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Ancestry DNA Circles - Are They Good For Anything?

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  • Ancestry DNA Circles - Are They Good For Anything?

    Someone mentioned Ancestry DNA Circles in another thread. Are they good for anything?

    As I understand it in order to be eligible to be included in a DNA circle, a match has to have a PUBLIC tree and that tree has to be LINKED to their DNA.

    I'd say only about 5% of my matches meet all the requirements. Also the spelling and dates for a hypothetical common ancestor have to be about the same.

    And the people in a DNA circle don't necessarily match each other on the same segment. So, are DNA Circles off any use whatsoever???

    By the way, my mother doesn't have any. A few weeks ago, I eliminated all the experimental branches of my tree, leaving only proven persons and made her tree public for a few weeks. No DNA Circles ever appeared.

    She was one of the earliest testers and I've been keeping records ever since she got her results. If I have, say, 10 matches in my latest records (I have 3 sets because Ancestry has changed their matching criteria 3 times), in what way does that differ from a DNA Circle???

  • #2
    I love Ancestry's DNA circles. I now have 42 confirmed circles as well as "new discoveries" which are usually aunts and uncles that need to be added to my tree. This information has been useful for me recently in my genealogy research.


    • #3
      I think they have minimal value.

      They do give you a list of people who match your ancestor. Some of whom you match and some of whom you don't. But I do find some value in getting the names of some more cousins who have tested even if they do not match me with DNA. At least I know they have tested.

      And if you are lucky, you might be able to track them down on GedMatch, where you can do a One to One or they might even match anyway due to different algorithms.

      I find New Ancestor Discoveries to be very near worthless. I am trying to keep an open mind. "Bad NADs" as one blogger says.

      The bigger picture is that rather than give useful tools at AncestryDNA, they keep popping these near useless and misleading "trust us" tools.


      • #4
        I know I have several close Calvin cousins at Ancestry. No DNA circle. Some haven't linked trees. Some only have a couple of generations and don't go back to the common ancestors. I just recognize the names. Other lines are the same.

        Then, based on DNA, I think I may have some Bryan ancestors. Recently I noticed 2 or 3 close matches all shared with each other. One had a good tree. A couple had Bryan in their tree, but just a parent or grandparent, so I had to do all the research myself and construct their trees. The results are rather puzzling, but aside from that, they're not going to show up in any DNA circle, because they have 2 generation trees!


        • #5
          I wonder if the DNA circles actually involve shared segments (rather than just shared names on trees). I know that Ancestry doesn't let participants see segment (ie, chromosome browser) type of data. But the data is there, in that before the Ancestry downgrade last May, you could take your raw data from Ancestry & upload it to Family Tree DNA & all of the segments were present.

          Timothy Peterman


          • #6
            It's been a while since I read about them, but as I understand it, they are not based on segment matching. I got the idea that Ancestry believes that the possibility of several people who are descended from the same ancestors will share the same segment is so remote as to be useless. So, I suppose they just go by descended from same ancestor and matching one another, but then I think they said not everyone in the circle is on everyone else's list. I would have to read it again.

            But if they are correct, all you have to have is matches descended from the same ancestor, most of whom match each other, I could jump to some conclusions right now. But then, they should give us matching data on our moderate matches, as well as our higher matches. They seem to assume everyone is looking for recent ancestors, but I'm looking for 3rd great-grandparents.


            • #7
              The circles form when you genetically and genealogically match at least one other person in a group having the same ancestor in their tree.

              For example, I have a circle to John Brushy Dixon my 4th ggrandfather. There are 11 of us in that circle, I only show a "DNA Match" to 4 of them. The other 6 of them show a "DNA Match to Circle".

              If A and B match DNA, B and C match DNA, but A and C do not, yet they all have ancestor Y in their tree, then the circle would include A, B, C. A's kit would show two other members in the Y ancestor circle besides A, and it would show B as a "DNA Match" and C as a "DNA Match to Circle".

              It really doesn't prove anything definitive between you and the non-DNA matches in the circle to you in terms of a genetic match but it assumes you all eventually have a DNA match to the common ancestor, even if you do not share with each other.

              A word of caution when it comes to the "New Ancestor Discoveries" circles. They don't always list the right ancestor and take a side branch and say that a person in a side branch is a possible ancestor. No, the other branch is.
              Last edited by mkdexter; 10 September 2016, 12:56 PM.


              • #8
                When I decided to delete all experimental (unproven) branches of my tree, my hint leaves indicating common ancestors dropped from 34 to 13. I made my tree private again and added one tiny unproven branch consisting of 6 people - hypothetical parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents of one of my 2nd great-grandparents and my hint leaves jumped to 21 (one of whom can't be counted because her tree is all wrong).


                • #9
                  Originally posted by mkdexter View Post
                  A word of caution when it comes to the "New Ancestor Discoveries" circles. They don't always list the right ancestor and take a side branch and say that a person in a side branch is a possible ancestor. No, the other branch is.
                  As far as New Ancestor discoveries go, my mother has only 2 of those, and I've looked and looked at them. If there is any connection at all, it must be way back. Her ancestors immigrated from France and Germany after 1840, except for 2 great-grandparents, one of who's ancestors had lived in NJ for over 150 years and the other of whom was born in KY in 1810, and whose ancestors were probably from VA and NC.

                  The New Ancestry Discoveries are people who were born in GA and TX after 1860. I'm not saying they can't be related, but I've followed all their lines back and studied the trees, and I can't see any connection.


                  • #10

                    All of my "New Ancestor Discoveries" so far, have been in-laws --not related to me at all.


                    • #11
                      I recently had Ancestry do a "correction" and my NADs went down to 11 from 21. However one of those is new to my list, so I lost 11 NADs. I had 8 NADs who were already in my main tree, but they weren't ancestors, so they got stuck in NADs when my matches to them started. I suppose that if my DNA were linked to my main tree I'd have tons more DNA circles than I have, because I know at Ancestry people have been complaining about having in-laws and such of cousin matches being made into Circles.

                      Of those 8 NADs there are 3 remaining as NADs, one couple who are the parents-in-law of a 1st cousin 4X's removed, and one husband of a 4th great grand aunt. Why the others were removed and where they went, who knows. And I have no idea how I might be connected to the rest of the NADs I have remaining.

                      I'm hoping that the new NAD, who has at least shares a common surname in my list, might actually be related and help me break down a bit of a brick wall connected to that name.

                      As to Circles, I have 26. All of whom are my 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Great Grandparents since my DNA is link to a strictly pedigree tree.