Ancestry Update – A More In Depth Look – Losses and Gains

Ancestry told us that the average client would lose approximately one circle, would have matches shift from closer to further in relationship distance, would lose some matches and gain others. The net effect should be, for most people, that they would have a net gain of matches in total.  We know, of course that those are averages from testing their client base – and averages are just that – taking in both ends of the spectrum.

The actual results have been quite interesting, and they have been all over the map.

Some people gained total matches, some lost as many as half. The person I felt the worst for though, was the person who said they only had one match, and lost that one.

On April 20th, I used the tool to download all of my ancestry matches.

Today, I utilized that same tool to download my new matches.

This chart shows the difference in my totals between April 23rd and today, May 4th.

ancestry loss gain

Just looking at totals, I gained 1,592 matches, but in reality, that’s not the whole story, because I lost 1412 matches and gained 3004.

In terms of circles, in net, I lost 4, but I actually lost 6 and gained two.

But all of those darned Bad NADs that I wish would go away are still ever-present.

I checked my first couple pages of matches and three individuals have shifted from a 3rd to 4th cousin to a 4th to 6th cousin.  In two cases, that was accurate, but in the third case, it was not, they are actually a 2nd cousin once removed. Generally, I ignore these estimates anyway unless they are 3rd cousin or closer.

In terms of leaf matches, which indicate both a DNA and an ancestor match, I lost 16 but gained 43 for a net change of 17%. My closest new match was in the 5th to 8th cousin range, which I expected.

All 16 of my leaf matches that I lost were also in the 5th to 8th cousin range. Unfortunately, one field not provided by Ancestry’s deleted match download is the shared cMs.  Fortunately, if I want that information, it is available in the files.

I’m pleased with my new leaf matches, but very unhappy about losing those 16. Our DNA matched and a common ancestor had been identified.  I surely wish Ancestry had found a way to preserve leaf matches for people in this update/upgrade process.

I think the most disappointing part of this entire experience has been the number of private trees belonging to the new people I have a leaf match with, meaning we share DNA and a common ancestor in our tree. Because their tree is private, I can’t see our common ancestor – but because my tree is public, they can see the common ancestor.  I send messages to all private matches, asking the name of our common ancestor, and very few answer.  Rather unfair I think and does nothing to encourage public trees.

The Net-Net

I have never been a fan of Timber and I’m not convinced this change is for the better in terms of matches and losses. In terms of the actual science behind the scenes, I’m glad that Ancestry is now comparing actual SNP values and not just blocks.  I think all vendors should take steps to improve their science.

Having said that, no matter how improved the science, when you take matches away from people, especially matches with proven common ancestors, people feel a loss, some a grievous loss. One woman who lost half of her leaf matches says she feels like she has been beheaded.

I wish Ancestry would have handled this change in a way that didn’t cause people to incur losses. For example, leaving the current matches and only using the new matching routine on the new matches.

They could also have automatically created a file with all of your lost matches, which would have eliminated the rush to star and note your matches that you wanted to be able to preserve in some fashion.

Had the losses not occurred, I know that people would be universally ecstatic to have new matches. In other words, this could have been a very positive experience.  I hope Ancestry will take this opportunity to revisit how they handle updates.  This is the second experience that Ancestry’s customers have had with incurring match loses – and while Ancestry may consider this a “good thing” and an improvement, it’s clear that clients with losses do not.  It’s very difficult to be happy or positive about losses, even if you do receive new matches in the bargain.

I don’t believe that the matches removed were “wrong.” In some cases, those same people have downloaded to Family Tree DNA or GedMatch, shown larger segments (because of Timber) and triangulated with other people from the same ancestral line.  They are however, now below Ancestry’s new thresholds either due to a threshold shift or an algorithm difference.

Ancestry also has to do something to deal with the fact that some people have an unmanageable number of matches. As their data base grows, so will this challenge.  We need good matches that match to trees – that’s the holy grail at Ancestry.  Anything Ancestry can do to encourage people to add trees and make them public would be a huge public service.

Every vendor has to set a threshold of some type and they all do their best to eliminate matches that may be marginal or identical by chance. With any vendor, you’re going to miss some valid matches.  The difference is, I think, that other vendors haven’t taken existing matches away from clients, especially not existing matches with an identified common ancestor.

I’m ecstatic with my 43 new leaf matches. I’m not pleased to lose 25% of my Circles and I’m not pleased to lose my 16 existing leaf matches.  In my case, I didn’t incur a large loss or gain, although I lost far more Circles than I expected, but some people weren’t so fortunate.  I feel that the pieces I lost, meaning Circles and leaf matches, are more important than that pieces I gained in terms gaining total matches.  Those leaf matches are like gold and the matches without common ancestors in trees, no trees or private trees are not useful and truthfully, I don’t care how many of those I have unless they are 3rd cousin or closer.

So, really, I’m not dramatically happy or unhappy with the outcome, although the gain doesn’t make up for what was lost that was valuable.

I am very disappointed in the way this event was handled. This really could have been a universally positive experience.  Taking things away from people that they value so closely is just bad juju.  I have a mental picture of someone trying to take a favorite toy from a child, promising them something better.  It will never happen without a lot of screaming and crying – because they love and cherish their toy.  For the most part people don’t care about the “better science” or the new toy, but they do care a lot about their matches that they’ve been working on and with.

My suggestions for Ancestry for a more positive experience would be:

  • Don’t take leaf matches away from people
  • Make updates a positive experience without loss
  • If loss must occur, make it as painless as possible, perhaps by only taking distant matches without notes, leaf matches and without removing Circles
  • If loss must occur, make a file for the clients without them having to star or note the matches they want to keep
  • Create a more equitable balance so that people who don’t have public trees can’t see the common ancestors either. It’s unfair that they can and the people who share their trees cannot.  If they make their tree public, then both people can see the common ancestor.  Maybe an option to “show tree to DNA matches only” but not make the tree universally public would be a good middle ground.

The good news is that most people do have some new matches and even though some of our old matches are no longer shown as matches, we do have that information. Perhaps the matches who disappeared will download to Family Tree DNA and/or GedMatch and we can continue our genetic research from there.

I’m going to focus on the good news and the positive, so I’m off to check my 43 new leaf matches and see if I can find any new clues. Surely there has to be a gold nugget hidden in there someplace!!



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68 thoughts on “Ancestry Update – A More In Depth Look – Losses and Gains

    • In my Feedback, I actually commented that Ancestry is archaic compared to other testing companies because they do not provide tools for comparing chromosomes and segments. I also commented that they should not be hiding our data from us. Many people don’t even know how to find the cm info for their matches on Ancestry. Why does it take an extra click to see it?
      Often I copy and paste it into my notes so it is visible without an extra click.. So when I downloaded the expired matches file I could see the cm amount for many of my matches.

    • Now more than ever. At this point, I’m up to over 16,000 matches. Without the matching segment details I need, the vast majority of those matches are completely useless to me.

  1. Thanks Roberta….So…if you lost a circle match does that mean that that ancestor was really not your ancestor ? I guess i don’t understand why circle and leaf matches disappear if there is DNA and a tree ??

      • I went from 29 down to 15 circles. My leaf hints went from 199/200 to 108 with a couple of new ones added. They’re “lost” ones are not on my expired matches list (I had notes on all of them) and when I bring up a list through the notes search (Snavely tool) it appears that they are all there, indicated that leaf hints is just not working correctly.

  2. Oh dear! Roberta, what does this mean for those of us who have just purchased ancestrydna kits (i can now see why they had a sale) and who have not sent them in? Does this mean we are not going to feel any pain? Having tested at 23 and ftdna 3 years ago, your description of ancestrydna’s working matches, circles, etc etc…sounds horrible. I can honestly say that i wish i had never ordered the kits. As an adoptee searching for 60 years it seemed like a good idea at the time. I will be in my grave before i even figure out ancestry’s procedures. As a subscriber to, i am so frustrated by hundreds of shaky leaves not yet uncovered. In one instance, i had 46 shaky leaves for one person and 42 of them were either photos, flags, crests or whatever and i cant sort them out to just look at the 4 records and ignore the rest. Also, since i sent two of the kits to Canada, they want to send them back to me after spitting (sorry) so i can return them for testing and continue to manage the results. So do i wait until they come back to me to enter the info in my computer? Thanks

      • Lis also, a great Facebook group “DNA Detectives” are search angels who help adoptees find there BP. There is a 20/20 segment on this friday May 6, 2016 in the US with the Admin of that group helping find the BM of 3 children that were abandoned within years of each other and blocks from each other…turns out their Mother was one and the same.
        Best of luck to you Lois, but PLEASE search out the Facebook group…they are so willing to help.

        Roberta thank you for the detailed and informative post. I have my first 3 Ancestry kits processing (always used FTDNA) so I will not feel the pain. Just waiting to confirm anothers Bio-parent on the widely used Ancestry database! But GedMatch is my site of preference…I will still transfer data to this site. I wish Ancestry would (even with charge) allow you to download DNA data to their site. (at one time you could download manually YDNA data–I have, but its useless)

  3. Some of my “new” leaf matches are people that Ancestry took away in the first purge, LOL. Some of my “new” leaf matches already match others in my family group. Most of them link to 6th and 7th Great Grand Parents who we already had matches for. Since our family tree is mostly complete back that far, those 5th-8th cousins actually add some information, but I’ve only checked 3 of us so far. I’m using the Chrome browser extensions plus Gedmatch. I’ve tried Genome Mate and and have some tests at FTDNA, but so far Ancestry, with all its faults, has provided the most matches with information. I’m about to message all the Green Leaf people with private trees to ask them to share match information, I’ll use a simple copy/paste question. So far, so good. Thanks for all your help, Roberta!

  4. I did not spent a whole lot of time analyzing my matches and such. I just made sure all my leaf matches were starred and noted – but I only have like 30 of those so I didn’t lose any. I also didn’t gain but a few new ones. I only had one circle and it stayed there. I’m getting the impression that this affects people with a lot of colonial American ancestors the most. I probably have more recent immigrant lines than colonial lines so I don’t get as many matches to sort through.

  5. I noticed that this ICW or shared matches is including good relationships. I am not sure if it is all good or if the ones now good were previously high. I do hope that the ICW feature includes all high and good matches. That would be an improvement

  6. I agree with making a file to download of matches lost instead of starring everything. I use the stars for something else and did not do this. I decided it was too much work and did not want to screw up what I had already marked.

    I am not sure I like the idea about having matches that are based on the old system and then matches based on the new algorithm. That may be difficult for ancestry to do, not sure. But I would rather Ancestry continue to improve their algorithm. Perhaps a replacement for Timber will be designed and Ancestry could use that in the future.

  7. I lost all of my leaf matches (over 100) but there was a note from Ancestry that suggests that this happened to “a small number” of people but that it would be remedied shortly. I’ll take them at their word – for a couple weeks.

    • Sadly I went from 191 leaf matches down to 126. 24 of those 126 are new matches, so I lost a total of 89 of my pre-change leaf matches – that’s 46%!!
      Way too many losses for comfort.

      I’m not sure if I fall into the “small number” category that will have their matches fixed, but rather doubt it.

  8. Great post, Roberta!

    I had exactly the same reaction to this – kind of a plus that got counter-balanced by the minus. In my wife’s case she lost 624 more matches than she gained. I suppose, since she gained about 2150 matches (and lost about 2800) and I have all her old matches, trees and ICWs saved with the DNAgedcom client, I can say we now have 16000 matches to work on instead of the 14000 we had before. But it’s not quite the same when people drop out of a circle we were trying to grow.

    The main feeling I had, though, was irritation that Ancestry continues to treat us in a condescending way. “Don’t worry – this will be better for you. We know best – our DNA scientists know more about this than anyone else. If you lose anything, it won’t be important. Trust us!” This attitude is behind their not giving us our segment information and it pervades most of their roll-outs. Part of my feedback to them was, if you aren’t going to give me my segment data, then how can I trust that your “New Science” is any good? Without segments, I would rather you gave me more false matches because at least then I could try to get more people to copy their raw data to GEDMATCH so I could do my own analysis.

    Don’t get me wrong. I very much value the services I purchase from Ancestry and there are a lot of good things to say about them. But Ancestry is not as responsive to their customers as they should be. And they certainly don’t seem to have any respect for the leading genetic genealogists out there or else they would have put up a chromosome browser long ago. As long as they continue to refuse to do so, they are a “black box” and we can’t trust them fully.

  9. Roberta, could you please provide more explanation for the second sentence in the following quote: “Unfortunately, one field not provided by Ancestry’s deleted match download is the shared cMs. Fortunately, if I want that information, it is available in the files.” What are files”–is this an AncestryDNA feature? I do my serious DNA genealogy on the FTDNA site, as I have sponsored 30+ family members’ tests with FTDNA and only myself on AncestryDNA (enjoying the shaky leaf hints, while wishing for a chromosome browser). I have started uploading data to, as that is where many AncestryDNA subscribers go to get the scientific data necessary to analyze their data scientifically. I did not take steps to preserve any AncestryDNA data/matches etc as I felt any tightening up that AncestryDNA might do could eliminate IBS results (i.e., short-segment matches that are not really matches). Thanks.

    • is a tool that will download your ancestry matches and their information. If you didn’t run it before the update, then the deleted records won’t be there. Total matching cM is one of the fields ancestry provides but they did not include that in the deleted records file.

  10. Raise your hand if you think ancestry cares what you think. Raise both hands if you think they will run the company for the benefit of their customers. Stand up if you think they are running it for their own benefit and don’t give a rat’s patoot whether you are happy with it or not.

  11. I did get quite a few new fourth cousin matches and I only lost 4 matches that I was working with. Good but thing for me is communication. This was very poorly handled and I responded accordingly in the feedback section. Thank goodness we have you Roberta to help us along!

  12. I agree with the sentiment regarding private/versus public trees. I have a basic-four generation tree attached to my DNA at Ancestry. One of my matches with a shared ancestor has a private tree. We could connect our shared DNA a couple of ways. He has informed me where he believes we connect but I’d like to see that myself. So many people new to genealogy/DNA testing do not have trees or they are private while mine is open for them to view. I don’t mind sharing information but it should be mutual. I toy with the idea of making mine private. That decision might be easier if I knew people could/would contact me. But I’ve been trying to invite a match to a speculative tree I have private for a couple of months and she has never received an invite via Ancestry. So I keep my tree open to matches and hope someday that new match will unlock their tree for me to view our shared history. Because it’s never been as easy as Ancestry has advertised it to be and it truly takes a village to make sense of some of our matches.

    • Re private or public trees, as an adoptee searching and creating trees that may or may not lead to a common ancestor, some of us do not want to publish speculative info and data that could mislead ppl. There are enough ppl out there who cant and dont read the details they are adding that are plain mistakes and ignorance… that i mean they dont figure out if the data they add to trees makes any sense based on the person already posted in the tree for example birth dates of children showing they were born before their mothers.

      • Yes, do provide feedback to ancestry. There are deferent rules for circles that have never been made public. This could be a bug or you could somehow now be outside the rules for circles. Did your cMs drop in terms of mstches to circle members? You must match at least 2 people.

  13. The new so called improvements decreased my sad few matches even more- I’m very dissapointed with these results. Reading threads, posts, and comments, it seems the more matches you had the better the outcome.

  14. My known 2C1R is now a 4-6th. Mostly I have found that ancestry was shooting for a further cousin relationship already. FTDNA is closer on target there. My shakey leafs for the MOST part are so Shakey or Shady that I have stopped looking at them. The wonderful thing is I have real cousins out there, even thouh most won’t answer in house mail or share e-mail or download to the ones that have downloaded to– seam hard to place or figure out. I have two kits yet to be posted at ancestry and at the moment it is all faintly disgusting.I guess the problem with these trees is people want to see the trees but not communicate with the matches. Keep to your own little cell here. Usually when you share information there is always something to share that wasn’t spelled out on the tree.
    I have been spending a good part of my day back to searching for information and making studys as I used to do to stay grounded.
    One thing that I did do and am happy about is when I find a match at ancestry, I do have a readible tree to veiw. FTDNA have improved their trees a little, but the simple trees at ancestry are much easier to quicly read, less time consuiming. When I found a match, then I put it in a cousin gedcom with information from the match in the source notes, so those I still have. This is not in my real tree, but a work and prove tree.
    I do like the search tool at ancestry, where I can pull up all the trees that list a surname. Now that is interesting reading.

  15. I have been a member of the Bryan Surname Project at Family Tree DNA for many years. Its President, Bennett Greenspan, is fantastic. The people there are very knowledgeable. FTDNA was in the DNA business first and I respect the work they do. One of the best resources I ever had was free of charge through my local library (Horry County, SC). It was Heritage Quest. Somehow took over Heritage Quest or merged the site with, and now I am unable to access freely and easily the thousands of old books that used to be right at my fingertips from my computer. I think has a way of always making things that once were free to be no longer free, or no longer easily accessible. I am still planning on contacting about Heritage Quest because it is an invaluable resource.

  16. I think it would have been nice to flag the matches that were going to be lost. They could have grayed them out for 10 days or two weeks before deleting them. Let people know which matches were destined for the virtual shredder. Oh well, another thing that would have happened if I ruled the world. Or AncestryDNA.

    Many of your lost matches were probably between 5.0 and 6.0 as the new minimum has bumped up by one centiMorgan.

    And I have not checked this out, but I suspect that many of the lost matches will now show up as Non-Matches in your DNA Circles or (Bad) NADs.

    And some of the missing Circles will probably return in the future as new people and matches add to them, once again creating the minimum thresholds to include you in a Circle.

  17. It feels like the same kind of arrogance I experience with my cable internet company – “we’re the biggest game in town, so we don’t have to care”. Their scientist think we’re incapable of comprehending their explanations so they just do as they please.

  18. I was one who got a lot of new matches and new ancestry hints. My 4th cousins are better went from 740 to almost 970! My closest match changed from 2nd cousin to 3rd cousin but that was correct.

    I lost only a few starred matches (I had starred everyone 4th cousin or better). What did startle me was that I lost 2 matches that I shared over 20 cM with and one match that I shared 19cM with. That surprised me a lot and I still don’t quite understand that.

  19. I made a suggestion a long time ago that so far has been ignored to allow people with private trees to opt to make them private but accessible publicly to DNA matches. That might ease the fears of those with private trees that they would only be accessible to matches.

    • If you started or noted the match, ancestry was supposed to preserve that data for you in a file if the match was lost, which they did. There are two third party tools which also download matches. Jeff Snaveley’s plugin which I don’t use because it’s a chrome plugin and which Aldo offers download tools for Verizon’s vendors including ancestry. If you used those tools, you can compare a before and after version of the files to see who you lost or gained. It’s not a trivial exercise but it can be done.

  20. I lost 39 “4th-6th cousin” matches – and no, I don’t mean they just moved down to “Distant”. I actually have 46 less “4th-6th cousin”, 7 who moved down to “Distant” and 39 who are no longer matches at all.

    I am happy that overall the matches are now more accurate and there are less false positives – but these 39 were not at the lower end of my “Distant” matches. Ancestry were previously telling these 39 (out of 60 “4th-6th cousin” matches) people were a strong genetic match and now they are telling me they are no match at all.

    Could they have really have gotten it that wrong before?

    • No, I don’t believe they were wrong before. They just changed their thresholds. You still match those people and probably on more DNA that was shown due to Timber stripping. See if those matches will transfer to gedmatch.

      • Thanks for the suggestion, Roberta.

        One of the 39 that I lost had actually contacted me some time ago, and I convinced him to transfer to GEDMatch – which reported that we had no match at all, even by lowering the threshold to just 1 cM (which I normally wouldn’t do). The changes at Ancestry now seem to confirm that.

        I have a relatively low response rate from much higher ranked matches that I have contacted , so I will have to assess the value of contacting people that were lower ranked to begin with and that Ancestry have completely removed from my list of matches to try to convince them to transfer to GEDMatch, particularly in view of the example above,

        • That’s really bizarre. I have never heard of ancestry’s matching segments being higher than gedmatch, let alone that kind of a difference. Makes you wonder about some kind of glitch on the ancestry side doesn’t it. If do, apparently the matching took care of it.

  21. Roberta,
    I have to disagree with the comment about not showing shared ancestors to those with private trees. I have a private tree. I copy and paste our shared ancestor chart into messages for many of my matches that are in my leaf hints. Some reply, some do not. The ones I value are the ones who take the time to reply so we can work on confirming that we actually do have the same ancestors.
    I also contact those who have a private tree if shared matches give me information that gives me clues about how we might connect. Some reply, some do not. I get more replies from people who do not have trees, or who have private trees. People who have public trees and see a public tree don’t bother if they already see how you are connected. The shared matches have always been more valuable to me than public trees. My grandparents were born in the 1800’s. Some of my matches have ancestors born in the mid-1900’s. I’m was a 50’s kid. So our trees may not show anything in common unless they have ALL of their lines going back to 1850 or before.
    The shared matches are a treasure and very helpful in these cases.
    Please respect people’s wish to keep their trees private. We work harder to make contacts.

    • I wish this was universally true about a quarter of my leaf
      matches are private trees and I think only two have replied. One of those did tell me the common ancestor, but I stI’ll can’t see the other common surnames. The other person sent me a link to their tree and I had to search for the common ancestor myself. Neither of these are necessary when ancestry provides the information and the other person can already see it. Just not fair.

      • I’m torn on this, as I agree with BOTH Roberta & J Hurst on this…

        It is VERY frustrating when a match will not respond to requests. I could not understand why someone would take the test, and then decline to discuss it with other matches and share information in their tree. Why not?

        Well, I came across this explanation awhile back that tended to help put it in better perspective for me… I don’t recall where I found it, and who the author was, but it made an impression and enabled me to better understand…

        “Reasons why some don’t share trees and/or give family info for DNA

        There are lots of reasons someone might do DNA testing but still have privacy constraints.

        For example, they might be interested in their heritage, but NOT interested in reconnecting with the great-uncle who molested them when they were four. So they might want to determine which line you’re from before connecting with you.

        Or, they might know that your (still-living) grandmother cheated on your (still-living) grandfather with their (still-living) grandfather. In cases like that, they might want to make actual human contact, rather than letting folks find out by looking at a tree on the internet.

        Or, they might be seeking their father, who raped their mother. There again, they might want to make some actual human contact rather than just putting that out there.

        Or, they might have a mother or grandmother who worked as a prostitute. That’s another one where contact might come before revelations.

        Or, they might have living relatives who violently object to this whole thing (maybe because of some of the circumstances above, or maybe for a million other reasons). However misguided those relatives may be, it’s not reasonable to expect them to tell their close living relatives to suck it up for the convenience of distant DNA cousins. Those people still have to navigate family gatherings, relationships between their children and those relatives, etc.

        These are just a few examples from people I personally know. There are lots and lots of other circumstances. This isn’t smooth sailing for all of us, and genealogy is helpful (even healing) for many people with very difficult backgrounds. They shouldn’t be excluded just because they can’t give strangers everything they want up front.”

  22. Roberta, most of my shared dna amounts with matches changed only about 3 to 10 centimorgans different than before the update. However, some have jumped or dropped as much as 15 to 50 cm or more. This has to be a result of bad science! Before the change, my amounts on gedmatch were running about 10 to 20 cM higher than Ancestry. None were lower. So those that have changed dramatically cannot be correct.
    I wish that Ancestry would use the cM amount from the raw data file and forget their algorithms and “improved science” in assigning matches and reporting cM amounts. Just give us our raw data please and our chromosome and segment information and GIVE US TOOLS TO WORK WITH THIS ON ANCESTRY. Many of us are begging matches to upload at gedmatch. But we only see our top 1500 matches listed in the one to many comparison there. So we need tools at ANCESTRYDNA that will allow us to make chromosome and segment comparisons with EVERY match we have even those of 6.0 cM who have never uploaded their Ancestry raw data file to GEDmatch.

  23. Hi Roberta,

    From my results I don’t see any improvement in accuracy. I previously had two 3rd cousins correctly predicted as such and they are now wrongly predicted as 4th – 6th joining the two other confirmed 3rd cousins I have who have always been wrongly predicted as 4th – 6th (but perhaps it’s not wrong and we just didn’t inherit enough of the matching dna, who knows without a chromosome browser). I have lost 4 of my 18 hints and over 34 pages of matches (of the 121 pages I used to have) not cushioned at all by the 4 pages of new matches that they have been holding back for the past three weeks to disguise/hide any losses. I too do not trust the timber processing, I know of at least one match where I am matching a mother and son on Gedmatch, each with the same bit of dna but, I assume, the Timber processing has wiped out the mother’s match on Ancestry but not the son’s; very strange ‘science’!

    Other than the 4 pages of new matches, which I presume I would have got anyway despite the new processing, I have nothing new to look at and nothing new to do that I haven’t already done during the year since I first got my results.

    I like your suggestion of not showing hint details from my public tree to those who aren’t sharing a tree but it doesn’t solve the problem of the increasing number of my matches who don’t attach a tree at all and won’t reply to my messages. I’ve already suggested a filter so I can view just the matches with trees attached, but Ancestry either didn’t listen or didn’t want to make this change.

    So unless Ancestry provides a Chromosome Browser I’m not sure what more I can do with my Ancestry DNA results other than wait for new matches with good trees.

    Overall, I’m very disappointed.

  24. I lost all circles from fathers side, only have hints for mothers side. Also, wished the admixtures would be updated as more people test. Some of the admixtures data are based on as few as a130 testers from that region.

  25. Hi Roberta,
    I agree completely with you about green shaky leaf matches… I am public….they are private. I show you mine but they don’t show me theirs! The unfairness of this has got to me… I am about to go private. I am happy to b generous but I will NOT have someone withholding information about shared ancestors when I have done my part!

    • I have thought about that myself. The reason I haven’t is because it punishes the sharers as well as the nonsharers and I don’t want to do that. I don’t think that will help anything.

      • I’ve been public for a year. I’ll try out being private for a while. I know what you mean but I feel I have been taken advantage of. I will answer people though.

    • Quid pro quo. It would seem if Ancestry’s actions were motivated by a desire to be a fair and just vendor to all it’s customers, it would resolve this point of contention among it’s users. Here’s my May 6th daydream. As of June 1st 2016, any participants in Ancestry’s DNA program that wish to opt for a private tree, will no longer have the ability to view public trees. Children must be taught to share.

        • On this issue of public vs private trees, many of us who are not adoptees also have speculative information on our trees. If the speculation is mine, I will try to post a caveat/fair warning in the form of a story explaining that I am speculating about an ancestor’s parentage (the usual issue) and specifically inviting comment or challenge. Occasionally I will post the warning re speculative information in the “suffix box” of an individual’s name — which has the advantage of getting the caveat incorporated into a Gedcom to be uploaded to FTDNA or sites.

  26. I am going to repeat myself from yesterday….there are those of us who are adoptees and do NOT have confirmed birth family info and are doing the best we can to try and track relatives down by building trees and hoping for hints, names, places…..anything that can help solve the many stages of our life long puzzle. I wont make my trees public and unintentionally mislead ppl with inaccuracies which then get passed on and on. Yes, send an email to those persons but pls do try and be thoughtful at the same time. Thanks

    • Lois, I have have helped several DNA participants with a variety of NPE’s (non-parental events) in their pedigrees. Consequently, Lost Lost Family on the TLC network has become one of my favorite shows to view. Why should the needs of a minority circumvent or affect the needs of the majority? Keep all your trees private, but realize that decision could make you have to start asking permission every time you want to view a tree. I don’t care if you’re adopted, a celebrity, or the President of the United States, everyone should have to play by the same DNA rules in the sandbox.

  27. I see I’m not the only one having matches return from the dead. I find it odd that matches killed off in the previous threshold adjustment and purge, have been resurrected from the afterlife. I’m going to consider it a miracle, and enjoy a “Day of the DNA Dead” celebration!! Ancestry, the patron saint of lost DNA matches.

    • I can’t recall for sure, but I believe not. Their white paper may say specifically. I know they include the X in the test because it is available using downloads to gedmatch.

  28. Circles: from 0 to 0. Leaf hints: from 1 to 2 (and I think it was either due to my 3rd cousin filling out her tree, or we brought the spelling of our common ancestor’s name into alignment, nothing on Ancestry’s part). Fourth cousins: from 45 to 54. (My mother has 2 or 3 times the 4th cousin matches that I do.)

    Also, I keep my working tree private because it is large, speculative, and riddled with other people’s errors. It also contains what amounts to surname studies for particular locales. I don’t know how or if we’re related yet, but if/when I find the missing links, it will be incredible. (I have been merging a lot of profiles lately…)

    I’m actually glad I’m not in any Circles yet, because I am already tired of seeing the same erroneous information being perpetuated in others’ trees.

    My DNA is currently linked to a tree with a more manageable 200-300 people.

    I also wish would provide a chromosome browsers, comparison tools, more search options and better filters, etc. Ancestry was almost entirely useless in helping me determine what side of the family an adopted 2nd cousin was from. We had to upload his file to other sites to figure out it was Sicilian. And for a split second I felt so grateful that at least Ancestry “allowed” me access to my own raw data…?

    It’s too bad they don’t seem to understand they would probably dominate the market if they would just give us the chromosome browser we’ve been asking for.

  29. “Create a more equitable balance so that people who don’t have public trees can’t see the common ancestors either. It’s unfair that they can and the people who share their trees cannot. If they make their tree public, then both people can see the common ancestor.”

    I wholeheartedly agree.

    I’m sure that some of the people with private trees have had private trees for years and have simply failed to think about the importance of sharing in the context of DNA testing. We all need to work harder to help everyone understand that genetic genealogy is impossible without collaboration and open sharing. AncestryDNA needs to take a leading role in this endeavor.

  30. Does ancestry use X dna in determining matches? If gedmatch says that I have a strong X dna match with someone but no autosomal dna match, should I be able to find a match with that person in ancestry or not?

  31. Proof of how “inaccurate”’s SHARED MATCHES feature is and why it should not be trusted…

    I have three people on my DNA match list who are proven matches to each other. They include a father named H. Bledsoe, his daughter R. Bledsoe, and his sister G. Bledsoe. (The daughter R. Bledsoe was the administrator of her father H. Bledsoe’s test.)

    The three are identified by as my Distant Cousins (5th – 8th), and they match me at 8.1cM (father and his sister) or 7.8cM (the daughter). Their histories indicate they are likely related to me through their Bledsoe line which connects to my possible Powell line way back — that is, the Powell line of either Maj. Benjamin A. Powell and wife Sarah Bledsoe or the Powell line of Capt. Ambrose Powell and wife Mary Bledsoe (Sarah’s sister). Benjamin and Ambrose were sons of Robert Powell (c.1669 VA – c.1740 Caroline Co., VA) and his wife Sarah Taylor — daughter of Col. James Taylor I and his first wife Frances Walker. Sarah and Mary Bledsoe were the daughters of Capt. William Bledsoe and his second wife Elizabeth Mumford. Sarah and Mary Bledsoe’s brother George Bledsoe is the direct ancestor of Mr. H. Bledsoe, his sister G. Bledsoe, and his daughter R. Bledsoe.

    All three of these Bledsoes show up as matches to me on my general match list, and identifies them as matches of mine when I click on each of their user name links. Additionally, when I click on H. Bledsoe’s username link or his daughter R. Bledsoe’s username link, Ancestry identifies these two as being related to each other.

    HOWEVER, when I go to H. Bledsoe, R. Bledsoe, and G. Bledsoe’s DNA Profile pages, and I click on the SHARED MATCHES tab, two of these three do not show up as common matches to each other — including the father and daughter who Ancestry has already identified in another place as being related to each other. When I click SHARED MATCHES, I get the message “You have no shared matches with …” even though I clearly do have shared matches with them.

    If does not even show as Shared Matches people who are well-documented, DNA-proven, immediate family members to one another, then I can’t help wondering how many other Shared Matches they are not showing who are somewhat more distantly related to each other and to me, like first cousins, 2nd cousins, 3rd cousins, etc.

    This is very upsetting.

    Why do they bother offering a feature that very clearly does NOT work?

    — Deborah

    • Ancestry says:

      “A shared match is a DNA match that you have in common with another DNA match. Shared matches are only available for your matches that are at the level of 4th cousins and closer to you.”

      They don’t necessarily have to be 4th cousins or closer for *both* of you. Some of my 5th and more distant cousins have shared matches with me, for example. But none of those 5th and more distant matches will show up *as* a shared match, at least not from my side.

      What that means, I think, is also that someone may show up in the list of matches a cousin shares with you, even though that person may not show up for *you*. The reason is, the shared relative may be a 4th cousin or closer to your cousin, but 5th or more distant to you.

      This can sometimes work rather peculiarly. Because both of my daughter’s parents have tested, my daughter’s matches are marked with either “Father’s Side” or “Mother’s Side”. Well … usually. Some of her matches aren’t identified as to side, which actually makes no sense. 100% of her relatives are related on one side or the other.

      Looking at my daughter’s first unidentified match, sharing is actually comparatively high: 34 cM. Ancestry gives this person about a 30% chance of being not a 4th cousin, but a 3rd cousin.

      If so, she’d have to be a 2nd cousin once removed to either my wife or me. And yet, neither of us is in the shared match list.

      However, thirteen other people are in that list. These include: both of my nieces at Ancestry; one of my paternal 1st cousins; one of my paternal 1st cousins once removed; two of my paternal “3rd cousins”; and three of my paternal “4th cousins”. The list also includes four people that don’t have the “Father’s Side” label, but all of these have some “shared matches” who are on my side, and not just shared matches in the previous list — I’m talking about *additional* shared relatives on my side.

      What seems obvious is that I *should* be on the shared match list but I’m not — for whatever reason. I suspect that it might be because of Timber, but it’s possible there is another reason. (Though I have no idea what it could be.)

      One problem with Timber is that it’s working with unphased data, which means it may work differently depending on the ancestry on the “other” side. Since my mother and my daughter’s mother have different DNA, the combination of the two sides should also look different to Timber. Maybe it’s just happier with the combination?

  32. Pingback: Revisiting AncestryDNA Matches – Methods and Hints | DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy

  33. Even if Ancestry is absolutely convinced of the value of Timber — which actually simply means you can’t *really* trust the amount of shared DNA Ancestry says that you and a relative have, or if they say you don’t share with someone in a DNA Circle (although that’s no longer an issue).

    No, what is the bigger problem is the arrogance of their method of *using* Timber. I say this because simply using Timber to “adjust” reported sharing was not the only choice they could have made. They might also have chosen to use Timber simply to “tag” matches, to let you know that perhaps a particular match is not as close as it may appear. Or, better yet, they could report two values — with Timber applied, and without Timber applied.

    Customers could then evaluate the match for themselves. Of course, if Ancestry simply uses Timber “behind the scenes”, as it does now, you’ll never know which matches were eliminated.

    I had one match that was in a DNA Circle with me, though she and I only shared about 10 cM or so. But later (I guess after Timber), she was simply listed as matching the circle. The thing is, she uploaded her DNA to GEDmatch and she has matches to all five of my siblings. In some cases, she shares more DNA with them than she does with me — including sometimes at the same segment she and I share, and sometimes at other segments. I also share DNA with this match’s brother, even at post-Timber Ancestry.

    Without GEDmatch, I wouldn’t know this. Ancestry doesn’t tell me that the match’s brother is her brother, and it doesn’t know what her matching is with my siblings — since they tested at 23andMe.

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