DNA circles are made up of people who share DNA and who share a common ancestor(who is the focus of that circle) in their tree. They may not all match each other. There are more specifics and if you want to learn more about the science behind the creation of the circles you can click on "Learn more about DNA Circles" link from one of your DNA circles. The focus of this blog post is ways to gather more information useful in identifying matches and furthering our research.
I'm using one of my smaller AncestryDNA circles in the example. Why not?😊 The smaller ones are the hardest to keep as people often set their tree to private and that can make it fall below the minimum requirement for DNA circle formation. Poof...the circle is gone until that person either makes their tree public again or another member is found bringing the circle up to the minimum qualifications for formation. The AncestryDNA circle for W.C. Cook has 11 members, 7 which share DNA with me and 3 which are descendants of W. C. Cook(my 2nd Great Grandfather) but do not have any DNA segments in common with me.
The first thing I like to do is to look at the circle members who do not match me. Click on the Shared Match tab and see if you can find shared matches who should also be a member but do not have their tree built out far enough to be included. I click on their name--in this case P.T., and select the Shared Matches tab. We have 45 matches that we share DNA with despite not sharing any DNA in common with each other. You will also find those shared members who are sharing DNA thru the spouse of the ancestor who is the focus of the circle. That holds true for the Cirlce I'm using in this example as I have Cook/Putman shared matches as well as Putman/Tyler and Putman/Joice matches.
I use this opportunity to write in the notes section about the match so that I can identify the connection at a glance. This helps me out when I visit this circle members shared tab again as I do this every so often. When I find a matches connection and it appears they are not aware of the connection I do try and send them a message to let them know our connection. This helps to build and hopefully maintain the circles as well as a dialog. The note function is not available for members of the circle that you do not share DNA with but you will be able to write notes for those you have in common. Below is an example of some of my notes from this circle with the usernames edited for privacy
As I was making screenshots for this post I sent out a quick message to 3 new matches whose connections I discovered! Remember there is no right, or wrong way for your notes section. It doesn't have to look like other's note section, it just needs to work for you. You can also do something similiar using the Shared Ancestor Hints and Shared Match Tabs to help sort matches.
If you have share links to any of the members' DNA results. Repeat this process from their point of view. My sister has also tested at AncestryDNA and is in the circle. She matches 9 members. There is one circle member that neither of us match, however, that person's mother is a member of the circle and we both match her. DNA randomness.This is just at the 2nd Great Grandparent level. Imagine the randomness as you are back at the 3rd and 4th Great Grandparent level. Sometimes I also find there is a great variation in the amount of DNA that I share with a match compared to how much my sister shares with them. I also have a DNA share link for my 2nd Cousin once removed and he matches everyone in the circle. He and my father are 2nd Cousins. W. C. Cook, the focal point of this DNA circle, was their Great Grandfather.
You'll find that if you use the note section to identify and sort your matches, it will become easier to sort thru new matches and to see connections. I hope this post has given you some ideas of how to work with and sort thru your matches.