Thursday, May 26, 2016

Changes Coming to Matching Thresholds for Family Tree DNA's Family Finder Test

Family Tree DNA
Earlier this week Family Tree DNA announced it will soon be changing its FamilyFinder (autosomal DNA) matching threshold levels. This change will likely cause some changes in your match list.

Several genealogy/genetic bloggers have covered what this change will likely mean for FamilyFinder test kit holders. See The Genetic Genealogist, DNAeXplained, and The Legal Genealogist.

If you are curious about how this change effects you, then make sure you download either a CSV or Excel file of your Match List AND in your Chromosome Browser download ALL matches to an Excel (CSV) file. You will need to do this for every FamilyFinder test kit that you manage since each test you manage is accessed individually. Downloading this information now will give you something to compare to after the change.

Both of these tasks are really simple to do.

First, sign into one of your FamilyFinder test kits. At your welcome/dashboard you'll see your "Matches" and your "Chromosome Browser."
Image 1:  Your Family Tree DNA FamilyFinder Dashboard

To download your Match List:
From your Welcome/Dashboard, click on Matches. Scroll down to the bottom of the page. Click on either the orange "CSV" or orange "Excel" button. Both buttons download the same information. The difference is the file type -- a CSV file that can be opened or imported in a variety of programs or a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet file. Don't worry it does download ALL of your Matches not just that page's ten matches.
Image 2:  Scroll to the bottom of your match list to find the download buttons. (Note: I have blurred info for privacy.)

The information preserved by the Match List download includes each match's: Full Name; First name; Middle Name; Last Name; Match Date; Relationship Range; Suggested Relationship; Shared cM (centimorgans); Longest Block (of cM); Known Relationship (if you have added this); Email; Ancestral Surnames; Y-DNA Haplogroup (if tested); mtDNA Haplogroup (if tested); and Notes (if you have typed anything into the notes for that match.)

So if you lose any matches that do not meet the coming new match threshold, at least you have the contact information saved. Yes, autosomal DNA is best for closer generations but I have found matches with more distant cousins (proved by paper trails) and I want to preserve that DNA information in case those matches disappear. I am also curious as to how this threshold change effects certain matches.

To download your Chromosome Browser ALL Matches:
From your Welcome/Dashboard, click on Chromosome Browser (see Image 2 above) which is where you see how your test and up to five other tests match on each chromosome graphically. At the top of the Chromosome Browser page are two download options. Use the one on the right to download an Excel (CSV) file for ALL of your Matches.
Image 3:  Two download Options for the Chromosome Browser: just the Compared Matches or ALL Matches

The Chromosome Browser download file contains seven columns of data:  Name (test kit person); Match Name; Chromosome (number); Start Location; End Location; Centimorgans; Matching SNPS. This is the spreadsheet version of the chromosome graphic.

To download your Chromosome Browser Comparisons:
If you have several matches (your own tests or other match tests) that you would like to compare, you can select those (up to five at a time) and compare them in the Chromosome Browser. You can then download the Chromosome Browser data for just these compared matches. Doing this can save you time extracting the same data from your All Matches download file.

To compare matches in the Chromosome browser, go to your match list and click on the "Show Full View" at the top of your match list. This opens up another information line (see Image 2) for each match. 
Image 4:  Click on Show Full View to see additional information for each match. See second image above.

Then go through your match list and click on the "Compare in Chromosome browser" for those matches (up to five) you want to compare. A list of select matches appears at the top of the page. When you are done selecting, click on the blue "compare" arrow. 
Image 5:  When done selecting matches to compare, click on the blue arrow. (Note: I have blurred info for privacy.)

At the chromosome browser you will see a graphic representation of where on each chromosome your selected matches match your test. You can download just the information for these selected matches using the download option on the left. (See Image 3 above.)

You can also add matches to compare directly in the Chromosome Browser using the filter list but all you will see is the match name. To see your notes or other details you have to go to your match list.
Image 6:  Family Tree DNA Chromosome Browser

Besides doing a comparison of the four tests I manage to each other and downloading that Chromosome Match information, I also did some comparisons with match tests of some cousins that share some surnames I have been working on in particular. In downloading this information and saving comparison matches, I think I may have made a realization/discovery that I had missed before. 

It happened when I was comparing some screen shots I took of a couple different chromosome browser graphic comparisons. (That's another idea, take screen shots of your chromosome browser graphics. It is really just for visual reference since the image is often too small or must be done in two sections and does not contain specific data points.) I then did another chromosome browser comparison mixing a couple match tests from each of the first two comparisons so I could see them at one time in one chromosome graphic. That new comparison data was downloaded and the graphic image saved too.

I will have to submit some questions to FTDNA to find out if I am seeing what I think I am seeing correctly. If I am, it is happy dance time. Now I am really anxious for a cousin to take and send in her FamilyFinder test for processing. (No pressure cuz', I know you are taking care of it.)

This would be why AncestryDNA needs a chromosome browser.

Oh, and while you are saving data/information did you remember to download your autosomal DNA data file after receiving your results if you tested directly with Family Tree DNA? If you didn't, now would be a good time. I would take a screen shot of your ethnicity mix too for good measure. I don't think that is changing at this time but it's good for reference without having to be connected to the internet.

The promised post about the Process of Searching for Land Patents will be coming. We had a new computer come into the house. It is not for me but as resident tech it falls to me to clean up and backup files on the old; install software and transfer files to the new. The sooner I get that done (I wrap up today), the sooner I get time to do what I need to do. Thanks for your patience. In the meantime, I hope you find this post useful.

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