23andMe Automatic Family Tree

23andMe has a cool new feature, Your Family Tree, a family tree that 23andMe builds using some of your closest matches.  This is a Beta feature, not yet available to all users, but expected to be refined and released to all users eventually.

If you would like to use Your Family Tree, log into your 23andMe account.  Scroll to the bottom of the page, and look in the “Family & Friends” column for Your Family Tree.  If Your Family Tree is present, click there.  If not, go to your account settings, at the top right of the page.  Turn on Beta Program participation.  It may take up to a day, but the Your Family Tree option should appear.

The first step in Your Family Tree is to start processing.  You will see a progress bar.


After processing is successful, you will then see you and some of your closest matches in a family tree.  There is a guide from 23andMe at the top.




Your tree will have questions marks where there are ancestors like parents, grandparents, and so on who have not tested but are the likely connections between you and a somewhat close match.  Here is an example:


For each of the question marks, you can add information about that ancestor.  If that person is deceased according to the information you provide, their information will then be viewable by the matches.  A prompt guides you in the process.



As shown here, the relatives related to that chosen ancestor are listed, to help you add the appropriate ancestor’s information.  If it is unclear, just leave it for now.  Better to have no information than bad information.

This technology is quite promising.  It will probably be most helpful for individuals trying to identify an unknown ancestor, since it sorts families into related clusters.  The algorithms are probably off with significant endogamy or when individuals are related on multiple lines, but that is a challenge with all the tools.  Hopefully it helps break some brick walls.

Posted in DNA

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