Posted by Anna Swayne on November 3, 2014 in AncestryDNA, Website

dna connectOver the past year or so, we’ve been in the AncestryDNA lab working to create new and improved ways to find distant family members with DNA. In the process, we’ve rewritten the book on AncestryDNA matching and made some significant breakthroughs we’re looking forward to sharing soon.

These advancements will make AncestryDNA matching far more accurate, and each new match will be more likely to lead to a new discovery. Best of all, we’re going to roll this out to all AncestryDNA members for free, and you don’t have to take a new test to get the benefits.

So how are we doing it?

AncestryDNA has quickly grown to over half a million people in its database. Pairing this data with well-documented family trees and the expertise of Ancestry has allowed the AncestryDNA science team to develop groundbreaking new algorithms for finding and predicting relationships through DNA. These new algorithms will lead to better matches for anyone who tests with AncestryDNA.

Of course, we can’t make your list of matches more accurate without removing the less accurate ones. So, your DNA match list may get a little smaller—in some cases, quite a bit smaller. For example, some of the more distant cousin matches will no longer be considered a DNA match and will drop off your list. You can learn more about the science behind these improvements in this blog post from AncestryDNA General Manager Ken Chahine. The post refers to DNA matching challenges found in specific populations, but these same kind of improvements can be made across all AncestryDNA tests.

What do you need to do in the meantime? Not a thing. We’re providing this update for free to all AncestryDNA members, and we’ll send out an email when your new DNA matching results are ready. Also, when our improved matching launches, we’ll be providing a way for you to download your pre-upgrade list of matches in case you have saved notes about a DNA match and want to preserve them for the future.

Be confident that your matches are in good hands with our team of experts. DNA testing is a huge, real-time science project we’re watching unfold, and we get to be a part of it. As the database grows you will get new matches, and now better matches, and even more opportunities to discover something new about you.

 

Anna Swayne

Anna Swayne has 9 years of experience in the DNA genealogy world. At Ancestry, she leads efforts in developing education to help our community maximize their experience with AncestryDNA. She believes there is real power behind DNA and the story it can unlock for each of us. When she is not talking DNA you can find her hiking or cycling in the mountains or cooking at home.

103 Comments

  1. Cathy

    Ancestry it is nice that you are making changes; howerver, what we really need is matching segment information, an in common with filter and a way to search by user name.

  2. Shari

    I second that what we really need is a chromosome browser, an in common with filter and search by user name.

  3. Lou

    So you are not charging us for deleting the false-positive matches that you gave us originally.
    Hmm. We should be grateful for this?
    Some observations:
    1. Ancestry’s former (or current?) use of Mb rather than cM as a criterion for matching was known
    to be incorrect at the time they chose to use it. Please don’t pretend that abandoning that criterion
    reflects an advance in the science.
    2. … “So, your DNA match list may get a little smaller—in some cases, quite a bit smaller.” Please!
    You know that most of our lists will be reduced by at least half and that many will be reduced by
    as much as 90%. Saying that our lists “may get a little smaller” is just lying.
    3. Ancestry’s lack of transparency concerning their methods for determining matches, classifications
    for matches, and their refusal to give us a chromosome browser lead me to NOT be AT ALL “confident that
    [my] matches are in good hands with [your] team of experts.”
    Lou

  4. Without a chromosome browser and access to shared DNA segment data, customers of Ancestry.com’s autosomal DNA genealogy product, AncestryDNA, cannot positively identify the ancestors responsible for the DNA shared with each genetic relative. Without access to and analytic tools for shared DNA segment data, AncestryDNA customers routinely draw inaccurate conclusions about their pedigrees and how they relate to each of their reported DNA matches. In the absence of matching segment data, AncestryDNA’s Shared Ancestor Hints, a feature that pinpoints a set of common ancestors in each match’s family tree, can mislead and has misled countless Ancestry customers seeking to solve genealogical problems with genetic testing. Continuing to sell AncestryDNA without a chromosome browser and shared segment data, essential features of any autosomal DNA genealogy product, minimizes the product’s accuracy, utility, and integrity as a resource for genealogists and does a disservice to a community of customers who have supported Ancestry.com for all of its 17+ years.

  5. Amy

    Is the reason you won’t give us a chromosome browser is because it is too hard to explain it to your elderly customers? The trees on the site are riddled with inaccuracies and without a chromosome browser there is no way to identify how two DNA relatives really match. Such a huge disapointment. With a database this large, Ancestry DNA could be such a useful tool. Instead it is a tool for frustration for anyone with a real interest in genetic genealogy.

  6. Barbara Taylor

    I agree with all the other comments. If you don’t want to spend the time and effort to program a chromosome browser, give us the ability to do a data download of the chromosomes and beginning/ending segments for each match and who they are in common with. We can figure what to do with that ourselves.

  7. Matt

    A chromosome browser should be the #1 priority. You’re the only one of the big three that doesn’t provide one.

  8. John Turner

    I especially agree with Barbara Taylor. so far all we got was matches basically what we already knew was sent in for databases at your company. I would like to see the actual DNA strands and how they apply to matches with other members in my family.

  9. Michael

    Do you need anyone experienced at beta testing to help with the rollout? I really want this update given my endogamous ancestry, and can’t wait to try it out. And I promise I won’t complain about a chromosome browser!

  10. Elizabeth

    Sorry, but this is not helpful at all. I need a chromosome browser. I am African American and no amount of “improved” matching will help me without a chromosome browser. My paper tree only extends back into the 19th century and most of my surnames are either names invented by my ancestors after Emancipation or names of slaveholders that I may or may not be related to, so how will this help me and most other African Americans…or anyone else with a limited tree, for that matter? I look at the trees and that’s all I see: a bunch of trees. I have no way of knowing how I’m related to any of the people I match. Even people with extensive trees need a chromosome browser to prove and confirm suspected connections.

  11. I will add my voice, once again, and over and over again, to those who say a Chromosome Browser is *NECESSARY*. Although after the thousands and thousands of requests, petitions, begging and pleading, I don’t know what more we could do to make Ancestry change their mind. They have heard our clamoring, they have heard the recommendations of the best and brightest in genetic genealogy and still they refuse. Here’s an incentive Ancestry….you put out a Chromosome Browser, I will buy 4 more DNA kits immediately, I’m sure others like me would buy more for relatives as well. Your database of members, family trees, and your ancestor hints are fantastic. If only you had the DNA comparison capabilities of your competitors, your position would be unrivaled.

    -Steve Moray, Loyal Customer

  12. OT

    Thx for moving closer to the goal line. Not sure how this can help me as our Creole background is really difficult. I have seriously considered just paying someone with skills specific to south Louisiana and the plantations we have identified.

  13. Carmen

    It’s great that they are trying to fix the mess that has been made with our DNA matches. If only they had considered accuracy as important as their bottom line from the very beginning. Instead, they waited until a few blogs/articles very publicly pointed out the truth and quickly gained attention, threatening to seriously affect public trust in their product and thus their bottom line.

    I suspect the real reason they don’t want to provide a chromosome browser is because they know it would set off a firestorm of criticism once people started comparing the DNA for themselves.

    Besides, how does it benefit them for us to break down our brick walls? The longer we pay for a subscription the better, right?

  14. Wayne Olsen

    I agree with all of the above comments, and have a follow-up real data point to support Steve Moray’s comments. I started DNA testing about 2 years ago with both Ancestry and FamilyTreeDNA, and requested numerous times that you include tools such as chromosome browser to make your product useful. After giving Ancestry a good trial, I have gradually migrated to using FamilyTreeDNA exclusively because of their chromosome browser, “in common with”, and “matrix” tools, and have ordered 6 additional DNA kits for cousins on various branches. You would have had my 6 DNA kit orders if you offered the same tools that FTDNA does.

  15. Laura

    First of all, for Lou, the switch from Mb to cM is long over and the results inconsequential since, effectively, the units are interchangeable and are used as such in the “real” genetic literature. Secondly, Ancestry is correct in that a chromosome browser is beyond the ken of the average user. I can personally tell this by the way it is used in several replies, most notably John Turner’s “I would like to see the actual DNA strands”. On the other hand, in conjunction with raising the match threshold above the current 5cM to something reasonably scientifically defensible, a segment triangulation tool would rid most people of bogus matches and most closely fit the needs of the most consumers. As for an actual browser I would think this wouldn’t play well with the core Ancestry user but I personally hope to see something like SEGMENT triangulation rather than a further confusing, bulky ICW matrix that would not serve the needs of those such as African Americans or adoptees who really need specific segment information in the relative absence of standard paper trail genealogy. As for the standard Ancestry line of using “privacy” as an excuse for not providing ANY segment data, that’s absurd, the secret is in rare SNP’s, not matching segments.

  16. Rowen

    Well that’s all fine and dandy, but SOME OF US are using those insignificant matches with our colonial ancestry research. So if you take that away, those who we have found common trees with will what? Just no longer exist? Frankly I think you could roll out something a lot better. Believe it or not, most of us are fully capable of discerning what is and what isn’t.
    We are also a lot more intelligent than you give us credit for. We CAN understand the basic science behind this, and that is why so many have already transferred their raw data to other sites.

  17. Charles

    It’s hard to imagine a bigger train wreck than this which we’ve been warned is coming “soon.” Will this be rolled out first to bloggers the company has attempted to “co-opt” or will everyone be impacted by this disaster at the same time?

  18. Kevin Mullen

    Bring it on. Call it whatever you want. Remove 90% of my matches? Please do. They seemed to be just fill to make my list look bigger. Give me 10 good matches instead of 1,000 b.s. ones.

  19. There is certainly a need for *something* like a chromo browser. I have always felt though that much of it could be internalized — something like we know that a given subset of matches match jointly on the same genetic real estate. Ancestry cannot, will not release more specific information for what I think are pretty obvious legal reasons. However, they might provide more information as I suggest above without any real risk of divulging information that some clients want to be confidential. True, only dna nerds will be interested, but it would be helpful, and would not be that difficult to implement.

    For all of the complaining, and I have been part of that chorus too, I have learned some very valuable things from Ancestry. And for goodness sake give them credit for statistically analyzing their big database to reduce false matches. This is excellent work, and everybody else will follow suit sooner or later. The more data that is acquired he better this will be fine tuned.

    I look forward to the new matches with interest.

  20. A chromosome browser or at the very least to be scientific at all you must exactly define the segment which was inherited from an ancestor. You are bleeding out to Gedmatch and FTDNA at this time. You have a lot of “one shot” testers.. anyone who is an adequate researcher has one kit tested here and the rest elsewhere.

  21. Gaye

    Adding my voice to this:
    1 – I’m adopted. Known maternal side is all Ashkenazi Jewish. Then there’s the totally unknown paternal side. The only way I know which historical persons MIGHT be my paternal ancestors is because of comparing shared segments from FTDNA, 23andMe and GEDmatch. Give me segment data. One button download. Thank you.

    2 – Routinely ask matches if they have “so and so” as a match and I have been asked the same. Ridiculous that one has to go through over 400 pages of matches to find out if I have a particular match because there is no way to even SORT by match name. Didn’t anyone in your shop take Programming 101? One button download. Thank you.

  22. Richard Prescott

    I was hoping when Ancestry DNA came out that some definitive connections would be made. Yet, not one of any known relative was shown, and nothing in the USA.
    I do hope that your “update” ends up making sense. Especially with native American connections that are known to exist on my wife’s side.
    As far as a chromosomal browser and understanding vs age. Give us the tools, many of us really do understand and some of us helped develop the tools your team is using.

  23. randy

    I use to hear so much about ancestry.sense then i have joined,and had dna done,when reading the sale page.it made me think man theses guys are better than anybody.i was sure wrong.i will never send any one else to the site for dna,its what we paid for i guess ,crap.will be buying my y dna and mt from familytreedna.it may cost more but at least i will be able to track down real male line desendants.and on moms side.the autosomal is crap.if you dont catch up with the wagon.and jump on.i am sure you will be left in the dust

  24. Raymond Nolan Scott

    I am a highly multiethnic person with many unknown family lines. My father was African American. Many African Americans have European ancestry without knowing where it came from. African American Genealogy is very difficult. Growing up not knowing my father nor his side of the family adds to the difficulty. Many of my matches have multiple ethnic backgrounds just like I do, and I cannot tell how I am matching them. A chromosome browser is strongly needed for me to figure out how I am related to these people. Many of the matches could be false positives. Without having a chromosome browser, I have no way of knowing if they are false positives or not.

    My ethnic background:

    On my father’s side: African American and French Creole with discovered genetic ancestral connections to Acadians , Amerindians (USA,Canada or both) and British as well as possibly Dutch and Danes.

    On my mother’s side: Cape Verdean (Portuguese,West African), Madeiran Portuguese, Azorean Portuguese, Romanian Ashkenazi Jewish, Latvian Ashkenazi Jewish, Puerto Rican (Spanish,West African,Taino Indian), German, English, Highlander Scottish, Irish, Scotch-Irish, Dutch, Swiss, and Welsh with discovered genetic ancestral connections to Quebecois French, Acadians, Eastern Europeans, Swedes, and Finns as well as possibly Danes.

    I cannot rely on people’s family trees because I have many unknown family lines. I don’t think AncestryDNA higher-ups take in consideration of adoptees, estranged family members, and African Americans who tend to have very little knowledge of their ancestral roots.

  25. Kim

    So you mean to tell me all the work I put into searching my DNA MATCHES was just a waist of time!?!? You guys really need to get it together because I don’t want to waist money on a membership and DNA testing and find nothing for my non growing family tree…this is a rip off‼️‼️‼️

  26. Deloris

    Love the ” Pairing this data with well-documented family trees and the expertise of Ancestry has allowed the AncestryDNA science team to develop groundbreaking new algorithms for finding and predicting relationships through DNA.”
    So, exactly what trees did they look at on Ancestry.com? Oh, you mean all of those which were copied by one another. Good Luck.

  27. Bill

    You know, it is the epitome of arrogance to continue to ignore the consistent, loud feedback from your customers to add a chromosome browser. To continue to ignore this call is both insulting and puts your business in jeopardy. I am now recommending to my friends and relatives to go with FTDNA. Such a pity!

  28. Shirese

    I am seriously finding a problem with why Ancestry will not provide a chromosome browser. With a chromosome browser, I can remove my own false positive matches. Ancestry’s lack of addressing this one issue is also disconcerting. Lastly, for a company that has entered into the genetic genealogy business, your complete ignorance on why a chromosome browser is needed says more about you than it does about the so-called customers who won’t understand the functionality of a chromosome browser.

  29. Dimas Caban

    I was born in Puerto Rico, I thought my last name was Spanish, but my Ydna results shows that I am of Irish descent! I will probably never know my real (Irish) last name & history unless you do ydna testing on all male dna contributors! who has the power to make this valuable decision so I can contact him (them). Thousands of immigrant descents would probably join Ancestry.com! Please help me. Thank you Dimas

  30. BStock

    It will be nice to add some additional filters for matches. i.e. confidence level, cousin range. I have 42 pages of 50 possible matches per page is a task to focus on any given match.

  31. Perhaps the lack of match data and/or chromosome browser is tied up in EU privacy considerations and the fact that the company is owned by Premira, an EU-based private equity fund. If so, I hope a legal way can be found around this issue.

  32. Dimas Caban

    I was born in Puerto Rico, I thought my last name was Spanish, but my Ydna results show that I am of Irish descent! I will probably never know my real (Irish) last name & where they are from unless your company makes a ydna test of all your male dna contributors. Boy would your membership increase with all the immigrant people (most of us) who lost their real last name & would like to know exactly where their father’s line really originated! Who can I contact in your company to do this or is there another company which does this? Thank you so much. Dimas

  33. Adam Nisbett

    Agree with all that the chromosome browser is the critical missing element that makes AncestryDNA virtually useless. (As a side note, it is possible to download the raw data and upload to the free database/analysis services at gedmatch.com as an awkward workaround) Just this week I discovered another case where the DNA hints had identified a common ancestor with one of my moderately strong matches that would make us 5th cousins on my father’s side – seems to be reasonable confirmation of our paper trail for that line, right? Turns out the match and I are also on FTDNA where I had my parents tested and it turns out the DNA match is through my mother and my father doesn’t match at all – hence the DNA match has NOTHING to do with the common ancestor hint and providing the hint without the means to verify it only lead to a false assumption about the accuracy of our paper trail.

  34. Eldon

    I love your databases but the AncestryDNA is sorely lacking some very important tools. Customers need to be able to download their matching data and have a chromosome browser.

  35. James Stratman

    Well, Ancestry.com it sounds like the consensus here is loud and clear. People want a Chromosome Browser!

  36. Jim

    Customers need to be able to download their matching data and have a chromosome browser. You need to listen to your customers. The DNA information you provided from my test has not helped find any real connections.

  37. CaraMaeH

    I’ve been able to successfully connected 9th cusins 3x removed from ancestry using the dna match, surname search and the other person having a tree as large as my own. Don’t cut them off – what’s the point of that. “Hey DNA users, let’s have LESS matches.”

  38. CaraMaeH

    P.S. I’ve connected 15 relatives using DNA and family trees on here in about 3 months compared to 17 on 23andMe with 17 connections over 1.5 years. but count me in on the chromosome browser idea!

  39. Vallerie

    I look forward to fewer matches. AncestryDNA has done an outstanding job in helping me with 2nd and 3rd cousin matches. I had my mom tested as well. It would be helpful to have a way to tell which of my DNA matches are in common with my mother at a glance.

  40. As helpful as a chromosome browser would be, what I really want to solve those brick wall ancestors is something more in the line with segment triangulation. For example, my mother has a distant cousin who both share ancestry of one of my mother’s 2 times great grandparents. Since we don’t know the last name of the great great grandmother and since we know that my mother and her distant cousin share (thank you gedmatch!) 15 segments 7 cM’s and over, it is reasonable to assume that one or more of those matching DNA segments could have come from this mysterious gg grandmother.

    Even better, this mysterious gg grandmother is a potential X DNA donor for both mom and her cousin. They share 2 X DNA segments over 7 cM’s. Somewhere in that half a million database may be at least one individual who may match both mom and her cousin on either the X DNA or the autosomal DNA and may hold the clue to the GG grandmother’s family line. How frustrating to know the potential solution might already be in this half a million database and without the needed segment triangulation, I will never be able to track the solution down.

    Ancestry, you make me want to weep!

  41. Wanda Hughes

    Before make further ‘changes’ and removing what we already have I’d like to suggest you provide a way to search our list of matches with different filters. I started out with 242 pages of matches. I now have at last count 270 pages. Of course most are low probability but its impossible to even sort through this many matches. Taking away matches doesnt seem most efficient to me. I’d like to see a chromosone browser added as well. I may qualify as an elderly customer but I feel confident I can overcome the learning curve to glean what I need. You could at least give me the option. I pays my money…I takes my chance.

  42. Laurice Johnson

    I am very new to DNA – could somebody please explain what a chromosome browser is and does and why it is so vital to everybody? I have ONLY tested with ancestryDNA and have only two brick walls that MIGHT be helped by YDNA with another company, so am not motivated at this time to do that. Thanks in advance for a simple, non-scientific gibberish filled answer about the chromosome browser.

  43. JanieMT

    Regarding this – “For example, some of the more distant cousin matches will no longer be considered a DNA match and will drop off your list”. – I really hope Ancestry is very careful about what they drop off our match list. I have distant cousins who, at first glance don’t seem to be a good match – but truly are a definite cousin. I would hate to lose record of that match because Ancestry decides to do some housekeeping.

  44. Shannon

    @Laurice Johnson: AncestryDNA declares you a match to someone based on you and that other person sharing at least one segment of DNA. You are left to determine how you and your match inherited that segment of DNA. Who is the common ancestor? AncestryDNA tells us to just compare trees and the most recent common ancestor or ancestral couple appearing in both trees is/are the source of the shared DNA. However, it is not that simple. You and your match could have inherited the shared DNA from an entirely different ancestor, perhaps even an ancestor hidden behind a brick wall. A chromosome browser lets one see the location of the shared DNA and run comparisons among your matches to see what other people share that DNA segment. If you find that you have a group of 20 people matching you and each other on the same DNA segment, then you all know you inherited that DNA segment from the same ancestor. If that same group of people match your mother on the same segment, then you can reasonably infer that the common ancestor from whom you and that group of people inherited your shared DNA is one of your maternal ancestors. If 18 of those 20 people on that segment all descend from various children of a specific ancestral couple, as evidenced by their accurate family trees, then you can reasonably infer that you descend from that ancestral couple on your maternal side. This process is called segment triangulation. It is arguably the single most important process in autosomal DNA genealogy, but AncestryDNA, unlike its competitors, does not permit customers to perform this crucial analysis onsite. Instead, Ancestry just permits us to observe patterns among our matches’ trees to form hypotheses, but we cannot test the hypotheses onsite. The lack of exposure to tools and explanations force many customers new to genetic testing to accept untested hypotheses as facts, generating inaccurate pedigree additions, proliferating misinformation, and continuing a frightening tradition of spurious tree growth on Ancestry.com.

  45. Cynthia Edwards

    I agree with Vallerie, It would be helpful to know the matches that are common with two specific people like you can do on GEDMatch. As far as chromosome browsing, I have not learned anything useful yet from GedMatch or FTDna when I uploaded my ancestryDNA. But I think in time, with a vastly larger database those chromosome numbers will come in handy, and Ancestry should keep up with the “Joneses”.

  46. Brett

    For some basic triangulation and name search tools check out the Chrome extension “Ancestry DNA helper”

  47. Brett

    The extension helps with analyzing and comparing your AncestryDNA test results. The automated scanner, accessible using the Full Scan and Resume Scan buttons added to your DNA Home Page, will go through your list of DNA matches and open each one to scan their pedigree charts.

    Once the scanning process is complete, you can download your list of matches and pedigree charts as .csv files for analyzing them in a spreadsheet or database program. You can also use the additional search features added to the top of your matches list to search for matches by usernames or exact/similar surnames. The ancestors of matches report also includes an incidence value for each row that calculates how frequently people with the same name and a similar birth year appear among your matches. This value can be useful for detecting possible common lines of descent.

    If you have multiple DNA tests under your account, a new shared match icon will appear next to each match allowing your to easily see which other test(s) also match this same result by hovering your mouse over this icon. You can also compare two or three of your tests to each other using the compare features at the bottom of your DNA Home Page.

  48. Anna

    We appreciate your feedback and hear the need for additional tools. We take the privacy of our members very seriously and functionality like a chromosome browser could expose sensitive data about another member that was not intended. We continue to work on ways to solve these kinds of privacy issues and to best serve the end-goal of a chromosome browser, such as finding out how you’re connected to your DNA matches and ultimately learning more about your own family story. To that end, we have focused on combining the latest DNA science with the resources on Ancestry, such as well-documented family trees and historical records, to build a unique experience for AncestryDNA members. Things like, Shared Ancestor Hints have been a great way quickly determine how you are related to your DNA match by combining family tree data. Similar to that, the one-click connection between AncestryDNA results and the resources on Ancestry is a one-of-a-kind way to use DNA for family history. We have heard from countless members who have made new and amazing discoveries, including breaking through brick walls in research, that may never have happened without AncestryDNA. This update to DNA matching is another step forward in helping us all make more meaningful connections in our family story. When it launches, we’re excited to share more details around the matching algorithms and how it works.
    Thanks again everyone for the comments.

  49. Joe

    Sorry Anna, but we are not buying the excuses.
    Wining & dining bloggers will not work.
    AncestryDNA “hears” plenty from it’s customers but simply ignores us. AutosomalGeddon will put AncestryDNA under the microscope and expose it as third rate DNA company.

  50. Carmen

    I am VERY concerned about exactly how these “well-documented family trees and historical records” are being used in conjunction with our DNA data. Are they actually using this data to help confirm or refine our matches? I certainly hope not! Our matches should be based on science alone! The paper-trail confirmation is for us to do. Besides, a HUGE number of historical documents, not to mention people’s trees, have gross inaccuracies.

  51. @Anna

    You say that “Shared Ancestor Hints have been a great way to quickly determine how you are related to your DNA match”, but this is a falsehood. While I am very grateful for the Shared Ancestor Hints feature, it is merely a way to determine how you *MIGHT BE* related to your match. You know as well as the rest of us that without segment data, we are merely speculating, not “determining”. I sincerely thank you and Ancestry for your continued work in trying to bring us, your customers, an improved AncestryDNA, but it’s just not enough. I don’t understand how Ancestry can put out such informative, quality, records and services, while not providing the one thing we *need* regarding autosomal DNA. Over the past few months I have really enjoyed Crista Cowan’s series on the Genealogical Proof Standard via your Youtube channel. The *very first* element of the GPS is a Reasonably Exhaustive Search. Without a Chromosome Browser…this simply isn’t possible. Ancestry advises us to do the best we can while denying us the tools to do so. Period.

    -Steve Moray, Loyal Customer

  52. Jason Lee

    Anna: “…functionality like a chromosome browser could expose sensitive data about another member that was not intended.”

    Other companies have found ways to strike a proper balance. I know that Ancestry can do the same.

    Ms. Swayne, if privacy concerns compel you to make matching segment information available only as an “opt-in” feature — or only by invitation, as with 23andMe — so be it. But if you’re going to continue to provide “shaky leaf” family tree hints based on DNA matching, we need to be able to see the evidence. Otherwise, the whole system is of limited value for anyone serious about confirming or ruling out potential ancestral connections. Perhaps more importantly, without matching segment information, erroneous shaky leaf hints will continue to be taken as valid ones.

    Making original census documents available to Ancestry customers allows the customers to correct errors and make new discoveries. The same idea applies to DNA matches.

  53. Elizabeth

    “we have focused on combining the latest DNA science”

    But isn’t Ancestry only switching from its obsolete method of matching to the method that has long been in place at 23&me and FTDNA? The glaring difference now will be that Ancestry doesn’t have a chromosome browser, while your competitors (23andme and FTDNA) do. Ancestry is not doing anything innovative. Judging by comments made by higher-ups at Ancestry within the last couple of months, Ancestry’s opposition to a chromosome browser has nothing to do with their concern about customer privacy (especially when you could easily implement an “opt-in” feature), but Ancestry’s belief that the average Ancestry customer is incapable of understanding the data.

    Also, this focus on other people’s trees and Shared Ancestor hints seems bogus. Firstly, many people’s trees are, themselves, bogus. It’s troubling and highly questionable that you will now be incorporating trees into your matching system. I took the test to be matched only with people I share DNA with, not matches that are the result of some grotesque formula involving inaccurate trees. Do you know how many people’s trees have proven inaccurate (even they are well-documented) due to NPEs? Only data will expose that. Secondly, what’s in Ancestry’s trees matters very little if Ancestry offers no way for a connection to be proven. This fact can’t be prettied up.

    Furthermore, I’m still curious about how trees and Shared Ancestor Hints are supposed to help people like African Americans, who have very few generations in our trees. I’ve never, in all my years at AncestryDNA, found anyone who shares ancestors with me. I’ve only ever confirmed connections via Gedmatch, 23andme, and FTDNA. I’ve never had one Shared Ancestor Hint at Ancestry. That’s because most of my ancestors’ relationships and connections were undocumented. How does your new system address this problem?

    Even if I did have a bunch of Shared Ancestor Hints, I still couldn’t prove that that hint was valid without data. Those hints don’t “determine” anything. They are exactly what they are called: *hints*.

  54. Raymond Nolan Scott

    Anna,

    Looking at family trees won’t help adoptees, estranged family members, and African Americans who tend to know very little about their ancestry roots.

    Without a chromosome browser, it’s very difficult to see how I am related to people.

    I need to know the locations of the segments that I am matching people.

    I need to know if the segment is European, African, or Native American.

    I could be related to people on multiple family lines.
    They include even multiple ethnic groups.

    AncestryDNA new way of providing matches isn’t going to help me sort out my matches.

    It just seems that AncestryDNA was just made for European New World Colonial with well-developed family trees.

  55. Denise Furlong

    I was raised in foster homes / children home and because of ancestry.com Family Trees and Hints I have discovered many branches for my Family Tree. As a bonus I have found cousins. No DNA has not helped me a whole lot but I have found maybe 3 cousins. My brick wall is that I’m not sure I have the correct name for my grandfather and not able to ask anyone. I had my DNA tested to learn where my people came from. Several of my branches I do not have enought generation for DNA to be helpful but you never know what tomorrow will bring. Looking forward to see what happen with the changes.
    Someone mentions taking out the private and no trees. I agree that would be helpful for me. I reached out to a private tree that showed up in my DNA possibly but was unable to get any help because I was unable to give names. I joined ancestry to discover the names of my ancestors because I don’t know. That’s the only disappointment I’ve had and had nothing to do with ancestry.
    THANK YOU ANCESTRY.COM !!!!!!!!

  56. Carmen

    I would like to make it clear that my frustration is with corporate Ancestry and the executives making the decisions not Anne or the people answering the phone, etc. They are just doing their jobs. But I feel the Big Guys have really dropped the ball. This frustration is not just because they won’t give us a chromosome browser (although, that is a top concern). It’s been building for a long time now over many different issues, e.g, unnecessary “improvements” that are horribly flawed like the new, incredibly slow and buggy document viewer and problems (with seemingly simple solutions) repeatedly brought up by innumerable customers that continue to be ignored, e.g., a better way to sort and search our DNA matches. The constant website glitches that make it seem like Ancestry only has one very poorly trained programmer running the whole site. I could go on and on but I’m getting tired…

  57. Ken Shaddock

    like a few others I too was naive on AncestryDNA power and wisdom…I really thought they had this test and data match aced. I have followed up on a few “matches” to no avail and this have given up. Now, in reading the comments of those who understand the science I am doubting my DNA report. The other thing is that I actually thought that their was one pool of data and that all other companies offering this service were sharing the same pool of test results. That would be logical and attain critical mass so to speak faster and, it really would give us a world wide data base. I’m reading that each company doing DNA is one their own? Is that correct? National Geographic, 23andMe, Ancestry, Family Tree DNA, Oxford, DNA Consulting all have their own bucket of test cases and results? There is no connection or sharing?

    What a letdown! I should have done my homework before getting tested.

  58. MLSRCS

    I’m very concerned about our matches being drastically slashed. I have many matches considered by your scientists to be “very low” confidence that have proved to be good matches. And your apparent reliance on “well documented family trees” is shocking – I research every day and have viewed countless trees. The huge majority of them are wildly inaccurate – even ones that appear well documented.

    I agree that the truly helpful improvements would be matching segment information, triangulation tools, an in common with filter and a way to search by user name. Please make certain your science is sound before taking away our matches (I prefer sifting through the duds to find the gems than never having access to the gems at all) and add a chromosome browser!!

  59. Diane

    Chromosome browser should be first priority as an improvement to your system. Without it, your system isn’t as helpful as it should be. Also, to be able to search by user name, A kit # or email would be a huge improvement also. I find that I use FTDNA and gedmatch way more because of what your service is lacking. If I find a match on those sites, it’s very difficult or sometimes impossible to try and figure out where they are in my ancestry matches.

  60. Mike Moyer

    I always appreciate a more accurate service, but what Ancestry really needs is a chromosome browser and the ability to triangulate matches.

  61. Patrick L Coleman

    Please do not treat us all like naive waifs. Some of us can deal with real data, real browsers, and other discernment tools. Providing such to the high-end users in no way impairs the less technical genealogists.

  62. Angela

    The only success I’ve had here is with two “low” and “very low” matches that happened to have well-documented and accurate trees. So those matches will undoubtedly go away with this ‘upgrade’. At this point, I’m using Ancestry to test relatives inexpensively, when they have the $49 sale, and ask my relatives upload to gedmatch and FTdna. At the $99 price though, testing here is a waste of money without a chromosome browser. And I am more than a little offended that Ancestry thinks so many of us are too stupid to know how to use a chromosome browser if it were offered.

  63. Wayne Harrison

    I did the 700k test with Ancestry several years back, but like many others, I have found it just about useless. For that reason I switched to FTDNA and their Family Finder test. With FTDNA I can search yDNA, mtDNA, and Family Finder all at the same time. If I have an mtDNA match with a Cousin match, it at least tells me my match is probably on my maternal side of the family. Same with yDNA matches.
    Since Ancestry has gotten out of the yDNA and mtDNA business, it leaves them as a second rate DNA service.
    Dear Ancestry, if you want to run with the big dogs, you need to learn to pee in the tall grass.

  64. TeresaJill

    Please add a chromosome browser. I’m getting really tired of explaining to my shakey leaf connections that our match is through the opposite side of my family. I only know this because a parent has tested.

    @Ken Shaddock – there’s a place on the net where everyone who’s tested at Ancestry, Family Tree DNA, or 23andMe can upload their results (yes, Ancestry provides chromosomal results) into a big free database and get real matching results. I’m sure most people asking for a chromosome browser on Ancestry are already using it. Gedmatch.com

  65. Angelia

    I recently had a leaf hint for a match that showed our common ancestry should be upline from my maternal grandfather. When the match loaded to gedmatch, it became clear that shaky leaf hint was greatly misleading. The match also matched my maternal grandmother, her brother and my maternal aunts. This never would have been discovered using only the tools at Ancestry. The hints can look very convincing and lead you the wrong direction. I am among the ones who believe there needs to be a way to verify each match. I *like* segment matching and believe it is essential to confirm what we think we know after following a leaf to a tree.

  66. mellisa

    There is an add on for google chrome that allows u to search by surname matches on ancestry. It also allows u to download yer matches

  67. Dan

    I echo all the comments calling for a chromosome browser, and am glad to see Ancestry getting an earful on this topic.

  68. Steve

    This is no slam against Anna, as she’s being put in the difficult position of having to be the face of the company right now, but it’s very ironic to me that in her blog post of 29 Jan 2014 on DNA hints vs. tree hints it states that, after receiving a DNA hint,”I still need to go in and verify the connection…” Exactly how are we supposed to properly verify the connection without triangulating the matching segment(s) using a chromosome browser??? It’s akin to doing genealogy without citing sources. As previously suggested in the comments above, surely a compromise can be found (such as opt-in) to allow a chromosome browser, while protecting the privacy of those who want nothing more than the DNA hints, if this is the *only* reason for not offering a chromosome browser. If it’s not the only reason, please share with us the other reason(s), so perhaps we can begin to understand the rationale behind the decision.

  69. Joe

    I’m glad that the matches will use more accurate criteria, HOWEVER in the interest of actually being able to research the accurate matches I would need 1.) the chromosome browser mentioned by everyone in this blog AND 2.) The option to use an AND operator vs OR when conducting a search of matches. Seeing all Schmidt or Jones matches without either or both of these tools makes what should be a puzzle into a haystack of needles.

  70. susan

    i am “elderly” but still able to use chromosome browser if i had one. i am making a spreadsheet of dna matches from the 3 sites i use. ancestry, of course, can’t be one of them. i realize the matches on ancestry are only as accurate as our trees. i know that mine contains errors. i expect most others do too.

  71. jeri hahn

    Funny….I’ve been doing genealogy for awhile and still don’t know what a chromosome browser is…lol

  72. Raymond Nolan Scott

    In International Society of Genetic Genealogy Facebook Group, one person with Irish ancestry back 4-5 generations on all lines has already reported that her 10,000 matches decreased to 379 matches!
    I find this disturbing!
    I am not white. My father was African American. I am afraid that I am going to have much less than that number. My mother is mostly European, and so she may have the same amount as her though. I am afraid that a vast majority of my matches will be on my maternal side and that very few will be on my paternal side. I will just have to wait and see.

  73. Raymond Nolan Scott

    My father was African American. AncestryDNA might cut me off from matches that might help me learn about my father’s European ancestors. Nobody has to tell anybody here that many African Americans have European ancestors but they don’t know who they are. Of course, we are not going to know how white matches are related to us if we do not know our European ancestors. Heck…I have many unknown family lines on my white maternal grandmother’s side too.

  74. Caroline

    Yes, PLEASE allow us to hide/unhide matches with no trees and locked matches FROM THE TiTLE PAGE WITHOUT having to go into the actual match. A simple button would suffice. I’ve had my Ancestry DNA account for two years and have over 15,000 matches now – would like to more easily hide more of them.

  75. E. Genes

    I really don’t like this “improvement” at all since several of my distant cousin matches have eliminated brick walls for me. This is only making it simpler for those who have just begun their tree, not for us who have traced our families back to Colonial times. Is there a way to retain the old lists and links to the trees of matches?

  76. Helen

    I don’t mind fewer matches if they are more accurate, as I can’t take my many matches seriously at this point. I would like more tools such as a chromosome browser and an in common with filter to enable me to confirm relationships and triangulate matches and I would like to hide people without trees or with private trees as they are just taking up space and making it harder for me to find matches worth investigating further.

  77. Carmen

    I also think those of us with public trees should have the ability to block those with private trees, including our DNA matches, from being able to view our trees, while still allowing people with public trees to see them. I think it is completely unfair for my DNA matches with private trees who won’t even respond to an email to be able to raid my tree for all the info they want while refusing to provide me with so much as a crumb.

  78. Mike

    It’s unfortunate that so much time and effort is being spent on something that does not appear to be getting you much public support, instead of you working to find the solution to being able to provide the chromosome browser that so many of your customers are asking for. At least a better explanation could be given as to why you cannot provide a chromosome browser, since your competitors have found ways to overcome any privacy (or other) concerns with providing one.

  79. Doug

    Why doesn’t Ancestry just do what other programs and websites do? Have a toggle button on the top or in the settings where you can turn on or off expert mode for the website?

  80. Rod

    I’m a little late to the commentary here, but I just want to reiterate the above sentiments on a chromosome browser.

    I’m a long-time Ancestry customer and was a long-term stockholder before the Permira acquisition. It is more than a little frustrating to see a company like this so close to having a product that could really reshape the industry, but deliberately dismiss its importance.

    Having our matches shown but not revealing to us how is like telling us, “You have an ancestor on the census, but we’re not telling you which. You’ll just have to trust another member who thinks they have it right.” You have the numbers, but demand that we trust you since, silly you, the numbers aren’t really important anyway — it’s a “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!” mentality that does not engender customer loyalty.

    Right now, both FTDNA and 23andMe have a superior DNA product due to one simple decision. AncestryDNA’s saving graces are its huge customer base, and the fact that it does allow export of data to sites like GedMatch. AncestryDNA could easily surpass either competitor in the autosomal field — if they choose to.

    Anna, in your “About” section it says that you “believe there is real power behind DNA and the story it can unlock for each of us”. Fair enough, but that power can only be real if you actually release it rather than filtering it for what you consider the lowest common denominator.

  81. Beka

    The improved DNA matching update is of no use if there are no family trees connected to the user. I have several pages of matches but only a handful have family trees. I really don’t think the update is going to make a big difference with the problem I have that being said I am a little disappointed with Ancestry.

  82. Ditto re the chromosome browser. I’m also all for the deletion of junk matches, but am concerned about losing all my more distant matches. I’m African-American, with about 35-40% Euro ancestry. To date, I’ve got 15 known DNA matches. Seven (all Af-Am) are people I know or who share not too distant known ancestors. The other 8 (all Euro-descended) are descended from men whom I had identified as ancestors based on family stories. Having matches like this from 5th, 6th and 7th cousins to strengthen the evidence of such ancestry is critical to researchers like me.

  83. arlene

    Regarding an issue of privacy mentioned above by Anna on November 4, 2014 at 6:06 pm — The chromosome browser I believe most of us would like to see would show what matching segment(s) we have with each of our matches or perhaps shared segments among a group of matches. I do not think anyone is looking for access to everyone else’s complete raw data file, just our own. Knowing the ancestry associated with a particular shared segment would also very helpful. Am I missing something?

  84. Leana

    I am really hoping that 5th-8th cousin matches do not go away. I and my husband both have New England ancestors dating back to 1600. We do not want these matches to go away.

  85. Victoria

    I really enjoy ancestry and ancestrydna. Though I’m excited about this new and improved ancestrydna I also don’t want to lose any of my connections rather distant or close I’ve found more links through distant relatives than close relatives but I appreciate every connections. Also I want to know will this new and improve ancestrydna will it improve our ethnicity part as well because I got a grey area where it means unknown and some of the ethnicity percentage just doesn’t seen 100% accurate from just looking at my background in my family even though I was shock with some of the results and other I knew but the percentage just seen like it could be reexamine.

  86. Rich Capen

    I love the tree matching. But what I really want is a chromosome browser. I’ve got 20+ matches on AncestryDNA where I know the common ancestor. But I can’t learn from that; I can’t go and ask my 23andMe matches on chromosome 18 if they have XYZ relative in their tree – because Ancestry won’t share the segment data.

  87. LaKisha David

    “Furthermore, I’m still curious about how trees and Shared Ancestor Hints are supposed to help people like African Americans, who have very few generations in our trees. I’ve never, in all my years at AncestryDNA, found anyone who shares ancestors with me. I’ve only ever confirmed connections via Gedmatch, 23andme, and FTDNA.” – Elizabeth. Thank you, Elizabeth. I was going to ask for recommendations for African American searches. I have been with AncestryDNA for a while waiting on the appropriate update, but I don’t think they get it. Recently, a journalist interviewed me and my mother about our search process. At the time, I was really “loyal” to AncestryDNA despite the disappointments particular to the African American search (though I noticed the recent article for the Jewish community). Anyway, long story short, I need to move on with a better way to do DNA match comparisons and your comment about which other companies are providing the desired features was particularly useful.

  88. Raymond Nolan Scott

    At 23andme, I found the most interesting match!
    There is this man who is of visible mixed African,European ancestry like me.
    I checked our chromosome comparison.
    The first thing that I saw that he and I shared a 29 cM segment match on Chromosome 5.
    I compared him to my largest Chromosome 5 match who is my paternal DNA relative through the Acadian ancestry, and they did not match.
    I went to see if he matched my mother on that chromosome, and he didn’t. He is definitely a match on my father’s side, but I found something shocking.
    He matched my mother and me in the same location on Chromosome 16 with an 8 cM segment!

    Therefore, he is both a DNA match to me on my father’s side and my mother’s side! I never had that before.
    I checked his Countries of Ancestry, and I noticed that he has some of the same Eastern European Ashkenazi matches that my mom and I have. My maternal grandmother’s mother was the daughter of Eastern European Ashkenazi immigrants.
    I checked his Ancestry Composition. It showed 16 percent Ashkenazi which is more than than my 8.9 percent Ashkenazi. Some of his Ashkenazi segments are on Chromosome 16. My mother and I share those in common with him.
    I double checked my paternal Chromosome 5 match with him. He matches me where I have African on the end of the Paternal Chromosome 5, but that is according to 23andme Ancestry Composition.
    According to Dr. Doug McDonald’s 2011 Chromosome Painting that he did for me, I have mixture of Amerindian and European at the end.
    I am not sure what ethnic segments that he and I are actually sharing. He does show African segments at both ends of Chromosome 5.

    I checked his Countries of Ancestry matches, and I didn’t see any with Acadian ancestry, and so I don’t think that my Chromosome 5 match is through a common Acadian ancestor.

    It is definitely possible to get matches that are DNA matches on both parents’ sides.
    This is stuff that Ancestry.com managment needs to consider with the AncestryDNA matches.
    This is why a chromosome browser is needed when looking at matches. You cannot sort them out just by looking at family trees. This goes especially for matches that have unknown family lines. I have many unknown family lines on both my parents’ sides.

  89. Andrea

    Adding my vote for a chromosome browser. Yes, I know how to use it. Please stop insulting your users. My first test was through Ancestry.com – the next 5 were through ftdna. You folks are bleeding business opportunities with the decision to not provide these tools.

  90. DNAJunkie

    I know that the only way to make Ancestry understand our needs for a chromosome browser and triangulation capability is through the bottom line. So though I’m a little late, I want to add that we did one test at Ancestry to explore the possibilities, but consider the results a virtually useless tease. As a result, I’ve ordered one test from Ancestry and 12 and counting from FamilyTreeDNA. That’s over $1,000 in income you have lost because you won’t provide the appropriate tools. That should disappoint you. You CERTAINLY disappoint me. I won’t even get into the inconsistent and unreliable new Circles silliness and the obnoxious “new” “improved” documents search you instituted a while back. Nope. Still not over that one either.

  91. Miriam Baker

    “we’ll send out an email when your new DNA matching results are ready” – Has this happened or is it still in the works?

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