WikiTree Announces DNA Ancestor Confirmation Aid

The following press release was provided by WikiTree.  I was pleased to be able to preview the new DNA Ancestor Confirmation Aid.  If people will actually use WikiTree for their ancestors, and enter their DNA information, especially in mitochondrial lines where there is no common surname to follow…this new tool holds a great deal of promise.  WikiTree didn’t develop this tool in a vacuum.  Genetic genealogist Peter Roberts, project administrator of the Bahamas DNA Project, has been involved along the way, providing invaluable insight as to what the genetic genealogy community needs, and how to go about providing those tools and services.

Great job WikiTree!

Take a look and a test drive…

wikitree logo

Fourteen years ago, on 26 June 2000, it was announced that the first draft of the entire human genome had been completed. UK Prime Minister Tony Blair commented that “every so often in the history of human endeavor there comes a breakthrough that takes humankind across a frontier and into a new era. … I believe that today’s announcement is such a breakthrough …”.

The sweeping impact of a map of the human genome is still unfolding in science, medicine, and many other fields. One of these fields is genealogy. DNA testing for genealogy has been advancing rapidly — becoming more reliable, more informative, and less expensive.

Parallel to this, progress on a single family tree for humanity has been advancing rapidly thanks to Internet “crowdsourcing.” Genealogists are pooling their research and collaborating on websites such as WikiTree.com. Until now, this family tree collaboration has been based primarily on research in public records and information handed down through families.

The combination of DNA testing and a collaborative worldwide family tree is enabling something that most genealogists never expected: scientific confirmation of their genealogy.

Today WikiTree is announcing the DNA Ancestor Confirmation Aid, a tool to help genealogists confirm their ancestry. Because of the broad-based collaboration on WikiTree and the fact that the Y-chromosome and mitochondrial DNA is passed down relatively unchanged for many generations in known inheritance patterns, a DNA test taken by one genealogist can aid the research of many distant cousins. In turn, the research of one genealogist can dramatically expand the utility of other people’s DNA tests.

The DNA Ancestor Confirmation Aid shows step-by-step how to confirm father-son and mother-child relationships in a family tree. It enables genealogists to discover if any other descendants of their ancestors have already taken DNA tests — something becoming more common as the cost of testing goes down and as ancestries become more deeply interconnected. When there’s an opportunity for confirmation by comparing test results, there are direct comparison links. When additional testing needs to be taken for confirmation, it links to potential test-takers.

The DNA Ancestor Confirmation Aid is intended to help genealogists of all levels, including those who are completely new to DNA testing. More experienced genetic genealogists will also find benefits. Roberta Estes of DNAeXplain says, “this is particularly useful for mitochondrial DNA because there is no other ‘connecting’ mechanism. I’m sure that many of my ancestor’s mitochondrial DNA is represented in the thousands of people who have tested — but until now — there was no way to find them, since the surnames may have changed a dozen times since our shared ancestor.”

Nathan J. Bowen, PhD, genome scientist at the Center for Cancer Research and Therapeutic Development at Clark Atlanta University, sees potential long-term benefits we can all share: “The release of the working draft of the human genome 14 years ago was a huge moment, democratizing the use of the sequence for everyone, not just corporations with private databases. Now genealogists at WikiTree are building a public family tree for humanity, confirmed with DNA. Ultimately this may reveal patterns of human migration, inheritance and disease that return significant benefits for science and medicine.”

About WikiTree

Growing since 2008, WikiTree.com is a 100% free shared family tree website. Community members privately collaborate with close family members on modern family history and publicly collaborate with other genealogists on deep ancestry. Since all the private and public profiles are connected on the same system this process is helping to grow a single, worldwide family tree that will eventually connect us all and thereby make it free and easy for anyone to discover their roots. See http://www.WikiTree.com.

35 thoughts on “WikiTree Announces DNA Ancestor Confirmation Aid

  1. I think they are getting a lot of traffic from this announcement. That’s good news. The site is a little hard to understand – where to go to push which button to add someone, for instance. This could be interesting. I’m going to experiment with my husband’s tree first. Y-DNA, mtDNA and autosomal tested everywhere and a pretty good tree with a good number of matches. Brick walls in Prussia ca 1830 and Ireland/Scotland ca 1800 but the rest is pretty good.

      • Thanks, Gaye and Roberta! WikiTree can be a bit daunting for those just getting started. But we do have a good community of Wiki Genealogists who help each other. We have Greeters and Mentors where the whole mission of the project is to help new members. The “G2G” (Genealogist-to-Genealogist) Q&A Forum is the go-to place for help. http://www.wikitree.com/g2g/ Don’t ever hesitate to ask a simple question there, or a hard one. I’ll answer you there, unless someone beats me to it (which is what usually happens).

      • Thanks! One suggestion is to allow people to easily add very close family – the people who they REALLY know. Certainly you don’t want people adding billions of names that have merely been copied from other trees.

  2. As a wikitree convert I agree it can be hard to understand at first. It can be cumbersome loading gedcoms. The end result however has massive scope, as Roberta has explained. If all my matches pull all their data on wikitree I’m sure we would be able to solve some of the current mysteries. I personally love the collaborative nature of the site. One profile for each person, as opposed to other sites where multiple trees exist, often unsourced. It seems to me that the Wikitree brings DNA and traditional genealogy together is a great thing for the future. It can only get better.

    • The process for uploading GEDCOMS is deliberately cumbersome. When you think about it, the various “hoops” you have to jump through to upload your GEDcom(s) is important to the integrity of the whole tree. You may have a meticulously researched tree but what about everybody else?

  3. The problem I have with WikiTree is that the database seems to consist almost exclusively of people born in the US, which makes it basically useless to me. I have searched for several of my ancestors born in England and it does not produce any matches.

  4. This all looks good except that wikitree is a phishing site and i am not prepared to allow my pc to be scanned for information that may or may not be private, i consider wiki to have alternative intentions not to my liking.

      • I’m confused by this too. It’s certainly not something we would intentionally do on WikiTree. WikiTree does have advertisements — Google’s AdSense program — and sometimes those ads can be frustratingly deceptive. Once in a while a person clicks on an ad thinking it’s part of WikiTree. We can block ads like this if we’re alerted to them.

  5. I confess to more than a little skepticism about stuff like this. I think there is a use for DNA analysis in certain situations, mostly in verifying (or not) relatively close relationships, and as metadata tracking the occurrence in time and space of certain genes or gene patterns, as in the Migration Project. It can also be useful in identifying some genetically influenced disorders. But, please, linking us all together? If you are wealthy enough and have enough interest beyond the day to day survival that most of the world has to deal with, maybe you’ll find something. I am doing genealogy the old fashioned way: through research of documents.

    So what if there’s a few back-door babies along the way? There are in most families. The most important thing to me is that those people are part of my heritage, even if they are not genetically related. I’m interested in learning about the cultures and stories that went into making us who we are. I need those pieces of paper telling the history of not only the people, but the places and the events my ancestors experiences. One of my relatives is all caught up in the DNA thing, and other than a couple of 4th cousins something removed, has gotten nowhere other than finding someone with a different surname and a match with some of our paternal YDNA. In the meantime, I’ve tracked several lineages back to the US shores, and homing in on more. And I have learned some remarkable things along the way that DNA will never be able to tell us a thing about.

    • DNA and traditional genealogy research go hand in hand. However, if you discover that your grandfather’s paternal surname line isn’t your biological line, do you really want to continue to search a line that you’re not biologically related to? I certainly don’t. On the other hand, while DNA can tell us and confirm that we are related, those paper documents tell us about their life and times. In some cases, the paper documents don’t tell us enough to know if we re or rare not related to someone – and we need the DNA to confirm that. For example, I figured out that my Marcus Younger’s wife was Suzanna Hart, via DNA, not documents. Burned county. Couldn’t have done it without DNA. Here’s the story…https://dna-explained.com/2013/11/18/be-still-my-heart/

      • I agree. Leaving out genetic genealogy is like not searching (say) Parish Records. It’s another tool and in years to come as the DNA database gets larger and more representative of world populations, it will become even more important.

    • As one of those “back door babies”, I’m very much interested in my genetic heritage. I’m also interested in finding connections to my Ashkenazi Jewish relatives (both biological and adoptive) as not everybody has access to all those documents that make it relatively easy for some ethnicities but not for others.

  6. I don’t understand–will this help me identify other participants in WikiTree who share my most distant known (assumed) mtDNA ancestor who have NOT taken a mtDNA test, so that I can ask them to test? I do not have mtDNA matches to any people with known common ancestors.

  7. What, if anything, will this WikiTree do for people who only tested with autosomal?
    Should I test MtDNA to add to the Wiki?

    • Arlene, Yes you should test your mtDNA (cost only $59 + $5 postage). Then upload your results to http://www.mitosearch.org and then add your MitoSearch ID to your DNA Tests page at WikiTree.

      WikiTree will eventually have features for confirming some of your ancestors using autosomal and X chromosome results. It’s just a bit more complicated than Y DNA and mtDNA.

      Sincerely, Peter

      Peter J. Roberts
      http://www.wikitree.com/genealogy/Roberts-Family-Tree-7085

    • Hi Arlene. Check out http://www.wikitree.com/wiki/DNA_Features#auDNA
      Ultimately the autosomal testing is likely to become the most significant on WikiTree. It really fits hand-in-glove with the single family tree mission. For now, most of the benefits for autosomal test-takers revolve around collaborating with your matches. There are easy ways to show your matches surname lists and share trees, and if they join WikiTree you can collaborate to grow your shared family history.

  8. Issue number 2. I cannot upload my Gedcom as their are too many individuals in my tree, wiki is limited to 5000 individuals, you will need to upgrade this if you want larger trees added to the website, i am not going to spend 100’s of hours adding a tree i have already spent 10 years developing.

    • GEDCOMs are very controversial at WikiTree (and at other shared tree sites like WeRelate and Geni). Gaye Tannenbaum has a comment about this above. When we first added GEDCOM import capability four years ago, it was unlimited. Anyone could upload as large a file as they wanted. This led to many problems. Collaborating on thousands of ancestors is very time-consuming. You need to merge, resolve conflicting information through sources, etc. Many new members would decide it wasn’t worth it for them, especially if they had a lot of collateral relatives into their GEDCOM that they didn’t care so much about. So they would leave. This left profiles for other people to merge, source, etc. Over the years we have become increasingly restrictive about imports. Keep in mind, this isn’t like importing into a new system for managing your tree. There is no “your tree” and “my tree” here. It’s our tree. Importing your tree means integrating it. Adding little chunks at a time — breaking up your GEDCOM — is generally preferable.

      • I see your point therefore i am uploading my direct ancestors only, if there is any interest i can refer people to my Genie tree.
        Besides with the DNA link any possible relatives will still show up

  9. How would using wiki help someone whose mother was adopted? I have done the mtDNA but don’t understand what the results mean. All the explanations I have read is like reading Greek.

    • Ellen – mtDNA will only connect your mother’s mother’s mother’s mother’s … mother’s line. Until a few years ago, it was the ONLY test a female could do. Autosomal testing is much more helpful but a lot will depend on your mother’s ethnicity. Some ethnicities are well represented and have detailed trees. Others do not do DNA testing and/or the records and trees just aren’t “there”. If your mother was of colonial American ancestry, that is the best for identifying her family. There are several groups dedicated to helping adoptees use DNA.

    • Ellen, I would like to compare DNA if you are sure that you descend from Edward Williams aka “Jimmie Cox”. Is your DNA at Family Tree DNA–the autosomal or family finder type and not just mitochondrial maternal? I may be related to you through my mother’s Williams line with a male intervening. Susan Ward told me about you. I emailed you also.
      Ruth Gravitt

  10. I only have Y-DNA results through a paternal cousin but we have a 5th great grandfather MRCA and 5 tree verified matches to 3 of his sons through a Surname Project on FTDNA. Would it be useful and possible to upload a partial descendants chart with the results?

    [Someday I will have money for a FS mtDNA test, but not this day]

    • Hello Marci, It is possible and would be very useful for you to upload the direct paternal line of your cousin who tested. You don’t need a full sequence mtDNA test. The mtDNAPlus test is a bargain at $59.

  11. Pingback: WikiWeek In Review: 30 June 2014 | WikiTree Blog

  12. Pingback: DNAeXplain Archives – General Information Articles | DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy

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