Milestone 5000

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In our personal lives, we have milestones.  Some milestones we work towards and others happen, whether we do anything or not – like birthdays.

Some birthdays are considered milestone birthdays – like – when I was a kid – 16 – because it brought with it the freedom of driving.

On the night of April 19, 2015, sometime in the darkest hours of overnight (at least here in the US,) the blog reached a blogging milestone of sorts – 5000 subscribers.  And those are just the folks I know about.  Blogging management software tells us how many subscribers via e-mail, Facebook and Twitter we have, but it doesn’t tell us how many people are following us by RSS feeds.  I know there are quite a few, because one of the very first requests I received when I began the blog in July of 2012 was to set up the RSS feed subscription ability.

We also can’t tell how many times our article has been shared, reposted, tweeted and retweeted.

Bloggers using the WordPress platform have software that tells us how many page hits we receive, per day or per article, broken down in various ways.  Many people who subscribe via e-mail read the articles in their e-mail, so they don’t actually visit the page itself.  A normal day sees get about 10,000 page hits, so that’s in addition to e-mail subscribers.  A really popular or controversial article sends that off the charts.

The great irony is that when I started the blog, I wondered if even 100 people would be interested.  My real reason for creating the blog was so that I would have a public location to write about topics that I felt needed answers.  Additionally, I manage several projects at Family Tree DNA, and I wanted a way to provide information to project members about items such as sales and new features without having to send group e-mails to each project.  Why?  The Cumberland Gap projects have about 10,000 members between the Y and mtDNA groups, and sending that many messages with your e-mail address listed as the sender is a really good way to get your e-mail address blacklisted as a spammer. Blogging solves that problem, because I write it once and anyone who is interested can subscribe – and anyone who isn’t interested, isn’t bothered.

I started by taking the most common questions I received and writing the answer – one time – in the format of an article so that I can forever refer people to that article for the answer.  So you might say I started blogging in self-defense:)

From the beginning, I set up topic categories so that searching would be more effective.  (The blog is fully searchable.)  Categories are anything that might be a key word, like DNA types (Y, mitochondrial, autosomal), company names, or topics one might be searching for, like Native American, haplogroups or admixture.

What do you think the most viewed categories might be?

  • Autosomal
  • Family Tree DNA
  • Y DNA
  • 23andMe
  • Mitochondrial DNA
  • Admixture
  • Haplogroups
  • Native American

What are the most popular articles, over the entire timespan of the life of the blog?

Proving Native American Ancestry

Ethnicity Results – True or Not?

What is a Haplogroup?

Of course, these articles are older as well, so they have had more time to accumulate views.

I can tell you unequivocally that the article I refer people to the most to answer the question, “What kind of DNA test should I take?” is:

4 Kinds of DNA for Genetic Genealogy

I try to vary the types of articles from general interest to education to technical.  Previously, I wrote and published research articles in JOGG, but now I can publish just as effectively on my own blog, and write for a non-academic audience.

One of the really surprising things, to me, has been the popularity of my 52 Ancestors series.  I almost didn’t do this series.  I really didn’t think people would be terribly excited about reading about MY ancestors, even if they would also be ancestors to a few other people.  I was wrong.  People love stories.

I have written this series in my own voice – documenting the good, the bad and the ugly, warts and all – including the mistakes I’ve made, and I think I’ve made them all at least once.  Hopefully it will help someone else avoid those pitfalls.  I can’t begin to tell you how grateful I am for the many helpful suggestions I’ve received as a result of these articles.  Genealogists are overwhelmingly fantastic, sharing, people.

Every article in the series also ties to DNA, in some fashion.  How I’ve used it, how it could be used if I could find a proper test candidate, or why it can’t be used.  Case studies make great examples.  Twice now, I’ve had people reply and have found a suitable DNA candidate to represent an ancestral line.  So yes, these articles also serve as “cousin bait.”

I want to thank all 5000 of you e-mail subscribers plus the unknown number of RSS subscribers and everyone who reads this blog forwarded, reposted, retweeted or reblogged.  I hope you all enjoy reading the articles as much as I enjoy writing them.

Please feel free to share these articles with others so that we can continue to educate people about genetic genealogy.  There are still far more people out there that haven’t tested, than have.  Together, we can illustrate how genetic genealogy is a game changer – and hopefully whittle that number of genealogists who haven’t tested to zero.

Overly optimistic?  Possibly.  But hey, you have to have goals or you can’t achieve milestones!



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31 thoughts on “Milestone 5000

  1. I might be personally responsible for a few of those subscribers–I recommend your blog to anyone with an interest in–or questions about–genetic genealogy! Congratulations and please keep it going. Love the 52 Ancestors, too. Your descendants are one lucky bunch of folks to have this information provided for them. I’ve learned SO much from reading your blog. Thank you!

  2. Roberta, do you use or recommend Gedmatch? As a part of a small group of Holt researchers trying to find our 1750’s ancestress, we have turned to DNA to hopefully help in our quest since wills, probates, marriage docs, are not to be found. Due to a lack of land records we also have been greatly hindered in looking for possible candidates. I would love your perspective on Gedmatch and it’s utility in genealogy.

    • I do recommend and utilize GedMatch. It’s especially useful in 3 circumstances. 1. When people have tested at different companies. 2. When you want to be in control of the level cM matching and 3. When you want to utilize specialized tools offered by GedMatch not offered elsewhere – like Lazarus or the triangulation tools.

  3. Congratulations Roberta. I could not have done what I am doing with genetic genealogy and paper trail genealogy without what I have learned from your blogs for the last several years. Onward there is still so much to learn. Betty McGuire

  4. I forward your blog posts, too. I had not planned to get involved in DNA; far too confusing and I hate science and math but I have some really elusive ancestors, which brother married who and lived where? So now I think I will stick my toe in the water. It’s the only way to move past the brick wall I’m at now.

  5. Yes, thank you for all you do; and your stance on lower than threshold (smaller segments) which can be used as support. A couple of my known surnames/cousins, I was not matching, until I slightly lowered the threshold.

      • I hope so because maybe if you can knock your MOORE wall down the domino effect will topple my Moore wall as well! KEEP CHIPPING! If we are not some type of cousins I will be surprised. Your Estes folks keep popping up in the same areas as 3 of my paternal linages. I love reading the 52 Ancestors. It really makes the people we are searching for come alive and helps bring out the facts that even though it was a couple of hundred years ago they were more like us than they were different. Same motovitations, same dream, just different stages.

  6. Roberta, I have been following your blog for several months on Feedly (RSS reader). I very much enjoy the tutorials and have learned a lot. My favorite posts are about your ancestors in the Appalachians; most of mine are from eastern KY and VA, NC, TN and WV. I have also seen your name on DNA matches, distant relatives. I look forward to many more stories and pictures about your ancestors. Thank you.

  7. Roberta,

    Congratulations on the success of your DNAeXplained blog, and thank you for your generous contributions to the genetic genealogy community.

    Lee Ramsey

  8. Congratulations and thank you Roberta! Yours is my favourite DNA blog on the net. Very readable, personable and informative! I always read it, even when I am exceptionally busy, unlike some others that get the delete button when I am pressed for time.

  9. Congratulations on a most remarkable blog. As one who through genetic genealogy discovered unknown family in and around the Cumberland Gap, I look forward to each of your posts. The beautiful pictures, colorful stories, and the ability to make a complex subject more understandable keep bringing me back. Keep up the good work.


  10. Congratulations, Roberta. I am always amazed at how quickly you can turn around the next blog. It would take me ten times as long to put one together, especially with the photos and charts you include. 🙂 Would you mind sharing which projects you manage at FTDNA? Thanks! Melinda

    • I am only a co-admin on many of these. Haplogroup projects A2, A4, C-P39, E1b1a-M2, X2b4. American Indian, Ancient DNA, Cherokee, Cumberland Gap Y and mtDNA, Lost Colony Y and family, Melungeon Y, mtDNA and family, North Carolina Native, Tuscarora. Surname projects – Bolton, Claxton, Crumley, Dobbkins, Elks (this one needs to be adopted), Estes, Ferverda, Harrell, Kirsch, Kobel-Cobel, Kvochick, Lore, Miller-Brethren, Muncy, Raparlie, Speaks, Vannoy, Younger.

  11. I’m one of your RSS feed subscribers. I discovered your blog a couple of months ago, when I was deciding which DNA test to do. I’ve gone back and read many of your older posts, which really helped my understanding of DNA testing. Congrats on your milestone, and thanks for such a great blog.

  12. Congratulations Roberta. I enjoy your informative blogs and the 52 Ancestors series; I am inspired and am starting to write my own series. I was also inspired to go and do an autosomal interpretation course mentioned in your blog (triangulation etc) to find those hidden cousins and break through some brick walls. I have almost finished the course (but the interpretation will go as new results come through) and have gained an enormous amount of understanding in what tools can be used to further the search.
    Thank you so much for your blogs and the knowledge & enthusiasm you bring to the subject..

  13. Congrats Roberta,

    Your blog is one of my favorites. You have an appealing writing style and just know how to make your subject matter interesting.

    I’m one of the many RSS’ers too.

  14. Congratulations! Due to your posts, and how well you explain things, ( I kept sending your posts to my parents — both taught science & so could understand when explained well) I’ve finally convinced my parents to “spit into a tube”, and I guess I’ll take the plunge at the same time. I recommend your blog frequently to anyone interested or trying to decide whether to be interested.

    My parents lived for over a decade in Middlesboro KY (Dad was with the schools & occasionally taught at Lincoln Memorial U) and Mom taught in Pineville KY, so I visited the area a lot. It’s a beautiful area you live in.

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

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