10 May 2011

Relative Finder vs Family Finder

     I logged back into 23andMe today to see if my Relative Finder (RF) and Ancestry Painting results had come in. I think I must have logged in just as they were loading! I saw that I had 71 RF matches. I checked my mom's and she had 81. I switched back to mine and had 230... the numbers just kept going up! Since I only have 5 sharing invites a day, I thought I'd wait until they were done loading to make connections.

     While I wait, I'm exploring how Relative Finder works. I took a similar test with Family Tree DNA about a year ago, called Family Finder (FF). The programs are both very similar and very different. Here are screen shots of each test:

23andMe / Relative Finder:

Family Tree DNA / Family Finder:

     Very similar right? But also very different.

  • With RF you don't see the names of you matches. With FF you do (I've grayed the names out for privacy reasons). I'm guessing that this is because FF has you sign a release form regarding sharing when you buy the kit and RF does not. [Update: You can filter RF matches and see the names of those matches who are "public"]
  • With RF you can see how many surnames the match has listed on their profile, but you don't see the actual names. Also, you see the type of ancestry they categorize themselves as (Northern European, etc). With FF you see all the surnames the match has listed, as well as the geographic area they come from. Also, if they have uploaded a family tree, FF allows you to view it.
  • Each test gives different types of genetic match data. RF tells you a percentage of shared DNA and the number of segments that match. FF gives more scientific information that's a bit harder to understand.
  • RF uses an internal communication system that limits each member to 5 sharing invitations a day. With FF, you have access to the email address of each match and can contact as many as you want. Based on my experience with FF, the 5 invitations a day is fine with me. You can easily overwhelm yourself by contacting more people than that.
  • Both companies give you an estimated relationship, and then a broad relationship range.

     Deciding who to contact is a bit more difficult with Relative Finder. With Family Finder I looked at surnames and relationship ranges and emailed the match. With Relative Finder I would still look at relationship range, but then it gets harder. I would probably first contact someone who has surnames listed, as opposed to those who haven't listed any. Also, I'll compare my results with my mom's and try and contact people who match both of us. 

     But should I use all five invites every day? What should I say? Can they see my profile and my surnames when I send an invite? What happens when someone accepts my invite? I'll have to explore the FAQs and wait for some responses to find out!

     And if anyone has any tips, please comment!


Shelley said...

You'll see some matches with a number indicating how many surnames they have put on their profile. These people are the ones most likely to reply to you. I''ve set my profile to public and am public in relative finder and ancestry finder and have had some contacts that way.

Tonia said...

I used all 5 invites each day for the first several days, but then I ran out of steam. I also set my profile to public so that people could see my profile and surnames before trying to contact me.

It's been interesting. . .the first month, I only got a few contacts from others, but the last couple of weeks I've been overwhelmed with contacts.

MNFamilyHistorian said...

From Family Tree DNA, I've contacted all of my 26 FF matches. About 80% replied, and we're trying to figure out how we're related. The most frustrating thing is the closest match, a predicted 2nd-4th cousin, hasn't responded.

At 23andMe, I have more matches, but hardly any respond. Out of the 20 I've contacted, the two with public profiles shared their genomes, plus one other. But he hasn't replied to a subsequent message. I don't think the majority of 23andMe's customers have any interest in genealogy.

If genealogy is the purpose you want a DNA test, go with FTDNA.

Liz said...

Hi, noticed your post via Amy Coffin's link. I'd be interested to find out how your experiences compare in finding matches who can help w/brick walls. My dad did FTDNA for me (I'm in a Hall surname group) but I'm contemplating 23 & Me for RF (b/c it's cheaper) to find more possible relatives of my Hall brick wall since the surname study is not turning up much so far.

Now that I'm here will peruse your surnames as I have some GA/SC roots. :)

Valerie Craft said...

Overall, I'd recommend FamilyTreeDNA. I have a much higher response rate and I feel that the site has better features that are easier to use than 23andMe.

23andMe is cheaper up front, but in the end FTDNA isn't that much more expensive - especially if you get a sale (keep an eye on their facebook page)

Liz said...

Thanks! Will definitely keep these comments about response rate in mind.


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