Most of the time when you send a message to a DNA match at ancestry you get no response. I used to assume that their membership had lapsed or that they had not logged in and seen their messages, but it turns out, that may not be the reason at all.
The real reason is that many people are using the Ancestry App on ipads, tablets, or smartphones and the Ancestry App does not show your messages. I was shocked when I finally got this response today from a match.
The last date that someone has logged in shows on the match page and I had seen that this person was logging in regularly, but it was from their tablet! So everyone who uses the app please complain to customer service at Ancestry.
So how did I get his attention? I left a comment on an ancestor on his tree with a link to the find-a-grave entry! The next day I got the message above. Leaving a comment always generates an email which finally gets their attention.
On a public tree go any page in an ancestor’s profile. On the top right there is button that says TOOLS. Click it and get a drop down menu that includes the item View Comments.
Click that and a column will appear on the right hand side of the page where you can leave a comment as well as see any previous comments, as in the image below:
What if they have no tree?
First double check that they have no tree. Although it may say No family tree on your matches page they may actually have one. Click the View Match button and the next page, the page with the match information may have a tree available in a drop down list which says select a tree to preview. This tree is just not linked to their DNA.
When there really is no tree, my technique to get a response is to first use the green button on the match page to contact the match. I try to always offer them some information to perk their interest. For example
I am a genetic genealogist doing research on the Munson family and you match many of us well. I have much information about the emigration from Norway and pictures of those ancestors to share with you. Since you do not have a tree, I can only guess which branch you belong on. If you do not know, the names and dates of your grandparents might be enough for me to figure this out.
When I get no response after about a week, I click their name on the match page to go through to their profile. There is an orange button there which usually generates an email. Another tip is to put your email address in the subject line, I replace the @ with “at” so for example myname at gmail (leaving off the dot com). The reason for that reformatting is to evade spam filters. Why put your email address there? People whose memberships have lapsed or were never activated will see that they have a message but they cannot read it. They can, however, see the subject line or so I am told.
Another trick that sometimes works is to sent email to their ancestry username on each major email platform: gmail, aol, hotmail, yahoo, etc
When those methods fail, I reread Blaine’s excellent post and try his ideas
I had a case where I found the person’s email address and location from a message board as Blaine recommended. Further googling found his obituary from a year ago. A people search site gave me his widow’s contact information which I passed on to my client who was looking for his grandad and needed more possible relatives to test. She was very kind and put my client in touch with her son. Not the reason one wants for failure to respond!
Now that you know how to leave comments on people’s trees, please try to keep them helpful and constructive, not mean or whiny … kindness gets the best response.