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Introduction to Group Project Administration

FamilyTreeDNA offers a variety of Group Projects designed to help further genetic genealogy. While these projects are hosted by FamilyTreeDNA, the administrators are all volunteers. These volunteers have wide leeway in how to run their projects but must adhere to the Group Administrator Guidelines.

Why become a Group Project Administrator?

After searching the list of existing projects, if you find there is not a project that addresses your particular research goals, you can submit a project application to our Group Project team for review. Additionally, a project might have been "abandoned" because the administrator has passed away or lost interest. In these cases, customers can apply to step in as new administrators for these projects.

Who can become a Group Project Administrator?

FamilyTreeDNA requires that prospective administrators have at least one DNA test (or DNA data transfer from another company) to the FamilyTreeDNA database for themselves or a family member. This is to ensure that they have some familiarity with our website and test results. Experience with genealogy and DNA testing is a plus, but applications are taken on a case-by-case basis. Regardless of your skill level, there are many instructional tools and a helpful community of fellow administrators. More important than experience is the adherence to our Administrator Guidelines to ensure that the privacy of group members is protected.

In many ways, project members look to their administrators as ambassadors of the company. As such, it is essential to maintain courteous, respectful communication with group members and staff. It is at the discretion of FamilyTreeDNA management to approve project applications, and a history of respectful exchanges with customer service, management, matches, and group members is one thing that is considered in the application process.

Administrators and Co-administrators

Projects can have an unlimited number of administrators and co-administrators. In fact this is sometimes essential for the proper functioning of large projects. Administrators can invite others to be administrators or co-administrators through their Group Administration Page (GAP). By default, co-administrators are able to perform all the functions that administrators can, with the exception of inviting other administrators to join. However, if the administrators choose, certain abilities can be restricted for co-administrators. 

Who can join projects as members?

Different projects have different goals, and thus the criteria of who can join may vary. These requirements are at the discretion of Group Administrators. For example, Y-DNA haplogroup projects usually require group members to have a Y-DNA test, as any other test is outside the project's area of focus. If you are unable to take an applicable Y-DNA test yourself for your research goal, it is possible to have a male family member tested and to join that kit to the project.

If you choose, you may require prospective group members to submit a join request and provide information such as genealogy, personal research goals, or membership identification from a genealogical or family history organization. This can help you screen members to make sure they are a good fit.

Types of Group Projects

Geographical Project

Geographical projects focus on a specific region of the world and are not usually specific to a particular DNA Type.

Surname Projects

Surname Projects focus on a particular surname and variant spellings of that surname (eg. Brewster, Bruster, Brewer). As surnames are often carried through the direct paternal line, these groups usually require a Y-DNA test, though some projects include autosomal DNA or even mitochondria. Again, this is at the discretion of the administrator(s).

Haplogroup Projects

Haplogroup projects study particular Y-DNA or mtDNA haplogroups or their subclades and almost always require a Y-DNA or mtDNA test, respectively.

mtDNA Lineage Projects

In many cultures, women take on the surname of their husband, and it is not passed to their children. This can make tracing direct maternal lineages difficult. mtDNA lineage projects are designed to study direct maternal lineages regardless of name changes, as mtDNA is passed down maternally.

Family Finder™ Projects

Family Finder Projects were originally developed as a way of researching the descendants of an ancestral couple using the Family Finder test. These were usually ones at the limits of autosomal reach or about five to six generations in the past. However, they have evolved to be broader in scope and can contain multiple test types. They are often used for specific research projects that do not neatly fall into any other category, or by people doing private family studies or who manage multiple kits as a way to access their own family members’ results.

How do I effectively run a Group Project?

  • To learn about the tools in Group Project Administrator tools, and tips and tricks on being an administrator, take a look at our Administrator Quick Start Guide.  If you run into any difficulties or have any questions, feel free to contact the Group Project Team at
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