Family Tree DNA Dashboard Gets a New Skin

I signed into an account at FamilyTreeDNA and a surprise was waiting for me. FamilyTreeDNA molted and the dashboard on everyone’s personal page has a new look and feel.

New dashboard

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The various tests along with results are at the right, and other information including updates, projects and badges are on the left.

New dashboard 2

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Additional features, tests, tools and family trees are at the bottom.

New dashboard 3

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Unfortunately, the tree is now at the very bottom – out of sight which means it will be more out of mind than it already is. We need more people to participate in trees, not fewer☹

But there are lots of improvements. Let’s step through each new feature and take a look.

Tutorial

At the very top of the page, under the gear setting at far right, you’ll see several options.

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The first option is “View Tutorial” and that’s where I suggest that you start. The quick tutorial shows you how to rearrange your dashboard and how to add Quick Links – two new features.

Rearranging the Furniture

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By clicking on “Rearrange Dashboard” you can move the test blocks around.

New dashboard move

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When you click on “Rearrange,” the boxes appear with dotted lines around them and all you have to do is click on one and pull it where you want, then click to place and release it.

When finished, click on “Exit Rearrange.” This is easy and you can’t hurt anything, so experiment.

Previous Version

Don’t like the new dashboard at all, click on “View Previous Version,” but please don’t do that yet, because I think you’re going to like what comes next.

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Quick Links

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At upper left, you can add up to 5 Quick Links, one at a time. These would be the functions you access the most.

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Let’s see, what do I do most? That’s easy, Family Finder matches, then linking people in my family tree, then Y DNA and mitochondrial DNA matches, then the Big Y Block Tree.

New dashboard quick links 5

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Now all I have to do is click on one of these links.

Format Changes

Now, all tools are shown full size on the product tabs. Previously, Advanced Matching, the Matrix and the Data Download were located in small print beneath the feature tabs. They’ve been moved up with the rest where they are much more visible and easy to notice.

New dashboard format

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The Learning Center is shown as well.

Upgrades

Another feature I like is that it’s easy to see at a glance what level of each test you’ve taken. In the upper right corner of each product where there are different levels, the tests you’ve taken are darkened. In the example above, the tester has taken all of the Y DNA tests. If he had not, the Big Y, for example, would be light gray, as illustrated below, and all he would have to do to order an upgrade is to click on the gray Big Y box.

Unfortunately, there’s nothing that says “Upgrade” and I’m concerned that clicked on the greyed out box is not intuitive.

One thing you can’t tell is whether or not you’ve taken the original Big Y, the Big Y-500 or the Big Y-700. Perhaps this change will be made soon, because people are upgrading from the Big Y and the Big Y-500 to the Big Y-700. There’s so much more to learn and the Big Y-700 results have branched many trees.

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Tests you haven’t taken aren’t obvious unless you actually click on the shopping cart icon. While you can see tests that offer upgrades, such as the Y DNA, if the person hasn’t taken the Family Finder, it’s not obvious anyplace that this test is available for purchase.

I don’ t know about you, but I really WANT people to upgrade to Family Finder if they’ve taken Y DNA or mitochondrial DNA tests, or to Y DNA or mitochondrial DNA if they’ve taken the Family Finder test. I hope Family Tree DNA adds a visible upgrade button that lists available tests for each tester.

Partner Applications

If you click on Partner Applications, you’ll see Geni. Some people mistakenly think that if you connect with Geni, that somehow feeds your tree at Family Tree DNA. To be very clear, IT DOES NOT. You can connect to Geni, but you still need to either build a tree or upload a Gedcom file to Family Tree DNA.

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Public Haplotrees

At the bottom of everyone’s pages, you’ll find Public Haplotrees.

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Clicking on this link takes you to the wonderful Y DNA and mitochondrial DNA haplotrees, complete with country flags and reports.

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I wrote about how to use the public Y tree here and the public mitochondrial tree here.

MyFamilyTree

You can access your own tree either at the top of the page, or now at the bottom.

New dashboard myTree.png

New dashboard myTree 2

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I would like to see the tree icon moved to the top where everyone sees it, since trees are integral and important to all three kinds of DNA tests. Everyone needs trees.

Badges

The haplogroup designations, along with any other badges, are much more visible now, shown on the left-hand side of the page.

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Furthermore, the badge says whether or not the testing has been sufficient to confirm the haplogroup, or if it is predicted.

Projects

Just above badges, we find myProjects. I love that the projects are now displayed in such a prominent place. I hope that people will think to join projects, or look to see what’s available now that it’s in the middle of the page and not just as a link in the top banner.

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Clicking on the project name takes you to the public display.

You can also still access projects from the top as well.

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Updates

Another aspect of the new interface that I like is myUpdates.

Found at the top left, just below Quick Links, this new communications box provides the latest information from Family Tree DNA to you.

For my account, I see the following:

New dashboard myUpdates.png

New surveys with this update are the Family Ancestry survey, the Y DNA survey and the mtDNA survey. Of course, I don’t have a Y DNA survey because as a female, I don’t have a Y chromsome.

I want to review the surveys in depth, so I’ll be writing an article very shortly – but in the mean time, you need to know that these answers ARE FINAL, meaning that once you submit them, you can never change them. Please be vigilant and accurate, because these surveys are important so that the resulting science is reliable for all customers.

Security and Privacy

On the previous version of the personal page, your personal information, genealogical questions, privacy and security were located just beneath your profile photo.

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Not so now. In fact, they are completely obscured in the down arrow under your name at far right, NOT in the gear showing beneath your name.

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Intuitively, I looked under the gear, above, but that’s not the place. It’s another gear. The Account Settings gear that you see drop down by clicking on your name, shown below, is NOT the same gear as you’re seeing above.

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Yes, I know this is confusing at first, but it’s not when you realize that there are two separate gears and if one doesn’t show the option you’re looking for, just click on the other one.

Click on the “Account Settings” gear by first clicking on your name to access the following information:

  • Account Information: contact information, beneficiary, password
  • Genealogy: surnames, earliest known ancestors
  • Privacy and Sharing: profile, matching preferences, origins, family trees
  • Project Preferences: sharing and authorizations by project
  • Notification Preferences: e-mail notifications by test and for projects

I hope that things like the surnames and earliest known ancestors will be moved to a much more visible location with prompts for people to complete. It was hard enough before to encourage people to complete this information and now the option to access these tabs is entirely invisible.

The earliest known ancestor and surnames are critical to the matches maps, to the EKA (earliest known ancestor) fields in both the Y and mitochondrial DNA displays and to the surname matching for Family Finder matches. Having testers complete this information means a much more meaningful and productive experience for all testers.

These three functions, in particular, are too important to have “out of sight, out of mind.”

Project Administrators

If you are a project administrator or have written instructions for your family or groups of people about to how to manage pages, change account settings, or join projects – you need to review and update your documents.

Group Project Search

A new group project search function has been added at the bottom of the main Family Tree DNA page, if you are not signed in.

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You can access the page, here.

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I’m not sure that a potential customer will understand that they are supposed to enter a surname to find a project – or the benefits of doing so. I hope this can be changed to add instructions to enter a surname or topic, and add wording to more closely reflect the search function on the main page.

However, most people will still access the surname search in the center of the main Family Tree DNA page where it does say “search surname.”

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I would also like to see an “ancestor search” added so that people can see if someone with their ancestors has already tested. This would encourage testing.

Summary

In summary, I like these features of the new dashboard:

  • I like the fact that the icons and features are all the same size in the space for that product – like advanced matching , the matrix and the learning center.
  • I like that the dashboard can be rearranged.
  • I like that the projects are showing clearly at left.
  • I like the new myUpdates section.
  • I like the Quick Links.
  • I like the larger, more noticeable badges that tell testers whether their haplogroup is predicted or confirmed. It might be nice to have a popup explaining how testers can confirm a predicted haplogroup and the associated benefits.
  • I like the fact that testers can see at a glance the level of their testing for each product, which also means they can quickly see if an upgrade is available.
  • I like the fact that this version is much more friendly towards handheld devices such as iPads and phones.

Improvements I recommend are:

  • Add the Account Settings back to the main page.
  • Move the trees from the bottom to the top to encourage user participation.
  • Add back the familiar blue upgrade button. People aren’t going to look in the shopping cart for a menu.
  • Add a feature at the top that shows clearly for the 3 main products, Y DNA, mitochondrial DNA and Family Finder if one of those 3 has not been ordered and is available for the tester to order.
  • Separate Big Y into Big YBig Y-500 and Big Y-700 buttons, providing Big Y and Big Y-500 testers with an upgrade avenue.
  • Add a popup at the top to encourage people to build a tree or upload a Gedcom file.
  • Add a popup at the top to encourage people to test other family members and to link testers in their tree so that they can enjoy phased matches assigned via matches to maternal and paternal family members.
  • Add a popup at the top to coach people to complete the various functions that enhance the user experience including:
    • Earliest Known Ancestor
    • Surnames
    • Matches Map information
    • Sharing
    • Joining projects

The new features are certainly welcome and a great start.

I hope these improvements are added quickly, because I fear that we lose opportunities every day when people don’t understand or don’t add information initially, then never sign in again.

We need to help testers and family members understand not only THAT they need to provide this information, or that they can upgrade their tests, but WHY that’s important and beneficial.

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Disclosure

I receive a small contribution when you click on some of the links to vendors in my articles. This does NOT increase the price you pay but helps me to keep the lights on and this informational blog free for everyone. Please click on the links in the articles or to the vendors below if you are purchasing products or DNA testing.

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Services

Genealogy Research

Family Tree DNA’s PUBLIC Y DNA Haplotree

It’s well known that as a result of Big Y testing that Family Tree DNA has amassed a huge library of Y DNA full sequence results that have revealed new SNPs, meaning new haplotree branches, for testers. That’s how the Y haplotree is built. I wrote about this in the article, Family Tree DNA Names 100,000 New Y DNA SNPs.

Up until now, the tree was only available on each tester’s personal pages, but that’s not the case anymore.

Share the Wealth

Today, Family Tree DNA has made the tree public. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU Family Tree DNA.

To access the tree, click here, but DON’T sign in. Scroll to the bottom of the page. Keep scrolling, and scrolling…until you see the link under Community that says “Y-DNA Haplotree.” Click there.

The New Public Haplotree

The new public haplotree is amazing.

This tree isn’t just for people who took the Big Y test, but includes anyone who has a haplogroup confirming SNP OR took the Big Y test. Predicted haplogroups, of course, aren’t included.

Each branch includes the location of the most recent known ancestor of individuals who carry that terminal SNP, shown with a flag.

The branches are color coded by the following:

  • Light blue = haplogroup root branches
  • Teal or blue/green = branches with no descendants
  • Dark blue = branches that aren’t roots and that do have at least one descendant branch

The flag location is determined by the most distant known ancestor, so if you don’t have a “Most Distant Known Ancestor” completed, with a location, please, please, complete that field by clicking on “Manage Personal Information” beneath your profile picture on your personal page, then on Genealogy, shown below. Be sure to click on Save when you’re finished!

View Haplotree By

Viewing the haplotree is not the same as searching. “View by” is how the tree is displayed.

Click on the “View By” link to display the options: country, surnames or variant.

You can view by the country (flags), which is the default, the surname or the variants.

Country view, with the flags, is the default. Surname view is shown below.

The third view is variant view. By the way, a variant is another word for SNP. For haplogroup R-M207, there are 8,202 variants, meaning SNPs occurring beneath, or branches.

Reports

On any of the branch links, you’ll see three dots at the far right.

To view reports by country or surname, click on the dots to view the menu, then click on the option you desire.

Country statistics above, surname below. How cool is this!

Searching

The search function is dependent on the view currently selected. If you are in the surname view, then the search function says “Search by Surname” which allows you to enter a surname. I entered Estes.

If I’m not currently on the haplogroup R link, the system tells me that there are 2 Estes results on R. If I’m on the R link, the system just tells me how many results it found for that surname on this branch and if there are others on other branches.

The tree then displays the direct path between R-M207 (haplogroup R root) and the Estes branch.

…lots of branches in-between…

The great thing about this is that I can now see the surnames directly above my ancestral surname, if they meet the criteria to be displayed.

Display criteria is that two people match on the same branch AND that they both have selected public sharing. Requiring two surnames per branch confirms that result.

If you want to look at a specific variant, you can enter that variant name (BY490) in the search box and see the surnames associated with the variant. The click on “View by” to change the view from country (maps) to surnames to variants.

Change from country to surname.

And from surname to variants.

What geeky fun!!!

Go to Branch Name

If you want to research a specific branch, you can go there directly by utilizing the “Go to Branch Name” function, but you must enter the haplogroup in front of the branch name. R-BY490 for example.

When you’re finished with this search, REMOVE THE BRANCH NAME from the search box, if you’re going to do any other searches, or the system thinks you’re searching within that branch name.

My Result Isn’t Showing

In order for your results to be included on the tree, you must have fulfilled all 3 of these criteria:

  • Taken either a SNP or Big Y test
  • Opted in for public sharing
  • More than one result for that branch with the same exact surname

If you think your results should be showing and they aren’t, check your privacy settings by clicking the orange “Manage Personal Information” under your profile picture on your main page, then on the Privacy and Sharing tab.

Still not showing? See if you match another male of the same surname on the Big Y or SNP test at the same level.

If your surname isn’t included, you can recruit testers from that branch of your family.

How Can I Use This?

I’m like a kid with a new toy.

If any of your family surnames are rather unique, search to see if they are on the tree.

Hey look, my Vannoy line is on haplogroup I! Hmmm, clear the schedule, I’m going to be busy all day!

Every haplogroup has a story – and that story belongs to the men, and their families, who carry that haplogroup! I gather the haplogroups for each of my family surnames and this public tree just made this task much, MUCH easier.

Discovering More

If the testers have joined the appropriate surname project, you may also be able to find them in that project to see if they descend from a common line with you. To check and see, click here and then scroll down to the “Search Surname” section of the main Family Tree DNA webpage and enter the surname.

You can see if there is a project for your surname, and if not, your surname may be included in other projects.

Click on any of those links to view the project or contact the (volunteer) project administrators.

Want to search for another surname, the project search box is shown at the right in this view.

What gems can you find?

Want to Test?

If you are a male and you want to take the Big Y test or order a haplogroup confirming SNP, or you are a female who would like to sponsor a test for a male with a surname you’re interested in, you can purchase the Big Y test, here. As a bonus, you will also receive all of the STR markers for genealogical comparison as well.

Wonder what you can learn? You will be searching for matches to other males with the same surname. You can learn about your history. Confirm your ancestral line. Learn where they came from. You can help the scientific effort and contribute to the tree. For more information, read the article, Working with Y DNA – Your Dad’s Story.

Have fun!!!

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Disclosure

I receive a small contribution when you click on some of the links to vendors in my articles. This does NOT increase the price you pay but helps me to keep the lights on and this informational blog free for everyone. Please click on the links in the articles or to the vendors below if you are purchasing products or DNA testing.

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Services

Genealogy Research

 

 

 

 

Project Groupings and How to Get the Most Out of Projects at Family Tree DNA

Family Tree DNA is the only DNA testing company that offers and supports projects – a structure that allows participants to join groups of common interest with the goal of providing information about their ancestors. Family Tree DNA provides a project structure and even a special administrator support group and hotline at Family Tree DNA to assist project administrators with the over 8000 projects that exist today.

Projects do more than just help the members – they have the potential to help others who descend from these same lines. Not to mention that they are a wonderful recuiting tool.

You can see what projects might be available for a surname of interest at this link by typing the surname or topic (like Indian) into the “Search your Surname” box:

For the past several years, World Families Network has hosted some Family Tree DNA projects utilizing a different format, as well as orphan projects, meaning those with no administrator.

With the recent World Families Network announcement that they are retiring as of May 23th and will no longer be hosting projects, several people have been inspired to adopt orphan projects, literally preserving what exists at World Families Network already in place for that project. That’s great news, but what’s next and how does a project administrator manage a project?

Or maybe you’re on the other side of the fence and you’d like to understand why projects are grouped so differently and how to use, or group, them effectively.

This article is written for surname project administrators, but is a learning tool for anyone interested in surnames. Isn’t that all genealogists?

Projects Are Your Surname Billboard

Project pages are your project’s front door, the marketing department, and a great way to put your best foot forward to recruit new members.

I’ve provided some resources for administrators at the end of this article, but before you start the nitty-gritty of how to group project members, I’d like to provide a few thoughts, observations and recommendations for grouping specific types of projects.

No need to roll through the same mud puddles I’ve already stomped in just to discover that they’re cold, wet and dirty.

Project Types

I administer or co-administer a number of projects at Family Tree DNA, such as:

  • Regional projects, such as the Cumberland Gap Y and mitochondrial DNA
  • Family or special interest projects, such as the American Indian project and the Acadian AmerIndian Ancestry project.
  • Haplogroup projects
  • Surname projects
  • Autosomal projects

How projects are grouped varies by the type of project, combined with the project’s specific goal. Not every project falls neatly into one of these categories, but most do.

Let’s take a look at the differences.

Regional Projects

Regional projects often reflect an interest in a particular region of the world. This includes projects based on geographic regions, like the Cumberland Gap projects, or sometimes countries like the French Heritage Project.

Regional projects sometimes show both Y and mitochondrial DNA results, although this is sometimes problematic. Unless the administrator checks to be sure both the Y and mitochondrial lineages belong in that specific project for every member who joins, the member’s results will be shown in both categories if they have taken both tests. For example, a man’s direct paternal line might be from the Cumberland Gap region, but his mother, or mitochondrial line might be from Italy. Clearly both lines don’t belong in this project.

The administrator can individually disable one display or the other (Y or mt) for each project participant – but that requires that the participant communicate with the administrator and frankly, it’s a huge pain. Been there, tried that, didn’t work.

For that very reason, several years ago, I split the Cumberland Gap project into two projects, one being for Y DNA results and one for mitochondrial results. That way, I can simply disable the entire mitochondrial page display for the Cumberland Gap Y DNA project, and disable the Y page display for the Cumberland Gap Mitochondrial DNA project. No need to do something with each person who joins. The member joins the appropriate project for their heritage – Y or mitochondrial DNA, or maybe both.

Deciding how to group a regional project can be challenging. The French Heritage project groups their Y DNA members and mitochondrial by surname and ancestor.

Please click to expand any image.

In this case, the administrator of the French Heritage project has chosen NOT to include the surname column, but instead created a subgroup banner with the surname included – so the surname column was not necessary unless a member is ungrouped.

The Cumberland Gap literally at the intersection of Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee, was a waystation on the westward migration and the projects were originally intended to help reassemble families whose ancestors migrated through the mountain ranges to new frontiers. Some stayed and settled, but many left behind a family member of two and then moved on. Truthfully, I’m not sure that this project hasn’t outlived its original purpose with the advances in DNA testing since it was established about 15 years ago.

The Cumberland Gap Mitochondrial project results are “ungrouped,” because based on how Family Tree DNA groups Mitochondrial results, similar results and haplogroups appear together – so mitochondrial projects are in essence self-grouping in most instances.

For mitochondrial DNA, the current surname is largely irrelevant because women’s surnames tend to change with every generation, unlike patrilineal surnames which are relevant to Y DNA results.

The administrators also maintain a separate Yahoo group to exchange genealogical, regional and cultural information.

If you are administering a Y haplogroup only project, disable the mitochondrial page display, and vice versa.

World Families Network didn’t host regional, special interest or haplogroup projects, so these projects aren’t as likely to be orphaned as surname projects.

Special Interest Projects

Special interest projects are focused specifically on one type or group of people. Grouping varies widely depending on the project type. I co-administer both the American Indian project and the Acadian Amerindian Ancestry projects, and they are grouped differently.

The American Indian project is grouped according to haplogroup, since specific haplogroups are known to be Native; subsets of C and Q for Y DNA and subsets of A, B, C, D, X and possibly M for mitochondrial DNA.

Note that we show the surname and the “Paternal Ancestor Name” columns, both, because the surname and the paternal ancestor’s name may not be the same for a variety of reasons.

The Acadian AmerIndian Ancestry project includes both Y and mitochondrial DNA of our Acadian ancestors. Acadians were a mixture of French, a few English soldiers, and Mi’kmaq Indians. The Acadian AmerIndian Y DNA project is grouped both by haplogroup and by surname.

Some surnames, such as Doucet, have both a Native lineage (C-P39) and a European lineage (R-M269), so their separate lineages are shown grouped with their respective haplogroups.

If members were grouped primarily by surname, then both lineages would have been shown adjacent to each other under the Doucet surname.

There is no one right way to group projects.

In this project, as well as others, I sometimes wish we had implemented the “apply to join” methodology, because I suspect that some people (in the ungrouped section) have joined in error.

Some ungrouped people have joined because their lineage is Acadian, but not their direct Y or mitochondrial lines.

The administrators chose to embrace the open join policy, even though it’s more difficult and time-consuming to administer, because we want to be inclusive and help everyone with either Acadian or AmerIndian ancestors from France, Eastern Canada and the Acadian diaspora regions connect with their ancestors. Acadians were admixed in Canada for 150 years, then dispersed to the winds in 1755 when they were forcibly evicted from Nova Scotia, so we find their roughly 2 million descendants in many parts of the world today.

Haplogroup Projects

By comparison, haplogroup projects are easier to group, because their focus is clear. Haplogroup projects, be they Y or mitochondrial are focused on that haplogroup and it’s sub-haplogroups.

The Haplogroup C-P39 project is a relatively small Native American project, so it’s grouped by surname and matching group within that haplogroup.

Another popular way to group larger haplogroup projects is by haplogroup subgroups for both Y and mitochondrial DNA. The popular R-L21 and Subclades project where my Estes men are members, but I don’t administer, is grouped in this manner.

One of the great features of all projects at Family Tree DNA is mapping. Based on how the administrator subdivides the project, if they enable project mapping (please do), you can select groups to display to view subgroup clusters.

I just love this feature. You know there’s a story behind this grouping that is relevant to the men who carry this haplogroup.

The A2 mtDNA Haplogroup project is grouped by subgroup. Some administrators go further and group by specific mutations within subgroup as well, hoping they will someday form a new subclade.

Maps provide so much information. In this case, the map of the A2 group, with no A2+ (downstream) subgroups shows a dispersal throughout the Americas, plus one person in Denmark.

Wait, what?

Denmark?

Of course, Denmark immediately raises a plethora of questions including whether the Denmark person has taken the full sequence test or has perhaps misidentified their ancestor’s original location.

Some people don’t understand that the matrilineal line is your direct mother’s mother’s mother’s line on up until you run out of direct line mothers. They hear or understand maternal instead and select their most distant MATERNAL ancestor which may be anyone from their mother’s side of the tree – and someone entirely different than their direct line MATRILINEAL ancestor.

Surname Projects

Surname projects play a different role than the projects mentioned above. Specifically, surname projects not only attract males with that surname who are candidates to test, they also attract anyone who has that surname in their genealogy who is looking to see if someone from their line has tested – because they can’t.

All of us have a lot more surnames that aren’t our direct paternal surname, which only males can test via Y DNA.

In the graphic above, the surname lineage is blue, the mitochondrial is red, and the colorless boxes represent all of our other lines.

Therefore, most people are looking at a surname project to find lineages they can’t directly test for. Surname projects need to make it easy to find and locate lineages based on ancestors and location.

I don’t know how many surname projects exist, as opposed to other project types, but I’d say surname projects outnumber the other types of projects significantly – meaning there is a huge potential to find your surnames and ancestors in those projects.

I love surname projects, because even if you are a female or a male that doesn’t carry that surname today, you can still benefit from the tests of people with that surname.

In the Estes project, which was formed for Y DNA, we also welcome autosomal joiners as long as they have Estes lineage someplace in their tree.

In the project, I group Estes men by lineage from the immigrant Estes ancestor.

In order to do this, I utilized the descendants of Abraham Estes to recreate his haplotype, and I compare everyone to those values, which represent the values that Abraham himself carried.

The good news is that by looking at the matches of each person in the project, you know who does and does not match each other. Family Tree DNA tells you that. They do the hard lifting and you arrange the furniture.

I didn’t know quite what to do with people whose genealogy and surname go back to Abraham Estes, or one of his cousins who all descend from the Deal, England line – but their Y DNA unquestionably doesn’t.

I created a “New Estes Line – Genetically Speaking” category. We can’t say that these people “aren’t Estes” because their mother may have been an Estes and gave her male child her surname, just not her Y DNA (which she doesn’t have,) of course. That was contributed by the father. So the surname is Estes, but the Y DNA doesn’t match any of the Estes descendants of the Deal line. However, these people may match Estes descendants autosomally.

There is also an “Estes Ungrouped” group, because even though their Y DNA is clearly Estes, I can’t connect these men back to a specific line yet either through paper or DNA.

Assigning a member to the “Estes Ungrouped” group is different than leaving them in the default “ungrouped” catchall group provided by Family Tree DNA which is located at the bottom of the page. The default ungrouped group is where everyone lives until the administrator assigns them to a group.

Autosomal Joiners

There’s been recent discussion about why administrators would want to allow people to join Y DNA surname projects who’ve tested autosomally and descend from the surname line, but aren’t males who carry the surname.

I am very much IN FAVOR of allowing autosomal joiners. Some other administrators, not so much. Someone recently said that they don’t understand why anyone who is not a male with the same surname as the project would want to join – what benefit there could possibly be. As a female Estes, I can explain exactly why, in one simple graphic. OK, 3 graphics.

On your personal account myFTDNA tab, there’s an Advanced Setting under “Tools and Apps.” Click there.

Then select the Family Finder test, then “yes” to “Show only people I match in all selected tests,” then select the project. The project selected (Estes in this example) must be one you have joined – that’s why it’s important to allow people from that lineage that don’t carry the Y chromosome to join.

Want to guess how many people I match, meaning Estes males AND all other Estes descendants who have joined the project? Click on the orange “Run Report” to see.

The answer is 23 people, although I’ve truncated the graphic. Some are cousins that I tested, but a dozen aren’t AND there are a few that I’ve never heard of before. Hello cousins! Does anyone have the family Bible or know where it is???

Clearly, I could match some of these people through other lines, BUT, now I know where to start looking. Using the advanced tools like Paternal Phasing (bucketing), the In Common With (ICW) tool and the Matrix, available to everyone, will quickly tell me how I match these people. You can read about how to utilize these tools here.

Project administrators have an even more powerful matrix tool at their disposal.

This is exactly why I’ve elected to welcome autosomal testers into my Y DNA surname projects. The power of DNA is not just in a single set of results, but in collaboration and combined tools.

Autosomal Projects

Autosomal projects, typically referred to as “private family projects” do exist, but you can’t see them when you search by surname because they don’t show up in searches, according to the Family Tree DNA policy.

I hope this policy changes in the near future, allowing the option of searching for autosomal-only projects. Admittedly, autosomal projects are challenging without any results to “show” in a display.

Therefore, in an autosomal project today, in order to group people, you must allow either the Y or mtDNA to “show” because members can’t be grouped otherwise, and even then, they must be grouped on two independent pages – Y and mitochondrial.

The current project structure does not support creating an autosomal group, perhaps by ancestor, and allowing project members’ ancestor from the Estes line to show, for example, given that it’s not the direct Y or mitochondrial DNA line.

For that reason, autosomal projects are private, but I would like for the administrator to be able to select public or private for autosomal projects and to have a separate autosomal tab in the administrator’s toolbox where all members can be grouped according to autosomal lines, independent of and in addition to Y or mitochondrial DNA if relevant.

This would also allow the creation of “ancestor projects,” meaning everyone descended from Robert Eastye (that becomes Eastes and Estes) born 1555 in Deal or Ringwould, Kent, England. Thinking ahead, we could then proceed to recreate his autosomal DNA from project members, just like we recreated Abraham Estes’s Y STR haplotype.

Here’s an example of how autosomal results could be grouped, without showing any additional results information, in projects. I’ll be submitting this as a request to Family Tree DNA!

This autosomal grouping challenge is present as well for Y DNA surname projects that allow autosomal joiners.

Some Grouping Don’ts, With a Dash of Humor

One of the things I do roughly yearly is to peruse the public projects to see if any of my ancestral lines are represented or their haplogroup has been expanded. I recently finished this activity once again, so, here are a few of the frustrations I encountered that are entirely avoidable.

  • Please Don’t Make Projects Private

There is nothing more discouraging than seeing this:

Projects are a wonderful way to recruit new members and if the project is private, you’ve disabled your best recruiting tool.

I’m not feeling warm and fuzzy about this project, and that’s no joke. The first thing this project administrator did was to hang a big “Go Away” sign out for me to see. Ok, I’m going! No need to ask twice!

Individuals select for their results to “show” or “not show” publicly in projects. You don’t have to do this for them. Really.

So please, be inclusive and roll out the red carpet!

  • Please Don’t Group Surname Projects by Haplogroup Only

Please don’t group surname projects by haplogroup, at least not if you have any other choice. Let’s call this the last choice or desperation grouping methodology.

Remember, the most common reason people are looking at the project is to be able to find their ancestors, or ancestral group, which may be predicated on location. No one, but no one, already knows the surname haplogroup or they wouldn’t be searching for their ancestors in this way.

Family Tree DNA automatically groups by marker/color within subgroup, but if you’re trying to see if your ancestor or line is represented in a project, it’s almost impossible to find using the “group by haplogroup” methodology – especially with small subgroups. Y haplogroups can vary in their naming, depending on how deeply people have tested. For example, haplogroup R has thousands of branches. Some administrators group at the highest haplogroup level, and some group by the smallest branch level, which separate groups of men in the same family line – because not everyone has tested to the same level.

Of course, if you really don’t know how these men connect, or don’t have any idea about who descends from which ancestor, haplogrouping at the base haplogroup level (like R or J) may be the best you can do. Family Tree DNA will attempt to automatically group within your haplogroup subgroups.

If this is the case, you might want to attempt to recruit a genealogist with some specialty in this surname as a co-administrator. Hey, maybe someone from within that surname project!

  • Please Don’t Group by Number of Markers Tested

OMG, please no. Just no.

Grouping by number of markers tested makes it impossible to find line marker mutations that should be grouped together. For example, the men with a value of 13 at marker DYS439, above, should be displayed together because that is likely a line marker mutation – signifying descent from a specific descendant line of Charles Dodson in the red rows. However, since participant results are grouped by the number of markers tested, these men are displayed in different groups.

To figure out which ancestral line that value of 13 descends from, you need a subscription to the Physic Friends Network.

  • Please, PLEASE, Don’t Show Only Surnames and not “Paternal Ancestor Name”

How on earth would I ever know if my Luttrell or Littrell line is represented here. And why would an administrator choose to NOT INCLUDE the Paternal Ancestor Column?

This one makes me just want to pull my hair out. Yes, seriously! Going bald.

  • Please, Name the Line

Give the lineage a name or description, not just “Lineage 1.” It helps researchers determine if THAT John Jones is THEIR John Jones and it helps a lot to know who John Jones married, and when, if you know.

For example, for Lineage 1, put as much information as you can discover, or at least enough to unquestionably identify the line. For example, “John Doe born 1612 Sussex, England died 1683 Tukesbury, MA m Jane Smith.”

This helps identify specific lines. This is not Wheel of Fortune for ancestors. Don’t make me guess, because I may guess incorrectly – and there is no need for that when the information is (could be, might be, please let it be) readily available.

Another hint is to use color effectively. Perhaps lines that have different known progenitors but still match genetically having the same surname, meaning the earliest common ancestor has not yet been identified, could be the same color.

Think this through ahead of time and come up with a naming and color scheme that works well for your project circumstances and goals.

Sometimes after you’ve worked with a project for some time, you realize that perhaps things could be organized better. Been there, done that – no t-shirt. Just re-do it.

  • Or Worse Yet…

No surname AND no ancestor AND the lines aren’t named. Yes, really. This project might as well be called “why bother” or “shoot me now.”

You can’t even tell which surname this project might be, let alone identify an ancestral line.

You know that old saying about serving as a bad example? Well, this is it!

  • A Good Example

And because I don’t want to leave on a negative note – a really good example of a surname project.

You can tell that this administrator has spent a significant amount of time working on this project – and also encouraging members to enter their most distant ancestor information which is extremely useful.

Now this project looks inviting and welcoming. And no, in case you were wondering, I do not administer this project, but since imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I’m going to review my own surname projects with this one in mind.

Great job Hill project administrator(s).

Resources

Maurice Gleeson has produced two wonderful YouTube videos about project administration and in particular, member grouping.

How to Group your Project Members using MPRs (by the way, an MPR is a “marker of potential relatedness,” according to Maurice.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A9JcvbFcgUI

How Y-DNA can help your One Name Study

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vOx971zy6LI&t=3s

In addition, Family Tree DNA just updated the Quick Start Guide for administrators which walks you through setting up a project. https://www.familytreedna.com/learn/project-administration/quick-start-guide/.

Now, enjoy Maurice’s videos and create the most friendly welcome mat possible.

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Disclosure

I receive a small contribution when you click on some of the links to vendors in my articles. This does NOT increase the price you pay but helps me to keep the lights on and this informational blog free for everyone. Please click on the links in the articles or to the vendors below if you are purchasing products or DNA testing.

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Services

Genealogy Research

Project Administrators – Disabling E-Mail Notifications

The good news is that in the past couple of weeks, thousands of kits have been processed and Family Finder and other results are being returned to participants.  Copies of these notifications are also being sent to project administrators who manage the projects that these people have joined.

Sometimes that’s great – and sometimes not so much – especially when you’re receiving literally thousands of notifications.

I administer or co-administer a variety of types of projects, from surname to haplogroup to geographic and regional projects – and no offense – but I really don’t want to see everybody’s everything – only what’s relevant to the project at hand.

For example, haplogroup project admins generally don’t want to see Family Finder matches of people within their projects.

The good news is that admins can stop what they don’t want, and continue to receive what they do.

Here’s how to do that if you’re a project administrator.

At Family Tree DNA, under your GAP account, select the project you want to modify (at top right) and then click on the “My Account” tab on the top toolbar, then “My Settings” and you will then be presented with a long list of notification settings on the left.

Now, just unclick the ones you don’t want to receive.  It’s that easy.

IMPORTANT – When finished – click on “Save Settings” at the top left of the page – or it won’t!

GAP Notification Selection

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Disclosure

I receive a small contribution when you click on some of the links to vendors in my articles. This does NOT increase the price you pay but helps me to keep the lights on and this informational blog free for everyone. Please click on the links in the articles or to the vendors below if you are purchasing products or DNA testing.

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Services

Genealogy Research

GAP Messages or How to Look Like an Idiot Without Really Trying

Well, there’s nothing like embarrassing yourself, and publicly at that.  This past weekend, I sent a bulk message as a Family Tree DNA group project administrator (GAP) and it was a mess when it arrived.  Let’s look at what happened and how you can avoid having this happen to you.  Or conversely, if you receive one that looks like this – you’ll know it’s not that your volunteer administrator is an idiot, and you can send them this link.

I use MS Word – every day – and I’m pretty proficient with it.

I don’t use the GAP bulk message tool very often to communicate with my projects.  Some projects are just too big (think Cumberland Gap) and I’ve told all of them to subscribe to my blog to get up-to-date general information.  Therefore, when I send a GAP bulk message to project members, it’s about the project specifically, generally a surname project.  I do this about once a year kind of as a round-up for everyone.

But this year, my message came out as an embarrassing mess.

I typed it in Word with minimal formatting – nothing special.  Then I just copy/pasted it into the bulk mail tool.  It looked good, and I was done.  I pressed send and it was on its way to project members.  However, how it looked when it arrived was not what it looked like when I pressed send, and was embarrassing, to say the least.

Here’s just the first couple sentences.  I can’t bear to look at any more.  The red I’ve added so you don’t have to suffer through reading it.

Hello EstesProject Members and Happy New Year,

Once a year Itake an overall look at our project, do any cleanup I need to do, group orregroup people if they had taken additional tests, and do general maintenance.

You can seethe updated grouping at this link, and if you see anything that you think isincorrect, or amiss, please let me know.

Note the words that are all run together.  As administrators, we give advice and ask people to do things like upgrade their tests.  We need to be credible, and in this case, the tool we have makes us look anything but.  We don’t have to shoot ourselves in the foot – it’s already taken care of for us.

However, I discovered that, hidden away, is a fix.  The problem is that you have to KNOW to utilize it and how many people would know that?  I clearly didn’t.

Here’s what the body of the bulk e-mail tool looks like.  Your message goes below the toolbar.GAP bulk screen

On the toolbar, there is a little W button.  Turns out it’s the magic “Word Behave” button.Gap Word toolbar

Here it is even closer.GAP Word Toolbar closeup

When you’re ready to paste from a Word document, instead of doing “paste,” click on this little W button and follow the instructions to then press Ctl+V.  That tells the GAP tools that this is a Word document and apparently, not to “fix anything.”

And just so you know, this isn’t the only place this little gotcha is lurking.  This same editor tool is utilized in the Public Website page and in the Welcome E-mail as well, so if you’re going to copy/paste from Word, utilize the magic “Word Behave” button instead of using copy/paste.  Can’t remember what you did?  Maybe it’s time to go and check to see what your page looks like and what your automated welcome message looks like when it arrives.

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Disclosure

I receive a small contribution when you click on some of the links to vendors in my articles. This does NOT increase the price you pay but helps me to keep the lights on and this informational blog free for everyone. Please click on the links in the articles or to the vendors below if you are purchasing products or DNA testing.

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Services

Genealogy Research