I'd like to suggest a question in the FAQ on how to write a good question if it involves DNA matches. My ideal entry would give newbies to DNA research a checklist of information to include in order to prevent their question being too broad to be answerable.

This might include:

  • What company the person tested with
  • What test was taken
  • The exact wording of the message that says you have a match (not including the other member's name, but the rest of the message)
  • the number of cMs matched (if available)

The purpose of this FAQ would be to help the users meet our goal of writing "practical, answerable questions" as stated in What types of questions should I avoid asking?.

Your thoughts? What level of detail gives us enough information to answer the question, without being too much information (i.e. a violation of privacy)?

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One of the things I'd like to see is adherence to the privacy concerns addressed in the post A Matter of Consent on The Legal Genealogist. Judy G. Russell says:

What this means, put in simple terms, is that we should not take a screen capture of DNA results from a testing company and post it in a blog post or on Facebook with the names or pictures of our matches still attached unless we’ve asked those matches specifically if we can post it.

I encourage anyone who is involved with DNA research to read this post -- it gives a clear picture of the issues involves and provides links to the statements about what is ethical for several different organizations.

Our DNA question should follow our own guidelines that you don't post the name of other living people in your questions because even if the person writing the question has their consent, we have no way of confirming that.

One of the people commenting on Judy's post offers this suggestion about posting GEDMatch IDs:

Don’t share so much information that you run a risk of making people regret having transferred their results to GEDmatch.

To which Judy responds:

And perhaps, simply, don’t share identifying information — at all.

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I think this would be extremely valuable. My suggested content recommendations are the following base questions need to be covered to provide a more decisive answer. This expands on what you have and goes into some test specific questions.

I also did include the kit numbers as in other forums I see these very commonly posted even though they are for living individuals that on some of the sites can be used to obtain a full name if the user did not obscure it. Each of the respective sites (GEDMATCH, YSearch, & MITOSEARCH) all try to make though point you are publicly publishing you data and if you want privacy you shouldn't be publishing to them and or at least obscuring your identification when publishing.

  • Do NOT include any DNA test participants name in the question.
    • Do NOT include even if publicly available on the respective DNA testing site. Refer to them by their kit number, Kit A vs. B, or at most their initials.
    • Do NOT include screenshots of matches if it shows an individuals name, including your own. You must completely block out all names to be unreadable in screenshots or not include a screenshot.
  • What company did you test with?
    • This is important because different companies test and evaluate results differently.
  • What test(s) were taken and at what level?
    • Autosomal DNA (a.k.a. AncestryDNA, Family Finder, 23andMe, National Geographic)
    • mtDNA (HVR1, HVR2, Combined HVR1/2, a.k.a. mtDNA or mtDNA Full Sequence)
    • Y-DNA (i.e. Y-12, Y-25, Y-37, Y-46, Y-67, Y-111, Big-Y)
  • List Haplogroups involved, if known.
    • Note there is a Y-DNA Haplogroup and a mtDNA Haplogroup.
  • If asking about a match, What level did you match?
    • BigY
      • Matching SNP #
      • Known SNP Differences #
      • Known Non-Matching SNPs (list)
      • Known Matching Novel SNPs #.
    • Y-DNA
      • Genetic Distance
      • AND at what level they are that distant.
        • List the distance at the Highest Level matched and the level below it is most useful. Such as Y-111 is 109/111 but Y-67 is 67/67.*
      • If they kits are on YSearch, and what their kits number are if applicable on that site.
    • Autosomal DNA
      • Shared cMs (i.e. 125 cMs).
      • OR/and estimated Generational GAP (i.e. 3-5) with confidence level.
      • OR/and estimated Cousin Level.
      • If the results involved are on GEDMATCH, and what their kits number are if applicable on that site.
    • mtDNA
      • Genetic Distance
      • AND at what level (i.e. HVR1, HVR2, Coding Regions)
      • If the results involved are on MitoSearch, and what their kits number are if applicable on that site.

Example template of how to START out on a DNA question:

I tested with FamilyTreeDNA and took the FamilyFinder and Y-111 test. I have a match to someone at both the Y-DNA level of 64/67 and on Family Finder at 68 cMs. They do not appear at the Y-111 level. ...

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  • Upvoted, but I have one concern: if a kit number identifies a person on the site to anyone else who is a member there, that's functionally equivalent to posting their name. When you are showing a screenshot of your matches, it's generally advised to blur that information out. (I added an answer to this effect at the same time you wrote the comment below.) – Jan Murphy Jun 22 '15 at 17:45
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    @JanMurphy GEDMATCH, YSearch, MITOSEARCH, provide the opportunity to obscurify your name with something like so CRS_32434 or whatever you want. Ysearch does it automatically. We don't want people doing screenshots of Ancestry/23andMe/FamilyTreeDNA which shows their full name. I will add that clarification. – CRSouser Jun 22 '15 at 17:47

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