Today is something of a red-letter day. This is the 801st article published on this blog.
This blog, DNA-Explained, was christened on July 11, 2012 and will soon be 5 years old, as hard as that is to believe. In some ways, it feels like this blog has been around “forever” and in other ways, it feels like it’s very new, because there is always some interesting topic to write about.
Truthfully, I can’t believe I’ve written 800 articles. No wonder some of the letters are worn off of my keyboard. And it’s my second keyboard!
My original goal was one article per week, which would have been about 235 articles by now. I wasn’t sure I could accomplish that. It’s amazing what inspiration can do! I love genetic genealogy every bit as much today as I did then, if not more. What an incredibly exciting time to be alive with an unbelievable opportunity to participate in an unfolding field with new discoveries being made on an almost daily basis.
I had been considering a DNA blog when Spencer Wells, then Scientist in Residence at the National Geographic Society, suggested that I SHOULD author a blog. That encouragement was all it took to motivate me. Thanks so much Spencer for that final nudge!!!
Just 12 days after DNA-Explained’s launch, the Genographic 2.0 product was introduced and I was privileged to participate in that announcement.
I started writing articles in self-defense, truthfully, because I was receiving the same questions over and over again. I figured if I could write the answer once, I could then just point the next person with that same question to an answer that included graphics and illustrations and was a much better answer than I could provide in an e-mail.
Plus, repetitively recreating the same answer was a time-waster – and blogging to share publicly with the goal of helping lots of people learn seemed the perfect solution.
I had no idea, and I mean none, that DNA testing in the direct to consumer marketplace would explode like it has. I’m glad I started writing when I did, because there are ever-more people asking questions. That’s a good thing, because it means people are testing and learning what messages their DNA has for them.
Our DNA is the most personal record of our ancestors that we’ll ever have – and today more and more tools exist to interpret what those ancestors are telling us. We are still panning for gold on the frontier of science although we know infinitely more than we did a decade or 5 years ago, and we know less than we will 5 or 10 years from now. We are still learning every single day. That’s what makes this field so exciting, and infinitely personal.
Here’s part of what I said in my introductory article:
Genetic genealogy is a world full of promise, but it changes rapidly and can be confusing. People need to understand how to use the numerous tools available to us to unravel our ancestral history.
People also love to share stories. We become inspired by the successes of others, and ideas are often forthcoming that we would not have otherwise thought of.
In light of that, I’ve tried to include a wide variety of articles at every level so that there is something for everyone. I hope I’ve managed to make genetics interesting and shared some of my enthusiasm with you over the years.
To celebrate this 800 article-versary, I’m going to share a few things.
- Article organization and how to find what you want
- The 10 most popular articles of those 800
- Two things people can do to help themselves
- Articles I wish people would read
- Questions asked most frequently
Then, I’m going to ask you what you’d like for me to write about in the future.
Articles Organization aka How To Find What You Want
Blogs allow you to group articles by both categories and tags, two ways of organizing your articles so that people and search engines can find them.
Each article is identified by categories. You can click on any of the categories, below, to see which articles fall into that category. These are also some of the keywords for the blog search feature.
- Aggregated Data
- Ancestor Chromosome Mapper
- Ancestor Library
- Ancestor Mapping
- Ancestor Reconstruction
- Ancestry Health
- Ancient DNA
- Ancient Origins
- Archaic Humans
- Autosomal DNA Segment Analyzer (ADSA)
- Big Y
- Biogeographical Analysis (BGA)
- Book Review
- Britain’s DNA
- Charting Companion
- Chromosome Mapping
- Citizen Science
- CRS (Cambridge Reference Sequence)
- Data Bases
- DNA Day
- DNA Testing Companies
- DNA Traits
- Double Helix
- Double Match Triangulator (DMT)
- Family Finder
- Family Finder Matrix
- Family Matching
- Family Tree DNA
- Famous People
- Free My Genes
- Full Genome Sequence
- Full Genomes Company
- Gene by Gene
- Genealogy Not DNA
- Genetic Distance
- Genographic Project
- Grandparent Inheritance Chart
- IBC – Identical by Chance
- IBD – Identical by Descent
- IBP – Identical by Population
- IBS – Identical by State
- In Common With
- Ireland’s DNA
- Legacy Tree Genealogists
- Lost Colony
- Marker Frequency
- Match Groups
- MCRA (Most Recent Common Ancestor)
- Minority Admixture Mapping
- Mitochondrial DNA
- Mitochondrial Eve
- Mutation Rates
- Native American
- Non-Parental Events
- Novel Variants
- Orphan Train
- Personalized DNA Report
- Population Genetics
- Quick Consult
- Relationship Predictor
- RSRS (Reconstructed Sapiens Reference Sequence)
- Scotland’s DNA
- SNP (Single Nucleotide Polymorphism)
- Social Media
- STR (Short Tandem Repeat)
- Success Stories
- The Future
- Thousand Genomes Project
- Undocumented Adoptions
- Warrior Gene
- WTY (Walk the Y)
- X Chromosome
- Y DNA
- Yfull Company
- Yorkshire’s DNA
I’ve also grouped articles by tags as shown on the sidebar of the blog. The larger text indicates tags with more articles.
You can click on any of those as well (on the actual blog page) to view all the articles that fall into that tag group.
For example, one of my 52 Ancestor Stories would be tagged with “52 Weeks of Ancestors” but if it discussed Y DNA, that would be one of the categories selected.
At the end of every blog article, you can see the category or categories the article is posted under, tags and other pertinent information about that article.
The Top 10 Articles
- Proving Native American Ancestry Using DNA
- 4 Kinds of DNA for Genetic Genealogy
- Ethnicity Results – True or Not?
- Mythbusting – Women, Fathers and DNA
- Genealogy and Ethnicity DNA Testing – 3 Legitimate Companies
- How Much Indian Do I Have in Me???
- What is a Haplogroup?
- Thick Hair, Small Boobs, Shovel Shaped Teeth and More
- Ethnicity Testing and Results
- 23andMe, Ancestry and Selling Your DNA Information
The Two Things People Can Do To Help Themselves
- Search first.
Before asking a question, I wish people would try searching my blog for the answer. Using the search box in the upper right hand corner, the blog is fully key word searchable.
Furthermore, even if you can’t figure out the right key word to search, you can also find articles on my blog by searching for phrases using google.
2. Upload GEDCOM files.
Your DNA testing is only as good as the comparisons you can make, and the ancestors and ancestral links you can find. Please, please, PLEASE upload GEDCOM files to Family Tree DNA and GedMatch. If you don’t have a tree, you can create one at Family Tree DNA. Link your tree to your DNA results on Ancestry and share your results. 23andMe has no tree ability at this time.
The Articles I Wish People Would Read
In addition to some of the articles already listed in the top 10, I wish people would read:
- Ethnicity Testing – A Conundrum
- Concepts – Calculating Ethnicity Percentages
- Finding Your American Indian Tribe Using DNA
- The Concepts Series – an ongoing educational series of 16 articles launched in February 2016
- The help page with answers and guidance for the most commonly asked questions.
Questions Asked Most Frequently
- Questions relating to Native American heritage and testing.
- Questions relating to ethnicity, especially when the results are unexpected or don’t seem to align with what is known or family oral history.
- Overwhelmed newbies who receive results and don’t have any idea how to interpret what they’ve received, which is why I created the Help page.
The Future – What Articles Would You Like to See?
It’s your turn.
What topics would you like to see me cover in upcoming articles? Is there something in particular that you find confusing, or enticing, or exciting?
I’m not promising that I’ll write about every topic, and some may be combined, but articles are often prompted by questions and suggestions from readers.
And speaking of readers…
A very big thank you to all of my subscribers and followers for making DNA-Explained so popular and such a success. You folks are amazing, infinitely giving and helpful. We really are a community!
I receive a small contribution when you click on some of the links to vendors in my articles. This does NOT increase the price you pay but helps me to keep the lights on and this informational blog free for everyone. Please click on the links in the articles or to the vendors below if you are purchasing products or DNA testing.
Thank you so much.
DNA Purchases and Free Transfers
- Family Tree DNA
- MyHeritage DNA only
- MyHeritage DNA plus Health
- MyHeritage FREE DNA file upload
- 23andMe Ancestry
- 23andMe Ancestry Plus Health
- Legacy Tree Genealogists for genealogy research
And we, your faithful readers, have learned a lot from your wonderful “plain English” explanations of all the intricacies of genetic genealogy. Congrats, Roberta… take a bow… you’ve earned it.
A great effort Roberta – and for someone like me, with minimum knowledge to start with, your publications have been very much appreciated.
Best of Wishes for the future. Rex Johnson
We all started with minimal knowledge someplace:)
Thank you, Roberta! I’m so glad you’re writing this blog. I’ve learned something about DNA, and I especially appreciate your 52 ancestors topics. I’m thrilled that we share some ancestors – Rev. George McNeil, Thomas & Elizabeth Day, Sarah Hickerson, and some Vannoy (not sure which). I’m looking forward to more articles!
I have been especially blessed to “meet” so many cousins!!!
Actually, I really enjoy the 52 Ancestor series because it allows me to apply the DNA, when I have it for that ancestor, to their own story.
DNA IS overwhelming. I keep getting lost. I’ve only been reading your articles for a week or two and you have cleared up several issues. I almost wish your blog wasn’t quite so long, as I want to print different ones out so that I can read them comfortably (also I am now a senior and don’t like to sit at the computer that long). I am going to contact (and pay) you later this year for your expertise in understanding either my or my brother’s dna. It depends on which side of the family I am more ‘stuck’ on.
So I keep trying and reading. Thank you for the guidance.
I was fortunate to have a science background as well as a seat at the beginning. I feel for someone just beginning today – it must be like drinking from a firehose.
We are truly the ones that are blessed to have someone that cares so much about the same things as we do and then to write about them in such a way that not only is our knowledge and understanding increased, but we look for each new blog subject with great anticipation. Kudos to you!
I’ve been really glad to have found your blog as this type of sleuthing is right up my alley. I just need to learn how to use the tools and methods so I can get into the nuts and bolts of it. Once I get my aunt and uncle to complete their test (bought through the help of your FTDNA sale coordination BTW), I think I’ll have a pretty good base of tests to start to put the methods to practice.
I look forward to continuing to learn about this genealogical DNA field and again thank you for putting this information out there for the rest of us
It’s always excited when results of close family members are returned, because they help to identify ancestors from that side of the family!
Congratulations, Roberta, and thanks so much for your blog. You are a treasured resource!
Roberta, Your blog is always fascinating, no matter your topic. The depth of your knowledge seems infinite and your dedication is remarkable. Words are not enough to express my gratitude at how much help your blog has been in my ancestral search. I’ve been doing genealogy since 1971 (okay, so I’m no a Spring chicken – LOL) and genetic genealogy has allowed me to leap brick walls I thought I’d look at until I *joined* my ancestors. Thank you so much!
That’s truly the beauty of genetic genealogy isn’t it. Sometimes when there are no more traditional avenues available, there’s DNA.
Dear Roberta, Thanks for all your hard work. I am a ”intelligent” ignoramus when it comes to the DNA stuff. I have a Phd +++ other degrees but have a very poor science-maths type brain and find it quit difficult to understand the simplest things in translating my autosomal DNA and my brothers Y-DNA on Family Tree results into anything meaningful. I have a fairly solid family tree on paper (ancestry) and all I have done is to put an ** after a person’s name if I have a match with a common ancestor from someone else’s DNA match. Rightly or wrongly I have assumed that this means that my tree must be ‘right’ back to that common ancestor. Is is a correct assumption? I have no idea what to do with all the rest. I have also the Y-DNA from my brother and the number of matches seems exponential. In your post today you asked what we the blog-ees would like to see. I would like fewer words and detailed explanations and more simple dot points to achieve an objective e.g. If you are using ancestry and you want to xyz here is what to do? 1. Click on the DNA tab at the top. 2. 3. etc. I find it really annoying that I do not know which matches I have investigated as they do not seem to have any indicator. Thanks for your consideration. Regards
Congratulations, Roberta. I constantly reference your blog articles to people in my CTS4931 SNP Group. I’m going to attempt to give a genealogy talk Saturday at our local library. I’m definitely going to suggest people read your blog!
Best of luck to you. I know you’ll do fine!
For some, anything to do with genealogy just bores them to tears. It’s just not their cup of tea. Your blog gives many of us a place to share thoughts with others that share the same interests. I’m grateful you’ve provided a platform for many family genealogists that crave an audience that understands and appreciates this hobby.
I would appreciate reviews of any of the television programs or news stories that mention genetic genealogy.
I will continue to recommend your blog to newbies of DNA testing.
900 or bust!
You made me smile. I thought about waiting till 1000, but’s going to be a ways away.
Thank you so much Roberta – from one of your Australian subscribers. Top blog.
Thank you so much for all your information, which you’ve shared with us not blessed with a scientific bent. I’m so glad I found your blog early in my DNA journey and I’ve recommended it to so many others since then. Please keep up your good work. You are greatly appreciated!
Thank you so much. I know you are a long-time subscriber.
Topics I’d like to see you write on (or refer to a more knowledgeable source):
Relative rates of DNA testing in foreign countries
How to find crossovers
The probability that a segment shared with a known relative is all from the same parent of that relative (and is it different for cousins vs. aunts/uncles?)
Keep up the good work!
Thank you for the suggestions.
Congratulations. I never miss one and have recommended it to my audiences at the Orange County California Genealogical Society. Keep up the good work.
Congratulations. Your blog is such a service.
Roberta, I read your blog like a history of our country book, it is so interesting! Keep writing!
Congratulation for the 800 posts! *champagne pop*
It really feels like it has been around forever, as it was already there full of entries when I started to take interest in the subject.
I like the way the article written; concise, yet you take the time to explain the details properly. And with a good serving of humour to make enjoyable an essay which could otherwise be quite dry.
What would I like to read…
“What you can when you have no match”, I tested my father y-DNA lately and he has only one match, he share the same last known ancestor, but it seems he has been deceased for 8 years and it was his business email (an university teacher of Biology in Texas) and he has no tree. *sigh* I don’t have spare money right now to test anyone else. Any creative idea?
I would like a yearly update of your August 2012 article “The DNA Pedigree Chart – Mining for Ancestors”.
When you say you’d like an update of the DNA Pedigree Chart article, do you mean how I’m doing on completing my pedigree chart or do you mean something else?
I simply meant you just redo the table, how many ancestor identified, what percentage IDed, How many you know the DNA signature, then percentage. Feel free to add more as you see fit. I want to see how you progress on this front.
It could be part of an end of the year review.
Unfortunately, progress has been slow:( The earlier ones were easier. Now it’s difficult to find the right lines.
In your case, since you know who the match is (or was), I’d find his obituary and online information about him to find his parents. Then, start working the census and Ancestry trees and work his ancestry backwards on his paternal line. Generally the hard part is figuring out who they are, and in your case, that’s already done!
I’m stuck with his father, he had a quite common name and although I have his birth date, I don’t know where it was. It could be anywhere in Canada or United States and I found quite a few possible candidate. I need to find my match’s parents together in an obituary or a marriage act, with their parents names also, so I could then find the right family in the censuses. -__-
OK, forget about it, I think I found him! In the same town where he was buried! I overlooked it because the son wasn’t on the same page as the father (who share the same given name), so I though the he was too old. Maybe I was sleep deprived when I looked this up…
Anyway, thanks for the lucky vibe! ^_~
Things went much more nicely than expected, I’m already at my match’s 9x great-grand-father. o.O
Although I need to better document the generation which move from Canada to United States to make sure I’m not making mistake. On the down side, our line meet sooner than hoped (hence how I can make the tree this fast).
Congratulations Roberta! Spencer Wells has been a Hero of mine for about 10 years…and now you are a Heroine of mine! 800 articles…wow! to the best of my knowledge, you have done more work translating genealogy&DNA into plain English than anywone else I know. Thank you for your great work! Georgeann in MX