New 23andMe Experience – In a Word, Disappointing

Almost a year after the 23andMe “new experience” was promised “shortly” and then subsequently promised by 2015 year end, it’s finally here. In case you haven’t noticed, it’s September of 2016. I could have gestated a baby in less time. However, let’s take a look at the new experience process and features. I’m going to record each step in this new experience since I’ve finally transitioned.

Unfortunately, the new experience began with the 23andMe system either being very slow or not working at all, so I’ve pieced this together from several attempts over a couple of weeks. You’d think for as much as the new test costs, $199, twice that of their competitors and their own old test, they could at least have a reasonable system response time. If that happens as fast as the New Experience, it will be another year. I cannot even begin to tell you how many times I saw this screen.

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22andMe, you should be embarrassed. Really!

The “New 23andMe”

I thought the day would never arrive, but I did finally receive this e-mail:

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Before we start reviewing the process and features, I want to mention that I did find an old to new feature converter, of sorts, provided by 23andMe. It’s not terribly useful, but it might be worth reviewing.

When you can get on and stay on the 23andMe system, you will see the following:

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The system did not default to “me,” but to another one of the kits I manage. The next screen was to select primary profile.

My birth date was required. This is bothersome to me. It was never required before, and frankly, it’s none of their business. I answered it truthfully, only because I was afraid it would be part of a security question someplace down the line.

The next screen is shown below asking about your DNA Relatives Preferences. Apparently your old preferences don’t port to the new experience, at least not in total.

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Here’s the infamous open sharing question that is supposed to replace all of the asking for permission to communicate and then asking for permission to share DNA segments. I say “supposed to,” because there is still a non-trivial amount of confusion surrounding options, as you’ll see shortly, but if you’re going to particulate in 23andMe for genealogy, do be sure to answer “yes.”

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Here is what 23andMe has to say about the new open sharing option.

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Next, you can review your profile and verify, add to or change your information.

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I personally think that displaying birth year is a potential security issue.

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Next, 23andMe prompts you to compete a Health Profile.

The Health Profile started with a question marital status, which is again, none of their business. You can tell that their focus has really shifted to gathering information about you at every opportunity.

I’m not interested in providing them with any additional information they can then sell, so I’m not answering these questions.

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You can opt instead to go to the home page, which is your new main account page, shown below.

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You can see your account status information and the information available to you. All of the old functions have been redesigned, renamed or obsoleted. Figuring out which is which, and where, is like a scavenger hunt combined with a snipe hunt.

Ok, now you’re ready to begin looking around the new 23andMe site. I have a feeling that their earliest testers were some of the last to be converted, so if you’re already doing all of this, apologies. However, maybe you’ll learn something from my experiences or maybe you have something to add from your own!

Ancestry aka Ethnicity

Let’s start with Ancestry and the 3 reports 23andMe is showing. As a genealogist, I’m interested in the genealogy aspect of the 23andMe reports.

These are what we generally refer to as the ethnicity reports.

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Let’s look first at Ancestry Composition

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Where did the ethnicity display mapped onto my chromosome go? Aha, it’s under Scientific Details – not what I would expect under that tab, but here it is.

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These colors are very difficult to distinguish from one another.

The bar above the browser shifts from Speculative to Conservative.

If you have a parent in the system, there used to be a “split view” where you could see your DNA “ancestry” as compared to that parent. That functionality is still there and is called “Inheritance View.”

I found the older “view” much easier to see and discern between the coloration. Here’s an example provided by 23andMe of the old versus the new.

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Matches

Ok, let’s see if I can find my matches on this new system. Hmm, looking under tools, I see DNA Relatives, so I’ll click there. This used to be the Family Inheritance Advanced functionality.

I get to watch a tutorial first.

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Looks like the new matching limit is 2000, a welcome increase. But why a match limit at all? Neither Family Tree DNA nor Ancestry have a match limit.

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And of course the chromosome browser comparison. Interesting, they tell you THAT it’s available, but they don’t show you where to find this functionality. You’ll see that this becomes important later on.

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Even though I’ve already opted into open sharing, I have to opt in again here and click on “View DNA Relatives.”

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One thing that really bothers me is that after I clicked on “View DNA Relatives” as opposed to “I do not want to participate,” I could not go back or otherwise change that selection. I tried the settings option, by clicking on the profile name, and it appears that there is no option to rescind this permission.

DNA Relatives

Here is the list of my DNA Relatives. If you’re comparing this to a previous list, all of the information is missing on this page that was visible before, like haplogroups, genealogy surnames, etc., which made it easy to see at a glance.

There is however, a color coded sharing “dot” but with no legend, so I have NO IDEA who is sharing and who isn’t – or exactly what that means. Furthermore, I’m not colorblind, but the dot is so small (and I have 27 inch monitors) that I can’t tell if the dots are blue, green or some blue and some green – or maybe they are bluegreen.

After the fact, I stumbled on to the legend in the “sort by” box, but after reviewing the results, the legend makes no sense when seeing the sharing options and my cousins.

Let’s take a look.

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So, the sharing legend is as follows:

  • Purple – open sharing
  • Blue/green – sharing
  • Yellow – Pending
  • Grey – not sharing

Let’s take a look at matches.

Blue Dot Match

According to the legend, a blue dot means sharing.

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In order to see additional information, I click on my matches’ profile. Let’s start with my cousin Cheryl who has a blue dot.  I was sharing with Cheryl before the transition.

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I can see my overlapping DNA with Cheryl, I can see her haplogroup and ethnicity, but at the bottom of the page, I cannot see any relatives in common because Cheryl has not participated in Open Sharing, according to the bottom of the screen shot below – although the blue/green dot indicates sharing, according to the legend. So does that mean we were sharing before (we were), but she has not clicked on open sharing since? And if so, what affect does that have? Which features and options are available under which kinds of old and new sharing combinations?  If Cheryl was sharing entirely with me before, which she was, why isn’t that sharing permission coming over into the new experience?  Why does she have to “reauthorize” sharing, if she has already given permission to share with me.  I’m confused, and let me say right here, that this question was never resolved.

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On the right hand side of the page is a place to type a message and send to my match.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, whatever your perspective, my closest matches are people I know well and was sharing with before.  This does make it much easier to do comparisons between the old and new experiences.

Let’s check another blue dot cousin.

Blue Dot Match 2

The next cousin’s information that I checked invited me to take a look at his tree. Now, that’s interesting because I didn’t think that 23andMe had trees anymore, so I clicked on this link.

Aha, I can see his tree, but the message above the tree says this:

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“As of May 1, 2015, the 23andMe Family Tree is view-only, and you are no longer able to edit or update your tree.  Your tree will remain available in this format in your account.  To edit or download your tree, import your tree data to MyHeritage.”

Of course, any tree with more than 250 people is not free at MyHeritage.

The match to this cousin says that he shows 103 surnames, but there is no matching surname feature to help me narrow down our matching surnames.

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There should be no difference between this cousin’s sharing status and the first cousin, because they are both blue, and we were sharing before the transition, but I can’t see his “Relatives in Common” either.

So far, this is very discouraging, because I can’t do or see what I could before with the same people who have previously authorized sharing.  I know, in one case, that the person is no longer actively involved in genealogy and that means that I’ve lost functionality because they can’t or won’t “reauthorize” sharing.  Why should they need to?

Let’s move on.

Grey Dot Match

My third cousin has a grey dot and he is not participating in open sharing, so I can’t see his ancestry report, which I’m presuming here are my chromosome matches with him, or the Relatives in Common. Ironically, he had a profile message that says, “Just interested in learning more about my heritage and family history…”

Clearly he doesn’t understand the sharing options either.

Yellow Dot Match

Let’s try a cousin with a yellow sharing dot, which means pending, although I’m not sure exactly what is pending, where, and with whom.

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Ok, this says that she is not sharing, in the top left corner, but that she has sent me a request to share Ancestry Reports. I’m open sharing, so why do I need to approve a request to share ancestry reports, and where do I do that?

23andMe does, however, show me our chromosome matches AND our relatives in common, even though we are supposedly “not sharing,” so I have no idea at all what else I would see if we were sharing.  In this case, what, exactly does “not sharing” mean and what else would I see by sharing?  Bizarre.

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I notice that she has send me a message. Messages show in the right hand margin.  That’s a nice feature, but still not as nice as the ability to e-mail someone directly.

Purple Dot Match

Last, let’s try a cousin with the purple open sharing dot.

Well, this is really confusing, because it says that they are not sharing, but again, I can see our chromosome matches. That looks like sharing to me!  I clearly don’t understand what “not sharing” means.  It’s pretty much clear as mud.

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I see a message at the bottom for me to request to share Ancestry Reports with her. However, I’m open sharing and since she has a purple dot, supposedly, so is she.

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23andMe has really made a mess of “sharing,” both in terms of implementation, it appears, and assuredly in terms of explanation.  There is not one category of “sharing,” including when both people are open sharing in the new system, or when both people have previously authorized sharing in the old system, where I can see every category in the new system.

Chromosome Browser 5 Person Comparison

I spent a lot of time hunting for the ability to compare the 5 people in the chromosome browser, although minute by minute, I was quickly reaching the “I don’t care” point.

Under the DNA Relatives Tutorial, it clearly says you CAN compare up to 5 relatives, and this page says you can too, but where and how? 23andMe omitted a rather critical piece of information, it seems.

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Please note that the above screen is displayed in Windows 10 using Internet Explorer, and if you scroll right, you can see more of the second column, but that’s all.

I finally found the Chromosome Browser that allows a comparison of up to 5 people, shown below. However, the function does not work correctly under Windows 10 with Internet Explorer. I switched to Edge and I could then see the compare option.  Believe it or not, it’s the same screen as above, but it doesn’t work correctly under Windows 10/Internet Explorer.

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Half Versus Fully Identical Segments

Another feature that appears to have gone missing in the “New Experience” is the ability to see half versus fully identical segments.

Half siblings will have NO fully identical segments, because while they both inherited DNA from their common parent, the other parent was different, so no segments that they have should match at the same address on both chromosomes, meaning the chromosome they received from their mother and the chromosome they received from their father.

On the other hand, full siblings will have a non-trivial amount of fully identical segments, and this comparison was the easiest way to unquestionably tell a half from a full sibling. The previous version showed you segments that were half identical and fully identical, color coded.  The new version does not and only reports half identical segments.

When comparing my V3 test to my V4 test, 23andMe indicates that I am a “twin” to myself, so all of my segments should be fully identical when compared to myself, but looking at the comparison, only the half identical segments are reported now.

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Here’s an example (below) at GedMatch of the half versus full functionality.  The screen shot below shows my Ancestry V1 kit compared to my FTDNA kit.  You can see by the legend that the green bar indicates a full match and the yellow bar indicates a half match.  On chromosomes 1 and 2, which is all that I’ve shown, you can see the tiny sliver of yellow segments where one kit or the other doesn’t read the same address, so at that location, there is a mismatch of some sort.  At every “normal” location, I match myself fully because I’m my own “identical twin” as far as the system is concerned, and I share both parents DNA fully when compared to myself, so a “full match.”

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Furthermore, at 23andMe can you view the DNA comparison results in a table, but you can’t download them yet to a spreadsheet, although 23andMe indicates that this functionality is coming. However, it used to work.

Downloading Aggregate Data

At the bottom of the DNA Relatives page, I found the Download Aggregate Data button. The “Save As” did not work correctly under Windows 10/Internet Explorer, but I was able to open the file, then save it.

Share and Compare

I get to watch another tutorial. The Share and Compare function seems to be primarily for people who have immediate family who have tested, such as parents, grandparents or siblings.

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The sharing and comparing all seems to be health except for Ancestry which is ethnicity. At the bottom, you can scroll through your matches and click on one to compare, and you’ll see much the same information as in the DNA Relatives section. If they are sharing health information, you’ll see more, such as traits.

Let’s see what else 23andMe has to offer.

Tools

On the Tools toolbar, I selected “All Tools.” We haven’t checked out “Family Tree” yet, so let’s do that. I didn’t think 23andMe had tree functionality anymore. Maybe this is a welcome surprise!

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The Family Tree link takes you directly to MyHeritage. So no surprise, at least not a good one. Too bad.

Previous Health Reports

Because I tested prior to the 23andMe run-in with the FDA, my previous health reports are archived in the “Reports Archive.” I must say that the new traits are, for the most part, simply cocktail party conversation as compared to what we received before, and for half the price of current testing.

V3 testers do not receive the “Carrier Status” report, and this is the only test that is offered today that is actually medical in nature.

I would strongly suggest that anyone who actually wants health information test at either Ancestry.com for $99 or Family Tree DNA for $79 and then upload their results file to Promethease for $5. You’ll get a lot more than the very abbreviated 23andMe V4 information that costs $199.

Notice 23andMe doesn’t call the current product(s) health reports, but “wellness reports.” I think this is borderline deceptive except perhaps for Carrier Status.

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Interestingly enough, both the Carrier Status and Traits reports under V4 require you to take an ethnicity survey before they show you your results, as does the Traits report under V3.

However, ethnicity is one of the things they are supposed to be telling you – in fact that’s one of the primary reasons people take these tests. So why do you have to tell them?

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Download your Raw Data

Do download your raw data. You can upload it to GedMatch, to Promethease or depending on when you tested (after V2 and before V4, in November 2013) you can upload the file to Family Tree DNA for $39 in lieu of the $79 Family Finder test. The raw data download option is now under “Tools” on the toolbar.

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You have to click on “I Understand” that you might discover sensitive health information about yourself or a family member.

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On the first page below where you see the title “Your Raw Data,” click on the blue download button.

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I encourage you to download your data while you are on the system, because it can be much, MUCH more difficult later, as I documented in this article.

Summary – Thumbs Down!!!!

As far as I’m concerned, there is nothing at 23andMe anymore for genealogists, especially when compared to the other testing companies, Family Tree DNA and Ancestry, who have both improved their offerings over the past several months.

23andMe provides fewer tools than they did previously to help genealogists identify their ancestors. As the other companies are making strides going forward, 23andMe is moving backwards.

23andMe doesn’t even provide anything as basic and simple as showing common surnames or a tree, both provided by Family Tree DNA and Ancestry. The new 23andMe interface is miserable and confusing, at best – for example – “sharing” which obviously doesn’t really mean sharing.  The new system is certainly not intuitive or written with a focus on genealogy, and their system times out horribly, outright fails and doesn’t work correctly with Internet Explorer on Windows 10. Many of the previous features used by genealogists have been obsoleted in this new version. Other than that, it’s wonderful (tongue firmly in cheek.)

As far as I’m concerned, genealogy testing at 23andMe is nothing more than a lure for 23andMe to obtain your DNA and answers to personal questions that are none of their business in order to utilize both for their own financial purposes.

Genealogists pulled 23andMe through the knothole by recommending them for testing when the FDA stopped 23andMe’s health testing. However, 23andMe, instead of enhancing their product for the genealogy market, has removed functionality, such as trees, Countries of Ancestry and full versus half identical segment identification – in essence stabbing genealogists in the back.

Both Family Tree DNA with their many tools and Ancestry, even without a chromosome browser, are both better choices. If it’s ethnicity testing you’re looking for, which is 23andMe’s strong point for genealogy, utilize either of the other vendors plus the many ethnicity (admixture) options at GedMatch.

The only person I would recommend 23andMe to now would be an adoptee looking for a very close match who did not find what they were looking for by testing with Family Tree DNA or Ancestry. In other words, I would only recommend 23andMe as a distant third and only in a pinch. For the normal genealogist, the other two vendors’ data bases and tools have become so large and robust that there just isn’t any reason to test at 23andMe.

I will continue to periodically check the 23andMe site, not for genealogy, but because I believe my father had additional children and I still have hopes of finding them or their children. I wish that 23andMe had implemented an option for notification of “immediate or close family” matches, but then again, they would have to be focused on genealogy in order to do that.

I have written one more article comparing the 23andMe V3 versus the V4 test matching and ethnicity, which holds some real surprises, but aside from publishing that article and an occasional check for my father’s possible offspring, I’m done with 23andMe, completely, entirely, finit, kaput, forever. I didn’t even bother to integrate my match file again in my DNA Master Spreadsheet. Downloading data with no corresponding ability to contact the tester (aside from the 23andMe message system on a website not functioning property), with an extremely low response rate, no trees and not even matching surnames isn’t fun, it’s simply frustrating.

23andMe is now far more work than pleasure and I’m simply done with them. As far as I’m concerned, they’ve had 3 years now to get their act together since the FDA issue…and they haven’t. The “new experience” has gotten worse, not better. The only positive aspect of the new experience is the new limit of 2000 matches, compared to no limit at the other vendors, open sharing, although there is still confusion surrounding that, and the fact that multiple profiles are now managed separately – thankfully. The other vendors have never been this unnecessarily complex relative to open sharing or multiple accounts, so they don’t have a corresponding mess to unravel.

There is a great irony here, because with 23andMe being the first vendor in the autosomal marketspace that was commercially viable could have owned the show, but they’ve blown it, over and over again. And they just blew it one last time.

I give the 23andMe “new experience” a big thumbs down.

67 thoughts on “New 23andMe Experience – In a Word, Disappointing

  1. Just saw this post – wow, wow…..just wow. After reading it, I am seriously considering cancelling my account with 23andMe and requesting destruction of my samples. Really disappointed to read this. Back to Ancestry, FTDNA and Gedmatch. Them seem to have everyone’s back.  – Laura S.New York

  2. Thank-you for the warning. What do you think about Ancestry ‘s warning system.(you receive a good cm match but when you go to look at the match tree – you get the message that you are not a match). I laugh it off but it is silly and unprofessional I think.

  3. Roberta, you are exactly right about this. Even Open Sharing, which should have been useful, is limited by the clunky interface they put over the process that used to be shown as Family Inheritance Advanced.

  4. I have to agree with you. I was one of the first customers on 23andme, and I loved the experience. I have 12 family members that I manage. This latest update is almost useless. I sure hope they restore some of the functions. The worst loss in my opinion is the new way of showing chromosomal comparisons without showing chromosomal outlines and centromeres and also double matches for siblings and others. I would no longer recommend it to any of my family or friends at least until they make changes.

  5. Roberta, i agree with you 110% on this. Im not sure without going back and rereading your article but looking for the Starting and End points with the chromosome browser was impossible to find. I had to send an email to Customer Service that took them 3 days to answer. And then it requires one to hover over the results with your mouse…..well for those of us who use our ipads a great deal, it is not user friendly…..and i am afraid that i have to make the same point for ftdna’s new setup…..it is NOT user friendly for touch screen users AT ALL. My feeling is the same as when i go into a familiar store….and find the shelves and items have all been moved. What was wrong with the old arrangement?

  6. Hey Roberta good post. I decided to do a little experiment with Ancestry’s DNA test. I have one DNA test that was V1 and Last month sent away for a test to check out if there were any differences in the V2 chip. The Ethnic composition is slightly different but only in moving a point or two from one ethnic region to another, no real difference there. The difference is in DNA matches, NADs and such. With V1 I kept getting false NADs and still do, with V2 those false NADs are gone. Also with V2 I have a lot of people who are not matched to me on V1. So I’ve come to the conclusion that Ancestry telling people they shouldn’t have to retest is a lie. If you want all your matches you should retest. I found it odd that my Mother’s DNA was matching some people that mine should have been in V1 but mine wasn’t. In V2 I match the people my mother does.

      • Unfortunately no. I probably won’t be doing much more with Ancestry anymore to tell the truth. I’ve reached the point in my genealogy that their website has nothing more for me, as of yet and I need to start taking trips to places and utilizing other resources. As far as what I can tell though V2 is much more accurate as far as matching goes.

    • Thanks for that piece of information, it is something I have been wondering about! In a couple of instances after comparing at GEDmatch we all matched. I was a bit perplexed!

  7. I hadn’t been on 23andMe in about a year but something prompted me to look just to see if there were any new relatives. I DID find, and contact, a new 2nd cousin from a branch in my tree I know little about. However, the only way I really knew to try and contact him was that I had a note in my database about a “possible” marriage and a surname. The names were close enough to follow-through on and I did. He responded and we are, indeed, 2nd cousins.

    As far as being intuitive and easy to get around on, I agree the new site leaves a lot to offer. Stuff I easily got to before I only accidentally found by just clicking around. When I tried to access what used to be forums on specific topics I could never get in! The site just sent me in circles.

    It’s especially frustrating for a DNA novice like me, to have my mtDNA not converted into the widely accepted designation. I am H1a3 which doesn’t seem to mean anything. Furthermore, you used to be able to sort matches by DNA designation (H1a3 in my case) and at least find people that way. If you can still do that I couldn’t figure out how.

    I dowloaded my DNA result from 23andMe to GED match about a year ago. I did find out there is a way to get my mtDNA “translated” into the more commonly used designation. To do that I will have to go back to 23andMe and download part of my DNA, drop it into a program and hope it gives me a useful reference. I agree with Roberta, it was certainly a thumbs-down experience. I may check back in with them again in a year or so, just to see if there is another “serendipitous match.”

    • Donna, the problem that i see with you only checking for new matches once a year or once in a while are those matches who are waiting to hear back from you regarding your relationship to them. As an adoptee who just hangs on every possible addition or match, it is frustrating and often upsetting to have to wait on ppl who are only casually interested in their dna matches.

      • Lois, I totally agree with you. I’m a 69 year old adoptee with NO information on either of my birth parents. I had such high hopes when I tested with 23andMe back in February. My closest relative match is 1.86% on 9 segments with an Anonymous female who is not sharing and who has not responded to my messages I’ve sent her, explaining my situation. Yes, it is extremely frustrating. If they only knew how very privileged they are to have so much confirmed, documented information on their relatives. My birth parents are probably deceased by now, and I’m searching for family members that most likely never knew of my existence.

  8. Glad to see that everybody else has caught up, I’ve been laboring with the “new and improved” 23andMe for many months now. Thanks for going into some of the frilly stuff, I wouldn’t have bothered with it, but your blog made it look interesting, so I dabbled with it a bit.

    Yes, the color schemes are atrocious. Three shades of purple for the first three matches? At least they could let us pick our own colors. Also, I simply cannot find any way of changing my profile. Picture change, yes, but the words on it are the same ones I’ve used for a year.

    I guess I’ve gotten accustomed to the chromosome browser experience part of it, because while you’re ready to chuck 23andMe (and you may well have good reasons) I still find it the most useful of the three DNA sites to work with matches. The Relatives-In-Common feature immediately tells me the relationship of the match to other open-sharing matches, and just yesterday, I quickly found a man, his son, and his mother, without having to play numbers games with the amounts of DNA.

    And where else (besides GEDmatch, with the attendant hassle of getting everybody involved to upload) can you compare any three people with each other for triangulation?

    D. R. Hunter

  9. there is also the annoyance of clicking on an individual’s family tree icon and never knowing whether you will actually find yourself on that person’s family tree or on your own w/ no way to see theirs unless you pay for a “my heritage” membership.

  10. I agree, I am disgusted with what 23andme has done.
    If you want health information be careful about testing with FTDNA because they block important snp’s for health.

  11. Roberta, the image under your text: When comparing my V3 test to my V4 test, 23andMe indicates that I am a “twin” to myself, so all of my segments should be fully identical when compared to myself, but looking at the comparison, only the half identical segments are reported now. shows where to get the compare to 5 feature. Click on Edit/then select yourself or someone to whom you want to compare against 5 other matches…

    Cheers, Christy p.s., I love your blog!

  12. As an earlier tester at 23&Me, I had a long wait for the “New” version. I should have taken notes about my experience. i was disappointed, though not surprised, and angry. As I recall, I thought the “New” version amped up their interest in health issues and did nothing at all to help with genealogy. Of course, Health is thier focus so I suppose I should not blame them. I preferred the “Old” 23&Me. As far as I am concerned, it was a little better with genealogy and did not require/ask for as much NOYB info as they now want. I also resent the need to have my tree at the other site. I have had several issues with them, several angry e-mails to them, little satisfaction with them and even though I quit that site, they still consider me a member and I get e-mails from them. My Tree at that site is gone but they continue to think it is there. I could go on about the MH site but will leave that. Lets just say that I am annoyed with 23&Me and permanently angry with MH. Glad I was tested at FTDNA and Ancestry.

  13. Roberta – I disagree with you. I find the automated triangulation a wonderful new tool which you do not mention at all – see http://blog.kittycooper.com/2016/05/a-triangulation-feature-on-the-new-23andme/ and the open sharing a vast improvement. I have many blog posts about navigating the new 23andme which wa initially disappointing but now that I am used to it, I quite like it.
    That being said I am sending cousins who want to test to ancestry or family tree DNA depending on their age (old=ftDNA), ancestry(USA=ancestry), and level of expertise (beginners to ancestry)

  14. I don’t like the new way they are doing things at all. I would like to upload my autosomal results to Family Tree DNA as my mtDNA result is on there but FTNDA says that I can’t upload the autosomal results as I was tested on a chip from 23andme that they don’t accept!

  15. I’m glad I’m not the only one frustrated by the new 23andMe. I even tried to understand it more by watching their YouTube video…but that got me even more confused. The “talking head” and her examples sped through the entire few minutes, giving very little useful information.. I can’t figure out why they would think that friends (not relatives) who were sharing in the old 23andMe so we could help each other, should be listed along with the people who actually have DNA in common with us. And, why did they need our non-sharing close relatives in the list…two of my children did not want to do the test. My parents and my sister are deceased. All in all, I agree with you that trips to 23andMe will be few and far between. I’ll spend more time on GEDmatch – hopefully, the newbies on 23andMe will send their data over.
    Jackie Reiss

  16. The only thing I do with 23andMe anymore is download the IBD Segment Spreadsheet and add new Matches to my spreadsheet. I’ll only try to message them if its key to a particular Triangulated Group. 23andMe used to be much more helpful to genealogists. They could be again if they want – I just think they don’t much care about us anymore.

  17. Thanks so much for this Roberta! I got transitioned 9-3 and have gone in a few times but its just not worth the bother. There are a couple of folks on the Forums there trying to help everyone who is experiencing difficulty but is that an indication of a well designed website? I don’t think so. Here’s what I have posted on my website “I am permanently suspending my recommendation to use 23andme for genetic genealogy for new US customers. Those in the UK and elsewhere may find good value here for the time being. This is based on several factors but the most important are the fact that it is functioning poorly and there has been a concerted effort by management to disregard the genealogist in the design and implementation of its new format. In addition the serious censorship of customers comments and the recent banning of three customers for their criticism makes this a DO NOT BUY for anyone with a conscience who cares about what happens to you after you purchase their product. Since they had been my top choice for value and tools this is a difficult statement for me to make. There may be some good reasons to test here but not specifically for genetic genealogy.” And I have seen no reason to change this.
    Thanks for all you do!
    Kelly Wheaton

  18. “As far as I’m concerned, genealogy testing at 23andMe is nothing more than a lure for 23andMe to obtain your DNA and answers to personal questions that are none of their business in order to utilize both for their own financial purposes.”

    Agreed. It’s a gift with purchase.

  19. Dad and I both tested back in May 2013 and are still on the old “experience”. Have never even received a single email advising me of any changes.

    I’ve had the blue bar on the pages of both kits I manage for as long as I remember. “23andMe has paused our research program in Canada. We’ll notify you by email when participation becomes available again.”

    Wondering if they’ve forgotten about me? I do sign on weekly to check but there’s been no changes at all and no new matches in ages.

  20. Roberta

    Love this report. Have not done DNA testing but am very interested. Saw a new hint for a “new” wife that I didn’t know about for my Great Grandfather William Henry Lore…..makes me more and more curious about the Lore side of my family. My cousin’s daughter just did a DNA test with Ancestry and was very curious where in her family tree she had relatives from Scandinavia but I see you have that as well.

    I’ve attached civil war enlistment record for Franklin and Francis Lore….they enlisted on the same day. Also some other paperwork for them. Still haven’t found out what ever happened to Franklin.

    What DNA test would you recommend?

    Thanks Paula

    • Hi Paula, I recommend Family Tree DNA and Ancestry, both, and in that order. Attachments in comments don’t work, so please e-mail me directly. I hope you will test. It will be fun to see if we match.

  21. Hi Roberta,
    Your experience with the new 23andMe correlates well with mine. I had to wait until my
    brother got transitioned over (although, oddly, he was v4 and I was v3, and should’ve been on new version earlier but I digress..). I had to opt-in on his behalf to “Open Share” (although we already were sharing!). Adding to the color-coded confusion, I still see a teal-colored “sharing” dot for my brother, not a purple one. (??)
    From what I understand — I believe it was a post on Kitty Cooper’s blog — is that
    “Open Share” unlocks the “Relatives in Common” feature which reportedly is a triangulation feature. Haven’t used the triangulation feature much myself, so can’t comment on it, but 170 “relatives in common” sure enough appeared under my brother’s info once the Open Share occurred. Of those in-common folks, shared DNA = yes is supposed to mean we triangulate. Not all in-common are marked yes.

    I believe you’re absolutely right… the half v fully identical chromosome map seems to be gone.
    This link seems to confirm it: http://www.anthrogenica.com/showthread.php?2353-Genome-Wide-Comparison-feature-has-been-removed-by-23andme
    From that link, I discovered you can type in the URL directly to get the new version https://www.23andmse.com/you/compare/ There is no more chromosome map, of course, and the info it provides seems to be incorrect. It tells me my brother and I share 86% of our genome (!?) — I’m not sure how that’s possible.

    Thanks so much for your awesome blog!

  22. Boy, Roberta, you nailed this one.

    You could have been writing my very own experience in all three of the accounts I have there.

    Thanks for your honesty and for giving the folks the straight talk.

    Buyer beware! For sure.

    Linda McKee

  23. Thank you for being forthright! Some of us are new to using DNA with genealogy. There is so much out there, which gets confusing as it is. Poorly designed websites do not help and from what you showed…that is poorly designed. I found that it was easier, for me, to test with Ancestry and pay to upload it on other websites if needed. My purpose, for taking the DNA test, was to find out who my great grandfather was and what happened to him. Luckily, that mystery was happily solved. I have not a clue where to start to compare DNA and such and appreciate when I get helpful hints with Ancestry. I know it has flaws also, but it is simple and was a good start. Do you have any recommendations for someone starting out in learning how to compare? I need something simple…I am more of a family scientist and not a genetic guru. I would love to use DNA to get past those pesky road blocks that I still have.

  24. Thank you for the overview of the new 23andMe. I wondered what had happened to the Ancestry-Chromosome mapping. I never would have known to look for them under Scientific Discovery. There is a nice opportunity available if you are willing to wade through html source code. With Chrome if you right click on the page and choose View Page Source, the start and end points for each of the ancestries on the chromosomes is there to be extracted,

    According to CeCe, 23andMe announced today a $99 ancestry-only offering so that puts them back in the game somewhat. I agree with you though; it is a lot of work to get good things out of the current experience.

  25. Hi Roberta,
    Speaking of new developments by DNA testing companies, I got an email from the MyHeritage.com that now states they have a new matching setup for DNA results from all 3 testing companies (DNA Matching). How does their system compare to the GEDmatch system that you talk about in several columns?

  26. My main account with immediate relatives hasn’t been switched yet, but I manage a couple of others who aren’t related to me under a separate account and that was switched over about 1 month ago. I agree with Kitty Cooper with respect to the automated triangulation being useful, but not having this with people with whom you are already “sharing” and yet they haven’t opted for Open Sharing is ridiculous. I have a few other dislikes not mentioned by others (although it’s possible I missed them).

    The layout of many of the screens is VERY poor, with far too much wasted white-space, which could be used far more efficiently. I’ve checked using several browsers on my laptop plus mobile devices (iPad and iPhone), so it doesn’t seem to be browser- or device-dependent; rather it is layout- or programming-dependent. The chromosome browser is far too “gappy” – there’s no reason for this to span 3 pages (at standard zoom) on a laptop with a large monitor to see all the chromosomes when comparing DNA segments (one person versus up to 5 others). And the colors for the matching segments are far from ideal: purple, pinkish purple, dark pink, orange, orange-yellow – more contrast would be better.

    One of the most horrible layouts is “Other Ancestor Birthplaces” located under the chromosome browser when clicking on a match in DNA Relatives (not that most people enter any birthplace locations!). I’ve attached an annotated screenshot at https://www.dropbox.com/s/ckogneo21w2wd4a/23andMeScreenshotAnnotated.jpg?dl=0. The columns for the ancestor birthplaces in both the columns for “You” and your Match are far too narrow (and the first column indicating what this is seems unnecessarily wide). Firstly, I had to go down to the 3rd screen on my laptop (with a large screen) and iPad before I even reached the Ancestor Birthplaces, due to all the unnecessary wasted white-space near the top and in the gappy chromosome browser. Then certain of the birthplaces (most not particularly long) wrapped to 2 or more lines – for example, Pennsylvania wrapped to 2 lines on my laptop, and even worse on my iPad, a location with as few letters as “England” wrapped to 2 lines (how crazy is that?) – several of the locations that weren’t overly-long wrapped to 4 lines, which makes Ancestor Birthplaces very difficult to review. Surprisingly, they looked best on my much smaller iPhone 6, where “You” and your Match are stacked on top of each other, rather than side-by-side.

    A definite improvement is that previous messages are now associated with our matches. However, the messages are squished in a narrow column on the right (see screenshot above), and you have to scroll across to read each line, and then keep scrolling down, so they are very difficult to read. A link to a different full-width page would be much better.

    Overall I’m totally unimpressed with the “new experience”. I guess the announcement yesterday that an Ancestry-only product is now available for $99 is an indication that their sales have taken a big dive.

  27. I saw someone post in a Facebook forum that 23andMe now have the option for Ancestry only back at $99 before reading this post, So I guess that is a good thing. There is still the Ancestry + Health Reports for $199. My question though is do they still give the haplogroups with the test? Also, I read in a previous post that you discovered you have a small percentage of Sub Saharan Ancestry. Were the the results for that on your previous version for 23andMe or another site?

  28. I am repeating myself from yesterday….i totally agree with Robertas analysis. HOWEVER what distresses me is where this about turn by 23andme and subscribers means…..Where does this leave us adoptees who way back when 23 was the only game in town, we are/were so hopeful to get the DNA answers to birth family and ancestors. Now with ppl turning away, not checking results, not replying to emails…etc????…now what? We feel thrown away again. The two strongest DNA matches with names for me at any testing site are on 23, they do not respond,(one of them it is 3 years now) others still remain unnamed, anonymous and dead in the water….and ive tested at all sites and loaded results to GEDMATCH…as a result of this manipulation of subscribers results by all companies i have decided to end my 60+ year search via paper trail and DNA for birth family……not a big thing for most but a feeling of exhaustion on my part.

    • The good news, if there is any, is that most of the people who are truly interested in genealogy have tested at all 3 companies, with 23andMe being the least likely of the three. So if your match is a genealogist, it’s likely you’ll match them elsewhere too. If they aren’t a genealogist who isn’t checking because the problems have turned them off, then there is nothing you can do. I guess what I’m saying is that for a genealogist who has tested to turn away from this resource isn’t a big loss for an adoptee because both people are very likely also in a second, or third, or fourth (GedMatch) data base.

    • Lois, You replied to what I said about only checking 23andme every year or so now because of all the problems. You decried that decision because you said people who did that were denying possible information to adoptees. You should know that when someone I do or don’t know tries to contact me through 23andme I GET AN EMAIL. I always respond to those, and have, in fact helped an adoptee who was distantly linked to me. I had squirreled away a roster of family reunion attendees from the early 80’s that had information she was able to use. My name is visible on the site and I set my account to full “sharing” which may be why I get the e-mails. I must assume that people who are not set up that way, don’t have their name posted, and don’t “share” REALLY DON’T WANT TO BE CONTACTED. There are many reasons why individuals test with 23andme and not all are interested in, or willing to participate in genealogical pursuits. I’m truly sorry about your frustrations but hope you will not give up the chase!

  29. I am so relieved to know that I am not the only one who has not mastered the “new experience.” I feared that my IQ had dropped 100 points. The previous format was totally self-explanatory (no need for tedious tutorials that don’t help anyway). The new page design is bizarre. What’s with all the globs of purple and pink graphics that serve no function and take up space.

    As for sharing, it seems I’m always requesting a share and after they respond, I try to find our common matches, and I’m told to ask the person to participate in Open Sharing. They have no idea what that is.

    One point you didn’t mention was the confusion I find with the messaging system. I have 9 profiles to manage, and most of us are related in some way. Suppose I want to send a message to Carol, and I know she matches with my mother and me and maybe cousin Deb. I want to pick up where my last correspondence with her left off six months ago. But I can’t find the old messages because I don’t remember if I was writing as myself, my mother, or somebody else. I have to keep switching identities and searching for our previous correspondence. I wish they hadn’t separated the messages into 9 inboxes!

    Well, I could also complain forever. Mostly I am just so very disappointed, and the relatives that I manage will have lost their money. It’s just too tedious to try to manage 9 people now.
    Thanks so much, Roberta, for writing this!

  30. I’m clearly in the minority, but I like 23andMe. They pull in a lot of quality matches not found elsewhere, and give me enough tools to make use of the segment data. And when I was upgraded (finally), I had 40-50 instant new matches.

  31. None of the DNA companies are great at all aspects of DNA testing. Each company has something good. I have learned the least from AncestryDNA but I have still learned things from testing there that I could not have learned elsewhere. I have learned the most from 23andme partly because of the old experience but I still think it I would have learned the most from 23andme with just the new experience.

  32. I posted this on a relatively new FB group regarding genetic genealogy, but it was quickly censored and deleted by the group owner, she who proclaims herself to be a supposed critic of 23. Do you see any reason why this information should be expunged from public view? Feel free to contact me privately if you have any questions.

    HOW TO COMPLAIN TO 23andMe

    Since most of the remaining members of 23andme were recently transferred to their “new experience” many are dissatisfied with it. Those of us who have ever voiced complaint to their “customer care” department know that doing so is usually a futile exercise. Typically a scripted response is sent, nothing is done about the complaint and it goes no further than that. What most people don’t know, and what 23 goes to great lengths to keep secret, is that you CAN contact the higher administration at 23andme and voice your complaint.

    The higher ranking administration of 23andme in effect operates in an ‘ivory tower’ protected from interaction with their customers. Their policy is that their contact information be shielded from the public. In addition the lower ranking administrators strictly enforce and punish attempts at revealing it. 23andme is about as transparent as a brick wall. Anyone who is a customer of a business, (and 23andme IS a corporation doing business), has a right to contact the owners or management of that business. It isn’t as if anyone is revealing their home addresses or phone numbers. All this information is available on the web if you know where to find it. There is no reason for you to fear any repercussion for contacting them at their business addresses. No corporation can control what you think, feel or express.

    You can easily contact virtually ANY officer of employee of 23andme by sending them an e-mail. The formula for knowing their e-mail address is simply the first initial of the person followed by their surname, followed by @23andme.com. This was revealed to me by a former administrator at 23.

    If you decide to send a complaint I recommend that you be firm but respectful. Never use profanity or threaten anyone, as voicing a complaint is not a license to harass anyone. But do not be timid or deferential about speaking your mind or your feelings. Think and act like a lawyer questioning someone in a trial setting. If your complaint goes unanswered you can persist and resend your message as many times as you see fit, as there is no law against initiating correspondence.

    Here is a list of some of the officials of the corporation and their positions:

    Awojcicki@23andme.com Anne Wojcicki, CEO, co-founder
    Apage@23andme.com Andy Page, President
    AWonson@23andme.com Angela Wonson, VP, Communications
    BKittredge@23andme.com Brad Kittredge, VP, Product
    JWard Jonathan Ward, VP, International
    NRothstein@23andme.com Neil Rothstein, VP, Marketing
    SLemon@23andme.com Steve Lemon, VP, Engineering
    KHibbs@23andme.com Kathy Hibbs, Chief Corporate attorney
    KBlack@23andme.com Kate Black, Privacy Officer and Corporate counsel
    KHillyer@23andme.com Kent Hillyer, Director of Customer Care
    Josie Sayegh, Forums Moderator

    These are the designers of the “New Experience”:

    SAndress@23andme.com Scott Andress, Director of Product Design
    CShei@23andme.com Crystal Shei, Designer
    DWei@23andme.com, Diane Wei, Product Design
    CMcCarthy@23andme.com Caitlyn McCarthy, Senior Designer
    GLin@23andme.com Gloria Lin, UX Product Designer
    SFurest@23andme.com Susan Furest, Associate Product Designer
    SChoi@23andme.com Sooyun Choi, Visual Design

    Beware! Do NOT attempt to post this information on the new 23 forum. They WILL censor you and might ban you from their forum for doing it. Their enforcement indicates that this company is defensive to the point of paranoia. (They cannot deactivate your account however, as that would be a breach of contract.) However, you can send this information to anyone who might be interested through their private message system (assuming that it is functioning, which it sometimes is not). Feel free to cross-post it on the web to increase awareness among customers of 23. We do have the right to complain to their administration and management, despite their not wanting to hear from us and their attempts to dissuade us from contacting them.

      • Connect the dots. I provided a post that promoted consumer advocacy and awareness, citing information that is publicly available on the web. Those named are corporate employees acting in that capacity, and any complaint directed toward them at their place of business is that of a business relationship. A group owner deleted my revealing the contact information. That’s unjustifiable censorship, as there was no valid reason to delete it. Since a group owner didn’t want the information revealed and she eradicated it, the direct result was that of shielding 23andme from its dissatisfied customers. That reveals the true nature of the censoring administrator. My thanks to Roberta for allowing the posting of it here. Feel free to highlight it or cross-post it in the interest of customer awareness.

  33. Several of my matches have asked to see my health reports. This to me, is weird, very weird.
    Seems analogous to their asking to see my undergarments.

    • That is weird and invasive! I had an experience, within the last year, where someone mass emailed DNA matches because they had cancer and needed a bone marrow transplant. It tugged on my heart strings that I wasn’t able to do it, but I thought it was a creative way to get a donor.

  34. My sister’s kit was transferred to me over a year ago but when her son, who recently tested, invited her to share, the invitation was sent to her defunct account. The old way was so much better.

  35. I love reading your posts, this one makes me wonder if you’ve talked to, or contacted anyone at 23 & Me. Cece Moore perhaps? She keeps sending upbeat emails and it really makes me mad when they’ve seriously screwed up their site and our experience!

      • This is reminiscent of the situation several years ago, where “ambassadors” from the membership of 23 were selected as liaisons to present their case to the administration of 23. Very little was accomplished. From what was reported in the old forum, the “ambassadors” were wined and dined and sent home, mostly empty handed. It will take 23’s customers individually complaining, and voting with their their pocketbooks and their feet before this company cleans up its act.

  36. Yellow Dot Match

    Let’s try a cousin with a yellow sharing dot, which means pending, although I’m not sure exactly what is pending, where, and with whom.

    the yellow dot indicates anyone you sent a sharing request to or if you have received a sharing request from one of your matches. I have noticed if someone has recently accepted sharing that the color is not correct and I imagine that might be the case with some others when they are changing status. So when they accept it should change from yellow to blue. Sometimes it changes to gray and then blue. I am not sure how long it takes for everything to update,

    • Red light, green light, yellow light. Such are traffic signals.
      As you said, “I’m not sure exactly what is pending, where, and with whom.”
      That’s nebulous and perhaps it is purposefully vague, without any certainty provided. This is the nature of all genetic genealogy. Welcome to the land of constant and continual uncertainty, reinforced through whatever signals are provided Traffic signals are more easily understood.

  37. I am glad I won’t have the experience as I purchased my kit in Australia. I believe 23andMe will jettison all its non USA customers when all USA customers have been transitioned and 23andMe decide to end the old website.

    In any case I won’t recommend 23andMe nor will I purchase any further kits from them. They have lost me and my money.

  38. Pingback: 2016 Genetic Genealogy Retrospective | DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy

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