My Response to Ancestry’s “Business” Decisions


I have never done a rant before, but I think it is finally time…. 

RANT ON

Angry Face Gnome IconI used to really like Ancestry. They were my go-to company for everything genealogical. However, over the past couple years, they have really let me down.
First, I did my Y-DNA testing through Ancestry. Ancestry quit doing Y-DNA; so whatever matches I had when they quit is all that I will ever have from them. I had to transfer my results to FamilyTree DNA and pay them their fee. I really feel that the money I spent on Ancestry’s Y-DNA test was wasted because they canceled the program about a year after I tested with them.
Next, I decided to go “all-in” with Family Tree Maker for Mac. I had used Family Tree Maker long ago. I tried Mac Family Tree, Reunion, and Heredis but found that Family Tree Maker was better for my needs.  So I bought it, upgraded it, and learned the nuances of its use. Then I started having more and more problems with the synchronization between my database and what was at Ancestry. Whenever the two (my local and the Ancestry) trees got out of sync and corrupt, the answer Ancestry support had was to accept what I had on Ancestry and replicate it back down to my local machine. Of course, that would break any private information I had or any media that I hadn’t uploaded to Ancestry. I have a lot of private sources, mostly correspondence or interviews with living individual where personally identifiable information is included in the original text or recording.
I decided to continue with Family Tree Maker for Mac but stop any synchronization with Ancestry. My trees seemed to remain stable and I figured I could upload what I had once or twice a year and keep the public parts of my work fully shared. Sound like a great idea except we know it won’t work after next December when Ancestry quits all support for Family Tree Maker.
Ancestry’s decision to eliminate Family Tree Maker is more than just a nuisance. What it did was eliminate any trust I had and crushed my respect for the company. I now truly believe Ancestry does not care about their customers and will not support them in the long run. What they seem to care about is maximizing their profits. It appears that lower profit product lines and legacy products just aren’t worth supporting.
The bottom line is I do not trust Ancestry any longer. When the bubble bursts on atDNA and something newer and better is in the market, I’m sure that Ancestry will drop atDNA support too — It seems to be their way.
Photo of "Angry Mob"What can I do? First, I’ll quit using Family Tree Maker for the Mac. I know they will support it for another year; however, I will not. I will quit recommending Ancestry for atDNA, mostly because I can’t trust they will keep with the program. Finally, over the next few weeks, I plan to review alternatives to Family Tree Maker for Mac 3. Once I find a desirable solution I will begin the tedious process of exporting my trees from Family Tree Maker for Mac 3 to GED files then importing them into whatever software I decide on using. It is a lot of tedious work to restart a tree and fixing anything that broke during a migration from a GED file, but it is clear that Ancestry doesn’t care about that. You know what? I don’t care about them either.  
I know that for Ancestry it is “only business,” but because of their attitude I’m weaning myself off Ancestry products, ‘cause you know, it is “only consumption.”

RANT OFF



———- DISCLAIMER ———- 

  

Social Networking & Mother-in-Law’s atDNA Results

Social Networking

I was out of town last week for personal business and didn’t have a chance to do any genealogical activity while gone.  I’m back now and am putting the final touches on my Social Networking for Genealogy presentation which I give this Saturday to the Greater Portland Chapter of the Maine Genealogical Society (GPS-MGS).  See https://www.facebook.com/events/1613563462253782/ for details. 
I decided to add a couple slides regarding Family Me and We Relate because both of them focus on sharing your family tree and then incorporating a Social Media element in order to allow for collaboration. Once I’ve given the presentation at the GPC-MGS, I’ll try my hand at recording a voice-over and making it a “canned” presentation and then posting it to my website. 

atDNA Results

This week I received the results from Ancestry DNA for my mother-in-law’s atDNA test. The good news is my wife is genetically her daughter so she isn’t a hospital changling/mix-up.  (We never thought she was.) Not many surprises. 

 ANCESTRY atDNA Results

Mother
Daughter
As I look at the results, they kind of imply that my wife father’s line was predominately from Ireland.  Because of the way Ancestry groups ethnicity, it still makes sense because “Ireland” includes not only all of Ireland, but also includes the rest of the United Kingdom. There is a heavy overlap with Wales and Scotland, which is where her father’s people were reportedly from.
It also interesting to note that most of my wife’s matches do not match with people her mother matches with, so the matches my wife has must relate through her father’s DNA.  Lots more about the matches once I can get to working that project. Again, more paternal matches makes sense because my mother-in-law’s ancestors tended to have smaller families than my father-in-law’s family did.

Finally, when I have time, I’ll export my mother-in-law’s Ancestry raw data  and import it into GEDMatch and see what connections I can find through them. GEDMatch is a great service, one that I highly recommend.  
————-  DISCLAIMER  ————-
     

Y-DNA – Post2: The Test, Results, & Roberts Connection

I
was really excited to get the test. I did the cheek swabs and sent it back the
following day.  Then the long wait – It
seemed like months, but was probably only a few weeks.  I don’t recall when I sent the swab in, but
in November, 2008, I receive the results. 
They determined I am haplogroup R1b – who Ancestry calls “The
Artisans”.  Basically, they are the folks
from what is now the British Isles, France, and the Iberian Peninsula.  No surprise there, I always figured I was of
Northern European decent as I my skin is quite light, I was blond as a kid, and
had a lot of red in my beard as a young man. (It is grey now.)
Then
the click to see matches.  My closest
match was a person with whom I shared a common ancestor 10 generations ago. His
last name was “Roberts.”  Assuming there
weren’t any sideways name changes (like mine), it might be that I was fathered
by someone with the surname of Roberts. 
Now, I could tie my ancestry to a possible name.  Of course, in my excitement of finding a
possible connection I didn’t realize that over 10 generations there were likely
thousands of male offspring.  Although he
had 11 generations of male ancestors in his tree, if I started at that tenth
generation ancestor and each generation had two boys, then there would be over
2000 potential father candidates, assuming I could follow each of the
lines.  It became dejecting but I hoped
to persevere in the long rum.  I
connected with Mr. Roberts and exchange trees with him to this day.  Ancestry has updated their database and he
now shows as sharing a common ancestor with me 14 generations ago.
Another
two men with the surname Roberts have shown up as sharing a common ancestor
within 10 generations.  I haven’t
contacted them yet but probably will do so in the near future.    
Then
the most amazing thing occurred.  A
person popped into the DNA matches with whom our MRCA (most recent common
ancestor) is only 3 generations away. 
Wow!  He too is a Roberts.  Finally someone who’s tree I can work with to
determine a possible father.  I contacted
him and he agreed to share trees with me. Of course, Ancestry’s MRCA
determination isn’t quite a clean as you might think.  It is really complicated, but basically there
is a 50% chance that this person and I share a common ancestor within 3
generations.  I looked at his tree
closely, nothing jumped out at me, no one lived in the right city at the right
time.  More importantly, none of his
three ancestor generations could be candidates nor any of their offspring.  So, based upon his known tree, I’ve begun a
Roberts Notional tree wherein I’m going back to his fourth, fifth, and sixth
ancestral generations then following each of the male offspring looking for
someone who might be the right Roberts at the right place and time.  I’m afraid I might need to wait another 10
years until the 1950 census comes out to find out the answer.  Certainly, the family tree can wait a few
more years.
Next – My Brother-in-law’s DNA Test & Results

Y-DNA – Post 1: Why I started down this path.

I have always wondered who my natural father was. Being the
illegitimate child of an illegitimate child has always made my perception of
father figures somewhat misty. My mother did not know her father during her
childhood. Her father child-napped her when she was three because he did not
care for how his former girlfriend was raising his daughter. His former
girlfriend (they were never married) sic’d the police on him. After he was
arrested for child-napping and spent prison time for the offense, he did not
try any longer to have a relationship with his daughter. It wasn’t until his
daughter became an adult and pursued a relationship with him that she grew to
know anything about him. They became close in a distant sort of way. Today, he
has passed and she would like to be interned next to him and near his mother
and father.

I wasn’t so lucky. My mother has no memory of who my father
was. I was the result of a date rape while she was visiting North Carolina
& South Carolina from Michigan. Certainly there was too much alcohol and
probably some other drug that night. In any event, she has no memory of who was
there that evening. I never had a name, not a first name, nor a last name; just
a pair of question marks. Of course growing up is tough when you don’t know
your father’s name. Even tougher is trying to figure out how to enter
information in forms to get a security clearance.

About five or six years ago, I began seeing ads for Y-DNA. Ways
to find cousins or others that are close genetic matches. I thought, “Well,
maybe the test could tell me some things and give me a starting point to figure
out who my natural father might be. The test started coming down in price and I
decided to go for it.

Being a member of Ancestry.Com I received the most
advertising from them. I did a comparison between them and other services
available at the time and decided to order the Ancestry.Com test. As I recall
there wasn’t much of a price difference between the 33 and the 46-marker test
so I ordered the 46. (Today’s prices at Ancestry.com are $149 for the 33 marker
and $179 for the 46 marker.) Therefore, back in the fall of 2008 I ordered the
test and waited with anticipation about what this journey might bring. 

Ancestry’s Autosomal DNA Results

I have been waiting with anticipation for several months for the results of my autosomal DNA testing from Ancestry and finally received them.  The key component they report is about your Genetic Ethnicity.  No surprise, the results show I am 75% from the British Isles (Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales), It also indicated that for 5% my ethnicity is uncertain.  They also mention that as their genetic signatures improve over time it may provide details. We have long thought that my 3rd great grandmother was Cherokee and the test didn’t prove or disprove it as the 2-3% DNA I received from her is within that 5% uncertain.

Of particular interest further the test results give interesting links to “cousins.”  I didn’t have any close cousins but there are 8 genetic 4th – 6th cousins. That is fairly distant but does provide a starting point for some additional research.  A quick first look didn’t illuminate any common ancestors but there were several who didn’t have shared trees that I’ll have to contact. 

Besides just the contacts the results on Ancestry it provides a common name list. Wherein it displays last names which are common between our trees.  It also has a location tab which shows locations that are common between our trees.  That may prove even more interesting for research possibilities  For example one of my cousins didn’t appear to have any names in common with me, but we both have ancestors born in Carter County, Kentucky.  The individual may have additional details and research that I may find relevant.  

Of course, I’m looking forward to many more people taking the test which should, hopefully, provide a link to someone a bit closer than 4th cousin.  Anyway, it is a great new tool. For those who are Ancestry members the test is only $99.