Ancestry to Remove DNA Matches Soon – Preservation Strategies with Detailed Instructions

Yesterday, Ancestry announced that they are going to remove smaller matches from their customer’s DNA match list around the first of August. I was not on this conference call myself. However, it’s a small community and others have reported consistent information.

I’m going to report what was said, then lay out a strategy for you to preserve your most useful smaller matches.

Update 7-18-2020: I have received clarification on several questions. I’m putting the updated information here:

Only segments below 8 will be deleted. However, Ancestry “rounds up,” so a segment between 7.5 and 7.99999(repeating) will be rounded up to 8. The only way to assure that you save all of the segments between 7.5 and 8 that you wish to preserve is to add all 8cM segments to groups or make notes, as described in the instructions. I’m referring to these segments as 6-8 cM segments.

ONLY segments to be salvaged will be ones in groups, with notes or matches whom you have messaged. Ancestry has confirmed that matches without these things, meaning matches in ThruLines or that you have placed in your tree will NOT BE PRESERVED unless they are grouped, have notes or you’ve messaged. 

The determining factor is total cM, not smallest cM. So total cM between 6 and 7.9999, which rounds up to 8 will be removed. Multiple 6 cM segments where the total is 12 will be fine, for example. Again, it’s the total cMs, so no math needed.

Also, in August, Ancestry is adding decimal points to the amount of cMs. After that occurs, you won’t need to save 8 cM matches to salvage 7 cM matches that have been rounded up. Focus on 6 and 7 cM first.  

7-26-2020 Update – Ancestry has posted that they have delayed the purge until the beginning of September, allowing another month to save 6-8 cM matches. They also confirmed that starred matches (in the groups) will also be saved. 

A Little Background

For a bit of history, this isn’t the first time that Ancestry has removed a large number of matches. In fact, they’ve done it twice previously, first with the introduction of their Timber algorithm resulting in a loss of over 50% of matches, an event nicknamed “Autosomalgeddon.” The screaming could be heard round the world.

In May of 2016, Ancestry revised their algorithm again which resulted in losses.

Then, as now, Ancestry told customers the matches that they lost would be mostly “false matches,” but in many cases, these matches proved to be accurate but from endogamous populations. For example, I lost most of my Acadian matches because Ancestry determined that they were simply a “pile-up region.” Those matches have proven to be valid and triangulate elsewhere.

In any case, there’s no point in crying over spilled milk.

However, the glass is about to be tipped over again so let’s figure out how to make the best of this situation and preserve as much as we can.

Why Now?

Recently, Ancestry announced that they have sold a total of 18 million DNA tests. That’s good news for testers, at least on the surface.

Ancestry overtaxed.png

If you’re a regular Ancestry user, you might have noticed that their response recently has been slow and buggy with regular timeouts. I see this notice regularly.

Last month, Ancestry’s lawyers sent cease-and-desist letters to every third party tool (that I know of) that their DNA customers can utilize in order to perform activities such as clusters, downloading a match list and downloading a list of direct line ancestors for your matches into a spreadsheet so that you can search for common surnames that might NOT already be in your tree. That, by the way, combined with triangulation, is the key to breaking down brick walls and pointing the way to previously unidentified ancestors – but I digress.

As you know, I’m a huge fan of both Genetic Affairs and DNAgedcom, both of whom provided tools to enhance and manage the huge list of matches at Ancestry – turning those individual matches into something infinitely more useful.

Ancestry 92K

No one can reasonably evaluate 92,000 matches or make use of most of them.

Ancestry match categories.png

You can see how many matches fall into each group. Unfortunately, by selecting the custom range, the list of matches is displayed, but the number of matches in that range is not displayed.

The answer is NOT to remove those smaller matches unilaterally, which is the approach that Ancestry is taking, but to utilize better tools to identify valid matches.

These third-party tools signed on to our account, with our permission, on our behalf, and utilized the power of computers to process data that would take us days, if it was possible at all with the huge number of matches that each person has now. This is, after all, the purpose of computers – right?!?

While I was certainly unhappy with the letters threatening the people who provide us with tools to utilize our own results – I was hopeful that it meant that Ancestry was going to provide something similar internally.

Now, retrospectively, I think that Ancestry is trying to find a way to manage their 18 million testers and their matches without adding infrastructure resources. They want to reduce the processing load and when the cease-and-desist letters didn’t have the desired effect on their servers, they looked for other methodologies.

Clearly, providing users with fewer matches means less to manage in a database which equates to freeing up resources.

Ancestry’s commentary is reportedly that this purge will remove “most false matches.” Of course, it will also remove all accurate matches at that level too – and yes, you can in many cases tell the difference.

False Matches

According to LostCousins and others who were on the call, Ancestry indicates that they will remove most if not all matches less than 8 cM. Today, the matching threshold after Timber and Ancestry’s academic (not parental or family) phasing algorithm is 6 cM. Their current algorithms are intended to remove most false matches.

An 8 cM match can be any of the following relationships, according to Ancestry:

Ancestry 8 cm percent

However, as genetic genealogists, we know that with unphased data, 7cM matches are equally as likely to be false matches, identical by chance, as they are to be genuine matches.

There are certainly better ways to assure valid matching other than a mass deletion, such as:

  • Clusters (like Genetic Affairs, DNAgedcom and others,) genetic networks that indicate that people in clusters are related to each other. These are like shared ancestors on steroids.
  • Phased Data (like FamilyTreeDNA’s Phased Family Matching) that phases your matches with known family members, assigning the match either maternally or paternally.
  • Triangulation (like at MyHeritage, FamilyTreeDNA and via third-party tools that received the cease-and-desist letters.)

As Ancestry did in 2016, they apparently will NOT delete matches that you’ve been using, as defined by when:

  • You’ve added a match to a colored dot or star match group.
  • You’ve entered a note for the match which of course indicates that you’re working with them.
  • You’ve sent a message to the match.

I would hope that any matches you’ve placed in your tree would be spared as well, but that criteria is not mentioned on any list I’ve seen. (Update – they are NOT spared and will be deleted.)

I’ve also seen nothing indicating that if you share a match with your parent, which is the definition of parental phasing, that those small matches will be spared either. However, “Shared Matches with Mother” or father is in the group list, so maybe. You could easily add a group for that to be sure everyone is in a group that might be at risk. (Update – shared matches with parents will be deleted.)

It was reported that Ancestry specifically stated that a match showing up in your ThruLines does NOT preserve them in your match list. (Have received confirmation that this is accurate.)

Why Preserve Matches?

You must surely be asking yourself why you need to go to the trouble to preserve these matches – especially if Ancestry seems to think otherwise. Keep in mind that once they are gone, you have no option to work with them, ever.

There are five primary reasons for preserving at least your best matches that are in jeopardy.

  1. Confirming Ancestors – You can confirm your descent from an ancestor you believe to be yours. Without triangulated segment information, which is not available at Ancestry, the best way to do this is by looking at whether you match the DNA of people who descend from multiple children from that same ancestor. If you only match people descended from one child, the same child as you, it’s certainly possible that you have all mis-identified the same person erroneously in your tree.
  2. Sharing Information – photos, etc. You never know who is going to have what gem of information. In the past two weeks, I’ve been blessed by a photo of a third-great-grandfather and a letter from his wife to her daughter. On another line, a photo of a watch case and on a Dutch line, a box with a photo of my ancestor’s sibling surfaced. Reach out to see what kind of information your matches might have. Yes, you may have to wade thought a lot of duds, but you just never know where that nugget will be found. They are out there.
  3. Potential Ancestor Suggestions – Seasoned genealogists may not need potential ancestor suggestions provided by Ancestry, but new researchers certainly do. Old-timers have already done a lot of the digging – but you never know when something useful will turn up. For every brick wall that falls, there are two new opportunities.
  4. Y and Mitochondrial DNA Candidates – Y and mitochondrial DNA holds information not otherwise available. I wrote a short description of the different kinds of DNA, here. I utilize ThruLines and searches to locate candidates for Y and mtDNA testing for all of my genealogy lines, asking if the person would consider those tests at FamilyTreeDNA. Ancestry doesn’t offer that type of testing. Generally, I offer a DNA testing scholarship. I figure a Y or mitochondrial DNA test is the same price as a reference book (or two) and the resulting information can only be obtained from people descended from those ancestors on a specific path. In other words, that type of DNA is much, MUCH rarer than reference books. As a quick review, Y DNA follows the direct paternal (surname) line in males only, and mitochondrial DNA is inherited by both sexes of children from their mother, but only females pass it on. You inherited your mtDNA directly from your mother’s mother’s mother’s mother on up the direct matrilineal line.
  5. DNA Transfers – Other vendors, meaning both FamilyTreeDNA and MyHeritage offer unique and much more robust tools that utilize DNA segment information. You can transfer to either company and receive matching for free, paying only to unlock advanced features. GEDmatch, a third party tool doesn’t provide testing, but does provide additional analysis tools as well. Depending on where the majority of your family has tested or “gathered,” you can ask or encourage your Ancestry matches to transfer so that you can confirm that you share triangulated segments. You may be able to provide them with information about their genealogy that they don’t otherwise have access to at Ancestry. I wrote step-by-step transfer instructions, here, for each vendor.

Of course, if you no longer have the matches to work with – these benefits won’t be available to you. This is exactly why it’s critical to identify the most crucial smaller matches and preserve them now. Once Ancestry has removed them, they are gone forever unless they transfer to one of the other vendors.

Ok, so how can we identify and preserve the most important of these matches?

Preservation Strategies

This mass extinction event is supposed to occur about the first of August. When this happened in 2016, we were never given a date and time – just a general date range and one day it just happened.

Here are my recommendations for how to preserve matches that stand the best chance of being relevant, even if they are between 6 and 8 cM.

Please note that I recommend all of these approaches, not just one. Each one will catch people that the others don’t – which will preserve the most likely matches to be useful for you.

First, under DNA Matches, create a “holding group” so you can use that group to preserve matches.

Ancestry groups.png

You’ll use a group as a way to prevent the deletion of the match.

Ok, let’s get started.

Auto-Clusters and Third-Party Results

If you ever ran third party cluster tools on your Ancestry data (before the cease-and-desist orders), refer to those clusters now, looking for the size of the matches, focusing on any 8 cM or lower for the longest segment. It’s probably not happenstance that you match all those people and they also match each other.

I believe DNAgedcom is still functioning, so you may be able to obtain cluster information there. If you need assistance, check in with the DNAGedcom User Group on Facebook, here.

If you don’t have time to analyze each match now to determine which actual group the match belongs in, create one group at Ancestry that is simply a “Preservation Group” so that you can assign the person to the group in order that they won’t be deleted. Remember, the only matches in jeopardy are the ones from 6 to 8 cM inclusive.

ThruLines

Ancestry thrulines

ThruLines is the best tool that Ancestry provides in terms of doing the DNA-plus-tree-matching work for you. ThruLines searches for people whose DNA you match and who also have a common ancestor in your tree. Or at least someone who Ancestry thinks may be a common ancestor. It’s up to you to verify.

On your ThruLines page, click on any Ancestor appearing on that page. The fact that an ancestor appears on ThruLines means that there is at least you and one other person whose DNA matches and you share that common ancestor.

I’m going to click on Lazarus Estes, my great-grandfather, because I have several matches through him.

Ancestry list

By clicking on the List option, at the red arrow above, you will see the various matches by their line – meaning which child of Lazarus Estes.

Ancestry 9 cm

Unfortunately, Ancestry does NOT tell us the individual segment sizes. They tell us the total segment match (after removing anything they think is too matchy) and the total number of segments. You only need to be concerned about segments between 6 and 7.99 cM in size, but currently Ancestry rounds up so segments above 7.5 will show as 8 on your list. You will need to save those as well, or you will lose at least half of your 8 cM matches.

Moving down to the match in the red box, that person matches on 9 cM, so while they are not officially in jeopardy, I’m taking this opportunity to make sure they are assigned to the Lazarus Estes group. Ancestry didn’t say that they won’t delete any matches over 8 cM, so I’m being careful.

Ancestry profile

To access the area where you can add this person to a group and make a note, click on their profile picture.

Ancestry note

You’ll see your photo, plus theirs and the links to add this match to a group, or to add a note.

Ancestry predicted this match to be 5th-8th cousins, but they are my second cousin twice removed.

Ancestry group assign

Shared Matches

Shared Matches is not a preservation method, because Ancestry does NOT show any shared matches below 20 cM, unfortunately.

Ancestry shared match list

Common Ancestors

Ancestry common ancestors

Common Ancestors equates to ThruLines. Click on the Common Ancestors link to view all of your matches with whom a common ancestor can be identified in one list.

Ancestry common ancestors list

These matches will be presented in the largest to smallest match order, not by ancestor like ThruLines. This makes it easier to just keep scrolling and scrolling to the bottom of the match list where your most distant match that can be identified with a confirmed or potential common ancestor is listed.

If you managed to assign all of the matches to groups from your Thrulines, your smallest “common ancestor” matches should all be assigned to groups. Larger matches aren’t in jeopardy.

I have several pages of people who are in jeopardy. Am I ever glad that I checked.

Ancestry 6 cm

Use the Shared DNA filter as well to select only shared DNA matches of 6-8 cM in order to save these more rapidly.

It’s hard to believe that Ancestry is actually going to take these matches away from me, even though we share DNA, other matches and common ancestors.

Searching

Ancestry search

Searching for surnames or unique locations among your matches will provide you with additional hints as to possible relationships. Your connection may be to someone who doesn’t connect via a common ancestor, or the spelling might be slightly different. Matching a surname does not mean that’s how your DNA matches, but it’s a hint and can be especially powerful when combined with locations.

Ancestry multiple

You can combine search terms too. In this case, I combined my unusual Dutch surname of Ferwerda and the location of Leeuwarden and found two people. I confirmed one right away shares my line. I’m working on the second.

Ancestry search results

Both of these matches would have been lost, yet I share both DNA, confirmed ancestors and shared matches with at least one of these people.

Summary

It’s time to get busy. You probably have more matches than you think and you don’t have a lot of time between now and the end of July.

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211 thoughts on “Ancestry to Remove DNA Matches Soon – Preservation Strategies with Detailed Instructions

  1. Excellent post. Very informative. I always hoped Ancestry would add more matches from even shorter segments, but now it seems like they are doing just the opposite. Wish I would have tried one of those third party applications in the past. It might be a while before I can get back to doing genealogy again.

  2. Thanks, Roberta! I read about this earlier today and spent several hours grouping all my 6 and 7 cM matches that had common ancestors. It was boring, but went fairly quickly. I was surprised that probably a third of them had notes. I had already looked at them and in most cases determined how we were related … the Tennessee ones, of course, I was related on three or four different lines! On those I haven’t determined which line the DNA is from, but they are definately not false matches!

    The blog I read earlier said they were discarding matches BELOW 8 cM and I believe you said that early in this blog. Later you said 6-8cM inclusive. Do you know which is correct? Tomorrow I was planning to do some by surname, but thanks for the idea of using location. Guess I’ll have to do Claiborne County! YIKES!

    • I’m not positive if it’s below 8 cM it 8 cM. I’ve seen it written both ways. I’m being safe and including 8 cM in what I’m doing. Ancestry never said they wouldn’t delete larger segments. If I do Claiborne County that would be half my matches:)

  3. Thank you for this article. I had delayed in uploading my tree to Ancestry, but will for now put on my direct ancestors. Hopefully, it will be in time to use your recommendations.

  4. I’m doing pretty much the same thing. Luckily I tagged a 3rd cousin once removed who shares 7 cMs with me a while back. She shares more with my mother. But, whatever. So, what I am doing for now is going through the kits I manage for my parents and I and tagging them in a category called “Misc” for now.

    Couldn’t think of a better name. My father is all set. It’s going to take forever and a day to get through my mother’s as she as a ton of Quebecois lines. There a way I can make things go faster? I’ve been clicking them one by one and I have about 200 so far for her. I’ll have to work on my own.

    My mother’s 5th great-grandparent level is all but complete. And Quebecois had a ton of kids. My dad didn’t have nearly as much. Might be for various reasons. But, I did manage to save who I could over there.

    Thanks for providing a strategy for this, Roberta! =D

  5. Any way to put a group of matches in the same group all at once? Or every match has to be done one at a time? I have a lot of 6-8cM matches and 5 kits on Ancestry to work on.

  6. Remember when Ancestry stopped selling Y-DNA and mtDNA then stopped shoping matches. Ancestry over and over again.

  7. The biggest selling DNA test provider won’t be creative enough to provide their users something more useful (e.g. clustering, triangulation, etc). Thanks – as always – for your methodical and useful explanations.

  8. I offer here the first $100.00 for the fund for the class-action lawsuit. Somewhere I’ve heard there are a few attorneys who are genealogists; who’d like to start the negotiations with the hedge fund that owns Ancestry?

    Whatever the number of attorneys, there are 18 million potential members of the class; that’s something Ancestry has to take into consideration.

    It’s one thing to restrict third-party access. It’s quite another to make their product noticeably less useful because they would rather not provide the services we paid for.

  9. Thank You for the “Heads Up.’ Will focus on placing marches in groups before Aug 01. Will be sharing this aeticle with project members to do the same.

    Ally 💞

  10. Personally for a long time I have seen this coming so I downloaded all the information and connections I could. I deleted my dna do to the fact they were using peoples family tree to force them to purchase a membership even public trees so I have been way ahead of everybody. It’s so disappointing and I was planning to take a dna test again for many of my cousin connection. I’ll just keep my dna spread out with Living Dna, Family Tree, Geni, Gedmatch and Myheritage Until they file suite to make more money.

    • I’m so very glad that I have already color coded all but 19 of my matches, thanks to Ancestry’s update fiasco last July. However, that was just my one set of results. Doesn’t count my other set nor the results I manage for some of my cousins or the ones they gave me collaborator permissions.

      I can say on good authority, that if one has a computer with not enough RAM, you can’t pull up and code the entire list matches in the 6.0 to 7.9 cMs range, even with the available filters. I have 4GB RAM and only 3 is avialable to the O/S and the browsers. The browsers will only use up to 1.2 to 1.3 GB before grinding to a halt (Firefox) or crashing (Chrome). Yes, I’m using a dinosaur of a computer (WinXP and 32-bit browsers). So, I’m paying the price and have been since last July when we got the Facebook cloned TImeline-like (NEW and IMPROVED) AncestryDNA match lists.

      I would also recommend that anyone who has moved matches to the “trash can” aka HIDDEN Matches, move them out of purgatory. Ancestry, in its 3 May 2016 update, failed to capture those matches to the *.csv file that they furnished to us, where that file represented our “timber” deleted matches at the 5.x level.

  11. I’d be happy if they removed all segments under 10 cM but got rid of Timber!
    also…I’d even be happier if they remove the limit of what determines what’s a mutual match with a match that you have
    also add a feature where I can check only my mother’s matches and check only matches that are aren’t my mother’s
    all based on my phased genome from my mom having tested

  12. I heard about this yesterday and immediately added my lowest matches to a group. More than a few were definite matches who were obvious to me. I’ve been adding as many people to a group or two as possible. I wish I would download the whole thing as an Excel file!

  13. Thank you for sharing this important information, Roberta! Guess it’s a good thing I lost my job in the pandemic so I can spend 8 hrs. daily grouping matches. haha

    I don’t open my tiny matches unless they match a cousin I’m working with, or if a surname comes up in a search of my DNA matches’ trees. But those few segments I do use have proved immensely helpful and have pointed me toward where to look for additional records on the family in question. I have ThruLines matches with bunches of tiny matches who all descend from a known common ancestor. Collectively, I believe those segments ARE helpful, and most likely valid.

    I have a question, though: In your post I got the impression that ALL smaller segments may be dropped, rather than just matches who share only 6-7 cMs with us. I read this to mean a cousin with 15 cMs shared, over 2 segments could disappear from our match lists. Do you know if this is the case? I had read another post that implied we would lose just the tiniest matches who share only 6-7 cMs with us.

    Either way, it saddens me to see profit drive these decisions that have potential to severely limit our DNA research tools.

    • My understanding was any that are 6-7. I’m not positive if 8 is included or spared. I’m also not positive if it’s a total of 8 or a longest segment of 8. So a total of 14 in 2 segments for example. It’s not like there is anyone to ask so presume they worst and group anything that could be in jeopardy. Sad thing is we can save these but we will never see future matches in this category.

      • I learned that Crista Cowan (of Ancestry) clarified this in a post on the Genetic Genealogy Tips & Techniques FB page:

        “…this change is only affecting 6cM and 7cM matches, not 8cM. And, it is based on total cM amount shared not individual segment size – so, no math required.”

        However, I just realized that when we filter match list by shared cMs, for example 6-6 cMs – it is only showing those who share 6.5 cMs or fewer in that group. Ancestry has rounded up in how it displays matches on its pages, and has lumped those with 6.6 – 6.9 cMs in the 7 cMs group. This means that if we want to save those with say, 7.9 cMs from extinction, we will need to group the lower half of our “8 cMs” matches, too.

  14. Hi Roberta,

    Thank you very much for the warning, and for all your informative posts!
    I have tried several times to download all my matches from Ancestry to upload them to FTDNA but they seem just to disappear in the ether between the download and my inbox which is worrying.

    I tend to transfer my work from Geni to Ancestry to cross reference and double check, but overall I seem to have a lot of problems making some sites work for me, 23&me say that they are going to send me a new password link but it never arrives and the same with mito, both are companies that FTDNA uploaded results to when I first tested.

    It would be good to be able to download all the matches from my Ancestry Test before they cut any though.

    • You can’t download matches and upload to FTDNA. The only thing you can download and upload is your raw data file.

  15. I was saddened this announcement yesterday. Yes we can save these matches but it’s the ones I won’t get in the future that makes me the saddest. I entirely agree with your hypothesis on why now.

    Although in an attempt to not lose any important matches, I have discovered some very promising matches that I need to followup on later.

    Although I am going to heed your advice and be a little more cautious. I was only looking at matches with 8 cm or less. Didn’t occur to me to save those with multiple segments where all segments would be under 8 cm.

    I think given this isn’t the first time and probably won’t be the last, I’m going to be progressively way more cautious in the future.

    I appreciate the time and effort you put into sharing your knowledge.

  16. I’d like to know about matches linked to their place in my tree. It took me weeks to link them all. I haven’t assigned groups. I do notes in my spreadsheets instead. And I do most of my genie research chat in Facebook and email groups so I haven’t Ancestry-messaged either. Which has apparently left my 6-8 cM matches quite vulnerable.

    My question is, do I need to go back over all those 6-8cM linked cousins and assign them a group? Even though they are connected to their proper place in my tree? Like you, I haven’t heard anything about that.

    If you learn the answer, please let us know.

    As a full time worker I could better use my scant free time grouping the shared matches that I’ve barely looked at yet, rather than going over the ones I have already worked on just to keep them safe.

    • You can try to contact Ancestry support but I would be skeptical. I’ve never understood the benefit to the user of connecting people in your tree. I would think this would be a good example. But I would not presume. I’ve not seen it mentioned by anyone.

      • My hope was that connecting the person might send a sort of ‘confirmed’ message and encourage the Ancestry algorithm to present me with our common matches for my perusal 🙂 . But I think you’re right, it doesn’t appear to serve any useful purpose.

    • I have clarified. The only things that will save small segment marches are groups, notes and messages. Personally, I wouldn’t trust messages.

  17. Ancestry is way too conservative on the DNA matches as you get to 2nd cousin outward. I have a known 2nd cousin shows as 3rd-4th. A known 4th cousin like 5th to distant. Even my son they show he is half and high cM shared, but they show 80 segments (so they split some of the long segments) where on MyHeritage that raw data shows as 23 segments. I have probably hundreds of green leaf matches on those 9-20cM matches. Easiest is to take the raw data to MyHeritage and FamilyTreeDNA.

  18. I think it should be left alone not change anything because of this problem a 2 cousin was moved to 5-8 cousin and determination. Of dna is not not perfect people can make mistakes also I ask ancestry to ask the customer if they want the changes.

  19. Ancestry is known to miscalculate relationships matching. I’ve even spoken to them over the phone about it,with no real explanation. My close relatives will be listed as distant. Some relatives removed all together.23andme,FamilyTreeDNA,Gedmatch and MyHeritage all get it right,but not Ancestry.

  20. In some of my 6 cMs matches, I used the Shared Matches feature and found shared matches.

    Also, with some of my 6 cMs matches, I shared more than one segment (now what does that say?) Maybe 3 cMs and 3 cMs?

    The following is logical (to me), but not scientific. Some of my 6 cMs matches are 2 generations younger than I. To put it on a generational level playing field,
    if the parent of some of my younger 6 cMs matches had tested, I could have possibly shared 12 cMs with the parent (depending on recombination).

    So, for that reason, I will miss the 6 cMs matches. But, since I have more than 94,000 matches, I am okay.

    As always, we appreciate you, Roberta.

  21. I have not tested with them because of the lack of chrom browsers.

    Understandable that the large number of matches clogs their current systems, but we live in a time where computer power is expanding rapidly, so how do they see the future?

  22. Thanks for the heads up. DNAgedcom is very much functioning but it is somewhat more difficult to use. It’s necessary to use the DNAgedcom Client for uploads and to use that their is an annual fee of $100 instead of the $5.00 monthly charge. I paid the $100 because to me it is worth it. Using the Client to gather your matches takes forever. For one of my kits it took several hours and then to download took awhile too. The process was also somewhat confusing. After all said and done I’m pleased with the outcome.
    This was from FTDNA files. I can just imagine how long the Ancestry files would take.

  23. Thanks so much for the heads up. For once I am a little ahead on this as I have grouped several lines.

    After grouping, I will go make PDFs of all these low number matches with the relationship info. Who is to say that they won’t disappear from Thrulines even if the match stays in our match list, These small number matches take a lot of research and the “lines” give a start to it.

    I only recently did A DNA. I really don’t get why they won’t at least add triangulation. I would think their own genealogists would demand it.

    Without it, all matches are just hints.

  24. Thanks Roberta for the info. Makes me angry that they would cut the smaller cMs when those are the most distant relatives I am seeking. I KNOW most of all the closer relatives and have had these in my family tree for years – its the more distant ones that I am trying to work on using dna. I just found a very distant cousin at 3 cM and we can both trace our ancestry to shared GGGGG grandparents! I guess if Ancestry can’t help me “do that” then I won’t be renewing my membership and certainly not taking any more tests.

  25. Thank you for the notice! (and No thanks! to Ancestry for not warning us!)
    This is quite disappointing. I have a system of grouping my matches, which includes the “star” for those matches that I can determine our likely common ancestor (a sort of DIY thru-lines with verification.) Out of my ~29,000 matches, I have thus far marked 703 stars (closest relative I have on ancestry is a second cousin.) When I sort for 6-8 cM, I count that 231 of my stars are in that range – that’s 33% of my total confirmed/verified matches that would have never been seen with ancestry’s new protocol!! BOO!!

    • I should also thank you for the great suggestions on how to preserve some of these matches! I am taking a scatter-shot approach; when I filter to 6-8 cM, I search counties that various branches of my family were from and assign a group to every result. then, I will go back and search all of the surnames of great-grandparents – back as many generations as I can bear… I’m starting to wonder if there is a limit to how many matches can be in a group?

          • More than 11,000 in my group, and still going. This is taking forever, and I have lots of RAM. I’ll bet I use only 1% of these tiny matches, but those I do use have been invaluable in helping to make connections to distant ancestors — mostly by illuminating previously undiscovered marriages and other early colonial documents.

  26. Thanks so much for the heads up. In looking over my low-end matches, I see from my notes that, in some cases, other testing companies show the largest shared segment as anywhere from 8-12 cM. Another reason to upload our raw data to one or more sites with a chromosome browser!

  27. Too big to fail?

    I’ve always marveled at business practices that so completely disregard the desires or happiness of customers. Ancestry’s corporate mentality is a lot like AT&T or Ebay, ‘we’ll just get so big that you won’t have a choice anyway’.

    The most successful companies are all about being “Extra” for customers and encouraging loyalty. That’s how TMobile is burying the AT&T giant. That’s how Amazon buried Ebay, how Apple has continually eaten the competition.

    The good news is that Ancestry has over the years slowly built a growing army of haters.
    Their transgressions are legion in the genealogy world and they are paving the way for others to capitalize on their failure to be a good genealogical citizen and make customers happy.

    Ancestry will eventually lose market share. Then they’ll get mired in endless lawsuits. And eventually they’ll end up like Ebay, the giant that occupies a tiny corner of the internet.

  28. Thank you for the update.

    I’ve been noticing that a lot of links to sources, such as wills don’t work. I wondered if they changed their agreements with 3rd parties. I keep getting all these weird messages. A lot of links appear broken.

    I like Thru Lines, but I’m not happy Ancestry removed the matches back to 6th and 7th grandparents. I used those matches along with mirror trees to locate cluster matches. I really miss those matches. I guess you use spreadsheets to do basically the same thing.

    I’ve made numerous requests to Ancestry to bring those matches back. It’s been on deaf ears.

    I have found the 6 – 8 cM matches very useful. Most of mine appear valid to me. It feels like they are back-pedaling.

    Purchases of DNA tests kits are down – significantly. I rarely get any new matches at all. I have no clue when this will change.

    We are in the middle of a pandemic, which this country appears to have totally mismanaged. I don’t know if the economic fallout is spilling over into Ancestry, the company. You hear some of what is going on. I guess we will learn more in coming months from the economic reports.

    You mentioned the other day about saving our Ancestry trees to another location. With all that is going on – I’ve had my own concerns. I’m assuming Ancestry will survive all of this – but I do worry about the future. I have my tree on Family Tree Maker – but I’ve had nothing but problems with it.

    I’m really disappointed that Ancestry hasn’t taken advantage of their large DNA data base and their trees. They could be at the forefront of moving DNA matches forward to creating DNA trees but they don’t seem interested in doing that.

    (Rant done)

  29. Thank you for the information. This treatment of Ancestry DNA to their testers is partially why I have never tested with them. I was considering taking a test there, but now I never will. My family and I tested at another company years back, where smaller cm matches can be evaluated, and tools for this evaluation are provided.

    There is a troubling but not proven feeling that I and some of my family’s DNA matches have encountered. It feels like Ancestry.com might have access to Y-DNA, Mt-DNA, and autosomal DNA from other testing companies. If I had tested at both companies I might not see a hint of this happening, but I, and my close family, have not tested at Ancestry DNA. I have had people who only tested at Ancestry DNA contact me that we have a DNA match there, which is not possible. A Y-DNA match to my son, who also tested autosomal at Ancestry DNA, and tested his Y-DNA where my son tested, is having very odd great-grandfather matches at Ancestry DNA. It does not seem likely that these multiple possibilities of a great-grandfather could come from only autosomal DNA testing. The Y-DNA test match has a different surname from my son.

    People do make mistakes in genealogical research, and unwarranted assumptions in DNA matches. My troubling feeling may be due to this. It is troubling that a DNA testing service is so unprofessional that it takes peoples money, but does not want to provide the smaller cm matching to discover more distant ancestors.

  30. Thank you for this information. I have a private research tree that I use in working on a brick wall. Sometimes I attach it to my DNA to see Thrulines. I’m trying to figure out how I can find and save the small matches in this tree.

  31. Why is Ancestry spending money and giving advice on genes related to COVID-19 infection rates instead of spending the funds on the genealogical needs of their paying customers ?

  32. I went to Ancestry today. Looked to open a message and found this: “Your 1 folder and messages from our previous system will be available to download and save until August 31, 2020.” Looks like A is also going to delete the messages we have to and from people.

    • Found this on Ancestry:
      Downloading folders
      It’s not currently possible to create folders in the new messaging center, but you can download folders you already created to your computer. You can download folders until 31 August, 2020.

      In the messaging center, click Download Folders at the bottom of the panel on the left side. You’ll only see this option if you created folders in the previous messaging center.
      A .zip file will be downloaded to your computer. If you see it at the bottom of your page, click on it there. Otherwise, check your Downloads folder.

      • So maybe they’re not deleting regular messages, only a folder if you had created one. I had one where I put messages that were actually for my husband.

      • I just clicked on my messages. A message came up. But down below that was a box saying they were going…

  33. Is there an easy way to get down to the 6-8 cM matches? I have thousands of matches, and I can see it will take quite a while to get down to that level. Thanks

  34. After reading your blog yesterday I have started trying to ‘preserve’ my 8cM matches in a colored group. I have gone thru over a thousand today! Still more to go, hope to get down to 6cM. I am surprised I have so many. Some have big trees that I could spend time looking at, but not right now! But 2 caught my eye, with excellent paper trail so believe we are related whether we have a strong DNA match or not. Thanks for the suggestion on how to preserve the weak matches!

  35. Random scary thought while grouping in front of the TV. What happens to my protected (one hopes) matches if the person I match does nothing to protect his or her own matches? Does MY protected match information disappear because that person did nothing?

    I hope my question makes sense…

      • I just saw there is an ancestry notice about the changes. When looking at a list if Thrulines, if I click on a matches icon (on the left of the list) this takes me to their details page about the match. There is a new message in the banner. If you click “Learn more” it takes you to a page listing all the changes.

  36. Too late for me. Ancestry has already cut my list down. The lowest number of cm on any of my matches is 20. My paid membership just expired, so perhaps they are going after the free memberships first.

  37. There is a Chrome extension called Data Miner. It will scrape tabular data into a CSV or Excel file. I just brought up all my matches with whom I have a Common Ancestor hint, scrolled until I reached the end and then ran a Data Miner ‘recipe’ that I created. In a couple of seconds, it scraped 638 matches into an Excel file with all the fields.

  38. Thank you for your timely alert and guidance on preserving our low cM matches.

    To identify and group Common Ancestors who are in the endangered less than 8 cM range, wouldn’t be easiest to use two filters: 1) the Common Ancestors filter; and 2) the Shared DNA filter set at the Custom centimorgan range of 6-8 cM? That should pull up all shared matches of Common Ancestors who are at or below the 8 cM range, and then they can be added to groups.

    Following your news, I feel that I have spent the day building lifeboats (new groups) and then ushering my all-important low level cM matches onto the lifeboats to save them until I can get them safely to shore and put them in their appropriate sub-clusters.

  39. Thanks for the info. A 6cm match, 4C1R, helped me connect with a matrilineal cousin in one of my 3-great grandmother’s lines. She proved to be an exact mtDNA match. Crazy that they are taking that away.

  40. I like having the low-level cM matches as they help me see where my distant ancestors might have lived long ago. The private Deaf group on Gedmatch is especially useful for that sort of thing. I usually don’t bother searching for low-level matches on Ancestry because I have so many endogamous “cousins.”

  41. Hello, I only started genealogy research into my family using ancestry 2 days ago and have yet to give them any money (sounds like it’s for the best). I’ve gotten reasonably far and had been starting to consider taking a DNA test to see what that might bring up. Reading your post makes me think that as a new user I shouldn’t bother with them. Is that a correct feeling? Given all of you all’s experience with these various services which ones do you wish you had started with and stuck with?

  42. Thanks for this. I am working on a laptop where I can’t install any software but would love some of the services you mentioned – could you recommend anything I can use that is web based to do some of this searching, matching, clusters and all that?

  43. While trying to preserve some 6cM and 7cM matches, AncestryDNA seem to have taken my DNA kits down. All four of them. I can no longer access any AncestryDNA functions at all (not even raw data download) except ordering a new kit. I guess they are in the process of rolling out the changes now, and do not wait until August.

  44. Here is my quick & dirty process: filtered on common ancestors 5-8, In the notes field I entered a lower case q. space and then the surnames. ( q Westfall-Thorne). Grouping takes more keystrokes. I can later sort on the q and put them in the appropriate groups. In the second run through I filtered on 6-8 and public trees. I put just a q in the notes field on all who have a tree with more than 500 persons. If I have time I will go back and pick up the rest of the public trees over 100 persons. I don’t bother with the small amount trees because those would contain only more recent generations.

    • Thanks for the information. With recent data breaches at Family Maker Tree (Ancestry affiliated), GEDMatch and a phishing attempt at My Heritage (previous data breach), the changes at Ancestry couldn’t come at the worst time. I don’t know if I can trust my Ancestry DNA to another provider/service. I think Ancestry is being short sighted with the latest move, as clustering is a valuable tool, especially with Irish ancestors since in many incidences, records don’t exist prior to 1830.

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