Wednesday, September 12, 2018

AncestryDNA Updates Ethnicity Estimates for Everybody, But ...My Wish List

The Ancestry blog posted Powered by the World’s Largest Consumer DNA Network, Ancestry Unveils More Detailed and Precise Ethnicity Estimates Than Ever Before today.

Now, everybody who has taken an AncestryDNA test has the updated ethnicity estimate.  That is good.  I got mine earlier, and wrote about it in My Updated AncestryDNA Ethnicity Estimate three weeks ago.

If you have done an AncestryDNA test, check out your new ethnicity estimate.  

I've been discussing the AncestryDNA results with my cousin, and she is confused by the AncestryDNA's results on her DNA page.  She likes the DNA Circles because they at least tell her which DNA matches share a specific common ancestor.  She has looked at the "Shared Ancestors" page and likes that she can see the common ancestors for each DNA match and the relationship paths.  The list of "4th Cousins or closer" includes some of the "Shared Ancestors" and hundreds more Matches, but there is no help except for the estimated relationship.  She has no clue how to find out how many centiMorgans she shares with the match, or how to find out which chromosomes she shares DNA with her matches, or how she should organize and analyze the matches.  

The rest of the "DNA Matches" (for me, more than 40,000 of them) provide no help at all to the user.

I would love to be able to use different color stars to identify different ancestral lines (say 8 of them for the 8 pairs of great-great-grandparents) or different ethnicities.   I would love to be able to group those colored stars together so I can see my matches for specific ancestral lines or ethnicities together.

Why doesn't AncestryDNA offer the number of centiMorgans right on the match list?  

Why doesn't Ancestry tell users which chromosomes they share DNA on and the segment boundaries?  It can't be that hard - all their major competitors do it.  A state-of-the-art chromosome browser (for all matches, or for 4th cousin or closer, or for, say, 20 cM or higher), and being able to download it to your computer would really help those of us interested in that detail.

Why aren't the user "Notes" shown right on the DNA match pages?  It's a pain to click on the "Note" link and write the note, then have to click on the Note icon to see the Note later.  I use the Notes extensively since there is no chromosome browser on AncestryDNA.

This is 2018, the, what, 7th year of AncestryDNA.  I think users of AncestryDNA would love to be able to tell how they are related, who their common ancestors are, how many centiMorgans they share, what chromosomes they match on, and so forth.  

The biggest problem now is that only about 5% of the latest AncestryDNA testers link the DNA results to a person in a family tree.  Of course, to link to a tree, they have to make a family tree on Ancestry.  Frankly, it's not that hard to do, and it's FREE! (Does Ancestry even tell them that it's FREE?)  "Who was your mother?"  "Who was your father?"  Who were your grandparents?"  Hopefully, they know beyond the grands, or their parents do.  But only a small number of AncestryDNA testers have bothered.  Apparently, they don't care about the DNA matches, and were interested only in the ethnicity estimate.  

What other items are on your wish list for AncestryDNA?


Disclosure:  I received a complimentary test kit from AncestryDNA a long time ago.  I have had a paid Ancestry subscription since 2000, but have received material considerations (travel, hotel, meals, etc.) over the past ten years as a Geneablogger.

Copyright (c) 2018, Randall J. Seaver

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mbm1311 said...

I agree with this list and I would also add that computers could create "clusters" based on a match being fourth cousin closer. Call the clusters - cluster 1, cluster 2 etc or anything but let me go in there and rename that cluster. Computers could easily do this.

Yes that they don't coach people on filling out a tree - who is your grandfather, grandmother etc. seems like a missed opportunity. (understatement)

I would like to see devote some of it's budget to data base management in all areas of their business. Thanks Randy

Louis Kessler said...


Blaine Bettinger (DNA Central) just released a Google Chrome extension named: DNA Match Labeling that will do give you 8 different colored dots to use at AncestryDNA.

The MedBetterDNA Chrome extension will allow you to see your notes, and then you can add your cM to the note to see it as well.

But yes, you are right. AncestryDNA should do this themself for their users. They may be purposely hiding the cM from the user, trying to keep everything as simple as possible for them.

I've heard various reasons why they won't give segment matches including privacy concerns, but I've got the feeling that they just never built a database for segment matches and adding one now would be a major load to their servers that have to handle over 10 million people and add over a hundred thousand new people each month. I don't think they want to risk any chance of degrading their system and would like to keep it as fast and responsive as possible.

Barb said...

I have many "known" matches on Ancestry, where we have already figured out the MRCA. I use the Shared Matches filter for each match I have to find my known cousins. It's the only tool I find even remotely useful for matches without trees and at least shows me the ancestral line, if not the MRCA, for those zombie matches. It's time consuming. I've suggested a chromosome browser and putting those Notes on the front screen of the matches listing multiple times, using Feedback. I even sent a direct FB message out of frustration.

Marian B. Wood said...

The Ancestry instructions for DNA should make a big (very big) point of recommending that customers build even a basic family tree *while waiting* for the DNA results. That way, others who have you as a match will be able to check out your tree before bothering you with emails. Sigh.

Karen said...

Two chrome extensions can help with some of those needs until Ancestry provides them

MedBetter DNA allows you to see your notes on the match list


DNA Match Labeling will let you use 8 different star colors

Barbara said...

Randy--I agree completely with your wish list! Thanks to your readers who posted about the Chrome extensions to add colored dots and open notes on matches! I downloaded them both and am absolutely thrilled!! Can't wait to work with these new features tomorrow!