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Ancestry Frustration

Discussion in 'Ancestry' started by Winksetter, Sep 3, 2023.

  1. Winksetter

    Winksetter LostCousins Member

    Every now and again I lose patience with using Ancestry for DNA driven genealogy research. I have been researching for well over 20 years now looking for real family origins of various lines of my family. I must say that very little of this has been achieved with Ancestry although I like it and use it regularly and do not want to be without it but…..as a standalone tool it is less useful for researching tricky cases where the CM levels are low.
    The frustration starts with the cut off for showing any DNA match, for showing shared matches (ridiculous), showing matching segments (so what), for refusing to show detailed match segment data. Quite apart from the pretty useless parentage information given.
    I use Ancestry but always hope that I will find someone on another site who matches to the lines I am researching. This may in any case be true if they come for a lot of the world where Ancestry are not well represented.
    Enough for now, but I cannot promise to go away forever!
  2. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    I've been using DNA since 2012, and have taken every test with every major provider, but I get far better results from Ancestry than from all the others combined - and for far less effort,.

    Your comments suggest that perhaps you are still trying to do things the way I did for the 5 years before testing with Ancestry - for me they were the bad old days of DNA.

    Embrace what Ancestry offers and follow the steps in my Masterclass - then you'll start to appreciate the way they have chosen to do things. Collaborating with cousins is, of course, a key ingredient!
  3. Pauline

    Pauline LostCousins Megastar

    While I generally find Ancestry the most useful site for working through DNA matches, I can sympathise with the frustration some others feel about it. As I've mentioned previously, I was already using many of the Masterclass techniques before it was available, but there are nevertheless times when I wish Ancestry had some of the features available on other sites.

    Perhaps most useful would be to know how much DNA shared matches share with the match in question, as this can sometimes provide important clues, particularly when things are not quite adding up. Yes, you can message people and ask, but in my experience most don't reply. A chromosome browser would be another useful feature.

    One of the issues that can occur at Ancestry, particularly where smaller matches are concerned, is what I refer to as 'multiple tree' or 'popular ancestor' syndrome. That is where there are upwards of 500 trees - often 1000 or more - all showing the same person or couple, which can easily lead you down the wrong track or into making wrong assumptions.
  4. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    Me too, but I also understand why they don't offer those features.

    When I got my first car, a second-hand 1965 MGB, I was determined to look after it myself, rather than rely on garages and mechanics - many people did the same in those days. I learned quite a lot about the car, some of which I still remember today, but I also discovered that I was a pretty lousy motor mechanic. Most of the time I was wasting my time, and sometimes I made things worse through my incompetence.

    These days you don't need to know what's under the bonnet in order to drive a car, and that's the way I like it. It's also the approach that Ancestry have taken to DNA.
  5. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    I discovered today that you can't search the trees of your Ancestry matches for the surname 'Child' - or rather you can, but it returns the whole lot, even if they don't have a tree. Can anyone think of a way round this that actually works in practice? I tried a couple of things that don't work.
  6. Susan48

    Susan48 LostCousins Superstar

    Adding a place of birth reduces the number of hits, but I realise that's only a partial solution.
  7. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    It returns everyone who has an ancestor from that location irrespective of their surname - so it's not even a partial solution, unfortunately.
    • Thanks! Thanks! x 1
  8. MaryL

    MaryL Genealogy in the Sunshine 2015

    You could search for Childe and tick "include similar surnames".
  9. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    In my desperation I had previously tried doing the same using 'Childs' which in the family I'm researching is an alternative spelling of the surname.

    Unfortunately searching for similar surnames in the trees of matches has never worked reliably, and it still doesn't. Usually it can be overcome by searching for each variant separately, but not when the surname is one with a special meaning.

    From the Masterclass:
    "You can’t use wildcards and I suggest you don't check the 'include similar surnames box' either (as in my experience the results are wildly erratic). Instead carry out a separate search for each of the main variants – it will be a lot quicker in the long run."

    It's not just 'child' that causes problems - surname searches for 'unknown', 'daughter', 'brother', 'sister', 'father' and 'mother' don't work either, though as I've never come across them as surnames they're unlikely to be a problem for users. But there are other problem words that does exist as surnames, for example 'son', 'blank', and 'tree'. I imagine all of these are the names of variables used by the software.

    PS Whilst 'female' doesn't work, 'male' does. Interesting....
  10. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    Another annoying feature, though one that is under the control of the user - provided you are aware that the problem exists......

    You will be familiar with Ancestry highlighting shared surnames in green when you view the tree of a DNA match. However, if the tree that you have linked to your DNA results include someone else's tree, for example the tree of your spouse, then those surnames will also be highlighted - which is potentially confusing.

    The good news is that when I encountered this issue and confirmed what was going wrong by looking at the tree of the spouse, I noticed a couple of names which are in my own tree - I had inadvertently discovered a cousin!
  11. kirkstall

    kirkstall LostCousins Star

    I have been using ThruLines with some good results but it sometimes gets a bit tricky at the end of the line with a living person when details are hidden. I found one line where the person had a tree but the tree was private. I don't mind that I do the same thing. However they had also blocked receiving messages! So what is the point of loading a tree on to Ancestry and then not letting anybody else look at it? I contacted Ancestry. They said it was within their policy. When I complained about their policy they offered me a reduced price DNA test!
  12. John Dancy

    John Dancy LostCousins Superstar

    Kirkstall, some Ancestry members use the family tree as a way of recording the life of their loved ones, with a lot of personal photos, memories etc attached as well as all the boring old genealogical stuff. For them these memories are private and they don't need to receive messages as they will know who they want to share the memories with.
  13. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    Private trees can be searchable or unsearchable. If someone has a searchable private tree but blocks incoming messages it's bound to cause frustration.
    Private trees can be searchable or us

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