Sunday, November 29, 2015

AncestryDNA Frustration Levels Continue to Rise at this Genealogy House

Well here I am again, writing about more troubles and issues with This time we have a mix of issues they may involve the old vs new Ancestry website, as well as the computers that run the DNA matching system.
During the third week of November, I called in two trouble complaints to the tech support people at AncestryDNA. One involved a problem getting back to the match list from a match's page when using the "new Ancestry" webpages with either Internet Explorer 11 or Google Chrome. Switch back to the old Ancestry website pages and the issue goes away.
I don't mind telling you if I keep having issues with AncestryDNA pages crashing my browser after a handful of match views, and me having to restart the browser each time that happens, you won't be hearing nice things after the 15th of December when the old pages go away. You folks need to get this fixed ASAP or delay your implementation. BTW I did confirm that others are having the same issue and they were able to duplicate the issue at AncestryDNA tech support.
But there is a second problem and this second issue is a bit more sinister in nature and it calls into play the entire computer DNA-tree matching system at Ancestry. The first instant I have documented  involves a cousin who is a DNA match at both FTDNA and Ancestry that I have been researching with for decades. Since my early days as a Beta tester for AncestryDNA, my cousin Gerald, my dad and I have been AncestryDNA leaf matches with a strong paper trail that supports it. DNA testing at Ancestry, GEDmatch and FTDNA all show the same thing, we are all cousins, well until now.
Recently while adding in the new shared cM/segment data that Ancestry now has available for each match into my DNA matches spread sheet, I noticed something very odd. My cousin Gerald's tree was no longer showing a leaf match between him, my dad and me. In addition it was showing his tree as private.
Now to some that might not be that big of a thing, but Gerald's tree is not private and I have contributor access to it (both recently confirmed by him). In addition, now when I do a surname search off either my father's DNA match list page or mine, the surname Witt we share in common does not bring his tree up in the DNA match list (he has all sorts of Witt ancestors and so do I). Nothing has changed on either end, we still have him listed as a DNA match, but now he is not a leaf match and we can't see the tree anymore off the DNA match page since it says it is private, yet I do have contributor access.
What makes it even more bizarre, I got an email this week saying that he had added to his tree. When I clicked on the link, I could see his tree via that email link and here is what it showed.
If you look closely at the graphic above it says Your role (that is me) Contributor.
Now the nice lady at AncestryDNA tech support was able to verify that there was an issue and put in a trouble call on November 20 [Incident: 151118-000867] which I also uploaded to screen captures per her instructions. I even received a nice email thanking me (verifying they had received the screen captures) from someone named Christopher.
On November 25, I received the following email from Ancestry.

This email is in reference to your recent inquiry with Ancestry Member Services, number 151118-000867.

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to assist you. Now we'd like to know how we did, and what we can do better. Please take a moment to complete the following short survey about the support we provided.

Click here to take this survey.

Sincerely, Ancestry Member Services

**Please do not respond to this auto-generated message, as we will not receive it.

When you clicked on the link to take the survey it didn't work. Surprise, surprise.
Regardless, of what this email says the issue isn't fixed, it doesn't work still either. They either don't know what they are doing, didn't look at it or just flat blew me off, none of which makes me a happy camper, uh, customer.
BTW, Ancestry does not show a match between my cousin Gerald and my 1C-1R Jerilyn (GEDmatch shows they share 8.6 cM/1637 SNPs on Chromosome 10 and she is a descendant of the same line as my dad, Gerald and me, but no match at Ancestry.
Now it is getting even worse. I have my four family DNA testers all linked to their spots in our family DNA tree. Those four are me, my dad, my cousin mentioned above (that is also genetically a match to my cousin Gerald) and my mother. It is the tree I use publicly for my AncestryDNA testers (we share the same family).
Since this incident cropped up a new one has just surfaced today. Again keep in mind that my dad and I are using a common tree that I have prepared at Ancestry just for DNA matching purposes. So any leaf match I have, he should also. But not so fast my friend.
Today I discovered that while I have an AncestryDNA leaf match with one of my cousins and her father (see screen grab above click for a zoomed in version), my dad doesn't get the same treatment from the computers at Ancestry (see screen grabs below for the same two cousins shown above for me).
And this plays into what I have been seeing on a regular basis now since the changeover to the v2 last year. I track all my leaf matches for all six of my testers very, very closely. I have seen leaf matches come, go and reappear again; matches themselves come, go and reappear and in some cases disappear; and sometime it happens in a matter of only hours. One match in particular appeared, disappeared, reappeared as a leaf match, disappeared and came back as a leaf match again, all in a matter of two weeks.
I'm sorry Ancestry this is no way to run a railroad. You have some major issues and I bet if others followed their matches as close as I do, they would start discovering some crazy issues as well.
You folks have some problems and instead of investing time, manpower and energy make your site pretty for the masses, how about taking that same energy, time and manpower to make it work properly.
My subscription to your site is up for renewal in two months. I have been a continuous subscriber for nearly 15 years now. But all of this has given me pause to rethink whether this relationship will go on further or not. Something has to give and it isn't going to be my sanity, plus the waste of time and energy I am expending working with your DNA system.
Guess it is time to get back on the phone with tech support again. Just damn!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

News Flash! Digitized Microfilm: From the Drawer to Your Computer

Great new from the FamilySearch Blog at has the complete story,

Exciting news is here explaining how users will access microfilmed records found in the FamilySearch catalog. In the early weeks of November, a new feature called the Thumbnail Gallery will be available to the public. Everywhere that historical record images are visible, users can view a single full-screen image or view a gallery of thumbnail (small) images for all images on a microfilm. Parts of this new viewer can be accessed through the Record Hints on Family Tree.

It is important to note that the thumbnail gallery will respect all record restrictions. Some digitized films will be available to anyone at home with a FamilySearch log-in. Other films will be LDS-only or family history center–only. Logged in users will see the camera icon based on their access rights. Only completely unrestricted images will display the camera icon for users who are not logged in. When you notice a film with the format icons, look at the same film as a logged-in user and nonlogged-in user. View films from home and from your family history center. Becoming familiar with the icons will help you be a better resource for answers from your staff and from visitors.

A complete transition to digitized film will happen over several years.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Another Ancestry DNA change just hit the street

The other night I told Gayle (those of you who do not know that is my lovely spouse) that I knew Ancestry was fixing to make another change/upgrade. And I was right. Must b getting pretty good at predicting these things now.

They have added a new feature (aka another DNA diagnostic tool) to the Ancestry DNA match page.

Now when you open a match you will get the total amount of shared DNA with your matches in centimorgans (cM) and how many segments that DNA occupies. So again they are slowly advancing the ball towards a chromosome browser IMHO.

Below is a screen capture of what I saw for my dad's match with me.

This feature works on every match on your pages including private trees, unlinked trees, no linked trees, leaf matches, etc.

Now how accurate is it, that remains to be seen.  CU you all in class Tuesday night and hope to have more in the pre class show.

Here is the information page from Ancestry on this feature which is tied to the match confidence level.

What does the match confidence score mean?

When we compare your DNA to the DNA of one of your matches, we calculate a confidence score for you. This score lets you know how much DNA evidence there is for you and your match actually being related.
But, just because you and another member have identical DNA doesn’t mean that you both inherited that DNA from a recent genealogical ancestor. (Learn how you can have identical DNA and not be related.) That’s where the confidence score comes in, and how we calculate the likelihood that you and your DNA match are actually related. A high confidence score means that we’re pretty sure that your DNA is identical because it was inherited from a recent ancestor. A lower score means that your identical DNA might be because you’re related, but it might also be because you have similar ethnic or regional backgrounds.

The confidence score is based on the amount and location of the DNA that you share with your match. We show the shared amount using centimorgans (cM), a unit used to measure the length of DNA. The higher the number, the higher the confidence, and in general, the closer the relationship. Since you can share DNA with your match on one or more segments in different locations in the genome, we show you how many. Note that the number of segments and number of centimorgans that we show reflects only those segments that we believe were inherited from a recent common ancestor (in other words, segments that are likely to be identical by descent).

When you’re exploring your list of DNA matches, look for these confidence scores and let them help you focus your research.

Confidence Score / Details

Extremely High  - Approximate amount of sharing: More than 30 centimorgans
Likelihood you and your match share a single recent common ancestor (within 5 or 6 generations):  Virtually 100%
You and your match share enough DNA to prove that you’re both descendants of a common ancestor (or couple)--and the connection is recent enough to be conclusive.

Very High  - Approximate amount of sharing: 20—30 centimorgans
Likelihood you and your match share a single recent common ancestor (within 5 or 6 generations):  99%
You and your match share enough DNA that we are almost certain you’re both descendants of a recent common ancestor (or couple).

High  - Approximate amount of sharing: 12—20 centimorgans
Likelihood you and your match share a single recent common ancestor (within 5 or 6 generations):  95%
You and your match share enough DNA that it is likely you’re both descendants of the same common ancestor or couple, but there’s a small chance the common ancestor(s) are quite distant and difficult to identify.

Good  - Approximate amount of sharing: 6—12 centimorgans
Likelihood you and your match share a single recent common ancestor (within 5 or 6 generations):  More than 50%
You and your match share some DNA, probably from a recent common ancestor or couple, but the DNA may be from distant ancestors that are difficult to identify.

Moderate  - Approximate amount of sharing: 6 centimorgans or less
Likelihood you and your match share a single recent common ancestor (within 5 or 6 generations):  20—50%
You and your match might share DNA because of a recent common ancestor or couple, share DNA from very distant ancestors, or you may not be related.

It’s important to note that the confidence score is related only to your match and not to the relationship range we’ve assigned. The confidence score should not be interpreted as our confidence that you are specifically 4th cousins, for example. Instead, it lets you know how confident you should be that you and your DNA match are related through a recent common ancestor.