My 2019 DNA Testing Christmas Wish List

At this time last year I published my DNA testing Christmas wish list, and it seems that Ancestry at least was listening.  In the past year Ancestry has revamped their DNA match view, allowed me to search my DNA match list by username, I can now see 5 generations of my DNA matches’ public trees without a subscription, and they have provided an additional 24 tags that I can use to identify and filter my DNA matches.  So kudos to Ancestry for those positive changes.  But Ancestry also gets my wrath for not providing shared segment data, or even some basic triangulation of those who share DNA with me and at least one of my matches.

But that was last year.  The top ten items on my DNA wish list this Christmas are as follows –

10.  I would like to see MyHeritage buy FamilyTreeDNA.  In my opinion, FamilyTreeDNA has the best analysis tools of any of the big 5 DNA testing companies, yet despite low prices and the added benefit of offering Y-DNA and mitochondrial DNA testing, they have one of the smallest autosomal DNA databases.  This must create a value opportunity for one of the other players in the industry.  MyHeritage already works closely with FamilyTreeDNA and have made other acquisitions this year, so it would be a smart move.

9.  I would like to see a large increase in the LivingDNA database.  I was excited when LivingDNA entered the autosomal DNA testing market, as most of my ancestral lines are from the UK.  But a year later, I have only one DNA match (who I had already found through another testing company), and my wife and mother only match each other.  LivingDNA is currently of very little value to genealogists.

8.  I would like to know if my DNA matches have read my message to them.  None of the major DNA testing companies tells you whether or not a contact has read your message, so you don’t know if the person is ignoring you or has not received the message.

7.   I would like to see 23andMe enhance their “Your Family Tree” feature.  23andMe are beta testing the automatic generation of an outline family tree based on each user’s DNA matches.  There is a promise of adding user editability to the system-generated relationships, but hopefully as the feature is developed, they might also enhance machine-learning capability for their estimations.

6.  I would like Ancestry to provide triangulation of DNA matches.  Ancestry is the only major DNA testing company to not offer a triangulation feature.  They show you “shared matches” (those who share DNA with you and with a particular match), but they don’t tell you if all three of you share any DNA in common.  Without this triangulation, a shared match may be due to two individuals each sharing DNA with a third person, but not being related to each other.

5.  I would like MyHeritage to revamp their DNA match screen.  The MyHeritage DNA match screen is very cluttered, and has not been updated for a while.  I would like to see something similar to the Ancestry approach, which gives me the information that I need while increasing the number of viewable matches per page.  A user-definable view, or a choice of several view options would be ideal.

4.  I would like FamilyTreeDNA to increase the minimum segment size in match calculations.  Currently FamilyTreeDNA includes segments down to 2 cM or less in their calculation of total shared cm, giving an inflated view of the amount of shred DNAs.  The other testing companies have a significantly higher threshold for inclusion in the total.  For maximum flexibility I would like to see FamilyTreeDNA allow the user to select the minimum segment size to use in calculations.

3.  I would like more tags for my DNA matches.  Ancestry provides 25 tags that can be applied to DNA matches, and the ability to search by any of these tags.  23andMe provides 1 tag, but MyHeritage and FamilyTreeDNA do not offer this feature at all.  User-defined tags make it much easier to sort DNA matches into groups, without using the notes field and third party browser extensions.

2.  I would like 23andMe to remove  X-chromosome data from shared DNA calculations.  I have a group of DNA matches near the top of my 23andMe match list, with whom I only share X-chromosome DNA, or with whom most of the shared DNA is on the X-chromosome.  X-chromosome DNA is not passed down in the same manner as the other 22 autosomal DNA chromosomes, resulting in 23andMe identifying as close matches, people who are actually much more distant cousins.  It would be great if 23andMe would give users the option of including or excluding shared X-chromosome segments in their calculations.

1.  Please, please, please could Ancestry provide shared segment data.  Ancestry knows exactly which segments of which chromosomes we have in common with each of our DNA matches, but they choose to not make that information available.  FamilyTreeDNA, MyHeritage and 23andMe all provide the segment detail, but Ancestry claims that they are protecting our privacy but not providing this information.  I appreciate Ancestry keeping our personal information private, but their unwillingness to budge at all on this issue could cause them to lose their dominant market position.  This feature would eliminate the need for GEDmatch, a site that in the past year has played fast and loose with the privacy of our DNA data.

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