Sunday, February 1, 2015

AncestryDNA Non Subscription Accounts Downgraded Plus People Behind The Segments

I wrote last week that AncestryDNA now requires a $49 annual subscription to review matches for non subscribers. It's been very difficult to get specific details about this new requirement. After basically insisting on getting answers, I with the help of others, was finally able to get more details. October 1, 2014 is when this change took affect. If you purchased a kit before this date your account is considered an "old account", and you can still see partial trees, surnames and maps. Future kits activated in old accounts also have access to the old features. The "new accounts" (those who purchased kits after October 1, 2014) now require a subscription to view any part of a match's trees, or surnames. In the past AncestryDNA representatives said the DNA portion of the Ancestry site would be maintained as a standalone product which would not require a subscription? (See an explanation of the changes below, and a video about what was available to non subscribers before and what non subscribers see now when they click on matches, see above.)

Another problem I have with AncestryDNA's decision, to require a subscription, is that you can build and access your own tree at Ancestry without maintaining a subscription. They allow you to add value to Ancestry's site with your research, pictures and documents but won't allow you to use your tree to make connections if you are a non subscriber. The DNA tests aren't free and generally cost $110. I don't see why new non subscribers can't see what the old non subscribers can see? If a non subscriber attaches a tree to their results their matches can use it if they are subscribers, but the non subscriber can't. Unfair. I've removed my trees from my own results.
 Ancestry has had a rough start in this first month of the New Year. Their Chief Product Officer is leaving at the end of this month. They are now offering their DNA product for sale in the UK. Apparently the price is higher there than in the US, which isn't going down well with some people. Some records recently added to the site didn't have any source information. When someone asked for a source citation they were told they couldn't provide one for contractual reasons. They did later offer a partial citation. I've been doing more research at the Ancestry site than usual the last few days. I've noticed the same problems others have reported; the search at Ancestry doesn't always find everything searched for. I've gotten some results that took me to the wrong page. I don't always get the same results with the same search? When the settings are set to show like matches this feature also fails to find some like matches that should be included. I've been using MyHeritage this week and find their search is the best available. I'm finding things using their search that are not coming up with any other search. The problem with MyHeritage is that you have to pay see the results of your search and the results are generally located on free sites.

On the positive side Ancestry's President and Chief Executive Officer, Tim Sullivan stated, at the "Personalized Medicine World Conference 2015",  they now have 700,000 people in their database. They are now beginning to move in a direction which may eventually lead them to provide health results to testers in the future. A new app was talked about at the conference which allows users keep a record of their health history. He stated that DNA was the "core to company mission." The importance of the DNA product at Ancestry, I believe, will lead them to release segment information at some point. I think once new testers become more familiar with what the segment information can do for them they'll start demanding this information.

There are many interesting stories behind our DNA matches. Many DNA testers test to solve a family mystery. Their stories are often fascinating. I love mystery novels, so I love hearing about how people use DNA and genealogy to solve long standing family mysteries. The Genealogy Roadshow highlights and helps solve family mysteries which makes this show so fascinating. A distant cousin contacted me this week and his story reminded of some of the stories featured on the Roadshow. A relative of his matched my Mom at a "Very High" match confidence level at AncestryDNA. This cousin's Great-grandmother met a Nicaraguan cousin of mine in the 1920's. He owned and operated a dance studio in Nevada. She had a whirlwind romance with him and they eloped. This was a short lived marriage probably owing to huge cultural differences. One party being Latin and the other Anglo, one Mormon and the other Catholic, which would have been huge differences in the 1920's. This distant cousin seems to have been a ladies man having affairs with women in many states. He didn't provide his true identity to his Reno wife. This family has had to do some research to find out his true name and learn more about their family. More research is needed to find out exactly what happened to him, and his true family's identity. This would make a great story for The Genealogy Roadshow.

I have spent a lot of time writing about AncestryDNA, mainly because of all of the changes they've made. Some people think DNA testing is a team support. As Leo Leporte often says people who own smart phones think they belong to a team. "I'm team Android, I'm team IPhone." DNA testing isn't a team support either. All of the companies provide nearly the same quality results with a few exceptions (some provide better tools for reviewing matches).  I would recommend testing with all the companies if you can afford it. I might have a fit of pique with these companies from time to time, but they all provide matches that help with my genealogy. I don't think there will be much more to say about AncestryDNA for a while at least. I'm curious about their performance in the 4th quarter. We'll find out on the 3rd when they release the 4th quarter financial report. Otherwise it's time to move on and evaluate some new matches.

1 comment:

Family Sleuther said...

Thanks for the helpful post clarifying the changes at AncestryDNA. I hope you're right that as more people test and grow their proficiency in genetic genealogy we'll see Ancestry reevaluate the tools they provide users including a possible chromosome browser.