Wednesday, December 10, 2014

DNA: Grading Autosomal Testing Companies

What I've been doing so far with my test results is supporting my paper trail trees with DNA evidence. I haven't broken down any brickwalls yet, but I'm finding some evidence which may do that in the future.

Having worked with the Autosomal DNA tests since 2012 I've formed some opinions about the different companies I've had experience using.
Here are my grades based on my experience:

Click to enlarge

Since the point of testing for me is to confirm relationships my overall scores reflect the tools provided by the companies to do this. Some explanation of my scores:

Family Tree DNA: B Overall. Because they have good tools. If they used phasing they would get an A- overall. They need to improve their family tree interface and ethnicity predictions.
AncestryDNA: C Overall. They would get an A if they had tools for confirmation of relationships. The trees here can be so horrible which creates a problem. Some are great, but others just make me crazy. They do have a new tool called Circles which is mainly a novelty. They provide good matches; which, unfortunately need confirming elsewhere.
23andMe: C Overall. This grade reflects the low query response rate, and the low level of family knowledge of the database matches.

I looked at this review of AncestryDNA yesterday and it inspired me to grade the companies: My AncestryDNA Review: A Cautionary Tale. Interesting post.
The International Society of Genetic Genealogy has a great page comparing the DNA testing companies.


Jason Lee said...

I like the report card. Ancestry certainly knows the tree business, but they struggle with DNA. I hope they can be helped to see their shortcomings.

Sue Griffith said...

Annette: I've just stumbled upon your blog.

Overall, I agree with your grading, although I'm afraid 23andMe would get an F- from me for Family Tree Interface. Up until FTDNA upgraded their trees a few months ago, I would have given them a D, but my grading now is a C -- and on the match lists for the accounts I manage, a disappointingly low % of our matches have uploaded a tree.

I'll now go through your earlier postings relating to genetic genealogy and have subscribed to your blog via Feedly. Thanks, Sue Griffith.

Annette said...

Thank you very much Sue! I have had a great deal of success triangulating with FTDNA's chromosome browser. When at least one person has a tree I can contact the others with specific information about a possible relationship. The downside of FTDNA is a small comparison pool. I like the more compact tree interface at 23andMe better than FTDNA.

Jody Lutter said...

Good article, Annette. Genetic genealogy is fascinating and has so much potential, yet the three big companies are not offering necessary tools. Ironically, the site with the best tools is free and not run by a large company-

Annette said...

Thanks Jody! That is bizarre!GEDmatch is such a great resource.