Skip to main content

No jocks, smokers or brothers: An online database is letting people on the tiny island of Iceland (population approximately 318,000, or less than Halifax) double-check that they aren't about to date a distant family member.

Islendingabok, or the Book of Icelanders, tracks 1,200 years worth of the country's genealogical data. Beyond reconnecting with aunt Brynhildur, some Icelanders are using the site to avoid romancing the bloodline.

Sound paranoid?

"Consider this," Time's Samantha Grossman wrote. "When you live in an isolated nation with a population roughly the size of Pittsburgh, accidentally lusting after a cousin is an all-too-real possibility."

The site alerts Icelanders to familial overlap and also reveals ties to Bjork: One man learned that his ex-wife was his seventh cousin – not technically incest – and that he was related to the eccentric singer seven generations back.

In North America, donor sibling registry websites help children of the same sperm donors get acquainted, but also alleviate some concern that the child may one day fall for a relative, as large groups of half-siblings are beginning to appear with the rise of artificial insemination.

"Some experts are even calling attention to the increased odds of accidental incest between half-sisters and half-brothers, who often live close to one another," Jacqueline Mroz wrote in The New York Times.

"My daughter knows her donor's number for this very reason," one mother of a teenager conceived through sperm donation told Ms. Mroz. "She's been in school with numerous kids who were born through donors. She's had crushes on boys who are donor children."

Would you ever use a genealogical database or donor registry for this purpose?