Saturday, June 7, 2014

A thought about AncestryDNA retiring products

Maybe you read the news on the blogs or news feeds? AncestryDNA is retiring both the Y-DNA and mtDNA products (along with a couple more products including one I particularly enjoyed, MyCanvas) and deleting all trace from their site, which will include content and matches. See what CeCe Moore posted to her excellent blog, Your Genetic Genealogist here. Below is part of what she wrote.

Q: Will the entire Y-DNA and mtDNA site interface be retired? Will you be able to view and contact your matches?
A: The entire interface will be retired, including the match lists and the ability to contact your matches.

My comments: If you have tested there, I strongly encourage you to contact your matches before September 5th (and so does because you will not have another opportunity to do so.  You can download your raw data (CSV file) until September 5th by going to and upload to other services like
Family Tree DNA.

This is scary stuff if you ask me. If you tested with these products your stuff is gone as of September 5th. Just gone. So of course, as CeCe suggests, you need to get on over there and download your stuff soon if you want it.

The reason I find it scary is that some folks paid for a service and aren't going to get it anymore and to me that's a big ol' black eye on Ancestry and calls into question their commitment to products. It's not about the money and paying for a service that one would assume is offered indefinitely, but about it calling into question Ancestry's commitment to those of us who chose to use it. How hard would it be to leave that part of the AncestryDNA web site up and running? What would that cost them? Peanuts, I'm thinking.

But my own take-away is that when we buy a DNA testing service we are depending on that company's commitment to a business model that is dedicated to DNA testing. Ancestry is a gigantic corporate entity with fingers in many pots. It's revenue stream has many sources and a very small part of that is likely the earnings from AncestryDNA's Y and mt testing. If they were making money on it they'd just continue on offering it, wouldn't they? How serious can their commitment be if a product isn't earning as hoped for? It must go... is that what they're thinking? Is their priority the revenue stream and not users? It would seem so, at least in this case. Makes me wonder what will eventually happen to all the Member Trees if revenues from the main site ever falter? Sure, genealogy is real popular now but what's going to happen in 50 years? Will that tree I've been working so hard on with all the photos and documents just up and disappear? For the first time I'm thinking, yeah, maybe.

I don't know about you but I am so far into this DNA matching thing that if either 23andMe, AncestryDNA for autosomal DNA testing, or GEDmatch went away, I'd be a hurting cowgirl! Sure I've downloaded everything you can, but now I depend on the interfaces and how they work, and that point has been driven home recently now that GEDmatch is down for service.

When we buy a DNA product we're buying into a corporate philosophy and commitment... or lack thereof. To us it's not a product so much as it is a tangible connection to our ancestors.

My great grandparents and Mom's grandparents on her mother's side. Gone now but their DNA lives on in Mom and me... and at 23andMe and AncestryDNA.

Catherine Elizabeth (House) Whetstone 1865 - 1947
and Joseph Hampton Whetstone 1858 - 1939.

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