Wednesday, November 19, 2014

"Finding Your Roots" Ep. 9 & AncestryDNA Giveth and Taketh Away (So Far So Good)

My AncestryDNA circles

"Finding Your Roots" Ep.9 created a challenge for the shows research staff. This show focused on Greek ancestry and featured the guests George Stephanopoulos, Tina Fey, and David Sedaris. With very little to go on in Greece due to invasions, which resulted in records being destroyed. It took some serious digging to unearth anything. Record loses are something we've all had to deal with. Ireland is a real bear when it comes to family history research so I understand the problem. Like Ireland smatterings of older records survive for Greece, so some of the guests lines were extended back into the late 1700's. Greece has such an illustrious history it's sad that lines can't be extended back to ancient Greece. Some interesting details were found linking some of the guests to the fight for Greek independence from the Ottoman Empire. Tina Fey had no idea she had some British ancestry. which also linked her to early Philadelphia, and the American Revolution. Her British American Ancestor came to the attention of Benjamin Franklin just like a member of my Owens family (not for murder like my line). I really love George and Tina so I found the episode interesting.

AncestryDNA Initial Verdict (You win some you lose some)
AncestryDNA was as good as their word and released the latest version of their DNA product today. I knew this was coming, probably today, because a live broadcast was planned for tomorrow. Last night I was working on the site and I got a message that new changes were rolling out. So far I love the changes and I'm hard to please. My Dad would always ask "what do you want egg in your beer?". I did lose some matches I would have liked to see stay around, but I gained some very good new matches.

My total matches are down to 1,456 from around 10,000. I have 30 pages of matches. Before the change I had more matches than my Mom. Now she has around 100 more matches than I do.

I immediately checked to see if my critical matches were still there. All but one were still there.

The circles are a great new feature. Both my Mom and I share the same 9 circles. There are no circles representing my Dad's side. If you share matches with a number of people on the same ancestor a circle group is created showing those who are a DNA match, and some who are not but have DNA tested. It's great to see who else has tested, but hasn't isn't a match.
Will the circles be unbroken?
Cousin Confidence levels
The only problem with circles would be name variations which may not show up linked with an ancestor, and slight date differences or place disagreements which may throw this feature off. 

I have not included some suspected ancestors in my tree. I think I will have to add some of my unproven ancestry just to see if I can establish a DNA link.

Another circle downside is you have to be a paid subscriber to see your circles.

Another great feature is the improved ancestral cousin estimates. My cousin Nan was a moderate match, and is now called high. They are breaking down the estimates to a much finer degree. We can now see how much DNA we likely share. If you read the new confidence levels you can see they give you a much clearer idea of how good the match is. The new algorithms eliminated the low confidence matches so the lowest confidence is now called moderate.

I received a message from a match I messaged 2 months ago. It appears the new features are attracting testers back to the site.

I'm happy with the changes so far. I think my 1,456 matches will be more manageable to deal with. I lost some matches and gained some new better ones. Overall a good thing. Good job Ancestry!

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