Heads Up – Great Changes Coming at FamilyTreeDNA

This should be subtitled “Confessions of a Squeaky Wheel.”

Yes, I’ve been incessantly squeaky for a long time now, and it looks for all the world like this nagging, er, squeaking has worked.

Just a few minutes ago, this email arrived from FamilyTreeDNA, addressed to project administrators.

There’s at least one thing that’s time-sensitive, so be sure to read this today.

You may have been one of the FamilyTreeDNA customers who received one of two surveys a few weeks ago, after myDNA merged with FamilyTreeDNA. FamilyTreeDNA asked for feedback about what customers would like to see.

At that time, there was a raft of unfounded rumors that myDNA wasn’t committed to genealogy.

That was wrong, dead wrong. Couldn’t be further from the truth, and that’s not just extrapolated from this email. It’s a function of being that squeaky wheel. Based on this, FamilyTreeDNA obviously listened.

This is certainly welcome news!

That list of things we’ve been asking for…well, here you go.

Increased matches for many, along with improved matches. Did you see that?

There’s a lot here. It’s no wonder the matches page has been redesigned with all these new features.

It looks like the Y DNA page has been redesigned for the same reason. No mention of mitochondrial DNA though. Maybe that’s coming soon.

Thank goodness – a new Help Center.

And VIDEOs too!!!


Ok, who loves that “Houston we have a problem” message? No one with their hand up? Me either.

However, I’ve already seen an improvement over the past few weeks, so maybe this has been an ongoing behind-the-scenes process.

And tooltips too!

For those who don’t know, a tooltip is a little information box with a couple of sentences that you can just mouse over. For example, a good place for a tooltip would be on the column headers explaining what that column means.

Ok, here’s the time-sensitive part.

I know FamilyTreeDNA said that they had closed the National Geographic Genographic transfer portal a year ago, but clearly they left it open as a courtesy.

However, with all these changes, it’s going away for good, now.

If you don’t transfer your Nat Geo Genographic kit before end of day on June 30th, you will not be able to do so. You can find instructions, here.

What’s Next?

We don’t know when these features will be released, exactly, but we do know it’s coming in July.

The fact that the Genographic transfer is gone as of June 30th suggests that at least some changes are imminent.

This cumulative list equates to a huge change, so I’d wager that it won’t be one big release, but a series of releases that build on each other.

I don’t know about you, but I can hardly wait. I’ll be writing about the new features as soon as they arrive.

I’m signing in now to record the number of matches I have so I can compare when the new features arrive. You can too, by clicking here.

If you have kits from other vendors that you’ve been meaning to upload to FamilyTreeDNA, now would be a great time to do that. You can find step-by-step instructions for downloading raw data files from each vendor and uploading them elsewhere, here.

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19 thoughts on “Heads Up – Great Changes Coming at FamilyTreeDNA

  1. Thanks Roberta. We can alswys count on you to keep us abreast of the latest developments …. with added value comments to enhance our understanding of our DNA results. Much appreciated.

  2. Thanks Roberta. I would like to see FTDNA give us a way to contact people in Surname Studies. Perhaps a direct email would invade privacy, but an email through FTDNA, similar to Ancestry, could be useful. The reason for this type of contact is: If someone lists a direct ancestor that I am interested in, and may have in my tree, thereby suggesting a Haplotype for that branch, I would like to confirm that their tree is correct first. This is not possible at this time, because there is no contact link, such as there is with the Y-DNA matching at the various 37, 67, 111 and Y-700 marker levels. Thanks so much, Karlyn Shedlowski

    • In send an email to the admin and ask them to forward it to the person. I know it’s not the same, but it generally works.

  3. Thank you, thank you, Roberta! I had my mom’s DNA tested in the National Geographic project about ten years ago, and she died shortly after that. There really wasn’t much information from the test at that time, and I had pretty much forgotten about it. But I just found your blog and so I transferred her data to Family Search. (Just in Time!) I don’t know what to do next, but I’m just glad that the old DNA is saved in case there’s something better coming up in DNA research.

  4. The changes are starting to roll out, at least for me. I see changes in the Dashboard (mostly just a reorganization), the Family Finder Matches page and the Y-DNA Matches page. No sign yet of the Chromosome Painter tool in myOrigins. These are going to take a bit of time getting used to, at least for me. Hopefully, the advertised improvements in navigation, etc., will become more apparent to me at time goes on. 🙂 As you surmised, nothing has changed, at least for now, on the mtDNA pages. The same is true of the Big Y pages. I did notice a slight increase in Family Finder matches, but, at least for me, the family bucketing is being recalculated (it currently shows no one in any of the “buckets” and says the recalculation could take up to 24 hours) and my number of X Matches has decreased precipitously from around 100 down to, at this time, only 1! In other words, several people who were previously listed as X Matches are, at least at this time, no longer listed as such. Hopefully this is because they are in the midst of recalculating X matching.

  5. It is not possible to view segments smaller than 6 cM in the chromosome browser . This is very bad for detailed segment analysis.

      • Of course, these restrictions will help filter out false matches and the kinship calculation will be more accurate. But it would be possible to leave the possibility to see small segments in “expert mode”. For example, this is how I determined the parental side of some segments by comparing with the mother’s results. But now if the mother segment reads as 5.9 cM and the my segment as 6.1, it is impossible to determine the parental side.

  6. At that time, all the results told us was her “ancient” DNA origins, and nothing about her more “modern” ancestors…say, in the last 500 years! I have the Ancestry results for her two younger sisters, so that does give me some information. What kind of test might I order from Family Search on her DNA that might prove to be a source of information on more recent origins?

  7. Note. I just saw you post where you mentioned that the Xmatching threshold is now 6 cM. However, I have a match who was previously listed as an X match but is no longer listed even though we share 9 cM according to the Chromosome Browser. I’ve posted a query to FTDNA support asking about this.

      • I finally heard back from FTDNA support. They pointed out that the 9.4 cM I share with this person that shows on the Chromosome Browser spans the centromere region and, because of this, they do not consider it a matching segment for X-matching purposes.

  8. Still waiting for my Version 2 results to be updated to Version 3. My Home Page reports my Version 3 results will be available in 3 – 4 weeks as it has for over seven months now. My last inquiry to Customer Service about a month ago produced a less than helpful reply that my problem had been reported to IT and did not give an expected date of completion. Has anyone else had a similar experience?

    Thank you!

  9. I have seen huge changes in FTDNA shared DNA results (actual cM #s) over the last few months. Is this old hat? Do we all understand what happened? Is this the end of the corrections for a while? [FYI – this has happened on at least 2 accounts. Checking more now.]

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