MyGroups is Here

Family Tree DNA rolled the new MyGroups format yesterday.  Project administrators have the option of converting now or waiting until April 16th when all projects will automatically be converted.  Family Tree DNA is trying to sweeten the pie by offering coupons that the admin needs to sign in daily to the project to post to the group.

The purpose of the new format is to engage project members, facilitate discussion and sharing, which is, after all, what genealogy is all about.  Think of MyGroups as a new skin on the old projects we all know and love.  All of the old features of the projects are still there – and they function just like they always have.

Because it’s new and unknown, there has been a lot of anxiety this past 24 hours or so about converting and how the new features will work.

I was part of the beta with one of my projects with over 800 members.  I did not sign in daily to check on things.  People did discuss genealogy and share information, including pictures.  No, I did not create photo albums.

People have been enjoying the new format – so it has been working.  And the really good news is that other people within the project have been answering questions for others, so it has provided additional resources for the project.  I think this will be a great way to engage people and hopefully keep them engaged.

I will tell you straight out that there are a couple of drawbacks that I hope will be resolved in upcoming versions.

  1. There is no search capability – so if I remember a discussion about XYZ I can’t search for it. This is unfortunately much more like Facebook than the rootsweb system which has active and useful archives.
  2. There is no e-mail notification for either admins or participants. Yesterday someone asked me a question about yesterday’s coupon, but I didn’t see it until today. Most administrators do NOT sign on to their projects daily, nor do they want to. Participants either, but if you want to be a part of the project discussion, today, that’s the only way to keep current.

Like with all new products, there are also some bugs but those are being worked out.

Let’s step through the conversion process so admins know what to expect.  It’s actually VERY easy and there is really only one thing you need to know that isn’t obvious.

When you sign on as a project administrator, this is what you’ll see.


By clicking on the little blue box at right, “convert” you’ll see the following prompt.


Click OK.  You will then see this page.


First, you’ll want to click on the “project profile” in the green lock box.


This takes you to your regular project profile page, which looks like this.


There are two new things.

The one VERY IMPORTANT thing you’ll need to do is to make your feed private.  The default is public – meaning that the news feed, messages and photos are viewable to everyone.

In my projects, I want the discussions to be viewable by project members only, so you WILL NEED TO check the box by the first arrow, below, that says “Only members can view posts…”  The default value is unchecked – meaning viewable to the public.


The second thing you can do is to change your project banner.  Family Tree DNA has provided some nice standard options, or you can roll your own.


At the bottom of the list of stock photos is an option to upload a custom banner for your project.

Be sure to Save Profile at the bottom of the page, or it won’t.

That’s really all you need to do in terms of setup, because as best I can tell, that’s really all that has changed from an administrative setup perspective, but lets take a look at the rest.


In the green lock box, if you click on the project website link, you will be taken to your, public project setup site.  Nothing has changed and you should already be familiar with this, as an admin.


In the first box, click on “click here to go to activity feed.” you will see this.


This takes you to your new default public project page.  This new look is probably the biggest change and will take a minute to get used to.

The first thing you’ll see on your main project message page is a prompt to post the daily coupon.  This is posted as a message to the group.


I posted the coupon to the group, in case anyone wants to use it.  This is what postings look like.


As you can see, the regular project items, like DNA results are shown to the left, along with the “about” page.  These links take you to the pages we’re all familiar with.


All the features and functions that have always been in projects are still there, plus new social media functions designed to engage people.

Family Tree DNA provides MyGroups basics instructions in the Learning Center as well.



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25 thoughts on “MyGroups is Here

  1. Thank you. I assume that project administrators do not have “moderator” duties. That does require persistent checking. Has FTDNA said they are moderating this?
    My biggest issue so far is getting the banner I’d like to put up in the right size so that it can be uploaded. The images I have are in powerpoint so I can export them to .PNG, etc. but I don’t get the right # pixels and sizing to uploaded correctly. Any advice on how to modify an image to size it appropriately? I have a similar problem with the Yahoo groups banner area.

    • I read in one of the e-mails that they, FTDNA, have the ability to delete a posting if it is reported as “problematic” or “inappropriate”. Otherwise, they are not moderating and if any moderating is done, it would be the admins to do it.

  2. When I went there to check on the two Groups that I belong to I found that I was unknowingly a member of a third Group, a Hapalogroup. I don’t recall ever joining that Group but it was the only one of the three that was converted. I really dislike looking up my PW to enter a site. Ancestry seems to be the only genealogy site that “remembers” me. As a result I seldom visit the other sites. 23&Me is the worst. Most will remember me as long as I have the browser open but 23 forgets me the instant I leave their site and I have to log in again and again. I complained about this but had no reply. I also have to log into FTDNA so I rarely go there. Besides, FTDNA has poor trees and MYHeritage is no improvement as far as I am concerned. I look forward to my surname Groups’ conversions though and hoping to find those Groups more helpful and “friendly” than they have been in the past.

    • Sites only “remember” you if you permit cookies. That’s a browser setting which you control (varies from browser to browser). You likely allowed cookies at some point when accessing Ancestry, but disallowed when accessing other sites. If you accept cookies before logging on to 23andme and FTDNA they should remember you, and then you can turn that function off again if you choose.

    • Great reply, occassia, in addition to cookies, there’s software that “remembers” your passwords for you. For example, Norton 360 by Symantec includes a product called “Identity Safe” which automatically populates username/password fields regardless of whether cookies are turned on for that site. It’s not perfect, though, and sometimes annoying.

  3. I also am having a terrible time making a Banner that is the correct size.. I do not plan to add coupons until everything far nothing does..Sigh..

  4. Thanks for the overview Roberta. I spent most of the morning looking over my three projects and I only had one real question.

    For the two projects for which I am the Admin, I now have a link at the top of my GAP that takes me to the MyGroups Page and allows me to trigger the daily coupon. But on the one project for which I am Co-Admin, I need to go to the Public Project settings page, click on the page Link at the bottom and then it takes me to the MyGroups Page and allows me to trigger the daily Coupon. I did not see any setting on the admin pages for my two projects that allow/deny Project Co-Admins from having the link Group Page on their GAP’s.

    Of course, it would be nice if Admins didn’t have to log in every day to trigger the coupon, but I’m assuming that is FT-DNA’s way of forcing the Admins to look things over.

    Over all impression is that all will be fine with this new feature/layout.

    Two comments about your post. First Facebook groups do have a search feature at the top on the group page. Second, Most web Windows system web browsers (IE, Google, Firefox) will open a “Find” window by holding down the CTRL key and then pressing the F key (CTRL+F). You can then enter your search word or phrase and cycle through the number of matches.

    Just food for thought. Thanks again for the overview.

  5. I wish FTDNA would worry more about changing their awful new tree function, which is practically unusable, than giving people yet another social media platform to keep up with.

    • Hi Paul,

      All people who subscribe to the blogs receive the same e-mails. This blog was just focused towards admins – but lots of other people have been asking how the new myGroups works, so I thought it would have appeal beyond just admins. Roberta

    • Bennett, it’s refreshing to know you read Roberta’s blogs. We love her style and learn a lot from her. Roberta is honest with us and “Tells it like it is.” It’s because of Roberta and people like her that I tell everyone I know to go with FTDNA if they must choose just one company to test with. Thank you for listening to her. She speaks for many of us.

  6. As an administrator of several projects, the one problem I have is that before, if someone went to join one my projects as:
    The “website” link used to be to WorldFamilies, where the results are hosted.
    From there they can view y-DNA results, the lineages of those tested, and a discussion of the results.

    Now the link goes to the FTDNA Page
    where the y-DNA results are not available, as I don’t like the way they are displayed on FTDNA, and most of participants prefer the way I have them listed at WorldFamilies. There are other problems with FTDNA in that many of earliest known ancestors are either blank and/or incorrect, and while the participants are aware of those, they never get around to correcting them, which would cause people looking at results there be mislead. I have linked the WorldFamilies pages under “links” but I wonder how many non-members will look at those to see that results **are** available. A link on the groups page under y-DNA results to either WorldFamilies (if housed there) or a different project page (as several projects I follow are) would be useful rather than as it now says, “Results pages are not currently enabled. Contact the group administrator for additional information.”

    Without a notification system, I’m not sure how much the message boards at the site will be used for my projects. It seems like a duplication of what I established years ago on Facebook
    (as one example) where not only can those who have tested talk, post pictures, etc., but so can descendants of those through the female lines that go back to common ancestors of those who have tested. The message boards will probably be useful in other projects, though.

      • Thanks. I see that they have now listed WorldFamilies on the page:
        which is progress, but the WorldFamilies link goes to the discussion page, which I would think is a strange link, rather than the main page of the project.

        The “DNA Results” page above goes to:
        “Are you a member of the Short project?
        Log in now to view the DNA results”

        Many new people are probably not familiar with WorldFamilies, and may not go there, and when they click on DNA results and get the above message, they might think that all the results are private, which is not what I want portrayed. Hopefully they will put the WorldFamilies y-DNA results link under the “DNA Results.”

    • Rick, I agree with much of what you said. I’m grateful Robert let us know that Terry is working with FTDNA on this to get WorldFamilies issue resolved. We need both WorldFamilies AND FTDNA’s new page. The more exposure we have the more people we will attract. I personally prefer FTDNA’s new groups page as my Primary and WorldFamilies as Secondary. I want the social media page up front so we can have the interaction.

      It’s already getting the desired result. And Roberta, you said you “want the discussions to be viewable by project members only.” I’m glad FTDNA gives us a choice. I prefer public posts for our group. That’s the way it has always been at Sure, we have to deal with SPAM and such but that’s the price we pay for publicity.

    • I don’t know when the 24 hours stops and starts, so if you are interested use it right away. And yes, as far as I know, they are good for anything within the range of what the coupon says.

    • If you are in a project that has converted to the new format, and your administrator is posting coupons, they are discounts off of products or upgrades. I think today’s in one of my projects was $10 off of any order.

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