You also can order both mitochondrial DNA and Y-DNA genetic genealogy tests, add the results to your profile and search for people who match.
GeneTree president and COO Matt Cupal and I had a quick Q&A over the phone today:
GI: What would you consider GeneTree’s greatest strength?
MC: Probably the positioning that we’ve had along, which is that it’s a family social network, but it has this unique twist of using DNA to extend your concept of family.
GI: Could you give me a quick rundown of GeneTree’s post-beta features?
MC: We’ve improved a lot of the components of the social network, so it’s easier to invite people and stay connected. For example, the page you land on now is a news feed that tells you everything that’s going on in your networks—that could be more DNA connections, or another family member has added a photo or updated the family tree with more people. That’s also e-mailed to you once as week as a digest.
We’ve made some dramatic improvements in our family tree building software. It’s intuitive and easy to use. We’ve also added a GEDCOM upload. We’re working on improving it, always, but right now you can have up to 2,000 people inside your GEDCOM.
One of the really cool things about the site is that you can do collaborative family tree work, so you and your cousins and all your other relatives can be on at the same time and make things happen.
GI: Do many people who haven’t ordered a DNA test from GeneTree have their family information on the site?
MC: About 5 percent of the people who come on the site have actually taken DNA tests. It’s a no-cost system to be a member and have your family information there, and that’s by far the majority of members.
GI: How many members are there?
MC: We’re moving toward 100,000, and we’ve got about 1.5 million profiles right now—that’s people on trees.
GI: Now that beta’s over, what developments are you planning?
MC: Surname studies are fairly high on the list. We’re also looking at ways we can expand this to the rest of the world. We’re intrigued by the idea of allowing people from multiple sites to come into the system. Maybe they’re a member of Geni or TGN [The Generations Network, owner of Ancestry.com] or any number of systems—we’d like to enable them to use the DNA facilities.
We want to make DNA more understandable to the general population—those who are strongly interested in genealogy and those who are more passively interested—to help them better understand how they can use DNA.
We’re starting with an educational component. We’re also designing some new DNA tests to be a little more understandable—still based on the same principles, but tests that can grab the imagination of the general populace more than, say, the particular values of your Y-markers.
GI: What’s your take on the genetic genealogy market right now?
MC: Clearly it’s going to be a challenging time this year. Something we’re working on to help offset that is some lower-priced alternatives, so people can get in the game at a lower number and get their feet wet.
We’ll keep you updated on these developments. See the genetic genealogy toolkit on FamilyTreeMagazine.com’ for more DNA answers.