Thursday, May 9, 2019

Drowning in DNA Matches

As recently as maybe three or four months ago, I was keeping up pretty well with my new DNA matches. At AncestryDNA, I had 800 or 900 matches at fourth cousin level and closer, and new matches at that level dribbled in at the rate of a half dozen or so a week, and I added them to my database more or less as they showed up. I had no idea how many "distant" matches (5C-8C) I had and didn't care, because I ignored all but the handful which sported shaky-leaf "ancestor hints" or showed up in my DNA Circles.

At MyHeritage DNA, I had a few thousand matches with no clear delineation between the "about 4C" and really distant levels, but I had about 250 in my database, having worked down through to about 30 cM, with some more distant cousins included when they triangulated with closer cousins. (Why, oh why, can't they come up with a category intermediate somewhere between "extended family" – which seems to cut off around 90 cM – and so-called "distant relatives"?) Again, new matches were slow in coming, though harder to detect than for Ancestry since there isn't a "not looked at yet" flag.

Then, early this year, it was as if a floodgate opened. Suddenly I was getting a half dozen or more new matches each day at Ancestry, and next thing I knew I had a backlog of 50 or so that I hadn't been able to get into my database. The pace picked up at MyHeritage as well, though not as drastically.

Well, then DNA Painter came along, followed by Genetic Affairs's Auto-Clusters for Ancestry. Ancestry switched from the languishing DNA Circles and ancestor hints only for public trees, to ThruLines and "common ancestors" drawing on public, private, and unlinked trees. MyHeritage introduced their Theory of Family Relativity and an integrated Auto-Cluster tool. Between painting all those MyHeritage matches (and GEDmatch as well) plus their triangulated matches; analyzing clusters; and checking out dozens of proposed ThruLines and Family Relativity relationships, it's become even more difficult to keep up with the onslaught of new matches.

Right now, as of 10 PM on May 9, I have at AncestryDNA 1309 matches of 4C and closer level. (I also have an utterly incredible 55,962 distant matches!) I now have a backlog of 86 4C-and-closer matches to enter into my database.

At MyHeritage DNA, I have a total of 10,552 matches. Of those, 443 match with 25 cM or more, which is probably very roughly equivalent to Ancestry's 20 cM cutoff (Ancestry's reported total cMs are nearly always lower than for the same individuals who have their results at other sites). I seem to have only about 230 of those 443 in my database, however, so clearly I have a lot of catching up to do there, too.

Oh, and these numbers are only for my own test – I also manage my two brothers' tests, and I've never gotten anywhere close to getting all their matches in my database.

Is it any wonder I haven't blogged in three months? I need to back off on my DNA painting and visual phasing and auto-clustering, and get back to my research and writing.

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