Friday, July 18, 2014

My top 5 DNA matching frustrations: a small rant to let off steam

Please excuse me but now I'm going to blow off some steam generated by frustrations having to do with DNA matches. Oh, yes, I understand that we all have frustrations in our lives and that in the big picture this is a minor blip on the old radar. But never mind because I need to rant for a minute. So here are my top five frustrations. Maybe you share some of them? All of them?

1. Private trees on connected to AncestryDNA.
What the heck?! I see this beautiful match with 96% confidence (and maybe even a tempting shaky leaf) and the tree is private. I ask politely and cheerfully if we might be in contact, dear cousin, so that perhaps we can figure out where we connect... and then I never hear from them.
Here's what I'd like to suggest to these mystery cousins: put up a dummy tree with bare-bones data, such as names, years, and locations. No sources, no details. Direct line only. Then make only that tree public and let that be the tree you link to your DNA account. That way I can check to see where the shaky leaf is or, if there's no shaky leaf, I can try to see where we might connect.
I do have sympathy and a level of understanding for those folks who want or need to keep their trees private, really I do. My thought is that if you're going to do a DNA test on AncestryDNA, well it seems to me that the sole purpose is to connect with others and in the process check out each other's trees.
And don't be thinking that if you keep your tree private it will "force" cousins to connect with you. With so very many private trees connected to AncestryDNA it doesn't take long before others burn out on sending a request. And what if something happens to you? Others will never uncover that mutual connection! If you want to get you're going to have to give.

2. No tree on
Maybe you're looking for birth parents and really don't have any ancestors to put on a tree. I get that too. Then you have no choice and neither do I. Or maybe you're new to all of this and are just getting started. I get that too. And good luck to you!
(Here I am taking a moment to scream into my pillow.)
I just checked Mom's new DNA relatives on AncestryDNA and the vast majority have no tree. The rest are private except for about six or so who have the smallest trees you can imagine. (Rant going on over here.) Enough said. It's not you, it's me.

3. "Haven't uploaded to GEDmatch, don't know what that is."
A couple of weeks ago I read a blog post from someone who had grown weary of always being the one who needed to share the knowledge and educate the DNA cousin. I read the post with sympathy and understood that if I want to get the goods - and the goods are chromosome numbers - then I often have to do the education, which can be time consuming and long and involved. But I do understand her frustration, especially on an off day when I have way too much on my plate and need to take time to educate and get the matching cousin up to speed. Usually, because of my teacher background, I love helping out, but not every hour of every day.
Have figured out that it's just where the state of the art is at the moment and that if we all want to get to the point where we do not have to educate others we're going to have to do it now. When I do run into a DNA cousin that knows what's what, I just want to hug them!

4. Yikes, the hardest to explain: what's a chromosome, a chromosome browser, and a chromosome map?
Usually I skirt this issue and don't bring it up. Early on, I tried to be helpful and explain all of the above but I could tell that it was wTMI. Way too much information! So I just up and stopped trying to explain. It is easy for newbies to get under water fast what with all the technical info to digest.
And from my standpoint, once they upload to GEDmatch and the file has been processed it's my turn to work to get the information I want. All I need to do is bring them to the GEDmatch door, point out the upload instructions and offer to help further if need be. If we get that far, then I get to play with my spreadsheet and can report back later on what I've found. So I stopped knocking myself out trying to explain.

5. GEDmatch!! Your down for server upgrade!
So I've gotten over myself, had a good rant, screamed into a pillow a time or two, and now I'm just hanging out waiting GEDmatch to get going again. I have three prime candidates in the wings all waiting with me to have their raw data file uploaded and processed. Joseph will help settle once and for all the Biggerstaff mystery. He matches Mom and not Uncle Sonny, so what's up with that? He should match. Maybe GEDmatch will show us the chromosomes and the truth will be revealed. Cindy wants to know more about her Hartley connections, and matches Mom but again, not Uncle Sonny. And Jean is a Hartley descendant too, and she too matches Mom and not Uncle Sonny. And, get this, she matches Mom but not Cindy!
Why do these three match Mom and not Uncle Sonny? They should all match. But I can't begin to solve that mystery until GEDmatch starts accepting raw files for upload once more.
Does Mom have more Biggerstaff and Hartley DNA than Uncle Sonny? And does he have more Farrell DNA than Mom? Maybe time will tell. This is important and what it's all about!

There's so much work to be done and somehow I feel that it's a race against time. Will some of the big corporate players in this arena disappear? Will I? What's going to happen to GEDmatch? And will Ancestry tire of it's DNA project?

So here I am, and that rant felt good. Thanks for listening. (I promise to listen to you if you need it.)

The above photos are all of St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Little Orleans, Maryland, sitting hard on the Potomac River and the C & O Canal. It's the closest Catholic Church to where our Farrell ancestors lived. Perhaps it's where they worshiped and are buried? We don't yet know.
Photos courtesy Cousin Joseph, our Biggerstaff DNA connection. Thanks a bunch Joseph!
I can not wait to walk these grounds next week!

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