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Are surname projects going to take a backseat to the National Geographic project?

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  • Are surname projects going to take a backseat to the National Geographic project?

    I am the coordinator for the Nix-Nicks surname project. After reading about the National Geographic project, I became a little concerned about how this new study will impact existing surname projects. The N.G. study could have a lot of positive results in increasing are understanding of haplotype and haplogroup distributions worldwide, but I fear it could actually be detrimental in some ways to existing surname projects, which until now have surely formed a lot of FTDNA's core business.

    First, I wondered if those individual's purchasing the test kit through the N.G. project be informed of the existence of surname projects that include their surnames? I would hope so. Its likely that many of the N.G. project participants would co-participate in existing surname projects if made aware of them. A simple message that provided the N.G. project participants with a link to the existing surname projects hosted by FTDNA that were appropriate for their last names would be sufficient, and an option to join a surname project as a full fledged member would be even better. However, if no notification process is in place or planned, then many of the N.G. participants who might be highly valuable additions to many surname projects will simply slip through the cracks. Does FTDNA or N.G. plan to notify participants about the existence of surname projects for their last names?

    Second, I am especially concerned about this notification issue because currently their is no real difference in pricing between the N.G. test and the surname project 12 marker test group rate price. In fact, if someone gets a kit through the surname project, they will now have to pay an additional fee for their information to be included in the N.G. project, where the reverse is not true. Naturally, the tendency for many people will be to buy the 12 marker test through the more well known N.G. study which carries a much greater "name brand" recognition than ordering the DNA testing through a more specialized surname study.

    I don't have a problem with the members of our particular surname project purchasing a test kit through the, even though it might make it more difficult to administer the surname project. Our project's webpage is hosted offsite, in addition to the freepage provided by FTDNA. Therefore I have the flexibility to import data provided to me by N.G. participants that want to share their results with our surname project, even if the data was not included in our FTDNA surname project database and freepage. In fact, it would be no more difficult to do add results that way to our offsite project page than it would be for us to begin importing test data from one of the other many DNA testing companies. Some DNA project's administer their projects entirely through FTDNA, and for them importing data from N.G. study participants would be more difficult if that data was not available through their GAP or freepage. Are there any plans to allow N.G. study participants to also join existing FTDNA surname projects if they choose to share their data with them? If so, would there results show up on the surname project GAP and freepage like any other surname project participant would?

    If the many people who choose to get tested through the N.G. study aren't made aware of the pre-existing surname projects or given an option to join surname projects, then considering the new pricing structures, this is not a positive development for those people who have been working hard to make their surname projects grow. Surname projects have generated a huge amount of business for FTDNA in the past. These issues have me concerned that surname projects and the revenue base they represent will begin to slip through the cracks as a greater and greater portion of FTDNA's business will now be coming from N.G. project participants. Certainly FTDNA has excelled at provided service to many surname projects in the past, and it has been at the forefront of the effort to increase public awareness about them. I hope that the necessary steps will be taken now to continue that level of excellence into the future.

    Thomas Nix
    Nix DNA Project