One of the unexpected outcomes of my recent DNA testing with Ancestry.com has been filling in some holes, especially on non-direct lines, in my genealogy database. I knew that I had some holes that needed to be filled because I had data that was still primarily in notebooks or file folders. I kept thinking I would pull those folders and notebooks out, but I just never did.
The primary means of connecting with your matches with Ancestry DNA is via the Ancestry trees. I knew that I needed to begin one for my family and properly document it. I didn't just want to import my whole GEDCOM. I wanted to force myself to take a look at what was being entered and to make sure that my data was clean and properly documented before making it publicly available. My tree is still listed as private, but I've now attached what is there to my profile so that people can see that I've got something there. What is there at this point will not be that useful to people, because I've only got data through my gg-grandparents there with documentation complete for grandparents. I'm working on their parents and siblings at the moment and taking those lines forward as much as possible. Then I'll slowly go back a generation at a time, working on the forward lines also. I suspect that putting those "forward" lines in are what will help me connect with others.
I've already been quite surprised at how much new data is available for some of my cousins that I did not have. I've been able to add marriage dates (or at least marriage license dates) for some, where I only had a name of spouse. Some have given me an estimate of the spouse's birth date which I might not have had from the family sources I had acquired over the years at reunions. Of course, I'm attaching records to the Ancestry family trees. I need to go back and add some of my non-Ancestry.com sources to the grandparents' generation. I've done it for my parents. I will slowly add those things into the record. They are in my Rootsmagic database for the most part. It's just going to take time.
In the meantime, I've actually prepared ahnentafels from each of my grandparents so that I can share these with "matches". The ahnentafels have birth, marriage, death dates and locations but no sources. It makes it quick for people to see if they can spot a match. It's not 100% ideal, but it does accomplish the purpose of identifying relationships until my database is back to a place where it will be useful for some of the distant cousin matches.
This task could become overwhelming as I've got thousands of people in my current genealogy database. However, I'm not going to delve as much into some of the collateral lines as I have in my main database where the families are not related. I'm trying to focus mainly on the descendants of my actual ancestors, including spouses where known.
It's a nice way to clean up my database and expand my knowledge of some ancestors or descendants of ancestors that I haven't visited in a long, long time.