Understand DNA Projects - FAQs

Understanding Projects and Project Websites
Joining A Project
Project Administration
What is a Surname DNA project?
Since y-DNA correlates so closely with the surname (both y-DNA and surnames are passed down from father to son), a surname DNA project is a good place to look for genetic relatives. By using the results of yDNA testing, along with other information and family pedigrees, participants can identify those with whom they share a common ancestor. 
A surname DNA project can help you confirm relationships identified by traditional genealogy, to locate related families lost through the passage of time, and to identify the origin of the family’s early ancestors

Does every family have a Surname DNA project?
No, many families have not started a Surname DNA Project.  We provide WorldFamilies.net to assist those who wish to start new Surname DNA Projects
What about alternate spellings of my name?
Most Surname Projects are very open to participants with alternate spellings.  You should search for variant spellings of your surname if you don’t find a Surname Project for your surname.
Search on our Surname Projects page or at
FTDNA

 
Should everyone join a project?
We believe that you gain the most from DNA testing when you work with other researchers to share information.  A project is the best way to do this for most people.
More information about DNA Projects

 
Why join a Surname DNA project?
A surname DNA project can help you confirm relationships identified by traditional genealogy, to locate related families lost through the passage of time, and to identify the origin of the family’s early ancestors. The aim for many participants is to identify a participant's) who "matches" their test results, and who can help them find the paper trail that leads further back up the family tree.
By participating in the project, you will have a website to display your test results and your pedigree. In addition, you will be alerted each time a new pedigree or test result is posted on the website. You will be able to see lineages develop and will have help in recruiting key members to join the project.
Large surname projects may work to catalog all known families carrying the surname. As many surnames have evolved over time, a common approach is to open a surname project to all known spellings. In addition, tests cost less when you order them through a surname project

What does the project want from me?
  • To be of most help to your Surname Project, be sure to submit your pedigree and to post your ancestral information on your FTDNA page.  See Pedigrees
  • You will also want to check back to your project's website from time to time to see if there is a new match or a pedigree connection for you.  If so, contact your matches, and let the project administrator know of any new information you discover. See Contact Matches
  • Post your information and questions about the surname on the surname's forums.  Get a dialogue going between family researchers.  See Use the Forums
How do I find an existing surname project?
If you're not sure whether there is a project for your surname, go to www.familytreedna.com and type your surname in the search box.  Follow the links to find your surname project.    Or go to the Surnames page os this website to search for a project.

 
I haven't been tested yet.  How do I join a Surname DNA Project?
Ordering your yDNA test through a project automatically makes you a member of a project (and gives you a lower yDNA test price). 
I've already been tested at FTDNA.  How do I join a Surname DNA Project?
Log in to your "myFTDNA" Page at FTDNA, click on "Join" under "Projects" in the dark blue band near the top of the page and find your project.  Follow links to join.  Once you have joined the project, a link will appear on your Personal Page, and the Project Administrator will be notified. 
 
I tested for the National Geographic Genographic Project.  Can I join a Surname DNA Project?
You can transfer your results to FTDNA and join projects.  Go to the NGGP page, log in using your kit number.  On the next page, click "I acknowledge".  On the following page, scroll all the way down and click on "learn more".  Check "I agree", then fill our the FTDNA form "Adding your Records to FTDNA" and click "Continue.  Once you have joined the project, a link will appear on your FTDNA Personal Page, and the Project Administrator will be notified. 
 
I tested at FTDNA.  How do I join the genographic (National Geographic Genographic) Project?
  • Go to your FTDNA Personal page (go to Family Tree DNA and then enter your kit number and password to log in to see your personal page)
  • Look in the dark blue band near the top of the page under "Resources" for "Genographic Project
  • Click "I agree" and then "Continue"
  • Confirm your personal details and submit your request by clicking "continue"
How can I find a male to yDNA test to represent my family line in the Surname Project?
I took a yDNA test, but this surname came down to me through a woman.  Can I still join the Surname Project?
  • You should contact the Project Administrator to ask the Project's Policy.  Most Surname Projects welcome you, as a way to include you in the family research.  However, your y-DNA test results will not be displayed on the project's Results Page, as Surname Projects use the yDNA test to trace the fathers' line, since yDNA is passed down from father to son, just as the surname is passed down. 
  • Your yDNA results represent the  DNA you received from your father and traces his paternal line.
  • If this is your situation, please let the Project Admin know, as he can change the settings so that your yDNA Results will not be displayed on the Project's y-Results Page, as that can be confusing for the project.  
  • You may be able to locate a male to yDNA test to represent your family line in the project: Finding the right male.
I tested at another company.  Can I join one of your surname projects?
FTDNA now allows people who tested at other companies to join FTDNA's database for a modest amount. This allows you to join our Surname Projects.  To learn more, click here:  http://www.familytreedna.com/landing/ydna-transfer.aspx
 
Can I join more than one project?
Yes, FTDNA allows you to join as many projects as you like, but keep in mind that the projects should be ones in which your results will be useful.   If you are not sure, ask FTDNA or the project administrator. 
For more information on joining a project, read
Join A Project  
I took the mtDNA test.  Can I join a surname project?
Most Surname projects welcome mtDNA test takers - not so much for the mtDNA result, as Surname Projects use only yDNA tests, but for the opportunity to include you in the family research.  Y-DNA is passed down from father to son, so a male will have the same yDNA as his father, who got it from his father…all the way back.  A female does not carry yDNA, but she can post a pedigree and arrange to have a male family member represent her family line..
There are also mtDNA Haplogroup Projects you will be able to join once your test results are returned. 
More about Haplogroup Projects
List of the mtDNA-Haplogroup Projects and their websites
More about Surname Projects.

 
I took the Family Finder test.  Can I join a surname project?
Most Surname projects welcome Family Finder test takers - not so much for the results, which don't correlate to the surname, as for the opportunity to include you in the family research.  We only post yDNA results on the project's website, because almost everything we do at present in a surname DNA project is focused on the yDNA test results, as yDNA and the family surname is passed from father to son.  You can post a pedigree on the Surname Project's website and arrange to have a male family member yDNA tested to represent your family line.
I took the 23&Me test.  Can I join a surname project?
No, we're sorry that we can't use your results in the Surname DNA Project, which uses the yDNA test to trace the male line.  23&Me tests are autosomal (from both sides of your family tree).
 
Who can join a Surname Project?
Surname projects use the yDNA test for their research, as yDNA is passed from father to son, just as the surname is passed down. 

Females do not have yDNA, so can't be yDNA-tested for a surname project.  However, many females have found a male relative to yDNA test for their surname of interest.  This male must be descended, through males only, from a common male ancestor of this surname with the female researcher. 

Men who want to research a surname that came to them through a female ancestor will also need to find a male relative to yDNA test who is descended, through males only, from a common male ancestor of this surname. 
People who have taken the mtDNA or the Family Finder test are welcome to join the project, as we welcome the chance to include them in the research.  However, we only post yDNA results on the project's website. 
More information about finding the right person to test.

 
How do I join a Y-Haplogroup Project?
  • In your FTDNA personal page is a link under "Projects" in the dark blue band near the top of the page named "Join". Click on that link.
  • Find the name of the project on the next page under the heading "Y Haplogroup Projects". Click on the name of project you wish to join. The next page will tell you about the project and provide a link to to its website. Click on the "JOIN" button on the lower right.
  • The name of the project you have joined will appear in the left column of your personal page under "My Project Groups".
  • The project administrator will be notified that you have joined the group, and your test results will be available for posting on the project's results page.
  • (Note: you cannot join a Y-Haplogroup project if you have not done a yDNA test.)
How do I join a Geographic Project?
  • In your FTDNA personal page is a link under "Projects" in the dark blue band near the top of the page named "Join". Click on that link.
  • Find the name of the project on the next page under the heading "Geographic Projects". Click on the name of project you wish to join. The next page will tell you about the project and provide a link to to its website. Click on the "JOIN" button on the lower right.
  • The name of the project you have joined will appear in the left column of your personal page under "My Project Groups".
  • The project administrator will be notified that you have joined the group, and your test results will be available for posting on the project's results page.
What is a Project Administrator?
Typically, one or two volunteer researchers provide leadership for the project, coordinating the collection and display of pedigrees, the correlation of pedigrees to results and the presentation of results. They also share the project’s learnings with the members and coordinate the efforts to increase interest and awareness in the project.
For more information on becoming an administrator, read
Become An Administrator
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Why does WorldFamilies.net administer so many surname projects?
When Surname Projects do not have a family member to administer the project, Worldfamilies.net often steps in to administer the project until a family member is ready to take over.  We provide the project's website, post results and pedigrees on the website, inform project members of any activity in the project, and answer questions from the project members.  In addition, WorldFamilies also co-administers projects that have a Project Administrator who needs help administering the project.  WorldFamilies has a business relationship with Family Tree DNA that allows us to provide this service. 
More information about WorldFamilies.net

 
Does clicking "Make this a Favorite Project" on the project's website at WorldFamilies.net make me a member of the project at FTDNA?
No.  Using this link, simply makes using the website easier for you.  The "Make this a favorite project" link in the left sidebar appears only when you are logged in. 
By clicking this link and clicking "Join" you are joining a WFN Surname Community (Group) of users who are researching this surname. 
  • Joining a WFN Surname Community (Group) does NOT make you a member of the Surname DNA Project at FTDNA--you have to be tested at FTDNA for that. 
  • Joining a WFN Surname Community (Group) gives
    you a link to that project under "Favorite Projects"
    whenever you sign in.
  • Coming soon--other great features
How do I start a new project?
If there is no FTDNA project serving your surname, we will set up the project for you through WorldFamilies.net and allow you to be the Co-Admin or simply be a participant.
Click here to request us to set up your Surname Project  Surname Project Request

You can also contact Family Tree DNA directly to request a project. 

 
What do I need to know to administer a Surname Project?
Most Surname DNA Project coordinators didn’t know a lot about DNA testing when they started. They had an interest in furthering their research and were willing to start their project and learn as they went. We have provided advice on how to start and run a project at our World Families Network site. To learn more, see our Project Administrator Information page.
Do I have to log in to view a project's website?
No, you can view any page of a project's website without logging in.  You can find the project's website by going to the Surnames page and following the links to the project's website. 
You do need to log in to post on the forums and to "join" ("Make this a favorite project"). When you "Make this a favorite project" on the project's website, a link to the project will appear in the left sidebar each time you log in. 
 
Why is my surname included in another project, even though my surname seems very different to me?
The problem we face in setting up and managing surname projects is that we can't always guess which surnames will actually go together genetically.  I would expect that your surname has been the same as far back as you trace - with maybe some slight misspellings in the records from time to time.  You reasonably expect to find your kin carrying the same spelling as you do – and indeed, that may be the only surname that you will be matching 5-10 years from now, as we develop a genetic profile of nearly all of the families.

But, what if an important branch of your family “got tired” of your spelling or had their name changed in a clerical misspelling, or even intentionally changed it for some reason?  The only way that you'll find them is to match them - and then retrace and converge your paper trails. 
If they changed their name to some other variation - you may not know you match if you're in "pure" project with only your surname spelling - and they are also in a "pure" project with only their spelling (particularly if both of you are not allowing comparisons outside the surname.)
By including your surname in the project, we give your family members a place to post pedigrees and results, and the opportunity to test at the reduced rate for project members.  If it becomes clear at a later time that your surname should be a separate project, it is easy to set it up independently. 
 
How do I add my existing FTDNA Project to your WorldFamiles.net listing?
Simply go to our Request a Project Site page and send us an email.
I might be interested in becoming a Project Administrator.  How do I find out more?
There are four main functions of the Project Administrator:
  • Managing your surname DNA project by
    • welcoming new members with an email
    • advising members when they have  a match
    • answering emails
    • encouraging pedigree posting
    • recruiting new members
  • Editing your project’s website
  • Posting pedigrees on your project’s website
  • Posting test results on your project’s website 
You can choose to do all of them right away, or start by doing some of them.  If you are uneasy about taking on too much at first, begin with sending the welcome message to new participants.  We will provide you with a sample message that you can use as it is or edit, or you may create your own welcome message.
For more information:  Becoming a Project Admin and Admin Guide
 
Why should I use a WorldFamilies.net website for my project?  Can I still use the FTDNA website if I have a WFN website?
Project Administrators choose to use WFN websites for a number of reasons:
  • WFN can provide any level of support you need by posting results and pedigrees for you, advising you on questions that come up, and helping you learn to administer the project.
  • Many admin prefer the way results and pedigrees are presented on the WFN websites.
  • Some admin use both the WFN website and the FTDNA website because they want to maximize the possibility of a potential participan finding the project. 
  • Some admin use WFN as a way of assuring that the project will continue if there comes a time when they are unable to administer the project.
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