Ancestry Autosomal Results are Back

My cousin, Harold, e-mailed me and asked me to check my Ancesry results to see if I matched a certain nickname (user).  I told him I’d be glad to when my results come in, sometime in October.  He replied that my results are in and have been for a couple days, as I’ve been showing as a match to him.  Hmmm….would have been nice if Ancestry had notified me.  We’ll chalk this up to the internet troll eating the e-mail notification message.  Thank you cousin Harold.

When Ancestry received my kit on August 21st, they said to expect my results in 6-8 weeks.  They beat their own mark by at least 50%.  It took about 3 weeks instead of 6-8.  Everyone is always happy receiving something early.  It’s all about setting expectations correctly, and they did.

I was excited to take a look.  Sure enough, there was cousin Harold, right up at the top of the match list.  Harold and I have been working on a particulary elusive genealogy problem for some time now, so both of us test everyplace we can in the hopes of cracking this tough nut.  In a future blogs, we’ll talk about using genetic genealogy to do focused testing and solve very specific problems.

I only have just a few minutes this morning, so it’s a good thing that Ancestry’s user interface is easy and intuitive.

I was disappointed to see that Scandinavian show up.  I know beyond any doubt that I’m not 12% Scandinavian.  That’s equivalent to one great-grandparent.  I did a pedigree analysis as part of a paper titled Revealing American Indian and Minority Heritage Using Y-line, Mitochondrial, Autosomal and X Chromosomal Testing Data Combined with Pedigree Analysisthat was published in the Journal of Genetic GenealogyCeCe Moore has already reported on this false Scandinavian problem at Ancestry.

Given my time constraints this morning, I had to limit myself to a quick test drive.  I have one 3rd cousin match, Harold, nineteen 4th cousins and 90 distant matches.  In total 122 matches and of those, only 14 don’t have pedigree charts, although I’ve noticed that some charts are very skeletal, with only parents and maybe grandparents listed.

I couldn’t resist scrolling down the list and clicking on “review match” links for the 4th cousins.  I find the “nicknames” frustrating.  Some are marginally recognizable.  I use my full name in mine, but others are entirely obfuscated.

I had no idea who Alyssa2309 was, but she is listed third on my 4th cousin list, so I clicked on Review Match.  Much to my surprise, she is truly a cousin.  My great-grandfather is her great-great-great-grandfather.  I was very glad at this moment that I had taken the time to manually enter my pedigree chart information for 10 generations.  Without that information, Ancestry could not have connected our common ancestors on our trees.

Ok, that’s very cool.  This isn’t a brick wall line for me, but it’s still fun to find a new cousin.  Maybe she has some photos that I don’t, or vice versa.  Alyssa2309, I’ll be in touch, count on it!  Here’s a picture of our common ancestors, Lazarus Estes (1845-1919) and Elizabeth Vannoy (1846-1918).

I continued clicking.  It has now taken on an addictive quality and I’m only through about 5.  Oops, I’ve hit my first “private” tree.  How disappointing.  I wish Ancestry had done the common surname analysis so I know whether or not to bother attempting to contact this person.

You can see, above, that Ancestry compares the charts of the two people who match and shows you the shared surnames, in this case, the very common Miller and Moore.  You can then click and go to that surname on the person’s pedigree chart, or you can simply scan down the chart, displayed to the right through 10 generations.  This is a very nice feature.

I finished a quick look at my nineteen 4th cousins.  Of those nineteen, there are three where I can clearly identify our common ancestor, and there are two or three more that with some genealogy digging, we might well be able to connect the dots.  One of those is a dead end brick wall line for me, so I’m hopeful.  More than half show no common surnames.

More than ever, now I really desperately need more information and the raw data to continue with my ancestor matching project.  While the Ancestry match information is a tantalizing teaser, that’s all it is.  They don’t show how or where you match, how much, segment size or number of SNPs, the chromosome(s), start and stop locations, nor the raw data, of course.  No chromosome matching or mapping like at both Family Tree DNA and at 23andMe.  How frustrating. It’s like showing you the tip of the iceberg and refusing to provide you with the rest, although you know full well it’s there and available, because other testing companies using the same test platform provide this information.  This is SO FRUSTRATING!

In essence, we have the shiny user interface (complete with erroneous population data), and the surface matching information, but no substance.  Nothing under the hood.  Knowing there is information there that I need and can’t have is worse than not knowing at all.



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24 thoughts on “Ancestry Autosomal Results are Back

  1. A few comments.
    Yes the Scandinavian is not very accurate unless we are talking Vikings in the British Isles. I am only 25% Scandinavian but show 60%. Even if I make allowances for different inheritance patterns and Dutch ancestors sill shouldn’t be more than 30-35%. So the rest is definitely Scottish and English.

    As to user names mine was set up a billion years ago and is just part of my email address. I can’t change it now due to the fact that it is used there and elsewhere—but for anyone who has a4est42 on their list (A Forest for Two) its me Kelly Wheaton.

    Regarding the depth of the product it was designed that way—frustrating yes! But I now have 34 confirmable matches covering 7 of my 8 sets of great-great grandparents. Lots to complain about but I love this product! I keep a running list of my matches on my about me page.


  2. Hi Roberta,
    Great that you have already been able to confirm some matches so quickly! I’ll bet you have more matches than 122 though. Did you adjust the slider at the top? I know that says it will include “very low confidence” matches, but some have found matches who share more than 10 cM at 23andMe/FTDNA down there, so it is worth a quick look (since that’s all it takes).
    One person said to me in regard to matching at AncestryDNA, “Where’s the beef?!” I agree, but all we can do for now is encourage our interesting matches to retest at 23andMe and FTDNA. If I find a brickwall one there, I will give them one of my kits!
    Thanks for the mention!

  3. Roberta I feel your pain. I got my Ancestry results back about a month ago. I’m adopted and currently searching for my biological father. I have no name to go on but I DO have a lot of DNA matches tied together. I have five matches tied to the children of Robert EVANS (b 1726 Cecil MD) and Sarah Hetty MAY. Two on Family Finder, one on 23andMe and two on Ancestry. I had set up my linked tree to show me descended from that pair through a series of UNKNOWNS. It worked. When I got my results, two of my 4th cousin matches showed that nice little chart. I have since identified several other “hot spots” in the way of common ancestors for some of my matches.

    I keep two lists for Ancestry matches (both the product of a lot of copying and pasting):
    1. My full match list with space for notes.
    2. A list of surnames from all of my 4th cousin matches that are not Ashkenazi. I might include my Moderate Confidence matches next. The list is sorted by surname and I’ve found several connections between matches that way. A common ancestor for two matches is nothing more than another line to look at. When I get several all tied around that ancestor, then I’ll call it “mine”.

    Unfortunately, in the few instances where I’ve gotten a match to tell me if he/she has the other match I’ve identified – the answer is no. I can see the paper trail that connects them but I guess there’s not enough DNA for Ancestry to call it a match. Oh for the ability to upload everybody to GEDmatch and ratchet down the threshold!


  4. I was very disappointed with the results also. All you get is some matches in trees. I would like the actual chromosomal data. Ancestry has the raw data (chromosome analysis, SNP’s, etc.) but refuses to give that information to you. What’s their point in withholding this information?

    • I want the whole enchilada, of course, but I would accept the start and stop locations, the chromosome and the # of snps, downloadable for everyone, so I can at least chromosome map.

      • I’m not sure where I originally got this from but I think it shows that Ancestry wants to make it simple enough for the lowest common denominator. Science-y? Give me a break. I could explain it accurately to a six year old.

        “Are you surprised by the number of matches?

        Well, there’s a good reason. It’s a little complicated and science-y, but the bottom line is that it appears our system returns inaccurate matches for people of European Jewish descent. The good news is that our match predictions will improve over time as we grow our database of DNA signatures. In the meantime, don’t be afraid to reach out–you may just discover that distant cousin you never knew you had.”

  5. Couldn’t your Frisian ancestors account for the Scandinavian results? The North Sea was the highway of the dark ages and a lot of coastal clans intermarried. Frisian was spoken from the Netherlands all the way up to Denmark.

  6. Regarding Scandinavian. A while back many of the after market tools used Orcadian as a substitute for UK before they had more samples. My guess is that when an individual shows a lot of mixed ancestry like my colonial British this is not as easy to decipher as those with recent British. So it’s reading that ancient mixture which is the British Isles—Norman, Viking, Anglo Saxon plus ancient Celtic mix as Scandinavian. Disappointing but compared to my FTDNA or 23andMe just as good as saying Northern European. As they say right there on the page these will change and get more refined as time goes on.

    We want what we want and we want it now! Just look where we have come in the past year… can call AncestryDNA for Dummies. But those Dummies Books have sold a fortune, helped lots of folks and sometimes are pretty good. Its not going to be everything we want—but for what it does it is pretty darned good.

    • “Disappointing but compared to my FTDNA or 23andMe just as good as saying Northern European.” Except that 23andMe labels it as Northern European and doesn’t mislead people by trying to fit it into a category that is inaccurate.

      • Good point! I sent feed back—hopefully enough do that it eventually changes.
        However my results at FTDNA and 23andme each pick up small bits of admixture but in different areas so what they report isn’t exactly accurate either. All of the Ancestry breakdowns are best estimates not hard and fast. Yes the Scandinavian is misleading, just like Asian is misleading for Native Americans.

        • I definitely agree that these breakdowns have a long way to go – all of them, however I think there is a difference between small inconsistencies and very large ones like these Scandinavian results at AncestryDNA. I have read the same confusion in this regard all over the Internet ever since the launch. As far as the Asian category standing in for for Native American ancestry at 23andMe, it was always openly disclosed that was the case. 23andMe did not try to make excuses as to how they really are Asian – not Native American – they owned the shortcomings instead of spinning it.

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  12. Thank you all regarding the Scandinavian part of me. I was really hoping I was part Viking….started dreaming about exploring,pillaging, and raiding,ect…I will keep checking to see what comes up in the future….now what about the 3% unknown……Have found some good matches, but am frustrated by the privates…..Joyce Slatner

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