23andMe’s DNA Relatives (formerly known as Relative Finder) has a major advantage over competing products: database size. With approximately half a million users, the DNA Relatives feature gives genetic genealogists an impressive number of opportunities to retrieve the answers they seek. Theoretically.
Despite the database size, getting responses from matches using 23andMe’s permission-based system - a system that requires a user to send introductions to each individual match one at a time - often proves inefficient and exhausting, as pointed out by Roberta Estes of DNAeXplained.
Genealogists need DNA Relatives matches to provide access to matching DNA segment data and to exchange pedigrees. Otherwise, no user can determine how they relate to their DNA matches. While 23andMe allows customers to send a maximum of three introductions to each match, many introductions receive no response or are declined.
Some users decline introductions without understanding what their new found relatives are after. Other users attempt to accept introductions but, because of technical errors, are not given the option to accept. Others still decide to momentarily decline all introductions, thinking they can defer acceptance for a later date. But 23andMe’s rules state that, like diamonds, declines are forever. Or so we thought.
Here is a strategy for overturning disheartening declines and circumventing the DNA Relatives three-strikes rule.
Note: Implementing this tactic will reverse all declines and leave accepted genome sharing invitations intact, but will also destroy any unanswered introductions. One must re-send all unanswered introductions. If the profile had more than 1000 matches prior to using this strategy, then the profile will have less than 1000 matches after taking the actions prescribed below; 23andMe’s DNA Relatives cap will remove the smaller matches.
If you do not wish to lose any matches, then do not follow these steps.
- While logged into 23andMe, go to Account Settings.
- Click the Privacy/Consent tab.
- Click “I do not want to participate in DNA Relatives.”
- Log out of 23andMe.
- Log into 23andMe.
- Repeat steps 1-3, removing the check from the checkbox next to “I do not want to participate in DNA Relatives.” This will repopulate the DNA Relatives feature for the associated profile.
- Log out of 23andMe.
- Finally log back into 23andMe.
The next day, you can send new introductions to those matches who previously declined and to those relatives who had yet to respond to your three previous introductions.