28 October 2011

Make Your 23andMe Profile Public

     If you join 23andMe in order to connect with cousins, it's important to make sure that they can find you. Because of the way 23andMe is set up, each account's default settings are for full privacy. Many users aren't fully aware of this and may not realize how this will limit their genealogy research. If your account is set to full privacy, your account appears as just one of many private accounts users see when viewing their Relative Finder matches. Unfortunately, this is a sight familiar to 23andMe:

     This is just a small selection of my Relative Finder matches. As you can see, only one of them has allowed me to view their surnames. In order to get any information about these accounts, I have to send an invitation to each one to view their profile see what surnames and locations they have listed. And I can only send five invitations a day. It's tedious and time consuming. It would be much easier and faster if these accounts were public. Even if they don't know their genealogy, I'd be able to see their profile to know that.

     Take a look at how my profile appears to my RF matches:

     On top of what appears here, matches can click on my name to view my entire profile. Or they can stay on this screen and expand my data to see 37 more surnames and 16 more locations. If they see a match, they can request to share DNA. If they don't see an obvious match, they can decide for themselves if they want to move on to someone else. And they don't have to use one of their five invites just to see my list of surnames.

     So, what do you need to do to make your profile public?  It's very simple. On the top menu bar, next to your name, click on "Account" and then "My Profile."  On the left side of the screen, you input information such as your name, location, ancestral names, etc. On the right side of the screen are your privacy controls. Make sure that your name is set to "all 23andMe members." According to the site's FAQs, "You must have your name published in order for other users to search for you by name and invite you to share genomes." The other information is optional, but why wouldn't you want to share you ancestral information? Isn't that the point of doing the DNA test? Once your profile is filled out and public, members can find you in a surname or location search, which can be very helpful with uncommon surnames.

     To make 23andMe work for your genealogy research, fill out your profile completely and make it public. It'll be worth it.

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