Is there a way to compare the DNA of two WikiTree users that don't include yourself?

+6 votes
When browsing my ancestors and the ancestors of other families that are not related to myself, I sometimes see that there is a list of WikiTree users that have been DNA tested, that have not yet compared their DNA to each other to confirm that this ancestor's descendants are genuine.

Is there a way for me as a bystander to start the DNA comparison myself, even though I have not taken a DNA test and in some cases am not even part of that family?
in WikiTree Help by D. Botkin G2G6 Mach 3 (33.1k points)

To add a note to Barry's answer, below, I specifically choose not to use WikiTree's "Confirmed with DNA" status. I have some academic background in genetics, and took my first at-home DNA test in 2002 as part of a university yDNA study. Eighteen new tests or upgrades since, and am currently awaiting my 30X whole genome sequencing results I ordered at the end of last year.

My objection is not privacy-related, but is based upon some of the WikiTree policy elements that I believe make the "Confirmed with DNA" designation scientifically unsupported and untenable, unverifiable, and genealogically misleading.

However, I think the larger cautionary note here--which I don't believe has ever been openly discussed on G2G before, so thanks for bringing it up--might be privacy-related.

From a privacy perspective, the most open setting possible for living persons is "Private with Public Biography and Family Tree"; the profiles cannot be set to "Public" or "Open." The vast majority of people who have taken direct-to-consumer DNA tests are still living. If they have chosen to disclose their autosomal test information (e.g., a GEDmatch ID number) so that it is visible, then they have made that conscious decision so that others might compare results with them.

But if an unrelated John Smith decides to compare the living Alice Jones's and Mary Brown's DNA in order to mark their parents and grandparents "Confirmed with DNA," per the guidelines that were amended earlier this year John, in order to write a conformant citation statement, must reference at least Alice's and Mary's WikiTree ID numbers, the name of the DNA testing or reporting company, and their general DNA matching information--and do so on multiple profiles--without the knowledge of Alice or Mary. Too, only Alice and Mary (or those on their trusted list) could edit their own profiles, so the confirmation statement and status could not be added there by John which, though I don't know if it is counter to any of the current policies, would previously been unacceptable because the citation detail of the "confirmation" chain needed to run from test-taker(s), up to the MRCA, and down to the other test-taker(s) if they were on WikiTree.

I honestly don't know whether this could be construed as any type of privacy violation or even a move lacking ethical foundation. But as of the GDPR implementation, WikiTree went to great pains to make certain that no one can enter DNA test information for any other living person. For example, if my father was in custodial care and had zero interest in genealogy, but had taken a DNA test at my request, I could not add that basic information, including a GEDmatch kit number, to his profile. In fact, his profile--since he had not created it himself--must be flagged as "Unlisted" and wouldn't be publicly viewable.

The recently amended "confirmation" instructions state, "for privacy, do not include any details about segment match locations"; which, by the way, often renders the matching information unverifiable by others, and including those details reveals absolutely nothing that is personally identifiable in any meaningful way. Further, if one of the matches involved in the "confirmation" does not have a WikiTree ID, the instructions are scrupulous: use an "anonymous identifier" and "do not publicly reveal the identity of your match" (mind you, the instructions continue to say that you must include the "genealogically-known relationship between you and your match"...which some might argue could be construed as very much individually identifying depending upon the families involved).

So if WikiTree is going to great lengths to deal gingerly with DNA information based upon privacy concerns, would a third party pursuing and documenting "Confirmed with DNA" designations for living people be acceptable?

I believe this may be an important topic, but perhaps the real question might be phrased: "Should WikiTree policy allow members, who are otherwise unrelated to the people involved, create 'Confirmed with DNA' relationship statuses for living WikiTreers?"

3 Answers

+3 votes
Best answer

Yes you can compare two DNA tested WikiTree members if they have their DNA in or and their GEDmatch and mitoYDNA IDs are in WikiTree. 

For the following you need to have a account and also be logged into it.  You need to have a account and be logged into it.

Then you are able to make the following comparisons via WikiTree:

Here is an autosomal comparison:

Under DNA Connections, click on [compare] to the right of HY2160313 and click on [compare] to the right A436627, then click the COMPARE button.

And a Y-DNA comparison:

Under DNA Connections, click on [compare] to the right of T10954 and click on [compare] to the right T10782, then click the COMPARE button.

And an mtDNA comparison:

Under DNA Connections, click on [compare] to the right of T10645 and click on [compare] to the right T10753, then click the COMPARE button.

And an X-DNA comparison:

Scroll half way down and click on [compare] to the right of T829035 and click on [compare] to the right T527089, then click the COMPARE button.

I welcome any questions.  Sincerely, Peter

by Peter Roberts G2G6 Pilot (524k points)
selected by Sandy Edwards
+10 votes
How can you be sure that these other testers haven’t compared with each other? The Wikitree data on those profiles won’t tell you who has compared with whom.

But there is just one way to run these comparisons if you don’t manage one of the DNA kits yourself. If the two testers have GEDmatch numbers listed, and if you have a GEDmatch account, then you can do a one-to-one comparison of those other kits. All you need is the kit numbers— you don’t need to be associated with either kit to run the comparison.

On any other site, you can’t run the direct comparison unless you manage one of the kits. There are indirect methods that might give you partial information, but only if you have a kit that matches both of the others.
by Barry Smith G2G6 Pilot (135k points)
I assume they have not compared to each other because their ancestors do not have any "confirmed with DNA" markers
I wouldn’t assume that — lots of people aren’t vigilant about setting to confirmed every time they confirm a connection. But more to the point, if they ran a comparison and weren’t matches, the marker would not be used. And if they are more distant than 3rd cousins, then even if the comparison shows them as a match they’re not supposed to use the marker unless they have triangulation with a third kit. I have loads of ancestors that I can’t mark as confirmed because I’m in this position.
+6 votes
With DNA confirmation being such a relatively new topic, and with it having a certain amount of difficulty for many, you mostly seem to hear about people fretting about their OWN DNA confirmations.

But yes, you certainly CAN do DNA confirmations for others, as the profile privacies permit. I think I've been tempted to do that myself, on occasion. Some people MIGHT interpret that as your having an inappropriately unusual interest in their family, but if you're there poking around it probably has something to do with you somehow, and you're really just doing them a favor (assuming you don't mess it up). "Public" means "public"!

But you probably need to actually have a test yourself, to be able to get on GEDmatch, to do as Barry describes. Either that, or "conspire" with someone else who is on GEDmatch.

I suppose you might even be able to do a TRIANGULATION that way! I hadn't really thought of that before, but that would be a heck of a thing!

That might actually be a really good technique to use to confirm back to your way-back ancestors. If your OWN matches can get you confirmed back to an MACR between you and one the three being triangulated, you're confirmed back to just short of THEIR MACR, even though you might not even have a segment of DNA from their MACRs!!

I'm saying you could get DNA confirmation back to an ancestor, without even showing that you - specifically - have DNA from that ancestor! It's all perfectly legit too - you're just proving that you're properly related to people who DO happen to have inherited DNA from that ancestor. Pretty wild!
by Frank Stanley G2G6 Mach 6 (63.1k points)
Wow we think alike.  That's exactly what I've been thinking about ever since I found out that DNA confirmation is possible.  I did not know there was a word for it, triangulation.
Frank, what is a MACR?

And D., no offense, but if you haven't even taken a DNA test yourself, are you knowledgeable enough about using DNA to be working on other people's matches?  There's a lot to learn (and as I saw Frank remark once on another thread, most people do not really understand it well).

An "MACR" is what you get when you type "MRCA", but don't pay enough attention to the order the letters are supposed to be in! laugh 

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