Genetic Genealogy News Round Up

2020 has been a horrible year so far, in more ways than I can count. However, one good thing is that more of us are staying at home working on our family history and using DNA tools to help with that. Here is my summary of the latest genetic genealogy news for you, both the good and the bad. First the good…

MyHeritage did a new run of their Theory of Family Relativity so go look if you have any new connections with theories. Unlike Ancestry which seems to run theirs almost every night, MyHeritage only runs it every few months but it is more detailed. Click here for my blog post about this feature.

Family Tree DNA updated their ancestry composition estimates to version 3 which includes 66 new reference populations. Click here for the blog post Roberta Estes wrote about it. I will write a post soon that compares results at all the companies for my brother like I did six years ago (click here). For my extended family, version 3 is not an improvement, although I like the new Magyar population predicted for us which fits into my 25% Bavarian ancestry.

My new ethnicities at family Tree DNA. My father was Norwegian and my mother German (half Jewish). No British.

According to a FaceBook post in the GEDmatch user group, Verogen announced a number of GEDmatch improvements coming in Q4 at the ISHI (International Symposium on Human Identification) conference including enhanced security for GEDmatch and a modernized User interface.

Ancestry also moved that wonderful new Longest segment feature (click for my blog post about it) and at first I could not find it. An appeal to the hive mind at FaceBook resolved my problem. As shown in the image below, you have to click the amount of shared DNA in blue to see that and another new feature, the “Unweighted shared DNA. That is the amount of matching DNA before their algorithm removes the DNA assumed to just be from your particular population group. That algorithm has vastly improved my Jewish side matches, as it would for anyone with endogamy in their tree.

My known third cousin who shares Jewish great great grandparents with me

Now for the bad news.

Ancestry has changed their terms of service but luckily we have several lawyers who are also genealogists and they say not to worry. Click here for Judy Russell’s blog post on those changes

I have refrained for several months on calling out Ancestry for the Cease and Desist orders they have sent to many third party sites whose tools I have depended on, in hopes that this would change. It has not. The worst for me is not allowing Genetic Affairs clustering on Ancestry‘s site any more. This tool was a huge help for figuring out unknown parentage. One can hope that they will license it and implement it within their site like MyHeritage has. That has not happened.

What can you do?

  1. Please complain to Ancestry, click here for their suggestion box.
  2. Upload your Ancestry DNA results and a tree to MyHeritage.com which includes clustering in their DNA tools.
  3. Upload your Ancestry DNA results and a tree to Family Tree DNA which Genetic Affairs can cluster.
  4. Upload your Ancestry DNA results and a tree to GEDmatch.com which has its own clustering and tree search tools.
  5. Click here for my post on these other clustering tools.

My Dads Clusters at Gedmatch

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13 thoughts on “Genetic Genealogy News Round Up

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  1. Thanks for your excellent review of new features across genetic genealogy databases. You always find the tools that are interesting and informative.

  2. Thanks for the summary Kitty. I often have to disappoint people when I’m asked if they can run the AutoCluster and AutoTree analysis for Ancestry, I just mailed back an adoptee with this information.

    I also don’t think Ancestry is ever going to reach out for a possible collaboration. After the C&D I had a constructive talk with them, we concluded that I should employ my analyses on some of their own profiles.

    However, after not hearing from them I decided to mail them some private results. No response. I also reached out after the acquisition by Blackstone. Until this day, I haven’t heard back from them. Very disappointing.

    • EJ,

      I think Ancestry is 100% about being a business, which is their right. They must not see the added profit from providing this feature or adding on this type of service. They are the biggest show in town.

      I suggest everyone download their DNA and trees on to other sites. PERIOD.

      Paul Baltzer

      • As a customer I feel Ancestry is denying me access to my own data at present. I told them so when I cancelled my subscription recently.
        Australians seem to have 1/5 to 1/20th of the matches of US testers, so their recent removal of small matches affected us greatly. I suggested that the net effect of these two measures would be that people would not need a subscription to research leads they no longer had, so this would damage their business. They are hoping for subscribers outside the US where there is more room for growth, but I don’t this will encourage it.

  3. The third option people can utilize is to cease paying for Ancestry until they stop utilizing cease and desist orders for tools they cant/don’t replace. For me, not being able to use Pedigree Thief is also a huge issue.

    This is radical, I know, but money talks louder than anything else. If using this option, the people stopping paying should notify Ancestry of 1) their plans in advance and the reason why, and 2) contact customer service at the time they stop paying to let them know why.

    Ancestry must STOP trying to monopolize the market by limiting the tools available. They have many options, including buying the tools and implementing them internally or developing them internally. This goes for the tree functions as well as DNA functions. It’s absurd that you cant pull a report on various fields, like all ancestors born in Massachusetts or all people with military records from 1775 to 1776, or all people who died of Spanish Flu.

    • Teri –
      I feel your pain but cutting off your nose to spite your face does not seem to me to be the answer. My idea was to flood their suggestion box… and to work from within. They do read this blog there I hear.

      • As someone who advises others, I tend to agree with Kitty.
        But I also remind my listeners of the many resources already available to them for nothing. Some are completely free. Some are paid for by genie society membership; some by taxes at local or state or federal level. However, all of us need a break from time to time. If you decide to take one, and cancel your subscription while you do that, please know that companies listen most strongly to reasons why people cancel their subscriptions. So tell them about stuff like this.
        And leave out the part about you needing to do family or personal stuff for a while.

    • I agree with you, Teri. I let my subscription lapse two weeks ago for the first time since 2011, and took pains to tell them why. I can still see new DNA matches but am no longer frustrated by Ancestry’s frequent website outages and other site glitches. Meanwhile I have spent the equivalent of six months’ of an Ancestry World Explorer subscription to get a whole year at MyHeritage, where I also have DNA uploaded. It’s a new pond to fish in, and now that I can have my full 12,000 person tree there, I am getting lots of useful Smart Matches that I couldn’t see with just my 250 closest relatives. I have only so much time (and money) for my genetic genealogy work, and I feel good about spending it at a company that is willing to give me some powerful tools to play with. In addition, since my mother is first generation in the US and my dad’s family didn’t arrive until the late 1800s, MH’s client base, with lots of non-US customers, is more relevant to my genealogy than Ancestry’s is.

  4. Ancestry.com is a powerful site. They have lots of great capabilities. They also have a business model which is important in their sustainability. While I appreciate the desire for more access to their analytic data, be careful what you wish for. Their prior reactions are understandable and we don’t know what other exigences they’re contemplating. Imagine them locking up the SNP data. Not sure that’s legal, but I’m imagining. It would make sense they are contemplating this because there are good alternatives developing for using ancestry.com SNPs and reproducing much of what they do. If you want to organize a disruptive effort you could mobilize a large number of folks to download their SNPs and get ancestry wondering what’s up. But I’d talk to our legal genealogists first.

    • Thank you from me too.
      I thought they had changed something. And friends are of an age where they are wary of the first signs of forgetfulness. We are not demented.
      Ancestry just put it somewhere else.

  5. Thank you*. What I think has already been stated by yourself and others, and it is both thought-provoking and accurate.

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