Setting up and administrating a DNA Group Project is an exciting opportunity to make discoveries not available through traditional genealogical records. It is also a serious responsibility as it involves access to project participants’ personal and genetic information. A successful and enjoyable project is important to the Group Administrator, the Project members, and to Family Tree DNA.

At Family Tree DNA, we expect our Group Administrators to follow the highest standards of personal and ethical conduct. For this reason, failure to follow these guidelines may result in removal of a Group Administrator. Family Tree DNA reserves the right to remove a Group Administrator at any time at its discretion. Family Tree DNA reserves the right to make changes to these Group Administrator Guidelines at its sole discretion. Please refer to this document periodically for updates.

Group Administrator Pages

Family Tree DNA provides to all Project Administrators and Project Co-administrators the Group Administrator Pages (GAP), a web-based interface for accessing and interpreting Project members’ results. Use of the GAP is restricted to authorized individuals.

Project Administrators shall not:

  • Share their login ID or Password.
  • Use the Join Request feature for any other purposes than solely accepting a request for someone to join your project or explaining the criteria to join your project. The requester’s e-mail address should not be used for any other purposes.
  • Use a DNA project to advocate a personal or political agenda.
  • Use a DNA project to promote a business or commercial interest outside of the Family Tree DNA affiliate program.
  • Further, no Project Administrator or Co-administrator shall reverse engineer, hack, or otherwise attempt to exploit real or potential security flaws in the website. It is the responsibility of all to report promptly website and security problems to Family Tree DNA staff.

Communication

Communication is a critical element of a DNA Project, and Family Tree DNA expects good communication from Group Administrators. One objective of these guidelines is to avoid or minimize common misunderstandings ensuring that a DNA Project is a source of enjoyment for all involved.

As a Group Administrator, you are assuming the responsibility to run a DNA Project, to interact with project members, and to assist participants.

It is your responsibility to:

  • Treat each project member and potential project member fairly and equally.
  • Advise Project members of the utility of an upgrade or additional testing.
  • Refer project members to Family Tree DNA staff to answer questions if you do not know the answer.
  • Ask Family Tree DNA staff when you have any questions about your role or responsibilities.

Group Administrators commit to make best efforts to answer questions from Project members. A lack of an answer or a delayed answer reduces the seriousness of the Group Project. Ideally, let members know that their questions will be answered within X number of days. This will help set expectations and avoid disappointment. Family Tree DNA strongly recommends an auto responder for e-mail correspondence during vacations. Family Tree DNA staff is always available to help you when you have a question and are not sure about the answer.

Privacy

Privacy and confidentiality are a key responsibility for a Group Administrator. Group Administrators have access to data and contact information of the members in the project. This access is necessary to assist participants in understanding and interpreting their results. Family Tree DNA expects Group Administrators to protect members’ privacy and confidentiality.

Group Administrators shall not use this access to:

  • Publicly display, share, or change the contact information of any Project member.
  • Publish research or information that may disclose or identify a member’s personal information without the written permission of the person tested and those who paid for the test.
  • Enter their e-mail in the member’s personal contact information field without that person’s express authorization by e-mail or letter with a copy to Family Tree DNA.
  • Authorize an upgrade to a Project member’s kit without their consent.
  • Add Project members to other projects or move a Project member from one project to another.
  • Use member information or research for any commercial purpose without express written authorization.
  • Use member information or e-mail address to send any correspondence unrelated to the Group Project.
  • Provide information or assistance to one project member while withholding the same from another project member.
  • Post guarded DNA Results to a public website or otherwise make them public.

Guarded DNA Results are mtDNA Coding Region results, Factoid results, and Population Finder results.

Display of Results

Group Administrators are encouraged to set up, at no charge, a DNA Project website hosted on a Family Tree DNA server and based on a template using a web builder tool provided on the Group Administrator’s Page (GAP). We strongly suggest that Group Administrators make use of the Family Tree DNA DNA Project website for the project even if it is only to make results available for all members of the group. This will ensure updated information on all project members.

If a Group Administrator chooses to host a website elsewhere, it must follow the same standards as a Family Tree DNA based website. Any external website should specify that the DNA results are from Family Tree DNA. The project must keep test results current at all times. This is accomplished with code provided in the GAP.

An external or secondary website should not include guarded DNA Results. Guarded DNA Results are mtDNA Coding region results, Factoid results, and Population Finder results.

A Group Administrator must not charge a fee for participation in the project or access to a project website.

Continuing Education and Conferences

Because Group Projects are based around DNA Test Results, it is necessary that at least one of the administrators or co-administrators of any Group Project understand the basics of Genetic Genealogy.

The Family Tree DNA website contains many educational resources. It is strongly encouraged that all Group Administrators read these and stay current on changes.

Additional opportunities for self-education are available through webinars and genealogical conferences. Group Administrators are eligible to attend the annual Conference of Genetic Genealogy provided by Family Tree DNA. There is a subsidized fee to attend the conference. These conferences provide an excellent educational opportunity regarding both DNA Project administration and Genetic Genealogy.

Growth and Continuity

Family Tree DNA understands that personal circumstances and interests change. Because research can only be advanced with more data in the project, members expect to see Project membership grow. Therefore, a Group Administrator must make a serious effort to recruit participants. Participants are also encouraged to recruit others to participate. If a Group Administrator has lost interest in or can no longer manage their project, they should communicate this to their Project members, fellow Group Administrators, and Family Tree DNA staff. This allows others the opportunity to step in.

Group Administrators will make best efforts to select a co-administrator. This is important for
several reasons:

  • It helps to distribute the workload as the project grows.
  • It allows each co-administrator to use their strengths in different areas of the project.
  • It is more likely that someone will always be available to respond to the members.
  • It helps ensure transition when one or more Project Administrators leave the project.

However, all Group Project Administrators and Co-Administrators must agree to and follow these guidelines as well as all other Privacy and Terms of Service policies set out on the Family Tree DNA website.