23andMe’s “Your DNA Family” Feature

A few days ago, I received a message from 23andMe that a new feature, “Your DNA Family” was ready to view. I decided to take a look. You’ll find this feature under the Reports, then Ancestry Reports tab.

The first part of the screen shows how many matchs of different types that I have. This report includes only people who have opted in to share through DNA Relatives.

I have tested on both the V3 chip and the V4 chip. I’m utilizing the V3 results for this article, but it is interesting to note that I have 1436 V4 chip results, as compared to 1440 V3 results, above. The number of matches is almost exactly the same. However, the numbers in the various categories below between the two tests (V3 vs V4) are sometimes significantly different, so these are clearly not (all) the same people who have agreed to share on both platforms.  You can read more about the V3 and V4 comparison here.

On the page above, the “learn more” link explains about degrees of cousinhood.

Scrolling down, the next section shows you a map of the location of your DNA Relatives.

The part I find the most interesting is that the places where I have the most relatives do not include the state where I was born or where my parents were born.  My mother’s family was from the Netherlands and Germany before immigrating to Indiana in the US, except for one grandfather who was Acadian. In the Midwest, Indiana is darker than the rest on the map, but I only have 25 relatives there. My father was born in Tennessee with only 15 matches. Of course, the fact that my matches live in those locations today does not mean our common ancestor is one of my Hoosier or Tennessee ancestors, but it’s a good place to start looking.

Conversely, I have 110 relatives that live in California and 65 in Texas. Texas was a destination location for the people of Appalachia, so that makes some sense. My great-grandfather died in Texas in 1895, having walked from Tennessee, twice.

From the looks of things, California was a destination location for everyone! I have more matches in California than any another state, by almost double. I have to wonder if the fact that 23andMe is a California company has something to do with how many Californians have tested.

“Click here” shows you the top 10 locations in a table.

It’s interesting to note that my proven 39% German and Dutch combined is no place to be seen. The Dutch and most of the Germans were immigrants in the mid-1800s – so there is no question about the accuracy of these immigrants. 23andMe did not test outside the US for a very long time, and when they did, the shipping cost almost as much as the test itself which discouraged international testers.

Scrolling down again, we see the Ancestry Composition breakdown of my DNA Relatives.

For a minute I was all excited, hoping that I could then click on one of the ancestral regions and see which of my matches include that region, but that’s not the case. Believe me, I tried clicking everyplace☹

Of course, just because someone that I match also has some amount of Native American or other common ancestry, that doesn’t mean that’s how we match, but it might well be a clue.

Scrolling down again, we see how our DNA Relatives compare to the rest of the 23andMe data base in a few categories.

For me, this falls into a time-waster category and causes me to ask myself, “why do I care?” I suspect this is included in the hope that people will find it interesting and will therefore answer these rather innocuous questions posed by 23andMe, along with more that are health related.


There certainly isn’t anything wrong with this information. It’s not misleading in any way like the last feature to be released, their Ancestry Timeline.

The DNA Family information is at best lukewarm and leaves me more than a tad disappointed.

I think at least two aspects have potential, but today, it’s like 23andMe showed us the teaser to the movie with no way to see the movie itself.

I would like to see which of my DNA Relatives fall into the following two categories:

  • Location – state and country
  • Ancestry Composition category

In other words, I want to know which of my matches are from Indiana, and which have Native American ancestry, for example. I’d like to know if there is an intersection between those or any two groups too.

I could find absolutely no way to utilize the Ancestry Composition categories, but I thought I had figured out how to detect at least some of the location matches.

Going to my the DNA Relatives page, I entered the word “Indiana” into the “Search keywords” and pressed enter, which returned 36 DNA Relatives. Granted, that’s not 25, as shown on the map, but it does return information based on something and that something might be useful.  I wish we knew where 23andMe is retrieving this data from so we know how to interpret what it means.

Next, I tried the keyword “Germany.” The search returned 76 results, but Germany was not among the locations where my DNA Relatives were shown to live – so the answer is that whatever is being shown utilizing the search keywords, it’s not the tester’s location so does not connect to the map location results.

The DNA Family Report earns a shrug and a “Meh.” Now, if testers could view which of their DNA Relatives matched them in those categories, I’d have to upgrade the shrug and meh to something a little more exciting. I sometimes look at where and how the vendors invest their development dollars and wonder what the heck they were thinking.

For genealogy, this new feature simply isn’t useful.



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30 thoughts on “23andMe’s “Your DNA Family” Feature

  1. I concur…who cares and what a waste of manpower to create such ‘garbage features’, particularly when we’ve repeatedly told these companies what tools and features we need and want to see! Good grief! Thx for the great review. 🙂 I got 11 emails yesterday for this but have not had time to look, now I can not be in any rush to waste my time on that! Thx for that! LOL

      • I agree. I’ve spoken to them directly for 30 min and when they came out with a new feature, I gave them feedback…in a nutshell, they are way too vague and not useful. And they continue to not listen to their customers…

    • For 23andme there is no waste of “manpower”. When they implemented their revamped website as their new, heavily hyped “experience” it was designed by a staff of twenty-something year old females who were all on 23’s payroll or hired as outside consultants to market it. We know this for a fact, because that corporate team actually published their names and bragged about how proud they were of their new creation (although it was an dysfunctional mess) in their blog on the company’s website. 23 still doesn’t know how to provide or care to provide a functional search engine integrated into most of the features of their website.

      As for 23’s latest creation, it’s obviously a waste of time cloaked in pretty colors and verbiage. It’s a marketing tool designed to attract those who have money to throw away on it. It’s a revision of “The Greatest Show on Earth”. Entirely legal, but rather sleazy. P.T. Barnum would be proud, as fleecing the foolish is an old American tradition.

    • I agree that more tools would be very useful, but I cannot fault 23andMe as being bad on providing tools. They’re still way better than FTDNA and certainly AncestryDNA. One thing I would truly love to see is a sorting feature on Relatives in Common, to allow me to find a match’s closest relatives, without having to slowly page through 70-80 pages of our mutual matches to find their son, daughter, mother, father, aunt or uncle. It would save them bandwidth, too!

  2. I have a question regarding DNA testing. I’ve already done Ancestry DNA and Autosomal DNA on Family Tree DNA. I’ve got a little extra “mad money” at the moment and thinking I should add to my DNA knowledgebase. Which in your opinion is more beneficial – 23andMe or the mtDNA on Family Tree DNA? I’m heard mixed things about 23andMe, and I do have some roadblocks on my maternal line I’d like to break through so I’m leaning toward the mtDNA. I would appreciate your thoughts.

      • I’m surprised at this recommendation about 23/m3. I’ve done mtDNA testing at both 23/me and FTDNA. Both gave ME the right haplogroup, but 23/me gave my mom the precessor to my haplogroup. After checking both DNA files, we both had the same mutations, so she was the same as me, but 23/me “rounded up” and was not as precise. I would not recommend 23/m3.

      • And of course getting a father/brother/uncle/grandfather Y-DNA test from FTDNA is also a good idea after the mtDNA. 🙂

  3. Just a gimmick to compete with AncestryDNA’s Genetic Communites gimmick. So very many ways to say either nothing, or what people who have a mirror and know how to use it can figure out.

  4. I tested at 23 first because I was new at genetic genealogy and my cousin who had tested there for a medical reason kept sending peeps to me to compare our trees with since I am rather like the family genealogist ( only person who has an interest). But now I know more and wish I had tested with FTDNA first, would have saved some money… also tested at ancestry inbetween, since i use fam tree maker and it syncs with ancestry.. ( if FTM ever gets their new program to me and gets it working at Ancestry, i am now waiting for my MT DNA kit to arrive and after convincing my male cousin to spit a bit, he is a FTDNA Y- tester. I did the free fam finder by downloading Raw data and Now I am playing everyday at FTDNA, bouncing from frustration at the sharp genetic learning curve and then to glee at the new relatives and hopefully the chance to finally get new info on a couple elusive ancestors after 15 years of genealogy research.
    So I agree with you, 23’s new tool is ok.. so???? so many of the lesser genetic genealogy sites are struggling to create a new tool.to grap peeps.. it’s just boring.. I think you have to find your method and go with it.
    As much as I llke FTDNA I have to say they have given me incorrect matches a few times. but I guess that happens. And my Macbook does not like their site.. the trees hesitate and jump large and small which is extremely frustrating.
    Thanks R for all your excellent info . I am currently trying to grasp the chromosome matching and triangulating, just when I think i have it… I realize I don’t.

  5. When I clicked on the little arrow by the Ancestry table I thought the results were interesting, if only because of the ones that said I DID NOT have DNA from that area! Maybe you don’t have that result but for Iberian, Italian, Balkan, Ashkenazi Jewish, West African, Finnish, Central & South African it says, for example, “Although we did not detect any Finnish ancestry in your DNA, we’ve identified 35 individuals within your 23andMe DNA Family who have at least 1% Finnish ancestry.” So, does that imply that maybe my 4th great aunt who married my DNA relative and produced children with him came from Finland and one of those descendants tested? I’m not sure why this information was included. As far as the US map goes, it says “see the places they call home” and in the “Sources of information” section it says this information came from answers to survey questions by DNA Relatives. So, I think that just means that X number of my DNA relatives who live in X place took the test. The only thing this seems to tell me is that my cousins in Idaho haven’t tested! In the end this looks just like what I already had: Mostly British/Irish, French/German, Scandinavian, with a wee bit of East European, Native American, and Sardinian. Any thoughts on my questions or conclusions? Thanks. D

  6. Roberta: How do I contact you about managing my DNA tests that I have had done?Thanks, Roger Harley

    Sent via the Samsung Galaxy S®6 active, an AT&T 4G LTE smartphone

  7. Why didn’t they just put countries of ancestry back into effect. That old tool with a downloadable file was much more useful for researching matching people than these new displays.

    • Why? Because that’s not where the money is. The money is in luring new entrants into the tent of “The Greatest Show on Earth”.

  8. Yes, everything has to get twisted and more confounding to get more money out of those who “REALLY WANT TO KNOW”. I can’t imagine how this information is accurate outside of the known family names and generations.

  9. Yeah, Dutch doesn’t really exist for Ancestry. I have the same problem. I only have 44 DNA matches 4th cousin or closer. And this new DNA family thing is not on my profile.

  10. I want to remind people to upload their raw data to GEDmatch.

    I agree that this feature seems worthless at 23andMe. My comparison results don’t show anything so funny so at first I thought it was a joke, sadly, it wasn’t.

    Also, that 23andMe provides Y-DNA and mtDNA along with the autosomal DNA test. I tested there first and uploaded to GEDmatch as was recommended by the experts in 2014. My mtDNA shows I am H7 on 23andMe and H7b2 on Family Tree DNA. With the exception of 1 or 2, all my “matches” come through on FTDNA are H7, same as on 23andMe.

  11. “I would like to see which of my DNA Relatives fall into the following two categories:

    Location – state and country
    Ancestry Composition category”

    You took the words right out of my mouth!

  12. I’ve only got 1 testing company I have yet to do and that is 23andme. Think I might as well go ahead and do it since I have done just about everything else you can think of.

  13. Roberta
    I am still learning to find my way around in this New Experience. But I found this new feature interesting. Until I looked more closely – the numbers don’t add up! I am supposed to have 1344 relatives – the world map only shows Canada and US. Then they show 750 plus 100, short a few? By state, well this adds up even less…

    I am supposed to have
    Top countries
    Number of DNA Relatives

    United States of America. 750
    Canada. 100
    Top states
    Number of DNA Relatives

    California. 70
    Massachusetts 55
    Maine 40
    Florida 35
    Connecticut 35
    New Hampshire 30
    New York 20
    Washington 15
    Virginia 15
    Texas 10

    So, where do these numbers come from?

  14. Does 23andme not allow you to see YDNA and mtDNA matches? I just got my results today, but I don’t see this option. Or is it simply that I don’t have any Y-DNA, or mtDNA matches, in their database?
    I already knew my Y and mt haplogroups, so I wasn’t really as interested in that info, as I was in finding potential paternal and maternal matches. It appears that autosomal matches are the only type of matches provided. Am I correct about that?

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