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  • 23andMe or AncestryDNA next?

    Hello All!

    I manage my mom's kit and she is an adoptee. We have already learned a lot from FTDNA about the ethnicity of her unknown father but have not found anyone closer than like a 6th or 7th cousin. And I know that it is best to "fish in all ponds" to find birth relatives but we don't have a lot of disposable income. Since we can only test at one, which would be better? 23andMe or AncestryDNA?

    The drawback to 23andMe, from what I understand, is their communication system with matches and stronger interest in health than genealogy. But I also understand that they have a large database of testers, access to raw data and most importantly, the price at $99 is great.

    For AncestryDNA, the lack of raw data access would be a negative aspect for us but the positives are that testers are genealogy-minded and you get a steady stream of matches. I understand that it's also great for people with colonial roots which is what my unknown, bio grandfather seems to have.

    What do you guys think? What have your experiences been with the other 2 companies?

    Thanks!

  • #2
    Ancestry might be releasing the raw data in March of this year. I think. I'm not 100%, maybe someone else has heard the same or different?

    My experience with Ancestry has been positive as I have found a meaningful connection just on their free message board. Not once but twice!! I did not have to look at a tree there, or have my DNA match for that to happen.

    That said I can appreciate you wanting to spend your money wisely.

    Pros for 23: 1. Good price. 2. Can download raw data and upload to Gedmatch.

    3. Can transfer it to FTDNA for only $89, so it is like doing a payment plan for Family Finder's sale price (meaning you don't pay $199 all at once)

    4. Can send the raw data also to Dr. McDonald for further analysis.

    Cons for 23: 1. Most on there are only interested in health!

    2. I've been reading the message boards over there, and it sounds like sharing information is like going through Fort Knox.

    Both companies use spit method. I found out later that you can request a swab like collection kit from 23 if you have trouble making spit. Not too sure what Ancestry does.

    So overall you might want to wait a little and see if Ancestry releases the raw data. Really I think those guys may have the corner on the market right now. They have large amount of subscribers that are interested in genealogy. They have a large amount of records that will be easy for you to access as a subscriber. Oh and I have to say again, the message board at Ancestry I found to be one of the most amazing tools. It really helped me open windows into my family's past.

    Good luck, let us know what you decide.
    Last edited by Táltos; 24th January 2013, 02:59 AM.

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    • #3
      I have had the most luck here (with either names I recognize or closeness of relationship) & at Ancestry (even with it's drawbacks) -but it is prob different for everyone.

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      • #4
        not sure without raw data

        I am not sure how you can quantify a match up to find a biological parent without looking at the raw data. I LOVE Ancestry but if you don't get "Close" matches I don't see how you can figure out from a "Tree" where you fit or if you do.
        Ancestry is skimming the DNA market. You will not find the same knowledge level regarding DNA as here or at 23andMe even with a lack of communication.

        JMO

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        • #5
          I'd go with 23. Yes, there are a lot of people who are only interested in their health results, but the database is so large that you'll probably have many more matches there, and consequently a greater likelihood that some of them will be willing to share their genealogical info. Just because someone tests with a more genealogically-orientated company does not guarantee that they're going to get matches who are willing to share their family tree, as most of us have found out.

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          • #6
            I've had a lot better luck recently getting sharing requests accepted at 23andMe. I'm not sure if this is random chance or if people testing more recently have more interest in genealogy.

            I've only sent out one request on Ancestry for information and so far no response. That is too small a sample size to have any meaning though.

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            • #7
              I have done all four retail tests.

              It is extraordinarily difficult making contact with Relative Finder matches on 23&Me. Users have waited more than a year for a response to an invitation and the best rate of acceptance is no better than 25%. On the plus side, the tools for making sense of one's ancestry, Ancestry Finder and Ancestry Composition, are unique or superior to the tools available on Ancestry, FTDNA and Geno 2.0,
              and the price is the most affordable of any of the four retail tests.

              The only advantage to Ancestry is their large database of genealogically-interested users, I have many more matches there than at FTDNA but, like at FTDNA, many neither show a tree nor list their ancestors or restrict access to their tree. All my Ancestry matches are no closer than 4th Cousin and just one claims American Indian ancestry. Ancestry does not, like FTDNA, have a Chromosome Browser nor do they allow data downloads. Their ancestry estimation tool offers more detail than FTDNA, or about the same as Geno 2.0 and 23&Me, but is less capable than Ancestry Composition from 23&Me.
              Last edited by tomcat; 24th January 2013, 09:40 AM.

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              • #8
                Everyone will have a different experience. It just depends on all different variables as to whether one has success with Company A,B, or C.

                I have to say I like tomcat's further analysis for the Pros of 23. It also may be true that more geneologically minded people will test with 23 due to the drop in price. So that is a plus also for 23.

                Also if you decide to go with 23 and choose the swab option I know you have to pay a little more for that collection device. I forget how much off the top of my head. I still have my fingers crossed that my mother's sample will be able to be miraculously processed by 23. It somehow passed their visual inspection. She had lot of difficultly producing saliva. I did not know initially that the swab could be requested.
                Last edited by Táltos; 24th January 2013, 10:25 AM.

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                • #9
                  The 1000 match cap in Relative Finder is a huge downside to 23andMe if you're Ashkenazi (and apparently this is starting to affect Colonials and French Canadians as well). Although I'm half AJ, I have yet to find a single non-Ashkenazi match through Relative Finder. I have found some via Gedmatch, and those people have willingly shared.

                  Ancestry Finder is pretty useless for me as well. I have matches who by all rights should be in Ancestry Finder and are not. In one case, the person shared a 23 cM segment with me. In others, there were two or more shared segmentss that easily met the threshold. These were public matches who had completed the questionnaires, and I am in their AFs. I tried to get an explanation from 23andMe, but the answers were evasive.

                  Ancestry Composition is a great tool, and I agree that it's probably the best one available for most people.

                  I have some issues with FTDNA but to date it has been the most of the three for my purposes.

                  I have not noticed an appreciable difference in responsiveness among matches on the three sites. FTDNA may be slightly better, but I've had problems getting replies here too.

                  Ancestry.com's ethnicity projections are very unreliable, but I have gleaned some useful information from a couple of trees - two more matches with a surname in common with two FTDNA matches.

                  I guess the answer to which service is better is that it all depends. . .

                  Originally posted by tomcat View Post
                  I have done all four retail tests.

                  It is extraordinarily difficult making contact with Relative Finder matches on 23&Me. Users have waited more than a year for a response to an invitation and the best rate of acceptance is no better than 25%. On the plus side, the tools for making sense of one's ancestry, Ancestry Finder and Ancestry Composition, are unique or superior to the tools available on Ancestry, FTDNA and Geno 2.0,
                  and the price is the most affordable of any of the four retail tests.

                  The only advantage to Ancestry is their large database of genealogically-interested users, I have many more matches there than at FTDNA but, like at FTDNA, many neither show a tree nor list their ancestors or restrict access to their tree. All my Ancestry matches are no closer than 4th Cousin and just one claims American Indian ancestry. Ancestry does not, like FTDNA, have a Chromosome Browser nor do they allow data downloads. Their ancestry estimation tool offers more detail than FTDNA, or about the same as Geno 2.0 and 23&Me, but is less capable than Ancestry Composition from 23&Me.

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                  • #10
                    I would go with 23andMe, AncestryDNA has been a disappointment for me.

                    I have found more matches for my "brick wall area" at 23 in the last couple months than Ancestry and ftDNA. More of my matches on gedmatch.com were from 23andMe than anywhere else.

                    The downside of 23 is you have to ask permission to compare DNA for the chromosome browser, only about 33% responded so far.
                    The ones that do are usually really into genealogy and are very helpful. I think with the price drop they are going to get a lot more genealogy interested people moving over... I did.
                    And with 23andMe you dont have an annual fee.

                    AncestryDNA has been disappointing for me. I have only been able to confirm one match. Most of my close matches are private trees and they do not respond but they will copy my ancestral information and photos. Most of my distant matches have no trees or no common surnames to even start searching.

                    Overall FTDNA has the most knowledgable people.
                    23andMe has a big diverse DNA database with growing numbers of genealogists.
                    AncestryDNA is "trying" to compete

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                    • #11
                      Which Company?

                      I appreciate the problem you face with your mother being adopted. I seem to be facing the same dilemma with an unknown parent. I have tested with all the companies and go back and forth between them to try and make sense out of everything. I know my mothers side as far as ethnicities very well and I still can't figure out for sure my fathers side. He is according to DNA is very different but cannot sort it out with my profile resembling more than one population in that area. Also the problem with some populations not testing is a big problem for people like us. We also don't get the matches on that side or a enough matches to create a definite pattern.
                      I have lots of matches with Ancestry but Can only see connections (which is great) with the populations I know. Otherwise the names mean nothing and you don't have raw data or enough info to make heads nor tails out of it. Someone did mention and I did hear myself they will be releasing the data soon...that might help! 23 is good now with the new Ancestry Composition and I did get more out of it as far as what my father might be by giving me a more specific population and you can transfer data to FTDNA to get more exposure to matches. It is true that 7 months ago when I tested very poor response rate. Since the New Year and more testing at the better price I think genealogy people are joining..I have gotten lots of acceptances. Hope it keeps up. . Geno didn't do much but I got a little more on population. FTdna was my first Co and just adds more pieces to my puzzle. Other than my children And 1 cousin (1st -1 removed) no close relatives have showed up on any site. If you have a close one test I am sure there will be no mistaking it.
                      This science is still new and very quickly it has gotten better. I am hoping for more exactness in the populations and more people testing to have a better chance of a close relative testing. I think that is my only hope of tracing a connection to my father.
                      Good luck to you both!

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                      • #12
                        Ancestry got my vote I have tested at three different companies and Ancestry is the way to go. High number of matches, large number of matches with tree making it possible to look for your self when a match want respond. It needs work but Raw Data and a Chromosome Browser has never found a Common Ancestor for me. It would be nice to have it but its not the end of the world if they don't have it now. Consumer demand will get the Raw Data, Chromosome Browser, and search option.

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                        • #13
                          I would go with Ancestry. I haven't gotten a thing out of 23AndMe, other than that my 2nd cousin just happened to test there because her boyfriend bought her a kit. She has no interest at all in genealogy or DNA. Most of my matches don't reply. And a very large percentage of my matches who do respond know nothing past their grandparents (but that is also the case on Ancestry, it's just that with the far larger number of matches, it's less annoying).

                          With over 2000 matches at Ancestry (only 127 here), I can begin to see patterns. The bad thing is they have no search tools. Or any other tools for that matter.

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                          • #14
                            Thanks for all of the thoughtful responses...

                            But it is really still up in the air for me. I think that I am leaning towards 23andMe because there will probably be an influx of genealogy-minded testers there soon due to the new price point.

                            Another thing that I failed to mention as a plus for 23andMe is the X-chromosome matching. I've been told that it is useful because you can see what segments you may have inherited from the father's mother's side. This should be easy since my bio grandmother was a recent immigrant from Algeria and was 100% Spanish. This is quite distinct from the unknown bio grandfather who seems to descend from the Scots-Irish and English who landed in the U.S. during the late 1600s and early 1700s. I think my mom only has like 3 maternal matches here on FTDNA and they have names like Delgado, Campos, etc. The rest are clearly paternal.

                            I will wait, however, for this latest batch from FTDNA to come through (hopefully before the end of never!) before I have my mom test with another company. Maybe the upcoming batch will yield a closer match. Here's to wishful thinking!

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by EdwardRHill View Post
                              Ancestry got my vote I have tested at three different companies and Ancestry is the way to go. High number of matches, large number of matches with tree making it possible to look for your self when a match want respond. It needs work but Raw Data and a Chromosome Browser has never found a Common Ancestor for me. It would be nice to have it but its not the end of the world if they don't have it now. Consumer demand will get the Raw Data, Chromosome Browser, and search option.
                              Ancestry has a LONG way to go.. They won't even let your sort your match list by user name or ancestral family name... You can't tell me that that is too difficult to implement!

                              I question your advice to someone who knows nothing about one half of his ancestry. If one does not have a pretty good existing family tree, then the tree based DNA matching of AncestryDNA (the ONLY function AncestryDNA currently provides) is nearly worthless!

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