Sunday, May 15, 2011

Collaboration is the Name of the Game

Group Genius: The Creative Power of Collaboration

A lot of work goes on behind the scenes of this Taylor DNA project. Among what happens is that the administrators are actively working with project members to facilitate a win-win experience for all. One of the principal parts to making your experience with the project a success is offering as much information as you can about your family lines—excluding personal information on living persons.

On your personal page at, you have ways to input data about your father’s line, your mother’s line and all family lines. These can be input as a gedcom or individually.

When you post this information, it allows near-matches to begin to see where their line connects with your line. For best results, all project members should be forthcoming with family pedigrees.

But your job is not over! A next part is to actively collaborate with people who ask you for information. This means responding in a timely manner to project members who inquire about possible connections. It means responding thoughtfully. It means being responsible for your own safety and protection as well—don’t share mother’s maiden names or birthdates or social security numbers for living people!

It may be that you get a lot of e-mail; I do. If you are busy, give a quick response. “I got your message. I may have some information on your question. I cannot get to it until after the 20th. Please contact me again if I don’t get back to you.”

I have been in many conversations with project members and other genetic genealogists about how to best work collaboratively. Here are some thoughts from our member Richard A. Taylor:

I don't understand why so many folks spend all their money and time testing with FTDNA or some other DNA testing company, joining the Family Finder group and/or signing up for any of the many groups, projects or blogs and then DO NOT SUBMIT FAMILY TREES, GEDCOMS, MULTIPLE SURNAMES OR NOTES ABOUT THEIR FAMILY ORIGINS AND WORST OF ALL - DO NOT REPLY TO A CONTACT E-MAIL MESSAGE OFFERING TO SHARE/COMPARE INFORMATION!!!

I've sent out e-mails to three people listed as possible matches, 2 for my line and 1 for a friend’s Taylor line, without any reply or acknowledgement. Reckon this is sort of analogous to "leading a horse to water but you can't make him drink."

Why go to all this trouble if you're not going to respond or share any info?
I know that Dick’s a bit annoyed in his tone above, but he is simply repeating some of the frustration that all of us face as we start working through our matches in the Taylor project (and with our other related lines).

To the extent we can, we should work to make our own experience and that of our related lines as pleasant as possible. We can do this by submitted your family pedigree, or gedcom.

  • Did you post your earliest known ancestor (of your male Taylor line)?
  • Have you posted your earliest know female ancestor on your female-to-female line?
  • Finally, if you are doing the Family Finder test, have you posted all the known surnames for all your lines in the last seven generations?

By completing these details, which are about people who are usually many years deceased, you improve your chances of determining how you link to anyone whose DNA you match. You also improve the ability of those you match to find their link with you. (This is because the person you match may have more family information than you have, which is a blessing in that it adds important family information you may not have known about.)


Always happy to share Taylor or any other info I possess. My wife (surname Ford/Foard from MD to NC to TN to VA) and I have been researching since about 30 years or more.


 Richard (Dick) A. Taylor