6 & 7 cM Matches: Are 172 ThruLines All Wrong?

Are some 6-8 cM matches valid and valuable? If not, then are my 172 ThruLines that Ancestry created for me that include my 8 great-grandparents surnames at that level all wrong? Or the total of 552 ThruLines at 6 and 7 cMs all wrong?

We all know by now that about half of 6 and 7 cM matches will be identical by chance, meaning not valid, but that leaves about half that ARE valid. We need clues to be able to figure out IF these matches are valid, and the logical place to start is by utilizing three techniques.

  • First, if both of our parents have tested, does the person also match our parent, and if a chromosome browser is available, on the same segment.

If the answer is no, no need to go any further, this match is not valid. If yes, then we know if phases through one generation and we need to keep looking for evidence.

  • Second, the same litmus test, but with our closest known relatives that have tested. Does the match also match aunts, uncles, siblings, first cousins, or other known proven close relatives? Of course, if they match on the same segment, that’s family phasing and the beginning of triangulation and strongly, strongly suggests descent from the same common identified ancestor.

Note that Ancestry does NOT show you Shared Matches below 20 cM, so don’t assume those shared matches to family members don’t exist. Check your family members’ kits directly. Don’t rely only on Ancestry’s shared matches.

  • Third, surnames and trees that suggest common ancestral lines of DNA matches. That’s what Ancestry does for us with ThruLines. Let’s take a look at what I’ve found sorting and grouping my 6-8 cM matches at Ancestry.

There’s way more information than I expected to find.

Focus on Grouping

With Ancestry’s upcoming purge of all DNA customers’ 6 and 7 cM matches, inclusive, I’ve been very focused on grouping and saving those matches for future use. Otherwise, they will be gone forever, along with my genetic connection and any useful genealogical information.

I’ve written about the upcoming Ancestry purge here, here and here – including preservation strategies and how to communicate with Ancestry to share your feelings about this topic if you so choose. Note that this disproportionately affects people seeking unknown ancestors a few generations back in time.

Raise your hand if you have no unknown ancestors before 1870 or so…

Ancestry’s 6-8 cM Matches

I’ve been recording statistics as I’ve been grouping and working with results, and thought I’d share what I’ve found with you.

Ancestry tota.png

I have a total of 92,931 matches at Ancestry. This includes endogamous Acadian, Mennonite and Brethren lines, which produce lots of matches, but also multiple German and Dutch lines of relatively recent immigrants with almost no testers. So it probably evens out.

You’ll note that of my matches, 3,757 are estimated by Ancestry to be 4th cousin or closer, and Ancestry categorizes the rest of them as Distant matches, from 6-20 cM, although some of those wind up being closer than 4th cousins.

I have 27,926 6-cM matches, 16,846 7-cM matches and 11,428 8-cM matches. I was initially saving 8-cM matches because Ancestry was initially rounding 7.6 up to 8 and the only way to save all 7-cM matches was to save all 8-cM matches. Last week, Ancestry added decimal points so you don’t have to save 8-cM matches anymore, just all 6 and 7.

Without additional tools, all of those matches are overwhelming – but that’s exactly WHY we need technologies such as clustering, triangulation, ThruLines which Ancestry provides, a chromosome browser, family phasing, shared matches below 20 cM, and more.

You can certainly look at known genealogy and make inferences about common ancestors when you match someone genetically, and that’s very useful in and of itself.

However, you need more than just the fact that you match someone to confirm that you share a specific common ancestor biologically, not just on paper. Having said that, just having the breadcrumb of a DNA match to lead you to your cousins isn’t a bad thing in and of itself.

Of my total matches:

  • 18% are 7 cM
  • 30% are 6 cM
  • That’s a total of 48% of my matches that would have been lost later in August if I hadn’t grouped them.

Some people feel that matches at this level aren’t useful, but the line in the sand is very thin between a 7.99 cM deleted match and an 8.0 retained match where the former is lumped into the “not useful, so no big deal to lose” bucket and the other is just fine and potentially useful.

I get it, I really do, that everyone gets tired of explaining that NO, you can’t find one match and assume a valid connection, and yes, digging for evidence is work. There is no magic wand. Smaller or larger matches, they all need additional cumulative evidence to indicate that the match is valid, and how.

It’s time-consuming and frustrating educating people HOW to utilize all DNA matching appropriately. Those smaller matches take more effort to work with and require more evidence of legitimacy, but there are absolutely, assuredly many legitimate, useful, matches between 6-8 cM.

Furthermore, many of those matches reach back in time to those elusive ancestors we are seeking and can’t yet identify. We need more and better tools, not less data. Conversely, some 6-8 cM matches are as close as third or fourth cousins. I found 4 in one family and we’re sharing photos of our ancestors who were siblings, born in 1827 and 1829, respectively.

I’m not throwing half of my 6-8 cM coins away because some are gold and some are counterfeit.

If you are, I’ll take all of your coins and I’ll be happy to sort out the gold, thank you😊

Where’s the Gold?

Ancestry filter

You can search and sort in any number of ways at Ancestry. First, I checked to see how many of my 6 and 7 cM matches had common ancestors as identified by Ancestry via Thrulines.

6 cM 7 cM Total
Common Ancestors (ThruLines) 274 278 552

If I had not grouped these, I would have lost all 552 matches that Ancestry connected to common ancestors through ThruLines. Of course, each connection needs to be individually verified using traditional genealogical record searches. Keep in mind that ThruLines can only find matches where people connect in trees.

Without these 6 and 7 cM matches, any connecting genetic path or breadcrumbs to these people is gone.

Great-grandparents’ Surnames

Since I can filter by segment match size and surname, combined, at Ancestry, I decided to take a look at my 6-7 cM matches that would be purged had I not grouped them, and see what I can discover by surname utilizing the surnames of my great-grandparents.

That’s just 3 generations for me, meaning I could expect to carry more of the DNA of these ancestors than of ancestors further back in time.

I started with the “Match name” of Estes, meaning that the person who took the test has that name. Of course, some women could use their married surname, so this doesn’t mean that my match to that person is via that surname. It’s just a starting point, but probably a good hint.

I had 12 Estes surname matches in the 6-7 cM range. Of those:

  • 4 had no tree
  • 1 had a private tree
  • 1 had an unlinked tree
  • None had common identified ancestors meaning ThruLines
  • That leaves me with 7 candidates to work with directly, including the unlinked tree
  • Of those, I knew how 5 of their trees connect to the Estes line

Of course, I have the benefit of having worked with the Estes genealogy for decades along with the benefit of trees and other resources not at Ancestry. Connecting these lines took me about 15 minutes. In essence, I’ve turned them into virtual “ThruLines” by identifying the common ancestor, even if Ancestry didn’t.

I have not yet worked with the rest of my surname matches in the same way, but by preserving them by grouping, I can in the future.

I searched for both the “Match Name” and the “Surname in the Matches’ Trees,” separately. Some who carry the surname aren’t going to have trees and conversely, finding the surname in your matches’ trees is by no means an indication that that particular surname or ancestor is why you’re matching. However, it’s a great hint and a place to begin your research, including shared matches.

Be sure to check alternate spellings of surnames too.

Note that a surname that can also be part of a name returns all possible connections. For example if I’m searching for the Lore surname and the name of my match is Loreal Jones, it will still appear in the Match name list. The same applies to the name of the managing person.  However, scrolling through these is pretty easy.

So, what did I find?

Results!

I created this chart of what I discovered using the surnames of my great-grandparents along with common alternate spellings.

Surname Match Name Surname in Matches’ Trees Comments
Estes, Eastes 13 matches, no ThruLines 208 matches, 20 Thrulines
Bolton 6, no ThruLines 121, 14 Thrulines All 6 surname matches have trees and I can place some immediately.
Vannoy, Van Noy 2, no ThruLines 49, 10 ThruLines I can place 1 of the 2 surname matches and connect them to the Vannoy line. Their tree is unlinked and another is private. Checking the “include similar surnames box” resulted in 2355 results. Won’t do that again.
Ferverda, Fervida, Ferwerda 0 2, no ThruLines Confirmed a common ancestor in the Netherlands with one tester. An 1860s immigrant line.
Miller 175, 1 ThruLine 2248, 95 ThruLines Very common surname and Brethren. Shared matches, if over 20 cM which is Ancestry’s threshold would potentially be very helpful.
Clarkson, Claxton 2, no ThruLines 96, 22 ThruLines I need to break down a brick wall in this line. Also, maybe someone has a photo of my great-grandmother. I was able to provide a photo of someone else’s ancestors discovered as a 6 and 7 cM match to 4 family members.
Lore, Lord 112, no ThruLines 209, 10 ThruLines Acadian, endogamous. Lore is part of many other names.
Kirsch 0 18, 0 ThruLines 1850s German immigrant line. This was VERY helpful. I’ve already found previously unknown cousins and one line that I thought was defunct, isn’t.
Total 310, 1 ThruLine 2951, 171 ThruLines Total 3261 matches and 172 ThruLines

I’m not willing to throw these away.

Continue to Provide Feedback to Ancestry

I find the assertion that these smaller matches are neither accurate nor valuable simply mind-boggling. Clearly, as you can see above, these matches provide invaluable clues for us, as genealogists, to follow. Over time, I’ve proven many matches in this range (who have tested at or transferred to other vendors with a chromosome browser) to triangulate with several generations of family members using DNAPainter, so at least some matches are quite valid. And yes, we do have tools to accumulate evidence – the same exact tools we use for larger matches.

Imagine how much else is actually buried in those matches that could be distilled into useful information with technology tools.

I fully understand it’s in Ancestry’s best interest to delete these matches to free up processing resources, but I’m far from convinced that it’s in our best interest as avid genealogists.

I also realize that many if not most genealogists who aren’t as focused as many of you reading this article won’t notice or care, but that’s not the case for truly committed genealogists with years invested in this work. There’s valuable information there for those of us willing to commit our resources and invest our time to work on the matches.

The Proof is in the Pudding

The proof is in the results – those 3,261 surname matches that serve as immediate hints and 172 ThruLines that Ancestry themselves has assembled for us.

The more I work with these matches, the LESS convinced I am that they should be deleted. There is certainly chaff to be sifted and discarded, but Ancestry could take a more precise, surgical approach instead of a wholesale decapitation that will remove 48% of my matches and more for other people. I would certainly be more than happy to be part of a proactive discussion focusing on how to delete less useful matches or those we’ve determined to be invalid, but preserve the rest.

Of course, the easiest option would simply be for Ancestry to allow us to elect to retain current and elect to receive future 6-8 cM matches by checking a simple box and continue to provide those for those of us who care and are willing to work with them.

Yes, the remaining matches after the purge will indeed “be more accurate,” as Ancestry says, because fewer will be false, but many of the very matches you need to identify those elusive distant ancestors will almost assuredly be gone. The baby will have been thrown out with the bathwater.

It’s generally not any individual match itself, but groups or clusters of matches that point the way – shared matches and ThruLines. If half or more of the cluster we need is gone, with no way to connect the genetic dots, we may never discover the identity of those ancestors. That’s a shame, because it negates the very benefit of being in the largest autosomal database. In a way, both Ancestry and we as their clients are victims of their own success.

Perhaps Ancestry will yet reverse their decision and if not, perhaps Ancestry’s competitors will see an unfulfilled opportunity here. I’d be glad to be a part of those discussions as well.

Take a look. What valuable nuggets are hiding in your smaller matches? Be sure to group those matches to prevent their deletion.

Provide Feedback to Ancestry

There’s still time to provide your feedback to Ancestry if you don’t want to lose your 6-8 cM matches later this month. Ancestry needs to serve all of their genealogical customers who have taken DNA tests, not just the most convenient. I encourage Ancestry to develop useful tools as others have done instead of deleting the matches we need in order to unmask those unknown ancestors.

  • Email Ancestry support at ancestrysupport@ancestry.com although there have been reports from some that this email doesn’t work, so you may need to utilize another contact method.
  • You can initiate an online “chat” here.
  • Call ancestry support at 1-899-958-9124 although people have been reporting obtaining offshore call-centers and problems understanding representatives. You also may need to ask for a supervisor.
  • Ancestry corporate headquarters phone number on the website is listed as 801-705-7000.
  • You can’t post directly on Ancestry’s Facebook page, but you can comment on posts and you can message them.
  • Ancestry’s Twitter feed is here.

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61 thoughts on “6 & 7 cM Matches: Are 172 ThruLines All Wrong?

  1. Thanks, Roberta! I have 106,249 matches. I grouped about 12,000 manually, mostly using surname and location sorts, and have done another 22,000 with the script … THANKS, Roger! It’s time consuming, even with the script, as I have to get them all loaded before I start the script. Not sure if it’s my slow computer, slow internet or Ancestry that keeps the script from being able to load them as it’s running. Very frustrating to get almost there and have Ancestry shut it down, though!

    • Roberta,

      Thank you for all you are doing on this. I will be sending feedback to Ancestry. Here’s what’s happening to me…Dad tested March 2018 but I’ve not been doing much genealogy between March 2019 and now:

      First, it was only about two weeks ago that I discovered Ancestry’s 20cM threshold on Shared matches. The other day I noticed in my Dad’s (surname BELLIS) list of shared matches that a particular match (shares 149cM with Dad) didn’t match with Dad’s half 1C1R. I have access to her database and was looking at her ThruLines a day later for something else…and there was this match of Dad’s at 11cM in her ThruLines. Confused, I called Ancestry and found out about the 20cM cutoff. What an awful revelation…

      Second, I have access to three other DNA databases of BELLIS/BELLISFELT descendants that I now realize I’ve been incompletely querying all this time. Two testers’ databases show DNA descendancy to three BELLIS males who settled (individually?) in KY between 1782-1813. They are DNA related to my Dad’s KY ancestor but exactly how (brother, cousin, father?) remains unresolved. We cannot connect anyone’s ancestor back to NJ or PA where all the Immigrant BELLIS/BELLISFELTs settled. This is our huge, longstanding brickwall.

      I have access to a third BELLIS descendant’s database whose ancestor married in 1832 in NJ and died in Ohio but we cannot identify that ancestor’s father but associated NJ/PA surname matches in that database are found in the two KY descendant databases I can access. I couldn’t find any shared matches between this third database and Dad’s…until yesterday when I found at least one down in the 6cM weeds. The 20cM threshold was my problem…

      Now that I’m aware of the 20cM threshold I’m scrambling to redo my searches in all four databases, three of which I have authority to group by color code.

      Third, I’ve reconnected with a correspondent from years back who has tested with both Ancestry & FTDNA, as has his sister. BELLIS is on his Mom’s side and he can paper/DNA trace his BELLIS ancestor to the German BELLIS Immigrant (b. 1734 in Germany) who arrived in America circa 1744 and settled in Sussex Co NJ. Several of that BELLIS immigrant’s male descendants subsequently migrated to NY. My Dad has at least four matches (at about 6cM) who descend from that BELLIS Immigrant’s brother. The father (b. 1711 Germany) of these two brothers settled Sussex Co NJ circa 1767 and is a primary candidate (out of three other NJ/PA BELLIS/BELLISFELT immigrants) of being the progenitor of the KY BELLIS.

      The correspondent above and his sister tested with FTDNA, as did Dad, and he’s discovered that they share a very small piece of overlapping DNA in the area of the chromosome where he has identified other of his BELLIS DNA matches.

      Practically all of Dad’s numerous BELLIS matches are in Ancestry. Having access to the two databases with KY BELLIS ancestors, some “seem” to trace back to another primary NJ/PA Immigrant BELLIS progenitor. Paper trees may be a possible cause. I’m now scrambling to requery their databases.

      It distresses me that I may not be able to capture the 6-7cM data in time but will see if I can easily understand the script alternative…I don’t want to waste precious time trying to figure that out.

      Can’t I also just save Dad’s Ancestry to my harddrive and have the other database owners do likewise?

      I lament Ancestry’s lack of chromosome browser. Do you have any insight why they don’t? Is it a financial decision…do they plan on making money in the future on their data??

      Thank you again for all you do making us more intelligent by sharing your incredible knowledge through this fantastic blog.

      Rosalyn BELLIS

  2. In my opinion, this situation has little to do with “improving accuracy” as Ancestry states, but more to do with wanting to keep the load on their servers down, so they don’t have to invest in server upgrades. There have been numerous blogs showing that matches under 7cM, although sometimes false, they can be very relevant to ancestral branches on one’s family tree, but Ancestry seems to have turned a deaf ear to this reality.

    When sites like Ancestry are owned by “private equity firms” their focus is on maximizing profits, not increasing customer service. Ancestry has, by far, the largest database and with this dominance there comes a sense of power to do whatever they can to increase profits and customer satisfaction gets a seat at the back of the bus.

  3. I never understood why Common Ancestors/Green Leaf Hints matches were not automatically included with starred, grouped, noted, or messaged matches.

    It seems a natural for Ancestry to keep. And they’ve already been identified so not another chore for Ancestry.

    But I have already grouped my lowest Common Ancestors into a new group for the 6s and 7s so its a moot point. I guess.

  4. I made my decision early. I saved everything I needed to document my Thrulines, Thruline matches, I created 8 family line groups. I used ‘in common with’ to add those with unconnected trees to the group that most often showed up in the match list. Once I had captured a significant portion of my matches into a group, I then selected each group and used print into “Preview” ( a mac app – but I think Chrome does the same ) to capture the group match list into a PDF( by this method, the links in the PDF are live). (early – I used GedcomDNA to capture csv files of
    clusters and user data. not sure if this can still be done). I created PDF captures of all Thruline Sheets and Thruline ancestor lists. ) ( for mac users, preview the file to make sure you are getting the colored group spots and all data in the file, select print backgrounds and headers to get all of it). Also, when capturing my Common Ancestor sheets, I selected one ( to be evaluated box so that I also captured a list of trees associated with the lines ).

    I realized early that I wanted to be in a position to leave Ancestry – I do not like being “caught” by companies. The day the Blackstone purchase was announced, I knew that I was ready to jump out of Ancestry DNA. I have kits in 3 other DNA companies. There is no Triangulation or segment data for the Ancestry kits. The results are just “hints” and “suggestions” IMHO. There is no way to prove any of it. I had enough Ancestry DNA hints, suggestions, and user data to last me a lifetime ( I am 71).

    I deleted my Ancestry DNA kit test results and according to the webpage, all permissions. As I mentioned earlier, it was a day or two before I realized that they might not have destroyed my DNA sample. This was a mistake I made, not catching that. I should have done that immediately, in June, when I got my DNA results. I was never going to test with them again or update. As I mentioned before, I contacted Ancestry and I had to send particular information to them, after which they would contact the lab. It took 2 days to hear from them that they had forwarded my request to the lab. They said the amount of time to destroy the sample varied and could not be estimated. I am now at day 8 and am waiting to hear that my sample has been destroyed.

    What do I feel? I feel extremely relieved that I will never get caught in their vice-grip again. I backed up all the data I had captured so that I have more than one copy. I have plenty of DNA evidence to do my genealogy work. I don’t feel that I ever need any more Ancestry DNA information.

    Since deleting my test results, I have not been asked by Ancestry why I was leaving, even though I only got my DNA results in June, just a few weeks ago.

    I think Roberta Estes is correct to try and influence the actions of Ancestry. But history does not seem to point in her favor.

    I realize that many people will not feel as I do at all. Ancestry works for them. But I can tell from comments that there are some who do feel as I do. If my summary is useful to them. Then good.

    I do very much appreciate everything that Roberta Estes does. I certainly admire her persistence in dealing with this problem.

    I hope this post is seen as a help to some like me, who really need to cut off the enormous energy and time drain of using Ancestry DNA.

  5. totally agree with others that this purge is all about decreasing the overloads on Ancestry’s computers. Probably, the costs are perceived to be too high for the revenues produced. From a business standpoint, there are two fixes: increase revenue or decrease costs. It seems Ancestry is focusing on the latter. I suggested in a message to Ancestry that many serious genealogists would be willing to pay for a separate package which would allow access to small DNA matches and the tools to analyze them. I wouldn’t be happy to pay more money, but I would, if that what it takes. I am hoping that Ancestry has some such plans in the works, but hasn’t announced it yet.

    I am a new subscriber to this blog, and I have to say, I am thrilled to get all this valuables information that Robert provides. I can’t describe how thankful I am.

  6. About an hour ago, I just finished using that code to gather matches by cM size, which was created by Roger Frøysaa. It took me about 2 days on and off, with one mishap involving my WIFI and using all the tweaks I could find. (I missed the one that added instructions to force the matches to keep scolling along. Instead, I sat there for 20 minutes “manually” scrolling to the END of all my relevant matches… and then it was ENTER and everything went smoothly (about 5 attempts broken down into 6 and 7 cM groupings)… for a few hours while I did chores, slept or whatever. — BTW with two German born parents and an apparent mix of German/Dutch/Frisian/Sephardic Jewish (maybe Ashkenazi too)/Sorbian (East European) and a 17th century Huguenot… I have half as many matches at Ancestry as you do. BUT… for estimated 4th cousins or closer… only 76 total. — Looking forward to combing through my saved matches looking for some gold. Thanks for all your information and explanations.

  7. 6-7 cMs matches have been important to me. This morning I had a 6 cMs match with a girl; and I say girl because she was 40 years younger than I. My 2nd gg grandparents are her 4th gg grandparents.

    I have ~400 dna/treee matches sharing 6-7 cMs.

  8. I agree wholeheartedly with your comments. While I would prefer to have higher cM matches to work with, 63% of my matches are currently either 6 or 7 cM! I find in interesting that the Ancestry 2016 white paper appears to have used the same logic to justify a 6 cM cutoff( start bottom pg 18) .https://www.ancestry.com/corporate/sites/default/files/AncestryDNA-Matching-White-Paper.pdf

    In addition to voicing my frustration with these “improvements”, I have also suggested to Ancestry we need clustering, chromosome editor and triangulation tools. Enhancements to the DNA match filter tool are also needed. A not (!) would be helpful, also now that the accuracy is displayed to the tenth, it would be helpful to update the other inputs and outputs to the same granularity, starting with the Custom Centimorgan Range.

    Using Ancestry’s own data, 6cM matches average 50% accurate, 7 cM average average 73% accurate, 8 cM matches about 78% accurate and so forth. Those are not bad numbers to work with compared to 0.

    I too have a number of 6-7 cM matches in Thrulines, in addition to the 11 that I have already confirmed via trees and through research. While many (most?) may lead to dead ends I am not ready to give up on them all and today could not point to which one will be the breakthrough tomorrow.

    Thanks to you for your blog and helping get the word out, and also thanks to Rodger for creating such a slick script.

    • With the availability of the Longest Segment, I have been looking at my 6 & 7 cM matches. Unfortunately there is no easy way to display them all without going into each match. I found the longest segment of several of the 6 & 7 cM matches greater than 8 cM. One of my 6.8 cM matches has a 14 cM Longest Segment! My understanding is that this difference is due to Timber downsizing Shared DNA segments if part matches a large part of the population.

      It seems to me if the 6 & 7 cM matches have to go, using the Longest Segment to remove 6 & 7 cM matches would be a more valid measure than using Shared DNA.

      • I am seeing the same thing. Many of the shared matches show a larger “longest segment” than the amount listed as shared DNA. I just saw one that says I share 7.9 cM across 2 segments, but the largest segment is 18 cM. Is this a big in the “longest segment” feature or a bug in the total shared cM?

          • How does Timber removing segments explain this problem unless it is removing the largest segment? Is it because the largest segment has no calls or other errors in it, and therefore it was omitted?

  9. I wish I understood more of this. I have a cousin, 40cM, on FTDNA, we have a long paper trail, male side. We have never matched on Ancestry, even though it has been several years. We are descended from half-siblings. I match another from the same line on Ancestry and FTDNA, but the two of them do not match – they are descended from sisters, daughters of the half-sibling! DNA is strange.

  10. Would those who terminate their Ancestry subscriptions please tell them why?
    I left in a white fury, too frustrated to explain my action, but went back a day later to tell them calmly why.
    (Not easy to do. They have made the Contact point harder to find online.)
    It is really frustrating when they don’t provide tools that have been readily available for some time elsewhere but often block download to those who do. ThruLines can be helpful, but they exclude many of my matches who have been easy for me to connect.
    Ancestry has some of the world’s best advertising. If only they would lift their service delivery to the same level!
    But hey, I have spent too long there for some time.
    I need to get back to the Archives, so maybe they are doing me a favor.

  11. I must be missing a detail on the Ancestry site. How do you know how many matches you have at 6, 7 and 8 cM? I did wonder if it was possible to find that out, but I cannot find a menu with that information.

    • You need to use the script. For almost everyone, it’s 50% of the total or more. So you can get an estimate.

    • When viewing your match list, click on Shared DNA. Go to the Custom centimorgan range, and enter the limits you want to use (6-6, 6-7, etc.). Click Apply. That will then filter your list to only show the range of cM you chose.

  12. Are all triangulated segments, especially over 10 cM, meaningful? What is the best way to judge a triangulated segment? Is it meaningful if my father and his sister share triangulated segments with someone? Or is it more meaningful if my father and a more distant cousin share triangulated segments with someone? Also, I have found several groups where dozens of people triangulate on the same segments. Are there known spots where people tend to match others more frequently than is explainable by simple genealogy? (Mine were on Chromosome 16 and 22)

    As for Ancestry’s purge, I understand your perspective, but I have so much trouble with the seemingly thousands of people who share more than 100 cM with me that it is hard to worry about those with less than 8 cM. Given than 23andMe doesn’t come anywhere close to showing all of those 8 cM matches, which would you rather have: the sub 8cM matches or the ability to see all the Ancestry matches on a chromosome browser so you know how they match?

    • We aren’t going to get a chromosome browser at Ancestry. So it’s not choosing between living our matches and something better.

  13. I have check all my trueline that are 6 cM or 7 cM about 90 percent I can trace to my family tree. This tells me that the 6 cM and 7 cM is very important in connection learning about your family. In addition through Trueline with small matches I have found connection with my g g g grandmother. I hope Ancestry will keep our 6cM and 7cM matches.

  14. Re: LG_Price comment.
    While a good procedure for preserving data, LG fails to realize, that by “grabbing the info” and leaving “town” he/she not only will not know about the much better matches he/she might have to choose from in the future, AND has left ALL of his/her current matches in the lurch!!! Now, those poor matches have no idea that he/she was a match, & are unable to even make contact because they don’t know he/she exists!!!! Not only will LG miss out on a possible breakthru, but neither will that poor genealogist who has worked & waited for the match that could provide them with an answer to that important family connection.
    Guess it’s all about control, definitely NOT a team player……………….

    • Well, you assume a lot Bobby. I am not leaving anyone in the lurch. I am slowly sending emails to my common ancestor matches and offering to send them a copy of my thruline sheet for the match. I’ve already started. I just wish a few would take the time to reply.

      At 71, I can skip the better matches at Ancestry. I have DNA data at 4 other places. Better places because I get segment data and triangulation data. I just wish more ancestry subscribers would be good “team players” and upload their kit to one of these providers. They are better and FREE.

      Your insult is way off the mark. Every since I started doing DNA, when I figure out a match, I write a nice note to the person I match and let then know the MRCA and how I descend from it. In all this time, I have only gotten one similar note from someone who used my tree to figure out a match.

      I am sure that people do find the matches and never let me know. It is QUANDRY. Share my info and get nothing in return or hide my info. I choose to share and have trees or links to my wiki tree at all sites.

      Team player, indeed.

      As for who is not a team player, it is Ancestry.com. They could have easily written a script to group everyone’s thruline matches. Shame on them.

  15. Thanks for all your helpful suggestions. I’ve been going through all the 6-7cm matches that I can and grouping them. I manage several kits so I’m trying to get at least some for everybody starting with ones that show a Common Ancestor. One thing I don’t understand is how ThruLines can show that I have a Common Ancestor with someone who doesn’t have a complete tree? I have found several that show CA and the match person’s tree doesn’t show the ancestor that Ancestry claims we have in common. How is that possible?

    • They use other people’s trees that are more complete to make the link. Of course, they may or may not be accurate and serve as a hint.

  16. Roberta, Thanks so much for continuing to show just how important these 6-7 cM matches can be. Just the other day while DNA diving I found a 7+ cM match who was born in Liberia as were his parents. That small segment is extremely important to my personal history because many Liberians are the descendants of enslaved people freed and forced to return to Africa or emigrated there by choice,.

  17. Apologies for misjudging you LG. I too have DNA results elsewhere along with multiple family member’s results to help me in my 40yr search for my Biological grandparents and I am running out of time so every match counts. I am very fortunate that DNA research came along when it did or I would definitely be “dead in the water”. Unable to put up a “tree” for my paternal line puts me at a disadvantage for connecting with others through the typical reseach methods so I am very grateful to the many matches who have generously responded to my requests for info.

    I am sorry for offending you and wish you better success in the future.

    • Thank you Bobbi,
      I can see your urgency for finding matches.

      I am also very aware of running out of time. I am a very late starter. I begin my research about 1 1/2 years ago. I have been working furiously, trying to squeeze a lot of learning into a very short time span. There is so much to do. I have to really think about the best way to spend the time on research. I don’t want to fritter it away on playing with DNA records.

      I think this points out the issue that we all have different priorities in our research. We hear that over and over in these messages. We all have different needs in the data. There are many ways to pursue genealogy, most time consuming. We really do need access to records that further our individual goals – DNA and otherwise.

      Good luck with your research.

      Regards,
      Linda Price

  18. No I don’t. I feel I have a good amount of names to work with now and am able — thanks to the trees of some matches — to put together family groups etc. but of course have no idea where my dad fits. I think I just need to focus and dedicate some quality time, altho I’ve yet to find anyone closer on the Y-111 than a 9. & I have him in several FTDNA projects. I do have names from adoption papers given for both parents (Burns & James) but feel the father’s name is either bogus or died out…….

  19. I find the loss of this group of data disturbing. My mother is European and there are very few matches for her side on ancestry… the few matches that have tree are in the 6-7 cm range. Also my focus on my father’s side is breaking down walls that occur at around the 4 and 5th Great grandparent level and these smaller matches have been helpful in breaking these walls.. no so much an individual with say a 7 cm match… but when I get several… all linking to the same parent…perhaps via different children… a pattern emerges. It may not prove a connection…but it helps establish a likely relationship.

    I had one set of 4th Great grandparents for whom the only info I had was when they were born and in what states and where they were living in 1850. What I did was build a tree for each of their surnames… based on people who matched my DNA and had the surname in their tree.. but not my specific 4th great grand parents. With each I noticed at least 15 people whom I could connect with each other… Then I looked for possible parents… looked for someone of the right age and then someone likely living in the right place. In one case I narrowed it down to one couple.. Then I got a break… I posted a query on a message board for St Lawrence county NY.. asking for ideas on how to prove Henry Ellenwood and Nancy Wilson were the parents of my Sally Ellenwood… and within a day someone pointed me to a will which specifically mentioned her…using her married name. But I would never have gotten this far without being able to look through these low cm individuals and piecing their trees together. I am now working on her husband Harvey Hicks. I did a similar process… narrowing it down to two possible couples. I first linked one couple to my tree and waited to see if Truelines made any connections… and then switched to the second hypotheses… there I had more hits on truelines… but interestingly… the hits were more numerous with the mother… Now this does not prove this couple is the correct one… but it does suggest that it is more likely in this particular branch of the family. Again I was looking ..not for one match but for a collection of matches.

    Now I am still grappling with how to use DNA properly… so I am cautiously optimistic that I am on the right track. I am afraid of connecting the wrong people.. so I try to keep an open mind. Once challenge when you have multiple family links back to colonial times… is that your DNA link could be another person who does not show up in your tree or you matches tree because they have yet to be discovered.

  20. Another reason why we might need the small matches on Ancestry is because in reality some of them are actually a lot bigger than 8cM.

    One of my 8cM Ancestry matches recently transferred to Family Tree DNA which was really helpful. The largest block there is measured as 21cM and triangulates with my uncle and a 3rd cousin. Most of our common matches on FTDNA come from the same specific townland that the ancestors I share with my 3rd cousin come from.

    It looks like in this example Ancestry’s use of Timber has severely underestimated the size of this match. I wonder how many of our other “small segment” matches are actually much larger? This is why getting our matches on Ancestry to transfer to another company can be so useful.

    • I’ve consistently found that matches transferred to Family Tree DNA have more shared DNA and closer matches at FTDNA than at Ancestry–this is comparing apples to apples–with the same matches tested in both places.

      Even better is to test directly at FamilyTreeDNA.com, see Roberta’s post on that for the impact testing directly makes, she found it to be very significant.

      FTDNA has a summer sale on now for Family Finder (autosomal DNA, which is what AncestryDNA tests) as well as both YDNA for male surname and mtDNA, aka mitochondrial DNA for your matrilineal line. So you have some new tools to break through your brick walls.

      They have nice information pages for each type of test to help you understand what they do. But Family Finder is the AncestryDNA test equivalent to get you started.

      At least get your oldest generation tested directly there for best results. Added bonus, they save your sample for at least 25 years, so if a great new test comes out, you (or your descendants) can take advantage of the sample! Think of it as leaving a legacy for your grandchildren and great grandchildren.

      They have more tools for you to use also, like a Chromosome Browser, and don’t prevent you from using third party tools like Genetic Affairs and others Roberta has mentioned.

  21. This morning I have a 6.2 cMs match with 10 Shared Matches. We have a tree match with an ancestoral couple born 1784. I am one generation older than the match.

    If Ancestry could think outside the box, they would have a default for 6-7 cMs and they would all disappear. Then, anybody who wanted the 6-7cMs matches could Opt In. That would be a win-win.

    Ancestry needs to have a Focus Group to help steer them in the right direction. But, they did not ask me. LOL

    • Clearly not me either. They have a focus group. However, if you don’t share their opinion, you’re out of the group.

  22. And another thought. Ancestry could charge a little extra for those who want to OPT IN for the 6-7 cM segments. A few extra dollars could add up for a new income stream for
    Ancestry. What they need is a Think Tank. Are they asleep at the wheel? LOL

  23. Roberta:

    Ancestry “script question”:

    I have been out of town for one week. I set my most important DNA, managed kit to run between 6 cM to 6 cM (should return results from 6.0 cM to 6.9 cM) I believe. The script was running well when I left but did not complete.

    Returned home earlier to find that the script stopped early in the 6.0 range with about 7,000 grouped matches still to go.

    Question: Is there a way to force the script to run, for example, between 6.0 and 6.1? Or, do I have to start over and re-run the entire range again?

    Thanks,

    Fred

  24. The Email link does not work. I received an automated Email in response stating that the Email address is out of date. Please call or chat with Ancestry Customer Service. I searched Ancestry for another Email address, but could not find one. It is evident that Ancestry doesn’t want to hear from us on how to improve their customer service. Just let the off-shore staff deal with the customer concerns. Time to move on?

  25. Both of my parents and I have tested at Ancestry, all on the same chip. I have 6.0-7.9 cM matches there whose trees match mine and whose DNA triangulates in a manner that confirms their location WRT the predicted MRCAs when we compare DNA at sites with chromosome browsers. (I’ve mapped a lot of my parents’ chromosomes using Genome Mate Pro.) Some of these matches do not match either parent, perhaps due to no calls, but in some cases they nevertheless match known cousins on the parent’s side. Who knows why they are not on a parent’s list (I blame Timber) but I would not automatically discard a match in this range just because the match is not on either parent’s match list. I have saved all our sub 8.0 matches through tagging but am not happy that we won’t be seeing new ones after the end of August.

  26. I have some questions about Thru Lines and common ancestors. I have 25,089 matches (only 233 are close). I also have 518 people in my tree. I think i manually saved all my 6-7 cm matches, but decided to set up Thru Lines to see if i missed anyone important and to hopefully help with a few brick walls. How often do they update Thru Lines? It’s been a few days and I still only have 8 DNA matches flagged with a common ancestors leaf. And they are all above 30cms. Does it sound right that I only have 8 out of 25,089?

  27. First please note that Ancestry has changed to decimal cm recently which adds even more matches that will go away because they were previously rounding up. This mean you need to go back and tag your matches again to get the ones from 7.6 to 7.9cm. Now, I totally agreed that this is stupid to get rid of these lower cm matches as I use them all the time to verify my tree. Pretty amazing that Ancestry would get rid of matches that Thrulines thinks it know are a good match.

  28. I contacted Ancestry through Chat about my low common ancestors and this is what they said:

    “Unfortunately, we are having a technical issue on our website with the common ancestors loading correctly. Our technical team is aware of this and is working on resolving it. We apologize for any frustration or inconvenience.”

    They don’t have a timeline and are unsure if this will be resolved before the 6-8cMs disappear.

    Just wanted everyone to know.

  29. What happens AFTER the removal?
    When it was announced that most of Ancestry had been sold again, figures were released that it had [sold?] 18 Million [DNA tests?] and had 3 Million paying customers.
    Some maybe never sent in their kits.
    Many of those who tested just wanted ethnicity and may never return.
    Cleaning out their 6-8cM matches will not cause them any distress (unless they return later). Some people who are not currently paying are still interested in genealogy.
    Let’s say that is as many as are currently paying a subscription.
    So there are up to 12 million people’s small matches that will NOT be missed.
    That will be a lot of empty server space alone.
    Maybe, in future, there is scope for some method to return access to those who are interested in the small matches – even if they have to pay for it.
    My major point to Ancestry is that their records are worth searching ONLY if we need to sort out where the small matches go. Clustering techniques and ThruLines can sort out the bigger ones, but can become unreliable down that low, so we are always going to have to do things largely by hand down there. But if there are no puzzles, then there is no need for a subscription.
    But this Cassandra has a habit of being ignored …..until.
    Hope I am still around when that happens.
    (That “until” may even be a competitor of sorts!)

  30. Well, anyone who has been dealing with the company called Ancestry for the last 20+ years, knows that the company has never really valued or listened to their customer base. They roll out programs, you get to using them, then the next thing you know, “POOF” they are gone. When the grouping rolled out, I spent days putting matches into groups. Hopefully “The Company” will not get rid of that option in the future. I have also printed out my match list, several times, so I have that info saved.

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