I am a member of several DNA Facebook groups and a common frustration you will see is when someone contacts a match and the match doesn't answer, there is no tree attached to their DNA, or they have their tree marked as private. Here are a few things to consider:
- The person is not a genealogist and took a DNA test just for their ethnicity report. All of the DNA advertisements on TV focus on ethnicity because that appeals to non genealogists. These testers log in to see their results and then never log in again
- The person doesn't work on their genealogy full time like some of us do. They only log in once in a while so they aren't seeing their messages immediately
- The person is a newbie genealogist just starting out. They may only have their tree sketched out on paper and haven't tried to construct a tree online or by using a genealogy software program. They may not know what a gedcom is
- The person is adopted and has no clue about their biological family so they don't have a tree
- The person has a close misattributed parentage issue and doesn't want to advertise it so they keep their tree private
- The person is working off of mirror trees which must be kept private (A mirror tree is when you create a tree for a cousin match and then attach your DNA to it in hopes of discovering which line this cousin match is on or even the most recent common ancestor. This technique is used a lot by adoptees)
- The person in control of the DNA is working for someone else and wants to keep their information private
So what do you do if you find yourself in this situation? You need to record what you do know about this person and his/her DNA as well as your attempts at contact. This is no different than what you would do for any DNA match. Most of the DNA websites have a notes section that you can use but some do not.
I handle it by recording this information in Legacy. It is easier for me to keep track of everything if it is all in one place. I can easily add the tester to my database as an unlinked individual (by their AKA if I need to) and I can add any known contact information. I can use events to record their DNA info (who they tested with, kit numbers if applicable etc.) I can also use events to record attempts of correspondence with them. I can still put these people in triangulation groups by using Hashtags. If I find the connection I can then add their ancestors that hook up with mine. These people are "invisible" in my file and I use a temporary source of DNA Match - Lineage not Confirmed.
I try not to get frustrated because that is non productive. Actively working with these matches reduces the frustration for me. If I get further information at some point it is easy for me to add it to what I already have. You can also view this as a teaching opportunity to help others understand DNA research.
For more tips on connecting with your DNA matches watch "Who are You? Identifying Your Mysterious DNA Matches" by Blaine Bettinger in the Legacy library.
Michele Simmons Lewis, CG® is part of the Legacy Family Tree team at MyHeritage. She handles the enhancement suggestions that come in from our users as well as writing for Legacy News. You can usually find her hanging out on the Legacy User Group Facebook page answering questions and posting tips.