Our guidelines for what is on-topic say:

Please note: You must not include here in any circumstances information (including name, date and place of birth or any other details) that would allow identification of any living (or possibly) living individual by somebody reading this site. In practice, this means details about anyone born in the last 100 years, whether they are believed to be deceased or not, and whether or not they have given their permission.

The current popularity of DNA research for genealogy, particularly in identifying the bio-parents of adoptees, makes it seem likely that we will get many questions like these:

Obviously with adoptees trying to identify a bio-parent, there is no way for them to know whether the parent(s) are deceased, no matter what privacy rule we designate.

I find the whole issue of adoptees using DNA to find bio-family troubling. Sites which are set up for birth parents and adoptees to find each other again are by nature an "opt-in" scenario -- if you don't want to be found, you don't join those sites. But with DNA, anyone who does a test for their own genealogical purposes gets their DNA tossed into the database with all the adoptees -- there may be some "opt-out" provisions, but using features like privatizing a DNA kit or not seeing close matches aren't ideal -- they may hinder people from doing their own genealogical research.

One possible solution to the problem with the current question about Ancestry DNA might be to edit the question to ask about using the data to ID a more distant relative. The mechanism for how you rule out one line would still be the same.

Are we happy with what we've talked about already? Is it time for a review?

Previous discussions are at:

2 Answers 2


I am of the opinion that it is not for me to question the motives for someone researching their family history. Whether someone wants to identify their biological father, or their great great great great grandfather, it doesn't matter. Both are family history questions, and both should have a place on this site.

What does matter, for the purposes of this site, is that no identifiable information about living persons is given. The question linked contains no such information, and is primarily a question on research methods. Editing the question to make it more vague would serve no purpose other than possibly make answers less useful to the asker.

I would be cautious adding more 'rules' about what can and can't be asked, without clear criteria. Simply no questions containing identifying information about living people (or born in last 100 years) is straightforward and easily enforceable.

We all have different opinions about the use of DNA for genealogy. The fact is, it is out there, and a tool that many people can and want to use. Whether or not we agree with certain uses of DNA on a personal level is neither here nor there.

  • 1
    I agree. I added a comment to that question as a reminder about the site rules to preempt any subsequent edit that might have added identifiable information, and I'd encourage others to do so in future for the same reason. Commented Apr 20, 2018 at 0:28

Motives for family history research aren't any of our business, nor how far back an individual is researching their tree. Nor should we take a view on the morality/advisability/whatever of a particular line of research, or what other websites do or do not allow or encourage. Family history by its very nature can throw up unpleasant surprises, even if you're only following the paper trail (let me introduce you to my lying bigamous grand-father who abandoned two wives with young children...)

Publishing identifiable DNA details themselves would break our rules (and you've linked to a discussion we've had about what constitutes identifiable DNA data in the past), but asking about the process doesn't, nor does explaining why you're following it.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .