Tuesday, March 12, 2019

AncestryDNA ThruLines Feature Is Imperfect - An Example - UPDATED

AncestryDNA announced ThruLines two weeks ago, and I have been working with the feature since then, once I found out how to avoid the dreaded "This site is not working" error (presumably caused by user cookies and server overload).  

How to avoid it?  In Windows (I use Win7) and the Chrome browser, I can right-click on a link and select "Open in incognito window" - thanks to the Genetic Genealogy Tips and Techniques Facebook group.  Doing that avoids using cookies and works for me, but I have to sign into Ancestry again. 

But ThruLines is imperfect.  Here is one of my examples:

1)  When ThruLines opens, it provides "Cards" for each of your known ancestors (according to ThruLines - which uses your tree, a Big Ancestry Tree, and the tree of your DNA match).   Here is a screen with Cards of my ancestors:

At the right of the screen above is my 3rd great-grandfather, John Rich - labeled as a "Potential Ancestor."  If they were using MY Ancestry Member Tree attached to my DNA results, it would not be labeled "Potential Ancestor."  For this Card, Ancestry is using a profile from the Big Ancestry Tree (as they are for all "Potential Ancestors."

2)  When I clicked on the John Rich Card, I could see the Thru Lines information and John Rich's name is outlined in dashes with a gray background - an indication that it is not in my Ancestry Member Tree (however, it is...).  It says the person is in someone else's tree, not mine.

I clicked on the link for John Rich and saw the information for him in the other person's tree:

Note that there are no Facts, only one Source, the spouse's name, and no children for this person (who is, apparently, the entry in the Big Ancestry Tree for this person).

3)  Is this John Rich, married to Rebecca Hill, in my DNA-linked Ancestry Member Tree?  Of course he is - with a spouse but no ancestors:

I clicked the name of John Rich to open his profile in my Ancestry Member Tree:

My profile for John Rich (1789-1868) has Facts, Sources, the spouse, and children, including my 2nd great-grandmother Hannah Rich.  Why didn't Ancestry select my profile, or another profile with more information than the one they selected, to include in the Big Ancestry Tree?

4)  Why do I care about this?  Because I have at least two known DNA matches on AncestryDNA with John Rich and Rebecca Hill as Common Ancestors, and the potential for more.  Here is one of them from the "Shared Ancestors" screen in the "old" AncestryDNA Matches page:

I do have more information about Rebecca Hill's ancestors, and I might have DNA matches from them also, but Rebecca and her parents are not listed in my ThruLines (yes, I checked for them).

5)  Because Ancestry chose (?) the wrong profile for John Rich to use in the Big Ancestry Tree, I don't have a clear ThruLine for my John and Rebecca (Hill) Matches.  I should have a clear ThruLine - this is a pretty clear "no-brainer" supported by Ancestry sources in my tree and the trees of my DNA matches.

6)  The other significant problem is this:  Because the Big Ancestry Tree was "fixed in time" some time ago (one year, two, more? based on trees at that time) to be used in the We're Related mobile app, , "Potential ancestors," DNA Circles, ThruLines and other features, it will be a challenge for Ancestry to respond to complaints about these types of errors.  

I doubt that Ancestry will take all of the user complaints and then modify the Big Ancestry Tree entrees for the errors I've found, and the errors found by other AncestryDNA users.  That's a really big job, and fraught with more complaints from AncestryDNA users who believe their ThruLines are "gospel."

7)  Ancestry's defense right now is that "The ThruLines feature is in Beta and users should expect errors to occur."  For how long?  Will it ever come out of Beta status?  Will Ancestry provide a date when problems like these will be corrected?

8)  The bottom line is that AncestryDNA's ThruLines feature is very useful for most cases, but all claims of descent or ancestry must be verified by users rather than completely relying on the Big Ancestry Tree and ThruLines.

UPDATED:  17 March 2019:  Ancestry updated their ThruLines entries and added birth and eath dates for John rich and Rebecca Hill, and now my DNA matches with their descendants appear in my ThruLines.


The URL for this post is:  https://www.geneamusings.com/2019/03/ancestry-thrulines-feature-is-imperfect.html

Copyright (c) 2019, Randall J. Seaver

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Marian B. Wood said...

Randy, I've had similar experiences, with unsourced/no-DNA trees used for my ThruLines ancestors and/or "potential" ancestors. Makes no sense, but I'm hopeful that "beta" means they're working on it, with feedback such as your detailed critique.

Unknown said...

Hi Randy,
Can you go to your profile for John Rich.
And at the almost Top left click hints.
(even though it does not show any)
When you do this are there any hints that come up at all.
If some "hidden hints" do come up please let me know.
My feeling is that there will be some and you need to click
ignore for all of them.
You may email me at chrislp@xtra.co.nz

Ruthiedke said...

Hi Randy,
Biggest problem I have is it ignores my biological father! I found out 4 years ago I had an NPE, so I built out my tree from there with the correct father. I left the man who raised me on my tree, however, as I admin my half-sister's test (that's what caught the NPE). So Thrulines is showing my all of my "dad's" ancestors and none of my biological side, despite the bio being well-supported by DNA. It seems as though Thrulines relies first on trees and second on DNA evidence.


Unknown said...

For both of us our adopted families were chosen for the Thru lines. Even though we have 2 other trees each for our biological families. All 4 of these ancestry trees contain more entries & listed people than either of our adopted family trees, because of the matches & hints. We each have our DNA attached to one of the bio parental trees at all times. Yet there is no mention of any of the genetic matches??? I really don't understand!