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what is the right way to ask?

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  • what is the right way to ask?

    What is the right way to ask people for dna data or to think about getting tested?

    On my tree i have 3 of the same named men, early 1800's, same little town in mass. very rare name. i have directory data hinting at relationships, but nothing good.

    i've traced each one to a few living descendants on ancestry. now how do i approach them asking for dna results?

    do i write everything up with a few good links and overwhelm them with information or do i shotgun it writing everyone or posting to a message board and see who responds and then explain it to them?

    has anyone cold called strangers for data like this? how did you do it, what were the results?

  • #2
    Hi rmwilliamsjr,

    I've done this once and then I started with asking if the person was interested in genealogy and explaining that we might be related and how. I got a very friendly answer, but unfortunately, that line had daughtered out (I was looking for Y-DNA).



    • #3
      Whatever approach you adopt, I would expect that apart from no response at all, you will get at least these two responses: "no not interested", and "may be interested but can't afford to pay", so I'd highly recommend that in your initail contact you offer to sponsor (i.e. pay for) the tests.


      • #4
        If you don't know these people I suggest you don't even mention DNA during your first contact. Tell them what you know and what you want to find out. Ask them if they can add any information to what you have.

        When you do bring up DNA let them know it can help provide the answers to the questions about the family relationship. As already mentioned be ready to pay for at least part, if not all of the test.

        If they are worried about the DNA being used against them in some way let them know there is no legal chain of possession and therefore no one really knows where the DNA came from. Offer to have the kits sent to you and returned to you. Use fake names if needed.

        Let them bring up the matter of concerns if they have any. If you bring it up you might scare them off. GO SLOW!


        • #5
          Jim's is the perfect response.

          People are strange and particularly guarded about things that they do not understand.

          I would not be overly vociferous to them about your willingness to pay at first. Feel them out, try to ignite their curiosity and provide them with links to FTDNA so they can get a better conceptual grasp. They might be willing to pay for it themselves, but be prepared to make an offer.


          • #6
            This also raises the question of where to test and how far to go ( i.e. 37 marker vrs. 111 marker). 23andme is considerably cheaper and might be more interesting for a newbie. It also gives y deep clade mtdna and relative finder. A Y test here with no subclade may not be particulary interesting for someone new.
            The disadvantage of 23andme had no marker values so a y test at ftdna would be necessary. I have a message at ancestry which makes such an offer.


            • #7
              My advice, don't give up on this. I've done this before and you have to be very honest and up front with people. I requested a Y-DNA test on a suspected relative and contacted him over e-mail to begin with. Eventually he called me to discuss it. I explained everything in detail and didn't pressure at all. I offered to pay for the entire test and explained that I would have no access to the results, but would appreciate being informed when they were posted. In the end, the test was an amazing success and I was able to prove that he and I shared a common great great great great grandfather born in the beginning of the 1800's. So overall, be patient but also be persistent. Always be 100% honest with you intentions as well. If you hit a dead end, don't give up. Redirect your efforts and eventually you'll have some good luck.


              • #8
                Originally posted by rmwilliamsjr View Post
                What is the right way to ask people for dna data or to think about getting tested? ... ... ...
                Just a note of my experiences so far.

                With my Y-DNA (to Y67), I have had some replies, and I think that has a lot to do with the projects I have joined, although I have had direct contact also, by PM. Nothing startling, yet, but at least responses.

                With mtDNA, it has been a reasonable response with replies - given I had only 9 matches to HVR2 and none at FGS. I had some excellent and friendly notes, including from mitoSearch matches. Sadly, my strongest match has not replied despite repeated attempts.

                With my recently obtained Family Finder results (and 61 matches although none better than 4th Cousin), I got one query directed to me (and I replied), but I have yet to hear a 'peep' from anyone I sent emails to with an 'introduction', including from my strongest matches. I'm wondering if it is because the FF autosomal has wider scope, and the matches can be from the tree, the trunk, the branches, and the leaves !!

                I am becoming more resigned to the fact that not everyone wants to make contact. But it still amazes me that, given their apparent no-contact philosophy, some folks still post their results for all to see. Why?

                All one can do is 'keep on keeping on', and try different angles to spark an interest, I guess.