Family Tree DNA Introduces Phased Family Finder Matches

Family Tree DNA has released a first of its kind tool that sorts your matches into parental buckets by utilizing tests performed on parents and close relatives.

Phased FF2

On your matches page, if your parents or other close relatives have tested, and their tests are linked on your tree, your matches will be grouped into maternal or paternal buckets, or both, utilizing a proprietary matching and phasing algorithm.  You can see the appropriate bucket icon beside the match photo, as well as new tabs at the top to allow you to view your paternal, maternal or matches to both parents.

If your parents haven’t tested, or aren’t linked, your maternal, paternal and both tabs at the top of your page will reflect “0” and they won’t be relevant to you.  However, if your parents or other close relatives have tested, your tab, after processing, will show the number of individuals that fall into maternal, paternal or both match buckets.  Close relatives, at this point, are defined as parents, aunts and uncles, grandparents and first cousins.

This is not just a sorting of matches, based on names of who matches you and a parent, like the “In Common With” tool, but true parental phasing. Each person deposited into a maternal or paternal bucket as a match must match you and your parent or otherwise designated individual in a prescribed way including:

  • On the same segment
  • At a specific threshold

The Phasing Threshold is Higher

The threshold to be indicated as a maternal or paternal match is higher than the normal matching threshold – so some people who do match you and a parent won’t be assigned to a bucket.


Acting conservatively, Family Tree DNA wants to be positive that this person really does fall into that bucket. You’ll notice that the example individual has 3 people that match both parents. At a lower threshold, there were a lot more dual matches when the product was in testing. At higher threshold levels, people tend to distinctly fall into one bucket or the other in non-endogamous populations. It was actually surprising how many people do legitimately match both parents.

So, to be clear, there are two thresholds in play here:

You will notice that some people who do match both you and a parent do not have a maternal or paternal indicator. That does NOT mean they don’t match you and a parent, but it does mean that the match was at a lower level, or not on the same segment, so Family Tree DNA feels that they can’t positively be assigned to a bucket. That doesn’t mean you should disregard them, but you probably should utilize the stronger matches first and scrutinize non-assigned matches closely by downloading your Chromosome Browser results.

Roughly 10-15 percent of your matches tend to be identical by either chance or population, and that percentage is higher in endogamous groups.  The dual thresholds are meant to minimize those ambiguous matches, yet leave them on your match list for you to analyze.  This is the best approach that provides an intuitive easy visual for those who want that type of approach, but allowing thorough analysis for those who prefer that methodology.  Personally, I like using them together.  The buckets are an easy way to quickly see which side your strongest matches are assigned to.  Given the dual threshold approach, the fact that a match is assigned to a bucket immediately indicates the strength of the match – so it’s a quick and easy gauge.

ICW is Improved

Additionally, you can now utilize the ICW (In Common With) tool, which has moved to the top of the match list, by clicking on the check on the left of the match and then clicking on either “In Common With” or “Not In Common With” to see who else matches, or doesn’t.

You may be very surprised to see that your “in common with” list for a match from your father’s side also includes people from your mother’s side. This is, of course, a red flag as to the validity of that particular paternal ICW match – and it’s so easy to spot now with the parental icons.

Please note that if you utilize the ICW tool when you are on your “All” tab, you will see all ICW matches, but if you are on the paternal, maternal or both tab, and utilize the ICW tool, you will ONLY see people that are ICW on that side of your tree.

So, for example, John Doe, a paternal cousin, matches me and my father and has the blue paternal icon assigned. On my “All” tab, utilizing he ICW tool, I see that John Doe and I have two matches in common. One of those matches is from my father’s side and one from my mothers. It’s easy to see looking at the blue and red icons. Now, if I go to my “Paternal” tab and then perform the ICW comparison with John Doe, ONLY the ICW match from the paternal side will show. You need to be cognizant of where you are on the tabs in terms of what the ICW tool matches mean.


In order for an individual to be eligible for maternal or paternal matching, they must have linked themselves to their parent or other close relative on their tree, not only in terms of name, but in terms of having DNA tested. In other words, the individual on your tree has to be linked to a tested individual in the system.

The Family Tree DNA Learning Center shows how to do this here. Please read this information in the Matches Section before linking people to learn about link hints.

Phased FF link hint

In some cases, if names are different, you won’t have a link hint. For example, my mother is in my tree with her maiden name, but she tested under her married name, so I didn’t have a link hint.  Link hints only work when Family Tree DNA can recognize the same names.  When I linked the two, meaning my mother’s kit to her name in my tree, the software changed her name to the name on her test kit.  So, I’ll be changing the name on her test kit to her maiden name:)

Phased FF4

By going to your tree and clicking on DNA matches in the upper left hand corner, you will see a list of your matches and you can select an individual and drag them to the same person in your tree. In this case, I’ve already done that with my mother, so the link is blue and I see the “already in your tree” message, but if that person wasn’t linked, the link wouldn’t show and I would see a “click and drag to your tree” message instead.

Phased FF3

Not Just Parents

In my case, my mother has tested, but my father is long deceased, so there is no testing for him. If I have uncles or even 1st cousins, I can link them to the paternal side of my tree and if matches match both me and my paternal family member utilizing the phasing criteria, they will be displayed as paternal matches.


This is a great new tool and the first of its kind in the industry that is actually performing parental phasing as well as utilizing other family members to replace missing parents.

Family Tree DNA has been preparing for this release for some time behind the scenes with the recently revamped tree user interface and the matching update released a month or so ago. This is very exciting, especially for people who want to see at a glance without having to download a chromosome browser spreadsheet who is maternal and paternal.

Additionally, the new software allows us to link people tested to our tree. In my case, I had an ancestor only tree, so I’ve been busy expanding my paternal side of the tree to accommodate all of those cousins I’ve recruited to test because I want those easy-to-see paternal buckets and I can’t test my father.

Family Tree DNA isn’t done either, so do expand your tree and link all of the people of KNOWN heritage, meaning known cousins, who have tested, to take full advantage of this new phasing feature and in preparation for future developments yet to come!

Woohoo!!!  Good job Family Tree DNA!



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127 thoughts on “Family Tree DNA Introduces Phased Family Finder Matches

  1. All will be dandy when they fix the upload function of the newer raw files.

    Also, will one parent be enough, or will I really have to find a cousin from the other side to test?

  2. I shouted hallelujah and jumped up and down with joy when I saw the email yesterday! I am extremely proud of myself for already having my Mother, brother, and a couple of cousins from both sides of the family tested, too. Yay, yay, yay!

  3. I would like to know what the minimum Phasing threshold is set at. We are told it is higher than the standard, but how much higher?

    • In my son’s data, the shortest longest segment assigned to a maternal/paternal bucket was 8.5 cM. That would round up to 9 cM, which is the new threshold they put in place when they revised the 20 cM total rule of the old matching algorithm. That’s just a sample of one, though.

      • Make it a sample of 4 now 🙂 2 of my sibs and I have our results phased, and for us, too, the cutoff was 8.5 cM.

  4. Thank You Roberta for providing a timely and understandable explanation of this new development. What would we do without you?

  5. Hi I am trying to see if I can get a DNA test me and my family have always known that we have Indian blood we just don’t know what kind my mom used to say Cherokee but at this point I do not know I have blood cousins that their mom is full-blooded Indian Sun Louisiana but my mom used to say that my grandmother she was from Oklahoma so I can figure out exactly where she was from and I wanted to see if someone can help me

    • There are several articles about Native American heritage. The blog is fully searchable. Just type Native American into the search box for a list of articles. Also use the phrase “proving native.”

  6. Hi Roberta!

    This is exciting news! I know I can get some maternal first cousins to test, but although I know, I have paternal matches, my biological father is unknown. I hope that I would have some that would go into a paternal bucket but I suspect that if my paternal tree is unknown at this time, I am out of luck.

    Kinqwest Kathy

    On Thu, Jul 7, 2016 at 10:55 AM, DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy wrote:

    > robertajestes posted: “Family Tree DNA has released a first of its kind > tool that sorts your matches into parental buckets by utilizing tests > performed on parents and close relatives. On your matches page, if your > parents or other close relatives have tested, and their t” >

  7. It looks like it will be good, but I’ve had the “calculating family matching” message for about 15 minutes so far. Did it take long for yours to do the calculations? (I’m on a Mac with Chrome, so there shouldn’t be any bug issues)

  8. Ok at first I didn’t like the new format but I see it will take some getting use too. Thank you for your informative information

  9. Looks good, but they should also include great grandparents as well as grandparents. I’ve tested my daughter and her maternal great grandparents, but they do not show up as maternal matches.

  10. Roberta,

    You didn’t mention siblings or half-siblings. Will either of these work?



    • Siblings won’t help differentiate between sides because you share both parents with them. Half siblings, on the other hand, would help, but they are not included in this first version.

      • Looking forward to having half-siblings helping here. My dad is deceased and I have no first cousins on his side (though I have found a second cousin), but I do have a half brother who has just tested with Ancestry. Now to get him to transfer his DNA to FTDNA. Thanks for this post.

  11. Thanks a million. I was scratching my head yesterday when I opened fTNA and saw new format, but you came to my rescue. Now if only I could get my family tree to open! Perhaps they are overwhelmed, but the wheel keeps spinning for viewing family tree. Then I decided to upload a new GEDCOM. More spinning.

  12. Sadly it doesn;t seem to be working for me, I have tested both my parents, they are linked on my tree and nothing is showing up on the paternal or maternal tab…

  13. I am glad some are finding the revision useful. Has anyone found a way to click on up to four of the names provided in an In Common With list and then have them show in the chromosome browser along with the selected name as was available before this revision? When I selected the first name on my match list and clicked on the check next to the name it was highlighted. When then clicked on In Common With I get a list of 21 names that I assume are in common with the selected name, but I can’t find a way to select four of those names and then have all 5 of of them compared in the chromosome browser. Without this feature I will find the revision less than satisfactory.

    • I don’t think this is intentional. This is the second time I’ve heard it today and I’m not in a location where I can test it right now. You might want to submit to customer support.

  14. Hi Roberta,
    Tremendous news! As always, thank you for keeping everyone up to date. Your posts are invaluable!! All your hours invested in researching and writing are very much appreciated.
    Again, thank you! Lynne

  15. I just really really love to get unannounced upgrades that cause confusion, delays, and other negative results. My initial reaction is not positive – took me too much time to figure out what had happened and how to get the kind of info I got easily before. And clicking on “match date” defaults to the oldest match first – are they kidding? Do they really think I am not looking for my newest matches? So my parents have been dead longer than FTDNA has been around – there’s a non-starter. And I have to put trees in for all the relatives I have tested so they can tell me what I already know? Sigh . . . Ancestry looks better and better all the time . . .

      • Has the GEDCOM upload process changed? I just used Settings -> Delete Family Tree to delete my tree in preparation for uploading a newer one, thinking that would enable the Upload GEDCOM button, but it’s still greyed out. Yikes.

  16. My calculating family matching has been running more than 8 hours now. This seems a bit more than an overwhelmed system. Is it possible that it is hung and I should reload my tree, relink my parents and start over?

    • I could not get one to complete this evening either. I reported it to ftdna. The ones I did last night were fine. The only difference I can think of us that I was linking cousins only this evening and last night the people had parents in the system.

  17. Well, this doesn’t work for me! And I am not at all happy with i!
    Of course I can’t connect to my parents as they passed away years ago. My daughter however, did the mtDNA FS and FF and is naturally getting me on her maternals… and she is also getting our common maternals.. and her 2nd cousin who did the FF and mtDNA FS too. But me, her mom and her 2nd cousin get none… The three of us are linked, but the new Family Finder only works on my daughter’s… because she is the only one of us who has a parent-test? That makes Family finder testing pontless!

      • I don’t understand what utilize means.. I only know that I am an old girl of 69 and that my parental generation and even many of the younger has passed away. There are nobody but those of my age and younger and most of them are not at all interested in testing. I also from the 6 acounts that I administrate, that I am not the only one experiencing the same. And I think we pay same for our tests and get less for our money. I have in fact paid for 8 tests (how many $$$$ isn’t that?), and I expect getting same for all of them, as my daughter is getting! It is a big disappointment that the new feature doesn’t work without a parent test.

        • No one can bring your parents back to test. Why would you be upset for a company to develop tools to help people who do have relatives, like I listed, that have relatives to benefit. It will help your daughter who has phased matches. Should they not develop tools that everyone can’t use? I’m really baffled about why you are so upset. Yes I’d like to test my father who is gone but I don’t think these tools shouldn’t exist just because I can’t utilize it fully. Maybe it will help someone who can help me.

      • Sorry if I upset you. I was just trying to forward a feedback by pointing at the limits of the new FF and that it doesn’t work for everyone. I simply tried to explain why some of us cannot, as you put it “utilize aunts, uncles and first cousins in addition to parents and grandparents”, an assumption that doesn’t include everyone. All I expected from you was a few words regretting that this is how this works for the time being, not a suggestion on how I could solve the problem. I might be a senior but I am not at all against development. I just want a feature that makes my family search more time saving.

      • I read above that, unfortunately, half-siblings won’t work (I have one on each side linked). Will a half-aunt not work either? I have my father’s half-sister linked and still don’t have anyone showing up on my paternal side.

  18. It’s a greatly needed innovation, but limiting it to only as distant as 1st cousins isn’t all that helpful. It leaves me wondering how thorough the phasing is going to be. Are they going to honestly go through your entire match list to see who matches your maternal and paternal relative on each and every segment and split them accordingly? Are they triangulating against the close relative and at what segment minimum to say a match is a real match?

    Any idea when 1C1R or 2C can be used?


      • By a “real match,” I mean that I have plenty of triangulated matches against fairly distant cousins that match both my parent and his first cousin. Paper trails confirm these relationships, but the size of the matching segments are in some cases <9 cMs. I am imagining these won't get caught.

        Also, in my case, one of my kits is my grandfather's and he only has a 1/2 1C and a 1C 1R at this point from each side of his parentage. While both of these have over 500 matching cMs, it sounds like I can't use them at the moment.

        My other kits just spin and spin and spin……. and spin.

  19. I linked my uncle’s DNA to my family tree yesterday evening and the message ‘Calculating family matches’ appeared. Fifteen hours later nothing had happened so I unlinked and relinked him at 12 noon BST. Three and a half hours later still no result. Can you tell me if there is any news about delays from FTDNA or advice on how to solve this problem? Many thanks.

  20. Thank you for your I formative and easily understood post about ftdna new features. You are always my goto guru. I appreciate all the hours you spend to help those of us who need the teaching.

  21. The calculate message appears to in an infinite loop. FTDNA is partially taking down the system for maintenance Friday evening, so it may be at least another day before we can experiment.

    Before the problem, I know of 2 instances that produced both paternal and maternal results.

    1) A father and maternal uncle
    2) A father and maternal first cousin

    Once the key matching is made, the calculations will kick in down to some (but not all) with largest segments of just 9 cM.

    Beyond that, I cannot say what combinations will work until the system is again functional.

  22. My mom has passed away and i am looking for my father my maternal half sister (who’s father has passed away)and her paturnel 1/2 sister (who’s mother is still living) OK all the living people I’ve spoke of have all been tested nowis there any way I can some how I can separate mine and my sister are relative so I can see which one are my paturnel relatives if anyone know please tell me howto

  23. Two issues – I couldn’t link my 1st cousin once removed so I have linked him as a 1st cousin and that worked 🙂
    FTDNA says they have changed their algrithm with this newest update to the phasing etc… now I am missing a very important match to my brother – the match was longest block of 27cm… FTDNA says they can see the person on their end but I can’t see him in the account. Bummer since this was one I was working on and I have no idea if or when FTDNA will restore that match. I also have no idea how many other matches have gone missing ( I have well over 2200 matches so don’t track them all ). Boo-hoo! 🙂

    • I am also missing matches on the ALL tab that used to show up before these changes. My maternal tab is using my half-aunt, but not my first cousin-once removed. It will be good when they are added.

  24. Forgot one other hint about viewing the new tree system… I am using Chrome browser but couldn’t see the tree on the full screen – FTDNA says make sure browser is set to view at 100% – that works perfectly (mine was set at 110% for reading ease).

  25. I tried unlinking all of my links and doing them one at a time. I relinked my father around 10:15 am CDT and he is now done. In order to see that he was done, however, I had to log in from a different device. The device that I was on still showed the spinning wheel. Once I new that the calculations were done, I logged out of the original device and then logged back in and all of his matches showed. I then immediately linked my mother and her matches showed up in a few short minutes. After relinking Dad’s results again this morning, I reported the bug to FTDNA so they would know about the hang-up. I have not reported the latest results to them yet though. Hope this helps someone else.

  26. Curious why my full siblings show up as only maternal matches, even though I detached and reattached my brother. Also, the 100+ “maternal” matches in the list include some that I know are actually on my paternal side. Guess we need to wait for things to settle in?

  27. Wow, you are easily impressed Roberta. This feature has been available at 23andme, Gedmatch and Ancestry (via Jeff Snavely) for years. FTDNA promised this phasing feature back at the 2012 yearly conference. 4 years ago!!! Why are they so slow? Why are they so out of touch with what people want? What is the point in knowing what surnames appear most in my match list? Smith and Johnson that sure helps me. Why do I need buttons for In Common With and Not In Common With, what is the point and who uses the Not In Common button? Why when I sort by shared cM does it show the smallest shares first? Why would they think we are trying to find the smallest matches? Why when I sort by X Matches does it show the matches that aren’t an X match first? Shouldn’t it be the other way around? Why did they go through all the trouble of changing the trees and ignore the #1 complaint from the previous update, people want a left to right compact pedigree view. It seems FTDNA doesn’t understand genealogy and what features would be helpful for their customers. Worse they don’t seek out feedback or they just plainly ignore it. But yes… Woohoo!!! Good job Family Tree DNA!

    • I don’t believe that 23andMe shows you people that fall into parental buckets based on anything other than parents. Ancestry doesn’t provide it at all without an additional tool.

      I have been at every conference and don’t recall any promise of parental phasing.

      I use both ICW and not ICW. If they took features away, people would scream bloody murder.

      I also don’t believe any other company or tool allows you to link multiple DNA kits to your tree and then uses those results to sort matches into buckets. 23andMe doesn’t even have a tree anymore.

      As for the horizontal display, we really do need that.

      As for the sort order I don’t really care which one is shown first as long as you can sort in both orders.

    • I use not in common with all the time. My dad has been tested, but my mom has not and is deceased. It helps me to separate out matches for which side they’re on.

  28. Why can’t I click on someone to see the ICW, then run a chromosome comparison on those list of ppl? If that is taken away, that would be so terrible. This is necessary to me.

      • Another ICW Bug
        I’m finding when I do an ICW, and then highlight the matches in the pages (in another browser window, until they fix the bug above) it only moves the ones highlighted on the last page to the Chromosome browsers. In other words, you can only highlight people that you found with ICW on the same page and transfer by clicking Chromosome Browser button, but you will have to add individuals on other pages by hand.

        When you look at the profile on the matches page, you have to scroll down to the bottom of the dialog box to click the OK button to close it. I’m on a laptop, so it is below the bottom of my screen. Very annoying.
        You also used to be able to click a second profile, which would close the first. That definitely needs to come back.

        Workaround that I found is the escape key, but putting the X to close window in the upper right corner is much more user friendly. Users should not have to scroll to close a dialog box

        They also need to do something about the arrows to page back and forth through the matches. There used to be one that would take you to the last page and one that would take you back to the first page. Those are needed as basic functionality, but ideally they would ALSO add a Go To function where you can type a page number and go. An extremely common and useful feature.

        Having more people on a pager really helps things, but if you are lucky and have lots of matches, it could take you a long time to page through.

  29. My 92 year old mother was raised by her maternal relatives, although her actual mother is in question. Her father is unknown, however, there are matches that point in the direction of a particular line.
    I have tested her, 3 of her children, 5 grandchildren and a great grandchild as well as a close female relative around her age (cM 1180, xDNA 24), although her relationship to my mother is also in question.
    Given this situation, I am hesitate to submit a family tree based on speculation. If I submit a tree with my parents as the first generation, would this new feature be of any help in trying to unravel her genealogy?

    • If the tree includes the close female relative and the relative is a parent, aunt, uncle or first cousin, yes. Otherwise no. Testing her children and downstream generations is not helpful to unraveling her genealogy because they only received a part of her DNA.

  30. Ha this is funny. I was just thinking as I read your tutorial on phase matching results using Excel, I wish somebody would come up with a way to attach the DNA results to individuals in our tree then have a program that would sort out the segment overlaps based on where the individuals are in the tree. The more people we can attach results to in the tree, the easier it will be for the computer to make connections and even come close to predicting where a person in your tree should match you. This could be huge for adoptees searching for family.

    Unfortunately at the moment I’m in the “spinning wheel of ‘calculating family matching'” hell right now

  31. Guess I need help – I am seeing1928 matches, then 0 in Parental, Maternal and Both. Why zeros? My father has tested.

  32. I added my mother, and my maternal side aunt, as well as my paternal aunt and uncle. FTDNA shows that I have 1500+ paternal matches, all of whom are actually on my maternal side. It shows zero maternal side matches.

    They need to work out the bugs.

      • Roberta, could you include a link for FTDNA Customer Support. It’s way to deep in their webpages to make it easy for us to find. And no, I have never had to use that link prior to this Update from FTDNA. Why don’t they send us a heads up when they change the system so drastically? I’m signed up for all possibly notifications from FTDNA and never receive anything from them 🙁
        It hard to understand why FTDNA rushed this update? I have submitted 2 lists of bugs to be fixed and received a brief note back but no details on when they would be fixed. I understand they are working hard… problem is they created this monster and should be working hard to correct the mess. We can’t operate our match pages with the same ease as before their updates.
        It feels very much like a Microsoft beta tester. Microsoft had a bad habit of rolling out software and then waiting for the fur to fly thereby using their customers as a broad catchall for bugs they surely knew about at time rollout. Simple beta testing with a few experts like yourself would have turned up most of the issues we are experiencing.
        I recently received my dna results from AncestryDNA and can actually see that they have a better system in place currently. And I understand Jeff Snavely’s extension will do similar separation for maternal and paternal matches. I may try it very soon.

        • On the bottom of every page is a “Contact Us” link and then the Support link. Then you select “contact us” which shows the phone number and address, etc. Or you select “open a request” which auto-populated information from your account. So, no, I can’t post the link because it would link to my account.

  33. What if there are tests of parents, siblings and cousins (both sides) and no one shows up under either maternal or paternal?

    I cannot find anything that allows me to “link their test results” with mine. Please advise.

    Regards, M Bell


    • I think FTDNA isn’t doing a very good job of proving instructions for these new changes. To “link” matches go to your own family tree and stay in the Family View. On the left side of page there is a Button for DNA Matches. Look at those and when you find your closest appropriate matches click and drag one to the spot in your tree where they belong. You can also click on the person they are related to and assign them as Mother Father Sibling Daughter Son. Good luck. It worked for me on 2 of the 3 accounts I administer.

    • You need to have your family tree uploaded to the site. In the family tree page, the button for DNA matches will be there as in the picture below the “Eligibility” section above. Follow her instructions for each person on your tree that has been matched to you through DNA. I have expanded my tree as I’ve found more connections and hopefully the algorithms will sort everything out as I go

      • I’d love to upload my family tree to the site, however after clicking the Upload Gedcom button, the following appears –

        “Uploading a Gedcom will overwrite your current Family Tree.
        Do you want to proceed?

        There is no button to allow you to click that you want to proceed.

  34. Before starting the cheerleading, you might want to explore the PROBLEMS with the new FTDNA interface! Such as, for example, the impossibility of searching for a match by name and then selecting that match in order to view matches in common! I OFTEN use the name search to find a particular match in my list of over 1,000 matches. And now they’ve also combined the searches for matches and for ancestral surnames into one search, which is extremely annoying when you’re looking for one particular match. To add insult to injury, when we complain about the new interface, FTDNA just sends us to your blog! Thanks!

    • I have been working with Family Tree DNA these last several days and they have been making fixes daily. I know the match issue is on the list.

      Unfortunately, the interface problems are overshadowing the really great feature they rolled out:(

      The issues will be fixed soon.

    • I’ve left them comments through “Contact us” Link. I received a very responsive and polite email back thanking me for my input and telling me they had passed it on to the team working on the issues and gave me an update.

      They appreciate the feedback, if you are having issues, or you aren’t able to do something that you could do before, let them know. I’m a recovering programmer, software has bugs and sometimes a feature doesn’t work as expected, or works but has unforeseen issues. Everyone wants it to be perfect when rolled out, but the reality is there are usually some problems, especially for major changes.

      They will fix it. The phasing functionality will be a big step forward once it shakes out. Rather than yell, help them understand what the issue is and why it doesn’t work for you or do what you need. It may be something they can fix. Yes, it is a little rocky, but it is getting better and will be working soon.

      I like the resources they have, I do wish they’d have more details available at rollout, but they are a small shop and may have needed those resources finalizing code.

      I find Roberta’s explanations and explorations very useful, I’ve learned a lot from her and others.

      Why would you complain about FTDNA pointing you to a great resource that walks you through exactly what you need to do, clearly and concisely?

      Relax, it will get there. These will be good and useful tools that will help us all get to our goals. Finding our ancestors and connecting with cousins. FTDNA has what I need, I use all 3 types of DNA testing and they give me the tools I need to understand the matches rather than taking them at face value. I highly value the storage of DNA from older family members, and their commitment to not sell our data or make it public.

      I hope the new feature connecting DNA to the family trees will inspire those without family trees to add them and at least share them with matches–that would be a huge win for everyone. The phasing features will help those who may not be able to do the phasing on their own, and make it easier for those who are already adept at it.

      Personally, I think they are innovating in the right direction. I like their values and they’ve been responsive when I’ve contacted them through the channel they want us to use.

      Here’s the reply I got from them to my list of bugs: what I’ll see over the next few days as they work on the issues, what they’ve already fixed that I reported, and what is happening with the rest of the items I brought to their attention.

      Thanks for contacting us. As you can tell, we’re in the midst of an overhaul of the Family Finder Matches List. Over the next few days, you’ll likely see some features disappear and re-appear, and see new features become available. This is normal as we roll out an extensive revamping of this nature.

      The “X” to close the popup profile box should be displayed as usual – if you are still unable to see it, please let us know. The ICW feature is definitely being worked on.

      I have forwarded your other notes to our IT Department – suggestions are immensely helpful when we make major changes to a site, so we appreciate your candor.

  35. Great post, Roberta! Are a minimum number of linked tests needed for the phasing function to work? I have linked nine paternal, seven maternal relatives and seven children to my mother’s tree three days ago and no phased matches appear.

    • Your mother’s children won’t help with phasing her, although the children should have maternal icons. The relatives that generate icons are parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents and first cousins. If that is who is linked, and there are no icons, then you need to contact support.

      • Thanks Roberta. So first cousins once removed through third cousins won’t cut it?
        Is there a way my phasing can be used to determine the phasing for my mother’s matches? I have a Family Finder Study. Could there be one primary (shared) family tree and all my cousins that have tested be linked to determine phasing for everyone in my study? Does this make sense. I have done spreadsheets, etc. Thanks!!

        • No, first cousins once removed won’t cut it – at least not yet. They are working on adding additional relatives into the mix.

          No, your phasing can’t be used to determine your mother’s phasing, unless you’re using those family members from her side, then your phasing “is” her phasing.

  36. Hi Roberta,

    Thanks for the most interesting article. I learned a lot.

    I manage my 1st cousin’s kit and we are related on our paternal side. I noticed that she had our third cousin, Fred, listed in her paternal bucket even though he was not in her tree. Fred is not listed in my paternal bucket even though he is in my tree. Fred is our third cousin and we are related to him through our fathers.

    Also I have some 3C1R cousins in the buckets who are not on my tree. I have some 3C1R cousins on my tree who are in my buckets. I can’t figure out how FTDNA figures out who goes into the bucket but it can’t be solely by who is on your tree.

    Has anyone else run into this?

    Thanks for all your information.

    Martha Parker

    • The people that have to be in your tree are the people whose DNA kits are linked that are used to determine who is related on which side. Those people are parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and first cousins. Those people have to be in your tree to link their kits. Your matches don’t have to be in your tree. Many times, you won’t know how you are related to the various matches. So don’t confuse a match not being in your tree with someone whose DNA you are linking not being in your tree.

      Family Tree DNA only uses DNA phasing or matching against those people whose DNA is linked to your tree by comparing to your matches, whether they are in your tree or not.

      • Roberta,

        I am linked to my first cousin and I am linked to my third cousin. My first cousin is also linked to my third cousin so I would think since he is shown in her bucket he should be in mine. Or I am missing the point which could easily be the case. Thanks.
        Martha Parker

        • Each person’s buckets are calculate by comparison independently. Your bucket and your cousins buckets are all calculated by looking at the people they are personally linked to that are parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and 1st cousins, to them.

  37. Hi Roberta. My brother has done FTDNA mtDNA full sequence test. His closest matches are showing up in the mtDNA DNA list of people on his family tree page. Is it feasible to expect 2 or 3-step maternal matches to be placed into the maternal bucket in the new phasing?

    • That is probably too distant, unless something rather unusual happened. If those people have not tested autosomally, meaning taken the FF test or transferred a test in from another lab, they won’t be eligible for being put in buckets.

      • Thank you for the response. It turns out I better know exactly the relationship of the uncles, 1st cousins, half-siblings, etc, that I link to my tree. Depending on which side I link/attach a dna cousin FTDNA automatically identifies the person with that side of my tree and assigns family finder matches into that bucket accordingly. So I could potentially cause a mis-identification of a whole group of matches. I’m not sure how that can even happen if the match is based on dna.
        – Puzzled

        • If you accidentally tell the system that someone’s kit is someone else, like your aunt on your father’s side is really on your mother’s side, the system will assume you know what you are doing and assign matches by DNA matching accordingly, assigning maternal icons instead of paternal icons.

  38. Pingback: Nine Autosomal Tools at Family Tree DNA | DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy

  39. It looks like FTDNA may have now added some additional cousins into the mix for phasing. My mom was not tested before she died, and initially, my sister and I showed no maternal matches with the new phasing. However, now we do! We have two cousins of my mom’s who tested (1st cousins once removed to us). I went ahead and linked them on our trees when phasing first appeared, and lo and behold, today we both showed maternal bucket matches. Yay!

    For people who were frustrated by not being able to search on a match’s name vs on surnames and match names all mixed together – if you click on “advanced search” it will give you those two separate boxes. Makes it easy once again to search on a match’s name.

  40. Pingback: Concepts – Match Groups and Triangulation | DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy

  41. My problem is that I have an individual that I’m trying to link to another individual with connections to both the Paternal and Maternal sides and there’s no way to create a tree with this situation. FTDNA’s suggestion was not to link this individual; however, I believe by not linking this person there are both Paternal and Maternal missing entries that otherwise would show up as one or the other or both. Having this information would help clarify quite a few matches that show up in several of the kits that I manage. Any suggestions?

    • I guess I would create the person in the proper place in both trees, then link to one, see who gets assigned, then link to the second, and see who is assigned there. Unless I’m not understanding the situation. What I think you’re saying is that you need the ability to link the same DNA test to two individuals, who are really the same person, in your tree.

      • I did a little experiment and deleted the entire tree for one the people that is causing this issue. I then uploaded their GEDCOM – interesting thing happened. The Paternal side of the tree is there and all are connected, but any individual that was from the maternal side is shown as an unconnected entry (no connecting lines). The GEDCOM had 821 entries – there are 100s of unconnected entries and I see no way of connecting them without manually deleting them – which will bring me back to the original issue. FTDNA trees cannot handle branches that separate and then come back together later in time – which in my case is more common than not. Alll the people I manage come from a from very small village in Eastern Slovakia (about 60 houses) and their family trees branch out and then reconnect. Until FTDNA fixes their GEDCOM/Tree functions it appears my Phased Matching will not tell the entire story.

      • One last tidbit, I noticed something when I was manually deleting the unconnected entries – once I deleted the primary one on the unconnected maternal side many of the unconnected nodes suddenly became connected. So I deleted the tree again, re-uploaded the GEDCOM and only deleted the primary maternal unconnected node (in the tree examples I posted earlier this would be Maria Revt’ak (1896-1969) – this deleted her entry and any entries dependent on her. The result of this was that the system re-connected (connecting lines appeared) any remaining unconnected nodes and the tree looks like it should (except that I’m missing all of the connections from Maria Revt’ak (1896-1969) on down). So I guess I’m going to have to live with this for now – which is skewing some of my Phased Matches into one bucket, when in reality they should be appearing in both for some people.

  42. HI, my tree wont upload correctly via ancestry and also wont allow my double cousins to link, when i try to link them it says my match is only on the maternal side but they are on both sides, but i couldn’t put their parents as related in the family tree because you GEDcom upload doesn’t allow that and then starts to un attach family members? please help!

    • I would suggest that you call Ancestry regarding your Ancestry tree and if you are referring to Family Tree DNA in the rest of your comment, I would suggest that you call them as well. You can find their contact information at the bottom of their web page under “contact us.”

      • Same issue I raised a couple of weeks ago – FTDNA trees do not allow multiple branches to connect (either manually created or via a GEDCOM import).

    • Yep, they need to fix this since its skewing the Phased Matches results to either one side or the other when in reality these multiple branch connections should show up on both sides. FTDNA’s suggestion to me was to not attempt to create these branches and to select one or the other. There is no mechanism in the Tree Creation to connect a node to another existing branch – the option is just not there. From a node, you can select Father, Mother, Son, Daughter, Husband, Wife but not connect to another existing node.

  43. Pingback: Concepts – Managing Autosomal DNA Matches – Step 2 – Updating Match Spreadsheets, Bucketed Family Finder Matches and Pileups | DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy

  44. @robertajestes Thank you for this article. I follow your blog, and reading time to time. I’m not capable to read all attentively, but I do like such approach of writing blog.

    I do thank you because reading the article, I spotted on the fact that I do have “0” entries on my paternal and maternal tabs. I did link my parents, but just right now I realized my issue.

    I linked my mother, and she is on my family tree, and she also has family tree (from dedicated GEDCOM). Father did not have family tree layout , so it was the issue. But after I created “Son” record on his tree and linked with myself, created “Spouse” record and linked to my mother (on/with) my tree. And a few minutes of page refresh, I finally see my Total Matches (1021), my Paternal matches (93) and Maternal matches (318). This feature is awesome. Before that I did phasing on GEDMATCH, and essentially I did compare chromosome segments and analyzed lot of connections on genealogy level. But know life is much easier. Thanks to FTDNA 🙂

    PS1. I do manage 3 those mentioned accounts on FTDNA, so essentially behind those accounts only me 🙂

    PS2. Offtopic: Could someone tell FTDNA to remove those irritating onHover tooltips? 🙂 Despite Im web developer, I am so annoyed of that UI/UX approach. They should have added at least some time delay.

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