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Feedback - Tell us what we need to tell Ancestry about the test

Feedback - Tell us what we need to tell Ancestry about the test

Posted: 3 Oct 2012 11:20PM GMT
Classification: Query
Edited: 4 Oct 2012 12:01AM GMT
I am the first to admit my understanding of the new autosomal DNA test is imperfect. I am in the process of writing to the Genetic Geneaologist blogger to ask for some clarification. But I have been reading this section of the message board very carefully and it seems to me that there are a number of people who do really understand the ins and outs of the autosomal DNA test and what Ancestry.com is lacking in what they are giving us. Not to mention the errors and matching problems. So I would like to ask everyone who does have some knowledge of the tests (particularly those who have tested elsewhere), to give me some input on what I should be sending in on that FEEDBACK button.

The one thing I am certain is that everyone believes we need the raw data. Please, someone, explain to me why we do and why ancestry.com is refusing to release it (if anyone knows why).

Thanks for any help!

Re: Feedback - Tell us what we need to tell Ancestry about the test

Posted: 4 Oct 2012 5:08AM GMT
Classification: Query
I will take a segment comparison tool over raw data, if Ancestry really is squeamish about what uninformed larks we'll get up to with third party tools (as Ancestry's Senior VP indicated - see below), but I'm mostly saying that because I've gone on to test elsewhere and will have raw data shortly. So, my priorities have shifted a little. (And my genealogy budget, haha.)

A few uses for raw data: 1. Send it to Dr. Doug McDonald for a detailed BGA. (Instead of the limited pie chart for ethnicity that we have now and which some regard as iffy.) 2. Use it on sites like GEDMatch.com to do segment comparisons and play with other fun tools. 3. Use it with Promethease to look at health information/risks.

Just today I had a situation where segment comparison is going to be vital to sort out the connection. I have a Shared Ancestor Hint with someone who either descends from either my ancestor or his brother. (It's a case where I know the grandparent but not the parent.) If I discovered, through segment comparison of several matches, that I match the *wife*'s family of this person's ancestor, then this mystery that has been stumping researchers for decades might be on the way to being solved.

But wait! There's more! I looked past the Hint and discovered that I also match the person on a completely different line. Wow. So, is our shared DNA coming from the first line or from the second line? Or both? Again, being able to compare segments (especially since I have other matches on both of these lines) would be insanely helpful.

Just think, if one of us hadn't researched one of those lines, we'd see that single Shared Ancestor Hint and think, "Yep, there's the connection," and that might be that. And since we're all now flooded with hundreds or thousands of matches that appear to need our attention more (a royal headache since we have zero searching or annotating capabilities - add that to the feedback wishlist), who knows if I would have looked at that profile again for a few years?

Right now, all I can do without segment comparing is say, "Yep, that's my cousin, one way or another," and move on to the next match.

Since this is the *second* time this has happened to me in the past week or so (see the thread called something like "Verified matches aren't verified"), I think it's a real concern. I'm not saying that the ability to compare segments is going to fix everything, but it will help.

Without it, well... I'm a fan of the test and the company, despite my grumpies. But knowing that sorting out some of these wonderful pages and pages of potential connections might be one raw data download away? And knowing that people are going to make (and pass along) bad assumptions about how the matches fit because they aren't doing more than matching GEDCOMs? Maddening.

I feel as though playing with raw data is going to make people get smarter, faster. The forums on 23andMe and FTDNA are incredible - a real testimony to how much people are willing to learn. I thought I learned a lot here, but that's nothing compared to what people are discussing at the other sites, and the community is so huge and varied. (I'm ten kinds of psyched about the X-chromosome analysis for genealogy right now!)

One person here said that she heard from a customer service rep that Ancestry is planning to release the raw data. That is encouraging, but who knows if it's true or just typical phone rep-speak, and if it is true, when it will happen? Ancestry remains mum.

I don't want to post the link to the blog post with the Senior Ancestry VP/General Manager of Ancestry DNA's quote just in case it's used as an excuse to remove the post, so here is the quote directly from the DNA-Explained blog:

"My thing — what’s interesting from a commercial standpoint is we — a lot of customers get data from either us or from other services. And what I see that’s a little disturbing sometimes is that they upload their data to sites that quite frankly I can’t even have — I try to research who these individuals are that are doing additional research on people’s data. And I’m not even sure who they are or how they’re qualified and if the data that they’re getting back are even, you know, valid, right? So the point is that I think that we are moving in a direction where consumers feel comfortable, rightly or through ignorance, uploading their data to other sites. So I do think that restricting sort of the end I think is important just to be able to take care of that issue."

(Google with some phrases from the quote to find the blog. Some people are critical of Roberta Estes, the blogger, for not being an Ancestry fan, but unless you think she invented the quote, that's not relevant.)

I actually do think Dr. Chahine has a point; people are sending their data off to sites without knowing a lot about who is looking at their data (which might bother some folks), and people will inevitably misinterpret the results. But is it right for Ancestry to attempt to protect all of us from this possibility? Especially when it's data about *our* chromosomes? I'd much rather they protected us from all those copied-and-pasted family trees here where the only source is "Ancestry Family Tree," lol.

(Good luck, Ancestry, with playing nursemaid. I'm not the only person who ended up giving money to 23andMe and FTDNA to get what Ancestry doesn't offer. Nanny nanny boo boo - my raw data is going on a ride!)

Re: Feedback - Tell us what we need to tell Ancestry about the test

Posted: 4 Oct 2012 2:24PM GMT
Classification: Query
I also have tested elsewhere and have less personal need for the raw data, but I believe that others would benefit and thus would like to see Ancestry release it. In addition to the uses already mentioned, it could be analyzed using the admixture tools on Gedmatch.

I would also suggest three other features that are available elsewhere:

1. Segment comparison tool
2. Ability to find matches in common with another tester
3. Ability to search all matches for a particular surname, including both direct and collateral lines.

Jim Barry
jbarry6899

Re: Feedback - Tell us what we need to tell Ancestry about the test

Posted: 4 Oct 2012 2:28PM GMT
Classification: Query
Edited: 4 Oct 2012 2:47PM GMT
My feeling is that if the concerns which many people are expressing still exist after Ancestry's program emerges from the beta phase, then they will be serious ones. Until that time, I'm willing to give Ancestry the benefit of the doubt.

My father tested, for genealogical purposes, through 23andMe. While I am very thankful for his raw data and for 'segment comparison tools,' there have been many more relevant matches for me in the week since I received my results from Ancestry, than has been the case for my dad at 23andMe and at GedMatch ... in many months. Every day there is much work to be done here, on our family tree, while elsewhere, there has been mostly - waiting. Fewer of the folks who test at 23andMe have trees researched and posted which can, at least, be used as springboards.

The refrain on the message boards at 23andMe is, 'Send your raw data to Dr. Doug McDonald.' Dr. McDonald found my dad to be a purebred - 100% English - and his findings, and the way in which they are presented, concern me. You were correct in referring to him previously as a guru. If a non-Nordic segment shows up in your results then, by all means, turn to him so that he can divine if it is "real" or not.

There is a member at 23andMe by the name of Spence (Oregon 1841), who kindly delves far deeper into one's raw data, using an advanced mode of the 'World 9' oracle. His findings, for my dad, provided a more detailed and accurate portrait of Dad's ancestry than we have received elsewhere. They coincided with Dad's paper-trail genealogy, and also suggested distant ancestry, which we have not documented yet (if this is, indeed, more than 'noise').

I do hope that Ancestry develops a better system for interpreting genetic ethnicity than what it is presenting at present. I can see, for example, that both my dad and I still carry DNA from German ancestors who settled in Virginia during the early eighteenth century. I show no Central European ancestry here, however. Contrarily, neither I nor the distant cousins (whose trees I have perused) with whom I have been matched by Ancestry, and who also have been assigned Southern European descent, appear to have roots in that region during genealogical time. If 'Southern European' represents the legacy of Mediterranean Farmers during prehistoric days, it seems strange that their input would override the contribution of forebears who lived only a couple of centuries ago.

Re: Feedback - Tell us what we need to tell Ancestry about the test

Posted: 4 Oct 2012 2:37PM GMT
Classification: Query
Also:

4. Transparency about criteria used for matching.
5. Total shared CM and longest segment for all matches.

Re: Feedback - Tell us what we need to tell Ancestry about the test

Posted: 16 Oct 2012 6:04PM GMT
Classification: Query
First, the easy stuff:

*More sorting tools, including ability to sort by matches that actually have a common ancestor.
*Ability to make notes for each match
*Ability to make a private tree open to DNA matches only.

More technical:

*At least enough raw data for comparison. Right now I have a match that is strong and close. We cannot find a common ancestor. If I knew which segment of DNA matched us and could see if my confirmed ancestor DNA matches had the same segment, then I would know which branch we need to focus on. Instead, we're both flying blind.'

*Also, as said before me, I have a match that I am connected to in two ways. One way, is no big deal. The other way, would also wrap up the loose ends on research that's been going on since before I was born and still hasn't been proven.

Re: Feedback - Tell us what we need to tell Ancestry about the test

Posted: 23 Oct 2012 9:09PM GMT
Classification: Query
I have several suggestions:

1. Improve the number of ways that we can mark our matches. We need the ability to do something more than just mark a particular person in our match list with a star and then have to scroll through our list of starred persons before finding them again. I would like to be able to mark people as "Confirmed matches," "possible matches but more research needed," "reviewed but unlikely matches," etc. Some sort of folder categorization method would be nice. I would like to have the ability to group all of my matches with whom I have confirmed a relation with a particular ancestral family into a separate folder.

2. Provide some ability to jump ahead to a particular page where I quit working previously without having to go from page 1 to page 7 and then to work my way up from there. If I quit looking at my matches the previous day on page 14, I would like the ability to return immediately to page 14 without having to make several steps.

3. Fix the glitch that returns me to page one when I use the Back or Return button. Sometimes I will be on page 14 of my list of matches and I click on a particular person to review their tree. After doing so, I would like to return to page 14 to continue going down my list. Unfortunately on many occasions, when I hit the Back or Return button on my browser I am returned back to page 1 and then I have to go through the entire process of getting back to page 14 again.

4. Provide us with the ability to filter our match lists by user name. I know that this can be done since it is available on Family Tree DNA. If I know that I have confirmed a match with a particular member such as JR314 or if I know that I want to return to his tree days after I have first reviewed it, I would like the ability to simply type in his name and then be taken to his DNA page rather than having to scroll through my entire list of reviewed or starred matches and hope that I don't miss him during my scrolling process.

5. Provide us with the ability to filter our matches by a particular surname in their tree. For example, if I have pages and pages of new persons in my match list but know that I have a history of finding a particular surname in many of my match's trees, I would like to be able to simply run a filter for all those new matches to see if any of them happen to have that particular surname in the first few generations of their tree. This filter function is available on Family Tree DNA so it should be doable here. Ideally I would like to be able to perform such a filter for their entire tree, not just the generations shown on the abbreviated tree found on their DNA page. In most of my cases, I have had common ancestors with my matches who lived in the 1600s. People who lived that long ago are not going to appear on the abbreviated page that appears on the DNA pages of my matches.

Despite the current shortcomings, I have been very pleased with the results to date of my autosomal testing. I was able to confirm more matches in one week than I did in one year at the other site.

D. Michael Elkins

Re: Feedback - Tell us what we need to tell Ancestry about the test

Posted: 23 Oct 2012 9:58PM GMT
Classification: Query
Is there a Beta message board for this? Is it okay to discuss things here after you get your results or should I ask elsewhere

Re: Feedback - Tell us what we need to tell Ancestry about the test

Posted: 23 Oct 2012 11:06PM GMT
Classification: Query
Here are some work-arounds that require some bookkeeping effort on your part, but they're better than nothing.

Re #2 and #3, if you keep mental track of where you want to be, you can jump to a particular page. When you're on page 1 of your match list and click to see the next page, you'll see a URL of the form

http://dna.ancestry.com/atResultsSummary.aspx?id=45133#2

45133 is my ID, so yours will be different. #2 is the page. You can substitute any page number in your browser window.

Re #4, if you keep track of the match URL, you can go directly to the record. The URL is of the form

http://dna.ancestry.com/atMemberMatch.aspx?id=45133&mid=...

where ID is your ID (45133 in my case) and MID is the ID for the match. Your ID is constant, but the MID varies and refers to a specific match.

Re: Feedback - Tell us what we need to tell Ancestry about the test

Posted: 24 Oct 2012 12:35AM GMT
Classification: Query
Thanks, I have had to do that sort of thing as a work-around but its still a hassle.
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