Comments and Suggestions for Ancestry DNA


Thank you so much for you patience and persistence in solving that immediate problem with the mixed up name, email addresses, and ancestry names. You fixed my invitations, and I hope your clear analysis and description will help the programmers to improve things for everyone. My suggestion is (1) add a column for the email (2) warn people if there is any account that has expired or disappeared (3) warn people if they enter a duplicate (a member name where they have already been invited by email, an email where they have already been invited by ancestry name)

That arbitrary limit (bug?) on “save to tree” where the last page of the trees that are shared with me won’t come up — is really time consuming for me. I started helping people find their birth parents, teaching how to use Ancestry DNA effectively for expanding and verifying trees where people know their parents and ancestors, gathering groups to tackle missing parents of living people, and gathering groups to find parents of those who have passed. Those kinds of groups require considerable coordination. As I said, once you help on DNA end edit a tree, it is nearly impossible to forget it and disconnect. Because any of those people might contact again and need help. It is pretty much “for the rest of your life”. So please ask them to let me see ALL my trees, when I “save to tree”.

I did not mention it, but when I am looking at a profile page, for a long time it did not list all my DNA tests. And next to the email on the right, in Messaging. At one time it did not show all my DNA tests I help with or administer. And, on the DNA Insight page, the DNA matches page, and on profile pages when I am checking for DNA matches to one of my tests – It would be much much easier if I could have four columns to sort by first name, or last name, member name, and add notes. When I know the real name of someone, and have to also memorize and use their random ancestry name. Each DNA test might have 10,000 matches, and a thousand close matches. So a hundred tests times a thousand, is about 100,000 real names, made up ancestry names, administrators, and group I am helping. I manage because I have a pretty good memory and keep lists all over the place. But think of that burden of everyone memorizing those things — please let the computer help use all by having a table of the names, emails, real names, link to them in table, link to them in DNAs, and notes, Managing whole families and DNAs is needed because only about 1 in a hundred people have the skills, patience and time to work on the family tree.

That “virtual trees” idea I mentioned would really help. When I help people they have clusters of their immediate families, and everyone tries to make their own tree. A good genealogist can build and manage a tree for the group, and point multiple DNAs into it. But more generally, there are new people and people who cannot go deep. I found this when helping the Pilgrim Edward Doty Society. They had 92,000 people in their first five generations after the Mayflower (I am 12 generations and my grandkids are 14) Anyone taking DNA will have a hard time getting back 5 to 8 generations. So I suggested having group trees in the middle from 5 to 10 generations back where all the people are public, and anyone could just link to their family in that tree, and then to deeper trees. All the DNA match tree algorithms need is treeid and personid. If you allow any person in any shared tree to be linked from any tree, it is the exact same algorithms but a young person won’t have to build all those deep families to see the whole of their ancestry. A person whose parents have both died, might well go to a “DNA Tree”, link to it as a child then see the whole of their pedigree and tree with their DNA already mostly identified. I spent two years working with Mayflower issues. I gave the staff free Ancestry DNA tests and built them trees. I built some examples of DNA trees (3 to 9 generations where the number of duplicate fact pages goes into the hundreds and thousands.) And I talked to groups about allowing Ancestry DNA for membership in descendant groups.

I could write for weeks and not exhaust all the things I have looked at.

One small thing would REALLY help. I use symbols in the Media Gallery to mark the DNA matches in the tree, the common ancestors male and female, floating ideas where it is not clear if the person is right or not, and the ancestors male and female of the DNA matches.  Only 25 people are allowed per symbol, so I have to keep adding copies of symbol images and when they run over add an new one. I suggest put a SYMBOLS tab in the Media Gallery and put default DNA symbols there, or have them online to add. Put no limit on the number of people in each group. When the DNA symbols are mixed in with photos, they get shoved aside and lost.

You have a really bothersome bug in the DNA match pages, when you click on the white circle to connect them to themselves in the tree. Whoever wrote that did not bring the profile image not the suffix field. So it is impossible to differentiate two people of the same name but one has a picture or icon, and it is hard when there are Sr Jr or mother and daughter. Just show the suffix field and put any symbol or picture.

In the ThruLines that show the relationship and they have living parent and sometime grandparents and more – the parent is marked private – even when I have them in my tree. Please put what I have in my tree as a replacement and don’t keep “private”. I know who they are, the display is only for me, show me the people in the tree that go with that DNA match. If my cousin takes DNA and their mother is living, I have them both in the tree, but only one has DNA. You show me “private”. Hope you understand.

I have made more than a 1000 hour to 90 minute videos to teach people about Ancestry DNA, building “DNA quality trees”, extending and verifying trees with DNA, processing standard records, processing member tree hints, standardizing, building DNA communities, building descendant groups, helping others. I can make you videos to explain these things if you cannot see them yourselves.

Thank you for your careful efforts to straighten out that messy table of tree invitations, and to look at the trees shared with me that won’t show up with I “save to tree”.

Richard Collins, Director, The Internet Foundation

I wrote about some related matters that, improved, would help many people facing missing parents – their own, in their families, in their first few generations back, and those brick walls. About half the tens of millions who have taken Ancestry DNA test have no tree at all, or only living people. Only a percent or less have trees that go back far enough to test the “4th cousin and closer” group. And almost none have fully documented and DNA tested trees.

Jeanin, thank you so much for listening and understanding, then jumping in to help. You made a total mess in my tree invitations, workable. Now, if you could also make that have my DNA tests too, it would give me a way to deal with many people. I think every DNA family (4th cousin and closer for sure) is going to be large and have to work together. The “brick wall groups” that use DNA to focus on a brick wall, take tens of people. My Pilgrim Edward Doty is the deepest “missing parent” case I know. I wanted to see if full genome DNA genealogy might solve that, or thousands of descendants gathered. On Ancestry I think there about about 60,000 descendants of his. But only 15,000 have reached all the way back. But most anyone with Doty will go back to him. I check 60 random people and traced them all the way back. Then started from the top and research all the way down. In two cases, that gave different or ambiguous results. Most were simple and easily verified.

Ancestry is the only DNA genealogy site with the number of DNA tests, good tree resources, good research tools and methods, good DNA tools – where it is possible to routinely fill in the ancestors of a person from their DNA alone – using the trees and connections to the DNA matches. Just tying people together so they can know the person they are talking to is related, and how, or about how. That is golden. I wish Ancestry would standardize all the dates, locations, names immediately — and allow each person to specify their own way of seeing the standard items. I spend too much time just getting those things in standard form, because it is burdensome to mentally translate every single record and person and place and date on the fly.

I can write for a month and not exhaust the things I can suggest. I will just say I have given away about a hundred Ancestry DNA tests, and help many to use Ancestry. I wish they would work globally to ease the heavy burden of global genealogy.

Thanks for listening. You have my email, contact me if I can help. So you can help all those people with “missing parents” and no training to build their tree alone.

Richard Collins, Director, The Internet Foundation

There was an extra “review” after the feedback form. Its purpose was not clear. There was no offer to “copy this all to my email”. So all the content and suggestions and ideas are lost – unless I copy them to my own place (here). Most ALL feedback on the Internet is that discourteous – you write to them and they don’t copy your question or suggestion. They ask for feedback and don’t send you an acknowledgement with the text and context of what you wrote.  I think it is just bad manners. The Internet deserves better.

Richard K Collins

About: Richard K Collins

Director, The Internet Foundation Studying formation and optimized collaboration of global communities. Applying the Internet to solve global problems and build sustainable communities. Internet policies, standards and best practices.

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