Last October 6, seven genetic genealogy bloggers were
invited to AncestryDNA’s headquarters in San Francisco for a “Bloggers Day” to learn about the coming changes at AncestryDNA. Two of the items discussed are now implemented.
One of the major features is the improvement in
AncestryDNA’s algorithm to determine your matches. As Ancestry has about 500,000 sutosomal DNA (atDNA) testers
at this time and their threshold (until now) was 5.0 cMs (centimorgans) with
Family Tree DNA’s test called Family Finder has a threshold of 7.7 cMs and
23andMe’s threshold is 7.0. This made
Ancestry quite liberal in matching people and as a result there were many false
positives (IBS). Consequently, any
tester received many matches that may not be real matches. Most people will lose about 66% of their
matches after the change which is very good!
The matches we retain will be meaningful.
Before November 19th
, I had 17,917 matches, and
now I have 4,250 which is a 76% reduction. Not only is this more manageable, I
am now more certain that these people actually match me through inherited DNA
See the following blogs for more details of this meeting
from some of those who were present. Although
not everything discussed is highlighted here as some changes will be made in
Robert J. Estes, DNAeXplained - Genetic Genealogy
Judy Russell, The Legal Genealogist
Many genetic genealogists have tried since Ancestry began
doing autosomal DNA (atDNA) tests in 2012 to have them provide a chromosome feature. Attendees of this meeting reported the same
comment by Ancestry that we heard from the beginning which is basically that
Ancestry does not believe the common genealogist can understand how to use the
I, along with many other genetic genealogists I know, have
been teaching any atDNA tester to use the chromosome features at Family Tree
DNA and at 23andMe for nearly five years to help people map their chromosomes
and discover which ancestor gave them a particular DNA segment. We have also encouraged any AncestryDNA
tester to upload their data to GEDmatch (a third-party tool) in order to have a
feature to see where on the chromosomes they match other testers. I have more faith in people…this isn’t rocket
science. It can be learned. I am not a science major (didn’t care much
for biology in school) and I can understand it.
I believe Ancestry’s comment about most genealogists cannot understand
chromosome mapping not to be the total story.
I have my suspicions as to why they will not do this…and I’m not alone
in those beliefs.
At the meeting, the attendees were told that this action
will take place before the end of the year.
However, the improved algorithm actually took place November 19th
"DNA Circles" in Beta Testing
A feature new to AncestryDNA
started November 19th
as well. Ancestry uses phased data and their
new matching algorithm along with public Ancestry.com trees to determine your “DNA
DNA Circles creates clusters of
test-takers who all match the same common ancestor based on their public trees
the matches have. Each person in a
circle matches at least one other in the circle. In order to be in the DNA
Circles you must subscribe to Ancestry.com, have a public tree and be a DNA
customer. Customers are to receive an
email about it on Nov 19, 2014, but no one I know did.
Blogs about this feature:
For a view of the DNA Circle pages, see Ancestry’s blog at:
New AncestryDNA Technology Powers New Kinds of Discoveries
There is a white paper associated with DNA Circles. In the
Ancestry help forum, the following was posted by Laura Davenport for anyone
with an Ancestry subscription to view it.
A paraphrase of her post follows:
To view the DNA Circles’ white paper without a circle:
1. Go to your DNA matches page you’re your home page)
2. Click on the question mark upper right. This brings you
to a graphic menu.
3. Click on "what can I do with my DNA matches".
4. Scroll down to the paragraph headed "Find DNA
evidence for your genealogical research".
5. Click on "Learn more about DNA Circles" at the
end of the paragraph.
6. Go to the end of a summary page, click on "check out
our white paper on DNA circles".
Downloading Matches and
Raw Data from AncestryDNA
Your matches are downloaded in a CSV (Comma Separated
Values), so be sure to save it in some spreadsheet like Excel.
Go to your DNA Home Page
Under your name, click on the “gear icon” next
to the word Settings
On the right hand side under “Actions”, click on
the bar that says: “Download v1 DNA
For your matches file, your spreadsheet columns are:
– the person
person who manages the test. (NOTE: You
get the cryptic name they use at AncestryDNA and no email)
– the of
you have starred this person or not
you have viewed this match or not
– whether there
is a hint (shaky leaf) or not
I have no idea what this is, but maybe it has to do with attaching this info to
– If you
have written a note on the page, this appears.
- Download your old match list before AncestryDNA
removes those matches.
- Download your raw data (it comes in a zip
file). Then upload it to GEDmatch
- Also consider transferring that data to Family
Tree DNA to be placed in another database (you get more matches). You will remain in the AncestryDNA base,
however. The cost to transfer is $39
unless you have four others from Ancestry view the transfer process at FTDNA. They
do not have to actually transfer for your transfer to be free.
If you have no idea how to map your chromosomes,
put the term in your browser and/or consult the following sources:
Genealogy: The Basics and Beyond by Emily D. Aulicino, available at
AuthorHouse.com, Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble online in paperback or
ebook. You can also order it from any
brick and mortar store.
21 Nov 2014