Tuesday, August 19, 2014

What!? AncestryDNA isn't going to provide segment analysis?! Say it ain't so!!

I have to stop my posts about recent adventures with the NSDAR and say a thing or two about this  recap of the 2014 (and first) Institute for Genetic Genealogy conference in Washington, D. C. by The Legal Genealogist which you can find here brought to us by Judy G. Russell. This is longish excerpt and I would rather use shorter (and less copyright offensive) clips but this is real important, so Judy I hope that you don't mind. Here's what she said in the opening paragraphs of her post about the conference and AncestryDNA's recent decision.

The Institute for Genetic Genealogy — brainchild of Tim Janzen and CeCe Moore — opened Friday with registration and three overview sessions on the testing companies. Attendees got a chance to take a look at information from AncestryDNA, 23andMe and Family Tree DNA in general, with some good general background information being offered.

There weren’t any surprises in that general info — except perhaps the depth of the genetic genealogy community’s unhappiness with AncestryDNA and its decisions (a) not to provide segment data to its customers and (b) to discontinue YDNA and mitochondrial DNA testing and to discontinue even providing links to results of those tests taken at Ancestry. Let’s just say that the unhappiness was abundantly clear during AncestryDNA’s presentation.

OK, do you get that? AncestryDNA will NOT be providing segment data. I thought they were going to. This is a major problem and I really do not understand why they wouldn't want to. We need that segment data.

So it works like this. If you did autosomal testing then you see the list of "cousin" matches. On AncestryDNA you might get to see the other person's tree if they have one there and if you're really lucky you might be able to get a hint about where you and the other person match and who your common ancestor might possibly be. There are problems with this. It is only matching both of your trees.

Here's what I mean. The other person got on your match list because the DNA matched to some degree stated as a percent and a guess about degree of cousin you might be to each other. The tree match is a separate thing and simply a search function on trees and has nothing whatsoever to do with shared DNA. Nothing.

If you want to know which portion of your DNA you share or have in common, you need to look at chromosomes. And that's the "real deal" when it comes to this DNA for genealogy thing. If you can't look at and compare chromosomes then you're just taking someone else's work that your shared match is at that ancestor Ancestry found on both trees. There's no proof. So if one of you has a big error on the tree, and that can happen, you might get an entirely false match.

Chromosome matching is the very best tool when it comes to working with DNA for genealogy. And don't we deserve to work with the best tools available? Sure we do. AncestryDNA, get your act together, man!

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