The “We’re Related” App on Ancestry.com–Don’t Automatically Extend my Pedigree

I gave into temptation and downloaded the “We’re Related” app from Ancestry.com. Originally I was not even going to download it, but went ahead in the interest of keeping on top of what’s going on in the online genealogy world.

I had no interest in which “famous” person to whom I am related, but I was slightly interested to see if I was distantly related to any of my genealogy colleagues on Facebook.

As soon as I realized how the app was working, I had even less died1716-child-in-1760interest in using it. Instead of just using the ancestors and relatives I had actually placed in my tree, it “matched” names in my tree to entries for those people in the trees of others and extrapolated ancestors for me based upon the trees of others.

My lineage for Augusta Newman does not extend beyond his father. My tree goes back as far as the William Newman shown in this image. Some have put forth fathers and mothers for William, but so far I have not determined for myself who his father likely is. I certainly do not think his mother is a woman who died in 1716.

To repeat: the app did not change any of the names or information in my actual tree on the Ancestry.com website, but the names did appear in my “lineage” as shown on the cellphone app even though they aren’t in my actual online tree.

No.

No.

And just one more time: no.

I don’t have some information in my tree at Ancestry.com for a reason: I haven’t proven it adequately yet or it simply is entirely incorrect.

If the app had chosen to only use ancestors for me as they appear in the actual tree I have created, that would be fine. But as it stands now, I have to review the app’s lineage and compare it with the lineage I have in my database and throw out the ones that I’ve probably already thrown out countless times before.

That’s not something I should have to do.

Your mileage may vary.


Also the app so far has taken nearly two days to try and find relatives in one of my databases and is still “spinning” on that database.

The “famous relative” finder located a possible relationship to President Obama. It failed to pull up President Truman as a descendant of the same person. Oops.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+PinterestLinkedInShare

33 thoughts on “The “We’re Related” App on Ancestry.com–Don’t Automatically Extend my Pedigree

  1. Barbara Regenstein says:

    Michael, thanks for trying this out. I was leery of it changing the data in my tree, so good to know it doesn’t do that.The “Relative Finder” on FamilySearch performs in the same way as this one seems to, minus most of the “spinning” forever and with famous/notable Mormons thrown into the Famous Relatives mix. While interesting, I too would prefer to use only my data, not that of many others who might not be as careful in their research. I did find distant cousins in a German research group I belong to with the FamilySearch version, but of course our common ancestors were not our German ones so no brick walls came down as a result 🙂

    • You are welcome. The famous people I really was not interested in, although I noticed that the “famous” part found my connection to President Obama, but failed to indicate that President Truman descends from the same person. Seems odd that both connections did not come up. Their descents from a Richard Cheney of Anne Arundel County, MD are pretty solid–mine is tenuous. However, these were potential connections I was aware of before the app.

      I don’t like it “extrapolating” further back than I currently have as there’s usually a reason why I don’t have those “further back ancestors” added to my personal tree.

      • It also indicated that I could potentially be related to President Obama as well as Michelle Obama. I investigated the connections and proved them to be false. In theory this is a great app but there definitely needs to be some work done on how it pools the information. Through research I have discovered I am related to Presidents Bush as well as several other famous connections via my Mayflower ancestry although none of those connections show up interesting enough.

  2. I think a similar “extension of pedigree” happens on MyHeritage. I thought I was going to a research site, but instead it asked me to build a family tree. There did not appear to be any other options on the page. I thought, OK, let’s see where this goes. So, I added my close relatives like parents and grandparents. It was quickly evident that they wanted to attach supposed ancestors to my tree. Whoa!! No way am I going to allow someone else’s data to be “forced” on my tree.

  3. This is a great relief to me, I also show a linkage to Obama as well as Hillary and Kerry, as a staunch Republican, I haven’t been able to sleep:) it does have a couple of a correct links, but I knew about them for quite awhile. I was going to make the link from the app to Facebook but didn’t want to force all my friends there to put up with Ancestry begging. I think I will just remove the app before it finds someone worse than I already have.

    • For me, it wasn’t really the politics of the relative that frustrated me–it was the “leaps of genealogical faith” that was frustrating 😉 Of course, I ended up with famous connections every where on the spectrum so one was bound to irritate.

    • Lesley Sudduth Willard says:

      I nearly lost my dinner that I’m a fourth cousin to Michelle Obama. 9th cousin to Michael Jackson. My husband won’t let me post it to Facebook. But I have a couple of relatively famous people in my tree historically and they don’t show up on the app.

      • LOL I post all mine to Facebook! The replies are hilarious! I posted my newest relative yesterday–Jimi Hendrix which is a hoot because I’m very white. What I do find interesting is the types of people I’m related to on my maternal side versus paternal. I have mainly singers on my mother’s side. I do get excited when I’m notified of a new relative just so I can see which side of my family it’s from. I have a variety of famous relatives on my dad’s side. Actors mainly and a few politicians. But my mom’s side and all the singers is very intriguing to me. While I’m not a professional singer, I come from a long line of people that sing either in church choirs, or are in bands, etc.
        I’m curious if any one else has seen a pattern in the types of people you are related to.

        • Yes Tracy. I see patterns in many things too…I have many singers on my mom side…U.S. President about half and half on mom and dad side…both my parents are related and many of my cousins are double and triple related to me and to their other cousins….I currently have over 41,600 DNA matches on Ancestry…and the most fun pattern so far for me is facial recognition. Using the we’re related app, I have learned to identify which side of the family the famous person is on by looking at their facial features…then I check on the app to verify that I am right….this is so much fun…

  4. I have found this time and time again.l have fed in my my information and found that one has to pay up,before they reveal,details.The spelling is not remotely like the one requested.money lost.

    • Karen Isaac says:

      Please can you tell me where you have to pay for the, to reveal details? I am in UK and seems I suddnley have loads of American ancesters .Do you mean you have to join Ancestry itself?

      • mjnrootdig says:

        Personally, I would only use the APP for either entertainment–or perhaps clues. You can probably take the names it gives you and put them into FamilySearch and come up with some records or suggestions on their site which is free to use.

  5. They’re not saying that the match is definite, it’s just a possibility and they tell you upfront that they use data from your tree as well as other people’s trees to make possible matches and it’s up to you to do the research as to whether or not your tree does follow along their proposed lineage. I don’t understand how there are so many bad reviews of this app when it’s obviously just a suggestion and not a guarantee. So far the app has been well over 50% correct, based on the lineage I already had as well as for suggesting extensions that I thoroughly researched before adding to my tree. The times it isn’t correct shouldn’t be taken as offensive as it was just a suggestion in the first place. It also takes time for matches to come through so when one doesn’t pop up immediately, maybe it will pop up in a few weeks. I already had Jimmy Carter on my family tree and it took the app about a month for him to show up. It gives you new matches about once a day, not all at once. I think it’s a great app and has led to a lot of fun research and connections with history. You just have to remember to do your due diligence and take the possible matches with a grain of salt (and patience).

    • In my experience, most everyone I’ve been able to confirm. There are a few that I’ve questioned due to a wrong parent. It was a correct husband, just wasn’t their father. I think it’s a lot of fun.
      I will say one thing I find interesting, I’ve known for many years that I’m related to the singer Willie Nelson. He has never come up on my app as being related to me! Maybe it’s because he’s already in my family tree.
      The app is fun for me.

      • I was wondering the same thing about Samuel Clemens aka Mark Twain. He is a definite relative but hasn’t come up on We’re Related. Willie Nelson has, though! I’ll have to try to verify that. I also got a connection to Thomas Jefferson, but the leap that was done on my line had my known relative being born to an 11 year old…possible but not plausible, I think…

    • Kelyn Flynn says:

      I was sceptical about Winston Churchill, but Jane Austen seemed possible. I have trawled through Ancestry and amazingly found matches for the ancestors in my tree that I didnt have. Problem is that it is a bit hard to confirm them the further back they go, and siblings are most often not there either, so a lot of effort Iis necessary to try to work out if the matches are possible. But Jane, Winston and Neville a Chamberlain all do like credible possible distant cousins. They are all connected to each other as well.

  6. I agree with you C.A….the app is a lot of fun and actually it’s been pretty accurate in the findings of my famous relatives…some I grew up knowing they were related and now the app shows where they are on my family tree…and it all makes sense…I’ve had 4 out of 68 so far that are questionalble…and I like that Ancestry’s computer looks thru 70 million records in finding these possible famous relatives for us…and many of my friends are doing it too and are having successful results too…many have found the answer to some of their own family tree relatives thru this app…and a few of them have found that their own wives are actually their cousins…LOL…like I said, it’s a lot of fun for all of us…and in reality there is absolutely no one person who can really say with absolute truth that every thing on their family trees is 100 percent accurate…records and stories from the past just aren’t 100 percent accurate…and with that said…I feel confident using the information that we have so far…I have DNA on numerous websites so I know the computer is using all available resources for finding these relatives using all other cousins family trees from all over to help make our family trees more complete…

  7. WhimsicalChimera says:

    I’ve had the app on my phone for a few months now. I was sharing them to Facebook almost daily just for laughs until a couple of my relatives told me to quit – they were sick of seeing something that is so obviously “fake”. I have to agree with C.A.; I think most of what the app suggests is just that – suggestions. It has found several people for me I have suspected for years to be distant cousins (Elvis Presley, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton…), but the day it finds Robin Williams, I’ll spit my drink everywhere. I *know* there’s a connection. I just haven’t found it yet! It’s up to me to prove or debunk these suggestions. That’s the one thing about all this.. people want the easy way out anymore. Genealogy isn’t about the website or the app that’s going to do the work for you. Half the fun is the journey to proving what you think you already know!

  8. So far, not impressed. Everyone I know who has downloaded it is related to a couple of the same famous people. It seems to make changes on its own. Overnight, on its own, it changed my husband’s contacts to “Private” so no one can see the descendant tree, but when he goes to change it, it says they are visible; it inactivated the tree I was using and activated another so I have to keep changing it back; and when I tried to leave a comment about it, it opened a page that says “NO CONVERSATIONS.” Meh

  9. Jan Bassett says:

    I’m really frustrated and disappointed with this app. I’m finding most of my “famous” connections completely wrong. I think a lot of people are going to fall for all this and wrongfully pass the information down to other generations. Ancestry.com is going to end up completely discrediting themselves, and fib their way right out of business. To add insult to injury I’ve found all the accomplished people wrong and the no talent morons on here match up! I’ve got Miley Cyrus for God’s sake! Anybody want to trade? I’LL trade you Miley Cyrus and Brittany Spears for Willie Nelson.

    • Gosh, Jan, I think I have all three of them in my list . I actually enjoy it. It’s fun to research the possibilities, realizing that my 9th cousin twice removed STILL means I’m not on the Christmas card list. My suggestion: Take it with a grain of salt, do your research, but have fun with it!!

  10. So far, I think the same limited number of celebrities are appearing on everyone’s apps. I have both Obamas, Michael Jackson, Miley Cyrus, Bill Clinton, Cate Blanchette, Walt Disney, Abraham Lincoln, Kate Upton, Dolly Parton, and both my coworker and his wife. I had my dna tested twice, and I have no black ancestry, and this app didn’t show Daniel Boone, a known dna ancestor. Instead it changed the name of the mother right at that juncture, now claiming that Michael Jackson is my relative instead. I have sent it to a few friends as an experiment to see if all our results are the same, or if it claims I am related to everyone I know. That is my suspicion.

    • Hi Linda…I don’t show up any African ancestry either….but my dad’s paternal DNA showed some African ancestry…you need to get your dad’s paternal DNA to see if he has any African ancestry…without the paternal DNA, you don’t have the full spectrum of your own DNA ancestry.

      • Autumn woods says:

        Note from a mixed race person: umm did it ever occur to you guys that most of us african Americans are only around 72% black because of rape during slavery??? Duh thats why you have PLENTY of black relatives.

  11. Linda Griffiths says:

    Well I can’t get mine to open but reading these. Onments I’m not going to bother. Concerned by the comments about having to pay as well as that is not mentioned and I already pay to access Ancestry. Was was hoping I might get sensible ideas for knocking down my brink walls rather than have big names in my tree so the whole thing sounds rediculous

    • mjnrootdig says:

      The famous people I can’t give one whit about and the app doesn’t give you any details about the people in your common tree other than dates and names. It’s been interesting to see which of my Facebook friends I might be related to–but only because it made me review some families that I have not worked on in some time.

  12. At least some of you are getting results. I joined a few years ago when it first came out. I got an immediate notice that they couldn’t find any relatives. I took down the app and forgot about it. I recently was speaking to Ancestry for a tech problem and we started talking about the function on the Ancestry site that used to do the same thing as this app. She brought up “We’re related” and I thought that I would download it again to see if it had improved. Well, here I am staring at the screen that says “How embarrassing! We can’t find any relatives for you yet” They want me to start adding people from facebook and asking relatives to add people. I already have a pretty good tree going after doing research for many years. If they can’t come up with someone after all that, then I guess my family has stealthily gone through life without having our 15 minutes of fame anywhere.

  13. I have an aunt who would like to download this app on her Windows computer. Any ideas or workarounds? She thinks my 102-year-old uncle would love to see the matches.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>