Today is a big day for DNA-eXplained. I christened this blog on July 11, 2012 with an invitation for the world of genetic genealogy to follow along. Wow, what a ride!
Today, about 5 weeks shy of the blog’s 6th birthday, I’m publishing my 1000th article – this one. I don’t even want to know how many words or pages, but I do know I’ve gone through two keyboards – worn the letters right off the keys.
My original goal in 2012 was to publish one article per week. That would have been 307 articles this week. I’ve averaged 3.25 articles a week. That’s almost an article every other day, which even surprises me!
That’s wonderful news for my readers because it means that there is so much potential in the genetic genealogy world that I need to write often. Even so, I always feel like there is so much to say – so much that needs to be taught and that I’ll never catch up.
I wonder, which have been the most popular articles?
Most Popular Articles
The most popular article has received almost a million views.
I’m not surprised that the article about Native American heritage and DNA testing is number one. Many people want to verify their family stories of Native American ancestry. It was and remains a very large motivation for DNA testing.
- Which DNA Test is Best? – Compares the tests, companies and reasons for testing to help readers create a test plan that will provide them with the information they seek.
- Ethnicity Results – True or Not? – A short article from 2013 that compared my early ethnicity results. A better article today is the one above or Which Ethnicity Test is Best?.
- Mythbusting – Women, Fathers and DNA – Discusses that yes, women can match their father’s autosomal DNA. Some people become confused and think that women can’t match their father’s DNA.
- Concepts – Calculating Ethnicity Percentages – Comprehensive article showing inheritance paths from ancestors, discusses inheritance and why your results might not be what you expected.
- What is a Haplogroup? – A basic article for both Y and mitochondrial DNA. Good for beginners.
- 4 Kinds of DNA for Genetic Genealogy – A short overview article with graphics describing Y, mitochondrial, autosomal and X DNA – what they are, why test for them and what they can do for you. This is my basic go-to article and I refer people daily.
- X Marks the Spot – How to use X chromosome matching, including special inheritance charts. Males and females have different X inheritance paths which are very useful genealogically. A good companion article is X Matching and Mitochondrial DNA is Not the Same Thing.
- Thick Hair, Small Boobs, Shovel Shaped Teeth and More – Physical traits associated with Native Americans and their genetic basis.
- Ethnicity Testing – A Conundrum – Explains how and why ethnicity testing works – and sometimes doesn’t. This is my ethnicity go-to article and I use it all the time.
- How Much Indian Do I Have in Me? – If I had a dollar for every time I’m asked this question, I could purchase unlimited DNA tests and would be living in the south of France. This self-help article explains how to calculate the percentage of DNA people “should,” on average, carry from an ancestor. And yes, people still ask anyway.
One link I expected to see on this list, but didn’t, is my Help page. Maybe because it’s a page and not an article? Maybe I should publish it as an article too. Hmmm….
What Do These Articles Have In Common?
Four are about ethnicity, which doesn’t surprise me. In the past couple of years, one of the major testing companies has pushed ethnicity testing as a “shortcut” to genealogy. That’s both a blessing and a curse.
Unfortunately, it encourages a misperception of DNA testing and what it can reasonably do, causing dissatisfaction and kit abandonment. Fortunately, advertising encourages people to test and some will go on to get hooked, upload trees and engage.
The good news is that judging from the popular articles, at least some people are researching ethnicity testing – although I have to wonder if it’s before or after they receive their test results.😊
Three articles are specifically about Native American heritage, although I suspect people who discover that they don’t carry as much Native as they expected are also reading ethnicity articles.
Two articles are specifically not about autosomal results, which pleases me because many autosomal testers don’t know about Y and mitochondrial DNA, or if they do, they don’t understand what it can do for them or how to utilize results.
Several articles fall into the research category – meaning an article someone might read to decide what tests to purchase or how to understand results.
Key Word Searchable
One of the things I love about WordPress, my blogging platform, is that DNA-eXplained is fully keyword searchable. This means that you can enter any term you want to find in the search box in the upper right-hand corner and you’ll be presented with a list of articles to select from.
For example, if you enter the phrase “Big Y,” you’ll find every article, beginning with the most recent that either has those words in the title, the text or as a tag or category.
Go ahead, give it a try. What would you like to learn about?
More Tools – Tags and Categories
Tags and categories help you find relevant information and help search engines find relevant articles when you “Google” for something.
If you scroll down the right-hand sidebar of the blog, you’ll see, in order:
- Subscription Information
- Family Tree DNA ad
- Award Received
- Recent Posts
- Archives by date
- Top Posts and Pages
Bloggers categorize their articles, so if you want to view the articles I’ve categorized as “Acadians” or “Art,” for example, just click on that link.
I use Tags as a more general article categorization. Tags are displayed in alphabetical order with the largest font indicating the tags with the most tagged articles.
You can see that I categorize a lot of articles as Basic Education and General Information. You can click on any tag to read those articles.
My Biggest Surprise
I’ve been asked what’s the most surprising thing that I’ve learned.
I very nearly didn’t publish my 52 Ancestors series because I didn’t think people would be interested in my own family stories about my ancestors and the search that uncovered their history.
Was I ever wrong. Those stories, especially the research techniques, including DNA of course, have been extremely well received. I’ve learned that people love stories.
Thank you for the encouragement. This next week will be the 197th article in that series.
I encourage everyone to find a way to tell the story of your ancestors too. If you don’t, who will?
My Biggest Disappointment
I think my biggest disappointment has been that not enough people utilize the information readily available on the blog. By this, I mean that I see questions on Facebook in multiple groups every day that I’ve already written about and answered – sometimes multiple times in different ways.
This is where you can help. If you see questions like that, please feel free to share the love and post links to any articles. With roughly 12 million testers today and more before year end – there are going to be lots of questions.
Let’s make sure they receive accurate answers.
Please feel free to share and post links to any of my articles. That’s the purpose. You don’t need to ask permission.
If you would like to reproduce an article for any reason, please contact me directly.
Most of all, read, enjoy and learn. Encourage others to do so as well. The blog is free for everyone, but any support you choose to give by way of purchasing through affiliate links is greatly appreciated. It doesn’t cost you more, but a few cents comes my way from each purchase through an affiliate link to help support the blog.
I have a few articles in process, but I’d like to know what you’d like to see.
Do you have suggestions? Please leave them in the comments.
I’ve love to hear from you and I often write articles inspired by questions I receive.
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There’s so much available today – it’s a wonderful time to be a genealogist that’s using DNA. There used to be a difference between a genealogist and a genetic genealogist – but I think we’ve moved past that stage and every genealogist should be utilizing all aspects of DNA (Y, mitochondrial, autosomal and X) as tools.
Thank you for subscribing, following or however you read these articles. You’re an amazing audience. I’ve made the unexpected wonderful discovery that many of you are my cousins as well.
Thanks to you, I’ve unraveled mysteries I never thought would be solved. I’ve visited ancestral homelands as a result of your comments and assistance. I’ve met amazing people. Yes, that means YOU!
I’m extremely grateful. I started this blog to help other people, never imagining how much it would help me too.
I love writing for you, my extended family.
Enjoy and Happy Ancestor Hunting!
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Congratulations Roberta on your wonderful work and 1000th article. I have shared your links so many times over the 4 years since I got into genetic genealogy, and saved the articles myself to read time and again. They are so full of information, knowledge and are funny at the same time. Not sure how you do that. Write how you talk I guess.
Pretty much. Minus a few choice words:)
I’ve been a loyal fan for over a year now, and have learned so much by reading your blog.
I’m working on a project to try and determine which of 5 sons of our common ancestor the men in the group may descend from. They share the same surname, 2 of the 15+ men in the group have documentation back to our ancestor, but the remainder have little documentation.
Five have (or in the process of completing the BigY), and the others have tested to Y-37 or Y67. They are all fairly closely related, the most distant being YDNA-111/GD 6. YSeq is now offering a test that can identify if any are positive/negative for a specific SNP. If positive, I understand they’d be genetically related within the last 1500 years, and perhaps much more recent. The Yfull tree for our Terminal SNP indicates 1059 years to TMCRA. Another place says its between 2100 and 450 years ago.
Can you discuss the best route/strategy/tactic to take that would help point us in the right direction if the goal is to try and separate the men into specific lines of the same common ancestor.
I have the same challenge in the Estes line. Good idea.
Roberta, from the bottom of my heart, I want you to know how you have impacted and expedited my learning curve re the science of dna; and you have given me the opportunity to share and help other people, oft times with links to your posts.
You are GGG, generous, gracious and great!
You are the Everready bunny…….and the beat goes on.
Sincerely, from an ardent admirer.
Thank you so much – but I have to laugh. When I saw GGG, I immediately though of great-great-great-grandmother:)
Keep up the awesome blogging! You are an excellent educator, resource, and inspiration!
Roberta, devoted reader here, but I’m thinking you’ve let me down recently. You made two posts on DNAPainter and said you were going to be posting two more, one that showed how to use it to triangulate. Did I fall asleep and miss them? I love DNAPainter and would really like to see you write another great article or two about it.
No, you didn’t miss it. It’s written and I need to get it ready for prime time. Sorry – GDPR and this broken foot together have really messed with my schedule:)
Your work is like dessert. Icing on the cake. A banana split.
Just as these are all favorite treats so are your blogs.
You are one of a kind. A master at what you do.
Thanks for all the time and effort to share with us.
I especially enjoyed your blogs from your overseas trips and Ireland was a real prize winner.
All best in your future shares and endeavors,
Thank you. I’ll be overseas again this year and I’ll be taking everyone along again!!!
I forgot to say thanks for all excellent photography and the google maps that take us right down to street level at times.
I wish Europe had street level maps!!!
Congratulations! I have not been a subscriber long but I have enjoyed every article and have found them all very informative and helpful. Thank You!
Congratulations on your most wondrous milestone, Roberta! You have been a tremendous help in my learning about and how to use my DNA results. Here’s to your next 1,000 articles!!! #prolificwriter
Roberta, The forum I follow on familytreedna.com has lost two of its managers over the years. How do you replace an inactive manager? We have 37/37 and 37/36 matches and it seems there should be a way to find a common ancestor – but it is not happening! No, it can’t be me. I don’t know enough to manage a forum
If you ask, Family Tree DNA will send a message to the group if there are no administrators left to see if someone volunteers. As for you, none of us began with any experience. There is a “how to” video and they have an administrator helpline. Give it some thought.
Congratulations! I appreciate you and your blog so much!
Congratulations, Roberta! I was in a town yesterday, with 14 people (well, maybe a few more than that!), but it had 12 quilt shops! Thought of you, of course :-)!
Ummm…what town was that please????
Roberta – Thank you for your commitment to explaining DNA to the rest of us. It is amazing that you have written so many, many articles. I, too, love to read the articles about your ancestors because many of my own ancestors lived at the same times and places. Thanks again. I always enjoy your articles.
Sincere kudos to you, Roberta, for being so relentlessly dedicated in providing valuable information. You will receive many more words of praise, and they are well deserved.
Now for some commentary in response to your musings…
“Four are about ethnicity, which doesn’t surprise me. In the past couple of years, one of the major testing companies has pushed ethnicity testing as a “shortcut” to genealogy. That’s both a blessing and a curse.”
You are relatively old in years, as am I. The reality of modern times is that many younger people in today’s world are now of numerous ethnic backgrounds and also of mixed races, as well as some who are of unknown parentage. When someone is clueless about their personal identity, they become curious and they seek answers.There is a burgeoning market for this in genetic genealogy. Increasingly they look to it for easy answers.
“I think my biggest disappointment has been that not enough people utilize the information readily available on the blog. By this, I mean that I see questions on Facebook in multiple groups every day that I’ve already written about and answered – sometimes multiple times in different ways.”
I’ll dare to say that nowadays most people have become intellectually lazy, or spoiled – more through situational circumstance than by willfulness. The Web and the rapid expansion of tech devices that now provide immediate communication and information have led to an expectation of immediate gratification of needs and desires. IMO it becomes one of: just ask the question and the answer will be given to you with no effort involved – even if the answer is already available, having been posted previously in many ways, for you to discover. Discovery and initiative are becoming passe, outmoded, obsolete.
Now ask yourselves this: why would anyone expend any effort to discover anything if others are so eager to give it to them, just for the asking? In addition, those who ask of others receive not only the answer they seek, but they also get *** the emotional reward of receiving personal attention through a personal response from the giver***. As long as this personal interaction on the Web continues through blogs, fora and Facebook, you are spot on in saying “I think my biggest disappointment has been that not enough people utilize the information readily available…”
So why should they utilize that? 😉 Where is the incentive for them to do so?
After one has been rewarded or immediately satiated, incentive becomes diminished or extinguished.
My old farmer father used to say that if you go into a bar and ask 10 people for financial advice, you’re likely to get 10 different bad advices. Same with social media. No way to tell the good answers from the bad, or half-baked, or just opinions. That might not be a “good” reason why someone might want to utilize a known resource, but it is a valid reason:) Or maybe it’s just because I’m someone’s grandma that I think that!
Farmers usually become wise, often through life experience. But if someone asks anyone for advice (as in your example offered), it doesn’t mean that *all* the advice they might receive (10 out of 10) is always necessarily “bad” advice. Any assumption that all available advice (extended to that of information available) must be bad or invalid is prejudicial. There is a way to tell good advice from bad advice, but that requires judgement. Who are we to judge? It is essential in life. Maybe we have forgotten how to apply critical thinking and judgement to all that we see and hear. What will we be if we have lost or are no longer are willing to exercise that ability?
Thanks again Roberta! This information will give us newcomers to your articles a chance to learn so much we don’t know about Genetics and DNA testing. Son John went ahead anyway and
has taken all the YDNA tests, the mtDNA test, and the Family Finder test, and the Big Y test to
advance scientific research on .DNA. Happy to say he has been assigned to the son of Abraham,
Moses, and son of Moses , John, who married Elizabeth Chisum. This confirmed what we had
learned through genealogical research. It was so great to see his name posted on the Estes Surname Chart. Thanks for the work you do on that !!! It’s a wonderful work in progress !
Thank you for encouraging your son to test!!! Hope you and he enjoyed the Moses Estes article!
HI Roberta: Reread the comments above and realized I had not seen your response to me. Enjoyed the Moses articles so much and the Abraham history,
also. I was first led to searching the Estes family history when a lady at a Red Cross swimming lesson for our children asked if any of our Estes ancestors had come from Kentucky, specifically, a Martha Crow. I replied that I had not heard of her, or of any Kentucky kin I wrote to my husband’s Aunt, nee Estes, for info.
Kindly, she sent me a Bible given to her Father and Mother (Great-Grandparents of John) upon their marriage in 1886 in Iowa . In the Bible was a slip of paper written in response to a person’s inquiry about the names of siblings of
James Carroll Estes. The paper listed a number of names, and the fact that
most of the sixteen children of Joseph Estes and Ritta (Ritty) LEE were born in Mt. Vernon, Jefferson County, Illinois and the “Barefoot Nation” in So. Illinois. (Tried at that time to identify that location, but no luck!)
Fortunately, at that time we were living in the San Francisco Bay Area and
had access to the wonderful Sutro Library, a library devoted to Genealogy!
tRead the Charles Estes family book, sent to Goodspeed’s to buy it. Read his description of John Estes (son of Moses, son of Abraham) and the details of where his children settled. Mentions John ending up in Kentucky and Joseph
in Jefferson Co., Illinois. On one of our ‘searching’ trips’ we spent a few days at Jefferson Co. Verified through Deed that our James Carroll Estes was son of Joseph, son of John and Elizabeth Chisum. More on this trip later!
Thanks again, Roberta!
I wish I had seen this in 2018. I would love to correspond with you.
Hi again, Roberta—-Just realized James Carroll Estes is son of Joseph Carroll Estes, (married Sarah Ann Walker)., son of Joseph and Ritty. These Josephs and the Carroll middle name are easy to mix up! Wish I could find out where the Carroll came from! Hope you received pevious comment June 15, 2018
Beverly, our branch of the tree just got a new terminal SNP. John and Garmon’s sample both have it, so Moses had it. A new haplogroup was born. Isn’t that exciting!!
Roberta, I just checked in on your blog and, seeing your latest post, immediately felt I must express to you my gratitude for how much and how well you have helped me start to get a handle on DNA and genetic genealogy! While I have not read all of your articles by any means, I have definitely copied links to some of your postings/articles for others when they seem to need some advice. The thing that I think is so important is that without being able to refer back to your “teachings” I may have given up on DNA testing, or later trying to make sense of the results… you have a way of knowing what the pitfalls may be and of addressing the subject with intelligent respect for you audience while at the same time knowing that it is a complex subject and helping to forewarn us against easily made mistakes or assumptions. There is much I could say about the ways you have and are helping me along, but mainly I wanted to take the opportunity to add my applause for your intelligent consideration of the subject and your heartfelt desire and effort to share it with all of us. To your unique talent… Thank you so much!
I’d like to think your informative articles save the major DNA testing companies from redundant DNA 101 questions to their customer service centers. On countless occasions, I’ve share the link to your site with new DNA participants seeking answers to basic questions. As they say down on the ranch, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink”.
May you be blessed with many more years of lucid thoughts.
Thank you. Believe me, I want the same thing.
Thank you so very much for every one of these thousand entries.
You have been great help on my DNA testing journey. From which kind of DNA to use to achieve which goal, which company is best for each of these goals, how to interpret the results, and so much more. You saved me (and probably countless others) years of hard work with your easy to read and understand articles.
I can’t thank you enough.
I would also like to mention that the 52 ancestors series is very handy to understand how to put everything together, papertrail and DNA, to better understand how a ancestor lived his or her life.
As for a suggestion, I would like to know more about how BigY matching works. My father results came back a few months ago, and his only match is odd. He’s R-DF17*, down from R-DF27, but the match is R-P312, one mutation above R-DF27. What about the thousand or so BigY testers from the R-DF27 project, they are closer to me than my single match, why don’t I see them too? Are they too far down with too many mutations? Could the R-P312 match be less mutated than them?
Also, there’s two ancestors for which I’ll have to do some cluster genealogy. Do you have any method to share on how to organise the information? I’m not sure how to start these projects.
I appreciate you and your blog so much–I was lucky to find it soon after doing my first DNA testing with FTDNA (we’ve tested 19 family members now), and I refer people to your blog all the time and tell them to use the help page and the search part. I don’t have a science brain so I appreciate your way of making most of this science something I can usually–or almost, with lots of rereading, understand. And I particularly thank you for “Visiting Mom”–I copied and pasted a lot of that, printed it out, then wrote a letter to my father telling him how much it would mean for his grandkids in the future to have his DNA tested. I had asked him 2 years earlier and been told no. After the letter, and time for him to think about it, we talked and he agreed. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Thank you so much for sharing this part of your story.
And thank you for all you’ve done for me, and for all the others lucky enough to read your blog and learn from it. Another favorite post of yours was titled something like “Sarah’s Quilt” and told the reality of women and how little they could lay claim to in earlier times. I use that one to educate family and friends as to what women went through, and it makes me furious every time I think of all that women have endured. Thank you for all of your enlightening posts.
Thank you for all of the work you have done!
Naturally I agree with all of the congratulations and thanks above. I have shared links with innumerable posts and always been thanked for sending my contact to such helpful and clear information. Your site comes up at almost every meeting of my local genealogical society’s DNA Interest Group. No one, however, has taken you up yet (that I saw) on requests for future articles. I would like to see one on the reference populations used by the leading companies for ethnicity estimates, their numbers and the changes in those numbers. Back in I think 2015 you gave the numbers for FTDNA, and I was astonished to see that Britain was represented by exactly 39 people. No wonder, I thought, I didn’t have any British according to my results. I just didn’t match with any of those 39 people. Recently I have seen numbers for 23andMe, but I have been unable to find current numbers for FTDNA and Ancestry.
Congratulations, looking forward to more interesting articles. How about doing one on triangulation, when you don’t know the people ( your matches are 3rd cousins or more)?
Congratulations and an enormous thank you.
You have helped educate me in genetic genealogy.
Your mix of knowledge, research and down-to-earth attitude make your blogs the first choice for my recommendation to explain any new development to others.
Your 52 weeks series has one problem only: it’s too good. Some of us realize we can never be that good and put off tackling some of your areas of expertise such as mapping.
But it’s great to aspire to that level of integrating traditional vital data with land ownership, newspaper articles, family lore and location research and just plain visiting the site.
And it has encouraged many to take up just one ancestor and write a mini biography. Once people see they can do that themselves they continue.
I remember your initial undertaking to write a blog a week and compared it with many others who have set themselves one a quarter and still can’t achieve that for long. I thought your target courageous and have been astounded that you have kept up the pace.
But please do take a break now and then. Your fingers need to re-grow from time to time, surely.
You are an information machine and a very nice lady. Congratulations and God bless you as you have blessed Sandie and I.
I wanted to take the time to say thank you for helping us all work through our journeys by educating us in the world of DNA. Also to say congratulations. Hopefully one day when I can afford to do so I can order one of your personalized reports. I’ve found it very difficult to piece my story together. I was hoping you had a section dedicated to the Hispanics because our stories and history similar to African Americans are much more complex. Like for me my Haplogroup is L1b1a3 tested at the full sequence with FTDNA and Nat Geo. I’ve searched and read tons of articles and this is an African line. However my family originates in Puerto Rico. Both my maternal and paternal grandparents migrated from Puerto Rico to New York city as teenagers. I know the story is more complex than just that. I’ve been trying really hard to put the pieces together but I’ve hit the brick wall. I’m hoping that someone somewhere is doing research into Puerto Rico and can help those of us who hit the wall be able to go forward. In any case you have educated me through the process and I’m so grateful for that. I wish your blog nothing but the best again thank you.
Puerto Rico is especially difficult.