Monday, July 20, 2020

Seeing Stars

After an announcement by AncestryDNA last week which some considered to be a blow to their research, we are now—thankfully—seeing stars.

Stars on our tiniest DNA matches, that is.

The news, which had been thoroughly discussed last week by several in the genetic genealogy field, is that AncestryDNA will now only provide matches to customers down to the level of eight centiMorgans. The previous six and seven centiMorgan matches which Ancestry has customarily included in our match lists will no longer be provided from new customers, and those we already have in our lists will be culled, as of early August.

The only way to spare ourselves of that loss is to earmark specific matches for further consideration. The directions had been to either send the match a message, or to color code or add a note to that record.

Thankfully, some updates surfaced over the weekend. Leah Larkin provided clarity on how AncestryDNA goes about matching all those distant cousins—and closer relatives—in their ever-expanding database, as well as warning us to remember that Ancestry actually rounds the count of centiMorgans, so any matches labeled with eight might actually represent, say, 7.8, thus AncestryDNA will drop some eight centiMorgan matches, as well.

Besides that reminder, Debbie Kennett of Cruwys News received word that, in addition to the redeeming note/message/color-code triumvirate, any matches marked with a star will also be preserved. What's more, if you mark your distant match in any of those ways, it will do double duty by preserving the record on your side and on the side of that match's account. (Scroll down to the bottom of her July 14 blog post to see the July 19 update from Ancestry in the "Updates" section.)

While some may be reeling from frantic efforts to mark thousands of small matches in their account, the word from several experts is that a great many of those are actually "false" matches. For many people, that may be so. It's for the ones who have particular reasons for pursuing these small matches that the news is less favorably received. The timing could not have been worse for the project I've just launched on connecting with my husband's Falvey line—a project for which all I have are small matches to work with.

Nevertheless, while slogging through the actual church records in County Kerry may have slowed to a standstill while I search for viable small matches which also contain Falvey direct lines, I will eventually pick that task back up again. In the meantime, I'm just glad that there are easier ways to earmark accounts for preservation. Following Leah Larkin's suggestion of creating wholesale groups to quickly earmark possibilities, I'll be assembling my own huge collection of "to do later" evaluation.

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