I originally started this post in mid-December 2013, but kept off posting it. Back then, you had to invite people to share and you could see anonymous matches. The interesting thing is the sharing response rate has stayed around 10% for me over the years. It may be slightly higher or lower at times, but it tends to be close to 10%.
I am not trying to discourage anybody, but letting people know what you may see in response rates when you send out sharing requests on 23andMe. I have seen a handful of people claim 30 – 100% rates, but those are the exception based on what I have seen posted by most other people.
They removed the ability to see anonymous matches a while back. For the longest time, my closest match was an unknown female predicted to be a second cousin. She never responded to my e-mail attempts. Our mtDNA haplogroup was C1b2 which indicates a probable match on our matrilineal side. As my father was from a different part of the country, it’s very unlikely she was also a match on his side.
In my experience in the 5 1/2 years of being on 23andMe, the unknown predicted second cousin was my closest match for over 3 years. I now have two first cousins, two first cousins once removed, and a niece who are closer.
Now many, but not all, non-anonymous matches are shared automatically. Some you still have to invite. I do a check about once a month and sort by status to figure out if I need to send invites to any new matches. The down side is some matches don’t allow matching. I mark those with a star to let me know.
I have been on 23andMe since mid-2013. Out of the thousands of sharing requests, now called Add Connection, I have sent out over the years, I get around 10% acceptance rate on average. For example, Friday night I sent out over 300 Add Connection requests. Within 24 hours, I had 35 people who accepted. That’s a bit more than 10%, but it’s probably about the most I will get. In rare cases, someone will accept later, but usually the first 24 hours tend to be when most will accept. I may get a few more trickle in between now and Thursday night, but I don’t think it will be anywhere near the 300+ I sent out.
I see some people have higher rates, but most of them tend to pick and choose who to send sharing requests. I send them to everybody. If I see a location where I know my ancestors lived, I will include that in my request. You never know when an unknown relative may hold the key to a family mystery. Or, you may be the one holding a key for the other person, whether you realize it or not.
A distant cousin, estimated 5th cousin, was born in my hometown. Initially, I thought we were related on our mothers’ side until I noticed we didn’t share any X-DNA at all. My father’s family was from North Carolina and Virginia area. She wasn’t sure about her birth father as he is an unknown. She suspects he has Texas roots from what little she knows, but he wound up in south Mississippi. There are several military bases in the area so he could have been in the military.
The area is also a tourist area so he may have been a tourist .or on his way to somewhere else.
She is one of the 10% that agreed to share DNA on 23andMe. We may never figure out the connection, but at some point, we may hit the nail on the head.
I accept sharing requests on 23andMe even when I have no clue as to how we are related. It’s rare that somebody beats me to the sharing request, but it happens.
I also realize that many only test for ethnicity, health reports, or other reasons that have nothing to do with genealogy. The above is true for most, if not all, DNA companies although FamilyTree DNA (FTDNA) doesn’t do a lot of ads. 23andMe, AncestryDNA, and MyHeritageDNA do a fair number of ads, often targeting ethnicity or other non-genealogical benefits.
I also know some won’t accept sharing requests if the person mentions being adopted. I am not one of those people as I was raised that family is family. There were step and half relations in Mom’s family, but until I started genealogy, I had no clue as to which of her siblings or cousins were full, half, adopted, etc.