DNA-eXplained Celebrates Tenth Anniversary!

This blog, DNA-eXplained, is celebrating its 10th anniversary today. How time flies!

I never thought for a minute about a 10th anniversary when I launched that first article.

I started blogging to teach people and literally “explain” about genetic genealogy – which is why I selected the name DNA-eXplained. Over time, it has also been nicknamed DNAeXplain, which is fine.

I hoped to be able to answer questions once, with graphics and examples, instead of over and over again off-the-cuff. I needed someplace where people could be referred for answers. Blogging seemed like the perfect medium for achieving exactly that.

Blogs allow writers to publish content attractively and react to changes and announcements quickly.

Blogs encourage readers to subscribe for email delivery or use RSS reader aggregation and can publish to social media.

Content can be located easily using browser searches.

Everything, all content, is indexed and searchable by keyword or phrase.

Blogging certainly seemed like the right solution. Still, I was hesitant.

I vividly remember working at my desk that day, a different desk in a different location, and anguishing before pressing the “publish” button that first time. Was I really, REALLY sure? I had the sense that I was sitting in one of those life-defining fork-in-the-road moments and once embarked upon, there would be no turning back.

I’m so glad I closed my eyes and pushed that button!

I knew we were going to be in for an incredible journey. Of course, I had no idea where that roller coaster ride was going, but we would be riding together, regardless. What a journey it has been!

A decade later, I’ve had the opportunity to meet and become friends with so many of you, both online and in person. I’ve met countless cousins I never knew I had, thanks to various blog articles, including the 52 Ancestors series which has turned out to be 365 and counting.

I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity! I thought I was giving to others, yet I’ve been greatly enriched by this experience and all of you.

So much has changed in all of our lives.

Looking Back

Today, as I look back at that very short first article, I can’t help but think just how unbelievably far we’ve come.

There was one Y and mitochondrial DNA testing vendor in 2012, FamilyTreeDNA, and that’s still the case today.

There were three autosomal testing companies, 23andMe, FamilyTreeDNA, and Ancestry, in addition to the Genographic Project, which was sunset in 2019 after an amazing 15-year run. GEDmatch was two years old in 2012 and had been formed to fill the need for advanced autosomal matching tools. In 2016, MyHeritage joined the autosomal testing market. All of those companies have since been acquired.

In 2012, FamilyTreeDNA broke ground by accepting uploaded DNA files from other vendors. Autosomal DNA tests cost about $300 although prices were dropping. I don’t anticipate prices dropping much further now, because companies have to maintain a reasonable profit margin to stay in business.

In 2013, when DNA-eXplained celebrated its first anniversary, I had published 162 articles.

That first year was VERY busy with lots of innovation occurring in the industry. You can read my end-of-year article, 2012 Top 10 Genetic Genealogy Happenings if you’d like to reminisce a bit. For comparison, here’s my Genetic Genealogy at 20 Years summary.

The World is Our Oyster

In the past decade, I’ve penned articles in a wide variety of locations, in several countries, on 5 continents.

I’ve written in my offices, of course, but also in cars, on buses, trains, and planes. I’ve crafted several articles on ships while cruising. In fact, writing is one of my favorite “sea-day” things to do, often sitting on deck if it’s a nice day.

I’ve written in cemeteries, which shouldn’t surprise you, on the hood of my car, and cross-legged on the floor at innumerable conferences.

I’ve composed at picnic tables and in countless hotel lobbies, libraries, laboratories, restaurants, and coffee shops. And, in at least 3 castles.

I’ve written while on archaeology digs, balancing my laptop on my knees while sitting on an inverted bucket, trying to keep dirt, sand, and ever-present insects away.

I’ve even written in hospitals, both as a visitor and a patient. Yea, I might not have told you about that.

I’ve pretty much taken you with me everyplace I’ve gone for the past decade. And we are no place near finished!


This article is number 1531 which means I’ve published an article every 2.3 days for a decade. Truthfully, I’m stunned. I had no idea that I have been that prolific. I never have writer’s block. In fact, I have the opposite problem. So many wonderful topics to write about and never enough time.

A huge, HUGE thank you to all of my readers. Writers don’t write if people don’t read!

DNA-eXplained has received millions and millions of views and is very popular, thanks to all of you.

There have been more than 48,000 comments, 4,800 a year or about 13 each day, and yes, I read every single one before approving it for publication.

Akismet, my spam blocker only reports for 45 months, but in that time alone, there have been about 100,000 attempted SPAM comments. That equates to about 75 each day and THANK GOODNESS I don’t have to deal with those.

WordPress doesn’t count “pages,” as such, but if my articles average 10 pages each, and each page averages 500 words, then we’re looking at someplace between 7 and 8 million words. That’s 13 times the size of War and Peace😊. Not only do I write each article, but I proofread it several times too.

Peering Into the Future

Genetic genealogy as a whole continues to produce the unexpected and solve mysteries.

Tools like triangulation in general, Family Matching at FamilyTreeDNA, genetic trees at 23andMe, Theories of Family Relativity at MyHeritage, and ThruLines at Ancestry have provided hints and tools to both suggest and confirm relationships and break through brick walls.

Ethnicity chromosome painting at both 23andMe and FamilyTreeDNA help unravel ancestral mysteries, especially for people with combinations of fundamentally different ancestries, as does Genetic Communities at Ancestry and Genetic Groups at MyHeritage.

Third-party tools that we love today weren’t even a twinkle in a developer’s eye in 2012. Products like DNAPainter, Genetic Affairs, and DNAGedcom pick up where the vendors leave off and are widely utilized by genealogists.

I hope that all of our vendors continue to invest in product development and provide the genetic genealogy community with new and innovative tools that assist us with breaking down those pesky brick walls.

Primarily, though, I hope you continue to enjoy your genealogy journey and make steady progress, with a rocket boost from genetic testing.

The vendors can provide wonderful tools, but it’s up to us to use them consistently, wringing out every possible drop. Don’t neglect paternal (male surname) Y DNA and matrilineal mitochondrial DNA testing for people who carry those important lines for your ancestors. All 4 kinds of DNA have a very specific and unique genealogical use.

I encourage you to test every relative you can and check their and your results often. New people test every single day. You never know where that critical piece of information will come from, or when that essential puzzle piece will drop into place.

Be sure to upload to both FamilyTreeDNA and MyHeritage (plus GEDMatch) so you are in the database of all the vendors. (Instructions here.) Fate favors the prepared.

Thank You!!

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for supporting me by reading and sharing my articles with your friends, organizations, and family members, by purchasing through the affiliate links, by buying my book, and by graciously sharing your own experiences.

Thank you for your suggestions and questions which plant the seeds of new articles and improvements.

I hope you’ve made progress with your research, unraveled some thorny knots, and that you’ve enjoyed this decade as much as I have. Tell me in the comments what you enjoyed the most or found most useful?

Here’s to another wonderful 10 years together!


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52 thoughts on “DNA-eXplained Celebrates Tenth Anniversary!

  1. Roberta, you have helped me so much over the years and I’m glad to have had the chance to meet and talk with you at the Conferences in Houston. I am hoping to go to England in a year or so (after I retire) to conduct research. I will have you and your Europe stories in mind while digging up my ancestors (well, their records, don’t you know…) Thanks for the ride so far. I can’t wait to see where you take us next.

  2. Thank you Roberta. I have learned a lot from your blog over the years. When I started only FamilyTreeDNA offered genealogy DNA testing and it was YDNA with only 12 markers. I solved some critical ancestry by using DNA. Thanks.

  3. Roberta, Thank you for your efforts to help us all with your blogs. It has saved me so much time when I could forward one of your blogs to help others without having to recreate the effort. Wishing you the best for the next 10 years and I hope you will continue with the energy you’ve shown over the past 10.

    • Thank you Jim, and I hope so too. I’m glad the articles are being used in exactly the way I had hoped!

  4. Thank YOU so much for all the work you’ve put into this blog. After my dad and I did our first tests on Ancestry in late 2012, I came here to learn… You’re great at explaining step-by-step. (Alas, I forgot now how I found this site.)

  5. Your blog is a treasure and first on my list of resources when talking to newbies about the wonders of Genetic Genealogy. You are providing a great service to all of us who have an interest in this area. Thank you.

    • The new people are the key to the next generation – and encouraging more people to test. Thank you.

  6. Roberta, I’ve read only a tiny fraction of your blogs, but I always learn something new. You have a terrific way of telling a story and making it a teaching experience at the same time. I honestly don’t know how you find the time to write as much as you do and still do your own research and teaching and everything else you squeeze into your life. I’m 9 years now into using DNA to help (more like “drive”) my genealogy and so thankful that you, and other educators like you, so willingly share your learnings with us. Long may it continue.

  7. CONGRADULATIONS! Thank you for helping us and taking time to answer our questions. So glad someone as knowledgeable as you is willing to share and educate us.

  8. Wow, has it been that long? I still have my first message to you from that September. What a privilege it’s been to have shared so many, many stories and emotions as well. You’ve taken all of us for a wonderful journey finding family and I’ll be forever grateful, now as both a friend and cousin. I look forward to the next 10 years and 500 ancestors! Congratulations!

    • I was so pleased to discover that we are distant cousins. You’re an inspiration, Randy, in so many ways.

  9. Congratulations, Roberta. I love all you family stories and am amazed at the amount of detail you are able to find.

  10. What a treat !! Happy for your success, happier that I’ve known you at least 10 years!!! Oh, and Surprise, I HAVE A YOUNGER half brother. We got to meet him and his wife last month, they drove up from Henderson NV. 23&Me is now trying to tell me that My half sister IS Sharelle,, but she still only fits in the Aunt position. I love having a younger brother!! (by 6 years). Congrats to you and many more celebratory Rides to take on on with you! -Anniedear

    • Wow, Anniedear, what a surprise! So glad you got to meet him. What an amazing journey we’ve been on!

    • Just a quick response from my experience. There are very complicated reasons (which Roberta understands better than I do), BUT the “counting” of DNA at 23 and Me is different from the other sites. It means that those “relationship” estimates can seem VERY ODD. In one instance, a brother had the amount of cM that a father would have, yet he was a full brother. If ever I’m helping someone who has only tested there, I have them test at Ancestry — and all becomes clear!!!

  11. A very big CONGRATULATIONS to you Roberta! Ten years is quite an accomplishment. I appreciate you sharing your stories and knowledge.

  12. Thank you Roberta. I’ve followed your blog since 2015 when I tested my uncle’s DNA. Seems like I earned another BA with everything I’ve learned since from you and others. You are a lovely woman.

  13. Congratulations, Roberta! You are a distant cousin and I put you in my tree long ago when that was discovered.

    Mostly, I love your style — FROM the super detailed geographic journeys through foreign lands, with photos and maps and research process TO the oh-so-personal ones of your personal journey through life. I share your posts OFTEN and I know several of my relatives and friends have signed up to receive them directly.

    Keep up the good work!! Did you resettle somewhere? Have I missed a chapter — or is that yet to come?

    I’m mostly helping others — still struggling with endogamy in one instance (though, fingers crossed, a key person has been approached about testing) and with a full adoption of a grandmother in another case (only DNA to go on, no adoption records in the particular state).

    Again, congrats!

    Ever faithful,
    Carol Snow

  14. While I’ve been doing paper genealogy research for more than 50 years, I’ve just started to cautiously wade into DNA research. I’ve learned so much about DNA from your blogs and your conference webinars. Thank you for all you do for the genealogy community.

  15. Your blog has been very helpful to me. It is also very entertaining and well written. I enjoy every one.

  16. I would just say that you are amazing. You’ve taught me most of what I know about using DNA for genealogy. You explain things so clearly, and choose such useful subjects to write about. I can’t thank you enough. best wishes Mike from the UK

  17. I’ve appreciated all you’ve done to share your knowledge, guidance, caveats, etc., so much that I don’t even know how to express it without gushing on and on, and on and on.

    So, simply, back to you, “A huge, HUGE thank you to” YOU.
    Thank you for ‘having pretty much taken us with you everyplace you’ve gone for the past decade’.

    And I’m so glad to hear, “we are no place near finished!”.
    It’s quite a lot to untangle without some more studied expertise and experience… and you’ve so generously shared that with us.

    Yes, I’ve appreciated your education and ‘help’ too many times now to remember.

    So, I hope you keep enjoying the journey and your eXplaining keeps inspiring!

  18. Fans of this DNA world we share are so lucky to discover you and then follow along as you lead us on our DNA journey of discovery. I think you and I share some distant cousins at Reagan Tennessee………

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