Ancestry Update!!!

Ancestry Update

The long-anticipated Ancestry matching update occurred sometime late this morning.

Ancestry provides links in their announcement blurb, shown above, for “learn more.”  Be sure to click on that link, but perhaps more important is the “tell us what you think link.”  Don’t miss that opportunity to ask for a chromosome browser.  Take some time to evaluate their update, and do tell them what you think.

I’ll be downloading my matches later for a more precise analysis, but here’s what has happened at first glance.

At First Glance

Previously, I had 226 leaf hints.  Leaf hints are people whose DNA you match and who have a common ancestor in their tree with you.  Now I have 254, a gain of 28 new matches.  As far as I’m concerned, these matches are the most useful part of the Ancestry product. So I’m very pleased.  In addition, some of the old matches may be gone and some new ones may take their place.  So I may actually have more new matches than 28.

My closest “new match” as a result of the rerun is in the 4th to 6th cousin range.  Please note that your matches that are new because of this change are NOT noted with a blue dot as normal “new matches.”  So I hope you starred or noted your old matches, because that is the only way you can tell who is a new match as a result of the rerun.

Previously I had 436 4th cousins or closer.  Now I have 487.  I expected this to drop as their algorithm became more restrictive, but it didn’t.  I’ll be anxious to see who remained at a 4th cousin and who got shifted or added, and if their estimates are more or less accurate.

Lastly, I previously had 191 pages of matches, at 50 matches a page, for about 9550 total matches. Today, I have 221 pages of matches, at 50 matches a page, for about 11,050 total matches.

Working With Ancestry Matches

Truthfully, the only Ancestry matches I really work with are three kinds of matches:

  • leaf matches because we share DNA and a common ancestor is our tree
  • close matches because I can often figure out our link, even with a small amount of information
  • shared matches – because when you know who else you and your match share DNA with, you can sometimes figure out the connection through that information

Leaf matches and close matches are on your main match page of course, but the shared matches are on the page after you click on “View Match” with an individual.  Ancestry only shows shared matches for high confidence matches, so you won’t have them for everyone.

shared matches update

I find this to be the most productive strategy for working with Ancestry matches for me, given that they don’t have a chromosome browser.  I always hope my matches will download to GedMatch, of course, or to Family Tree DNA, or better yet, both.

In Summary

Personally, I’m excited to have more leaf matches.  I’m disappointed about losing 4 circles.  We knew it would be a mixed bag.  In this case, I think I’m more excited than disappointed because I recorded the circles, but I don’t know who resides in the new leaf matches and I can’t wait to find out.  That’s all new information!!!  And 28 new leaf matches in one day is a bonanza!

Please share your experience in the comments!



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49 thoughts on “Ancestry Update!!!

  1. I have 10 kits and they all seem to have gained a lot of 4th cousin matches and many new matches in total. I do note that they are saying there is an issue with their hint system. I’ve also noted that a number of the matches are from my Mennonite group (Friesen, Jansen, Esau, Dyck) so I’ll likely never figure out that connection. Overall, I’m excited about the changes.

    In addition to the chromosome browser, it would be nice to see all the shared matches, 5-8th cousins included with the sharing option. When you have a lot of kits, I may match at 4th cousin but another cousin will match outside of the range.

  2. I lost one circle but I only matched one person in that one and just barely. Got several new shaky leaves and I am very pleased with the changes. I answered their questionnaire. I’d love to see the chromosomes too but can live with these changes!

  3. I lost half my shared ancestors, and more than half my circles. So did my Mother. I’m so bummed!

  4. My 4th cousins dropped, from 72 to 63; which doesn’t alarm me. What confuses me is that two of those remaining 4th cousins were previously rated VERY HIGH matches. Now they are both rated GOOD, but the size of the match actually increased!

    Match A went from 2 segments, 18.6 cM to 2 segment, 28.9 cM. Match B went from 3 segments 21 cM to 4 segments, 24.6 cM. So why did they drop in confidence rating? (By the way, they are each documented 4th cousins to me, although that doesn’t actually matter here.) I suppose I should read the updated White Paper and see if there’s an explanation there?

  5. Roberta, I lost some matches with over 20 cm share from my old list, and some were in my Shared Ancestor Hints as well. I went from 169 to 170 shared ancestor hints, but several of the 170 or new so I know I have lost several of the 169 I had. Color me NOT HAPPY.
    The “expired match” file I downloaded contains notes. In my notes I had recorded cM info for many of my matches. In all the expired match file contains 1496 matches that I lost. I think I had all of my matches starred. So all of the ones I lost should be there.

  6. I was so excited after reading this that I hurried and logged on to Ancestry. It’s been a long dry spell with no new matches. I have two new leaf matches (225 to 227) and 3 new 4th cousin matches (504 to 507), no changes in NADs or circles. Now I’m bummed! Why did you get so many … and I got so few :-(.

  7. Disaster! I only had 14 leaf matches to begin with. Now I only have three and they are cousins that I already know personally. As it stands now, Ancestry would have been of no use at all to me in my effort to trace my Lucas family line. Thank God they didn’t ruin their service until after I solved the mystery.

  8. My third cousins – which were my closest ones – dropped significantly to four. Once of which is a known third cousin who tested unbeknownst to me. I consider this drop in matches a good thing overall.

  9. I went from 30 circles to 19, and I know the ones I lost are ancestors. I have noticed several people who are my second cousins have been bumped to third cousin status, and those are incorrect. I am not impressed. I also asked for a chromosome browser.

  10. I didn’t lose or gain that many, but my maternal aunt and one of my maternal cousins I have tested hit the jackpot. The most exciting part for me is that half of their new shaky leaf hints are on a tentative line that may be behind a brick wall. They are 5th-8th cousins matches, as I would expect them to be. Both the aunt and cousin gained a lot of 4th cousin matches as well. And for all of the tests I manage seem to be right on target for the closer matches, i.e. a first cousin once removed is listed as a 1st-2nd cousin. So with what I’ve had time to look at so far I’m very pleased.

  11. Even though I logically understand it, it still stings a bit to see a second cousin appear as a third, and a second cousin once removed appear as a fourth.

    It seems most people gained 4th cousins, but I’ve lost 18. For my ex, he’s lost 2 4th cousins. What are the likely reasons some people gained (which seem to be most other people), and others like me lost?

  12. I still have no circles or shaky leafs, and my 4th cousins & closer gained one to 41. My 2 estimated 2nd cousins are now 3rd, which is probably more realistic. I did have 16 expired matches so I’m glad to have that list.

  13. My mother’s double first cousin showed up in our matches! So excited! They are not only double first cousins but their grandfathers were identical twins so it’s almost like having one of her siblings test.

    I lost six of my 78 DNA Circles. I now have 638 Shared Ancestor Hints and 1025 4th cousins or closer. Not sure how many I had before but know that both of these increased quite a bit.

  14. I received 249 new matches last night but none of them were leaf hint matches. I downloaded my list of expired matches. There were 92 of them, all 5th to 8th cousins but one, which was a 4th to 6th. About 30 of those were leaf hint matches. The saddest thing for me as a result of the change was losing so many DNA circles. I was in 44 DNA circles yesterday. I lost 15 of them, gained 3 of them, and now have 32. My brother, whose test I manage, also lost the same DNA circles I did. I have a second cousin, a second cousin once removed, and a third cousin, all of whom I know personally, who were in 7 of my lost DNA circles with me and my brother. I have view access to all of their matches and when I looked, all 3 of them are still in these 7 circles, but my brother and I have fallen out. 🙁

    • I also just noticed that my paternal second cousin is now considered a third cousin. She was previously shown as a second cousin and is actually a second cousin.

  15. I checked my new top 50 and some names were promoted. The most extreme was old #239 is now #38. No major demotions that I could see. I had downloaded the DNAGedcom matching files last week, and will do so again soon, so I’m happy to have more accurate data and more Shared Matches.

  16. I lost 3 matches, but I knew that the only connection was a similarity of names, not related. I am pleased that 3 circles were added that I can prove with genealogy. As time goes on, I will check on all those other matches. I did complain last week about FTM and they responded that the program has been sold. Hope they will support it.

  17. I’m still evaluating the updates and that will take some time since I have 132 new PAGES of matches…most distant although there are 20 new 4th cousins. That is all well and good but a couple of my legit circles are gone…I’ll have to figure that one out (the missing circles are connected…a husband and wife). My top concern though is for a known 2nd cousin once removed…we are positive of this match and positive we have no additional DNA matching locations other than our above relationship.This cousin is the grandson of my great-grandfather’s younger brother. Before the update AncestryDNA said we were 4th cousins with an extremely high probability. We shared 2 segments totaling 67 cM. After the update we now share 2 segments but they only total 42 cM. Where did the other 25 cM go? Over on GEDMatch using a threshold of 5 cM (which I believe is the threshold AncestryDNA uses) we share 2 segments totaling 87 cM. Again, why the difference and why is AncestryDNA abbreviating the segments?

    • This must be a mistake in their algorithm, they promise more dna detecting but it is worst, I have around 10 real third cousin, now only 2 are detected like 3rd cousin, 5 like 4rd cousins and the other distant cousins. The most of them have less common Dna, all the other sites gedmatch-FtDna-23andme have better a Dna detector algorithm and they are giving more accurate relationship prediction. But that is not all they are having problems with statistics a well known second cousin of mine is predicted like 4-6 cousin of my daughter, In gedmatch they have 6 segments with 98Cm but Ancestry detected 5 segments and 66 Cm, but even detecting less Dna, what statistics they have?, it is a lot of more likely 5 segments and 66 Cm in a 3-4 relationship than a 4-6 relationship.

      • I agree McNeil. I find it impossible to believe that a company who can’t even figure out how to code a simple chromosome browser could be correct in their estimates while everyone else is wrong. When evaluating the same data, FTDNA, 23anMe and GEDMatch all come within one or two cMs. Ancestry is wildly off. Sometimes it appears that they are ignoring or missing all the little segments for the totals but ofttimes the big segments are way off as well. I am thinking they need to hire smarter scientists.

  18. What’s all that stuff at the top of the page with no explanation of how to use it? Scan, Resume Scan, Retry Skipped Matches, etc. Where are the instructions to go with the categories?

  19. Roberta, I hope I understood your comment: I can filter out and isolate my NEW matches by clicking on New which is on the header. It is between Hints and Starred. This is on your match page: Ancestry DNA Results for XYZ.

    • The new matched you received because of this rerun are not shown with the blue dot, at least mind aren’t. The only way I could tell those new matches is because they were not started and I had started the rest.

  20. I only lost 3 matches and 1 DNA circle which only had a few members anyway.

    The cM measurements and segment number might be more accurate now. I share 15 cM on one segment with a cousin at GEDMatch. With the same cousin, I share 11 cM at

    My only wish now is that they make a chromosome browser available or at least make it possible to download segment data (chromosome number, start position, stop position, size in cM) for our matches.

  21. @Shirley, I believe what you are seeing is part of the ancestry chrome extension. Did you install it?

  22. A lot of more unaccurate the relationship prediction, pretty disappointing, from my several test on charge with at least 40 real third cousins relationship only the 10% is suggested like 3rd cousin the most of them are suggested 4-6 cousin or distant. The real 4rd cousin only the 35% is in the 4-6 range and around 40% are suggested distant, and 1/4 no detected at all. To have the “sharing with” option limited to “ancestry detected 4rd cousin” has not sense at all because they are failing detecting them.

  23. I added about 4 leaves and honestly don’t pay enough attention to know how many total I gained or lost. Since almost all my new matches are no tree or locked trees, I don’t waste a lot of time on them. I lost about 5 Circles but know at least one was bogus so the rest may have been as well. I also lost a couple of Bad NADS – good riddance. .

    One of the new shared ancestors was Esbjörn Sunesson. Unusual enough name you’d think they’d have noticed the match before. [Special blessing for my Swedish ancestors who didn’t names their sons Johan and Lars.]

    Overall a big yawn. Just stop playing with your silly inaccurate algorithms and give me the damn chromosome browser.

  24. I look forward to your detailed findings once you’ve had time to analyze the new version of Ancestry’s matching program.
    I’ve noticed that most folks are reporting that they didn’t lose many matches – but I wonder if the ‘numbers’ are misleading because Ancestry withheld two weeks worth of new matches. Some of those “new matches” are from recently completed tests vs. from the new matching program. It would be very interesting to see a detailed comparison of before and after, taking into account the newly completed tests vs new matching matches.

  25. Being out of the country with only my smartphone to use to access Ancestry, I haven’t had time to fully investigate and analyze. I lost 1 of my 17 shakey leaf matches. My known 2nd cousin is now a supposed 3rd cousin per Ancestry. On a positive note, my dad and I share 55 segments rather than 113. Still not 23 (or 22 without the X), but (hopefully) a move in the right direction.

  26. I lost 5 leaf matches, and 3 of them were my actual cousins that I knew! They were my third cousins, and I starred them and had information written down too. I starred every single match that I had, and I love over 100 of them. I have been a member of since 1999. I am so mad that I can’t even type anymore. I have cousins who were second cousins, and now they are 4th cousins? My cousin, Terry, is now my 4th cousin, and I know she is because I know her. I am just disgusted.

  27. I downloaded my expired DNA matches, and I have lost over 800 matches! I even lost my Hatridge cousin who I am related to for real. What is wrong with These people were actually my real true relatives, and I saved them. They are only going to be temporarily available? So now I can’t even put them back as matches. I am thinking if just leaving for good.

  28. Can/would someone provide the link to the “Learn More” that was in the Ancestry blurb in our results yesterday. I deleted it while reviewing my own results, thinking it would still be available when I started reviewing the other kits I have access to. Nope. Gone. ~poof~

  29. I lost16 matches and gained 39 matches. I lost 5 DNA circles and gained 6 DNA circles. The funny thing about the DNA circles were that they were all spouses to circles I still have. Go figure. All in all, very pleased with the results. I did not that on one prior match where we had one set of common ancestors in common, we now have two. I had recently determined the surname for my 3 x Great Grandmother and built her tree back. This was our 2nd set of common ancestors. Woo hoo!

  30. How many of us had DNA matches with shared hint leafs from trees that were inaccurate? I know I had close to a dozen, and if any of those disappeared, I’m not shedding any tears. In the big picture, I didn’t experience any frustrating or heartbreaking changes. I did get one new match that finally explains one of my connections to relatives of Mexican ethnicity. That was exciting to finally learn. Still wishing for Ancestry to activate the filter tools in the deleted matches. 🙁

  31. Thanks, Cuz, for this especially informative article. I’ve been using your strategy but forgot about the third, shared matches option. My observations on the recent change:
    1. Have to rescan all my kits in Google Chrome to get family matches. BIG DRAG. iMac is highjacked for hours.
    2. No circles lost or gained for me, but my mom, bro, and maternal 1st cousin picked up some more.
    4. Seems to be more leaf hints but while the Chrome extension is scanning, I use Safari, and it keeps crashing.
    3. I have a unknown female kit now appearing in my line up that I can’t remember ordering. No clues or ancestor matches that I recognize. Will look into my purchase history when computer eases up. Maybe I’m developing Alzheimers 😉

  32. Thank you Roberta. Maybe one day, although I doubt it, I will more clearly understand all of this.. Darrell Osborn(e). For some reason my GrGrGrandad and his brother dropped the “e” from our last name when they moved to Missouri.

  33. Why would the new leaf matches not have the blue dot? I got 16 new leaf hints and they all had the blue dot.

  34. Pingback: Ancestry Refines New Ancestor Discoveries (NADs) | DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy

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