDNA, you can copy their email address & search Facebook).
                            Overall, though, I try to not let the lack of response take away from the ones who do work with me. One distant relative even took photos of my gr-grandparents's headstones for me since he lived in the area.

                            And I totally second the suggestion that FamilyTreeDNA politely poke at their constituents, asking them to upload surnames & gedcoms and give supporting evidence why this is helpful.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Yes, where do you find the kit number? I came up with that for one of my matches, who was managing several kits. She was very nice about it, but it took her a little time to figure it who I matched.

                              I now have 24 matches. I've e-mailed them all. I haven't done a count lately, but it seems responses are getting less frequent, with the more recent matches. I am guessing it's because they are the folks who are the later Illumina conversions, the ones who didn't specifically request it. So it makes sense they may be less motivated.

                              My overall response rate is under 50 percent, I'm sure. Those who respond are pleasant enough, but we have yet to find our specific connection.

                              I'm not sure I can offer much that is appealing! All my matches are speculative, 4th and 5th to distant. They all seem to be people with long histories in America, with English and Scots-Irish ancestry. So I assume that's the connection.

                              But my family, both sides, has a relatively short history in the US. The family line, paternal and maternal, quickly goes back to Europe. The paternal Scottish side, while probably easier to trace, is of less interest to me than the maternal Slovenian side, where I at least have put together a gedcom. Both sides go back only to my first great-grandparents.

                              I share the above information, along with surnames, in my initial messages. Maybe I should share less, so I seem more promising :-)

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