What topics can I ask about here? clearly says the site is not about

  • Locating identifiable living individuals

Because of this I would have voted to close Finding Korean War-Baby Brother using GEDmatch? as not being on topic for the site. Since I am a mod, I can't vote to close as a member of the community would because that would close the question unilaterally.

Why should we have a rule for the site that says we aren't going to be a party to attempts to hunt down living people via paper records, but all of a sudden, as soon as people are using DNA to do it, it's suddenly okay?

I would like to hear from other community members about your feelings on this, but especially from those of you who participated in the discussions when the Asking pages were written. What did you have in mind when the 'not about locating living individuals' rule was made?

Judy G. Russell's post on The Legal Genealogist from Nov 19, 2018, The Rights of the Living, is especially timely. It contains links to several statements of ethics from major organizations such as NGS and the APG.

  • 1
    Good question. I wasn't a member of the community when the Asking pages were written, so I'm going to hold-off posting an answer for now. Commented Nov 21, 2018 at 0:28

3 Answers 3


When we put together the asking pages, the concern was around "identifiable living" not only "living" (i.e. nobody reading a question should be able to identify themselves or somebody they know from the detail in the question) and also NOT locating (as in tracking down address, private contact details etc. -- even though many of us will know how to do that in our particular areas of expertise.) The guiding principle was that we shouldn't violate the privacy of a living person.

Seeking possibly-living individuals - clarity required was the key discussion at the time.

And as Cyn says, DNA sites for genealogy are all about making connections with or via living or recently deceased people. The individuals whose DNA is available for matching have posted that themselves, or given permission for it to be published (and I think we have to allow the various DNA sites to police that rather than trying to do it ourselves). What level of personal information are we happy to publish in DNA questions? seems very relevant in this context.

  • Thank you. That was what I'd thought from reading posts on Meta, and your comments on DNA match my views on the subject. Commented Nov 24, 2018 at 0:41

I think identifiable is the key word. My assumption was that this off-topic point was to prevent users from including identifying information about living individuals.

I see no reason why questions about finding living relatives can't be asked, as long as the privacy of those living relatives is respected.


This is a DNA match. Given the newness of the technology, all of your DNA matches are people who are currently alive or were alive pretty recently (a few rare exceptions for some historical DNA profiles, like Gedmatch has).

If we never allow discussion on living individuals, then we have to ban all posts about genetic genealogy with previously unknown matches.

I've certainly seen inappropriate posts about tracking down living people on the various genealogy groups/boards/lists. They get shut down pretty quickly. But this post was about a DNA match and asking if this match could be the OP's half sibling (nope).

Another important point is that, by definition, a DNA match is between two people who want to be found. Not only must you take the test, pay, and submit it, but you have to either choose a company that is dedicated to finding genetic relatives, or you have to turn on that option. To my mind, that makes speculating about the relationship fair game. Even more so in cases where the two people are in communication with each other.

I don't see how this post is more invasive of privacy or more problematic than any of the other genetic genealogy posts here and elsewhere.

You must log in to answer this question.

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