Wine and Dine Me Before You Demand To See My Tree

Maybe I’m old-fashioned but I like a bit of preamble with a new DNA match. But that wasn’t what happened when a DNA match sent me a note this week.

Can you add me as a guest to your tree so I can see where it goes, please? And I will add you to mine as well!

They were polite but no Hi, I’m a DNA match to “fill in the blank”. Or you are a DNA match to “name”.  Just get straight to the point.  Maybe I’m being too uptight. But first of all; I manage 18 kits on Ancestry alone (where I received the message). I know Ancestry is supposed to link to the person but for whatever reason, it didn’t. I just received the email three times. This lead me to think that possibly this person connected to three of my kits and sure enough, they did. I did figure out the connection but it took a bit of my time.

So here’s my suggestion when trying to connect with a DNA cousin.

  1. Provide at least a little bit of information about how you connect. Not a novel, you don’t want them to get tired reading. Just enough information so they understand which DNA kit you match to. You can’t assume they only have one that they look after.
  2. If you are not sending a message to a DNA cousin through a site (Ancestry, 23andMe) but rather to an email; be sure to tell them which site you connect with them on. Remember some people have tested on more than one site.
  3. Contact your matches individually making each message personal.  When I saw the three emails, all of which were exactly alike I know they were sent to everyone that matched this person.

You want your message to be interesting enough that they just might reply. Connecting to me tree wouldn’t help them mostly likely and if I don’t understand the connection I just might be turned off enough to trash can their message (not likely cuz I’m a nice DNA cousin but there are some that might).

These are just a few tips that I think of when I’m sending a message to one of my connections.  I want to feel like I’m on a DNA site, not a dating site.


  • Kim says:

    I recently received this message: “I noticed there is a lot of corrections that need to be made. Margaret Lxxx last name should be spelled XXX. Anyhow, if you want to contact me I can help you correct the names and dates” The person who messaged me did not state which tree of mine was incorrect. I let the sender know that the only document I sourced for this family was an 1860 Census with the spelling as I listed. His response was that “as of now there are no other corrections” I found his message to me a bit strange and his attitude bothered me. Maybe I’m a bit sensitive, but if I run across another tree with information that does not match mine, I reference which tree and person I’m confused about. I try and pose it to my genealogy cousin “I have this document/source that says this but I notice in your tree you list this..can you help ME figure out the discrepancy” Your tree is wrong comes across as rude. Your DNA story just touched a nerve with me.

  • Bev Nethercote says:

    Hi Ellen. Totally agree with you. Also, they don’t need to be a guest on your tree to see where it goes. The message is wrong on so many levels…

  • Carolyn Robinson says:

    I would say the same thing about wanting to connect to a tree or your info without a DNA test done. I had one woman one time who sent me a Facebook message that I was to send her my information including pics. She really came across as a bit rude. If a person can’t be nice, then I can do without the match.

  • Leanne Balfour says:

    Completely agree

  • Marie says:

    Very good suggestions. You need to know who and why you are answering a person, not just a general note.