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Who gets to decide what is public. Proposed policy change.

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  • Who gets to decide what is public. Proposed policy change.

    I want to bring to others attention an issue that I have experienced in looking to help NPE's in our surname group. I have always had Most Distant Known Ancestor Public unless someone did not enter it or wanted the information with held. However if I am looking to help a match and I visit the project pages of another surname I can get no clues by looking at some project webpages as the Administrator has made this information unavailable.

    I believe it should be the test subject that gets to decide what is visible not the administrator. If all administrators were helpful, honorable and responded to inquiries perhaps I would not feel so strongly. But given some of the situations I have encountered I think Project Admins are not the ones that should have this power. Since I manage 2 projects perhaps I should want more power---but with more power comes more responsibility. Since these are volunteers and difficult to police it makes it even more of an issue.

    Any thoughts?
    Kelly Wheaton
    Wheaton Surname Project
    Rehoboth Masschusetts Ancestor Project

  • #2
    I can't imagine what sort of power trip would induce an administrator to suppress the name of the most distant known ancestor, since that has the effect of making the information pretty much useless. I'm all in favor of a minimal set of data elements that the administrator MUST display (and not behind a paywall or members-only barrier) in order to host an official FTDNA project. Definitely, the most distant ancestor, his place of origin, and his dates should be part of that!

    If there is a counter-argument, I wish somebody would have the courage to state it here.


    • #3
      Well I administer a few projects an admit that I have a couple projects public and another private. For the larger projects I have them public, in fact when I took over one of them as an administrator there were no Most Distant Ancestors (or Earliest Known Ancestor as I call it) listed. I emailed every project member (over 100) and surprisingly most responded and were very helpful, many provided pedigrees as well. I think this public information is helpful especially in large surname projects for fellow researchers, DNA in many cases is the only way to know which lines are related.

      There is one smaller project I have private. I started a small surname project and there are about 5 groups of families in the U.S. with this surname (I'm a descendant of one group but not a direct male descendant). I contacted all the known researchers of that family name from all the groups trying to see if they could help me find volunteers to DNA test. I tried multiple times and none of them even responded to me yet I know their email addresses are valid and they continue to do research, I tried multiple researchers from every grouping. Not even a response from any. So I researched the families myself (I knew my line but not the other 4), I found willing participants myself and then I paid for all the tests. Kind of like the story of the Little Red Hen. Nobody helped so I kept the results to myself.

      I've shared my results with the individuals that tested for me and my family members and the results are public but anonymous as the Earliest Known Ancestors and which groups are which aren't posted. I do feel guilty about it and will make it public someday. I don't know if this is a valid counter-argument or not but I guess it's like putting your research on Ancestry you can either choose to make your tree public or private. If you have a large surname project where the participants are not your kits then I agree, if people want their Earliest Known Ancestor to show you should, in fact you should encourage your participants to do so.


      • #4
        In my project I encourage all participants to enter their most distant DOCUMENTED paternal ancestor since I have our GAP toggled to use this as each kit's identifier. Since many of the published genealogies have been debunked by YDNA testing this information is really important to show.
        What use is the display of genetic results if ancestry is not shown? Likewise, what use is it if the ancestry is not documented?
        Sydni Thurmond-Hamill, Thurman & Variations DNA Project


        • #5
          I will either not enter maternal/paternal ancestors and/or not join any groups that publicly list that information.

          Had been planning to start a Family Finder project - then all the info about lots having to be revealed on a Pubic-to-All Website was featured in the Discussions - and now I fear it would be an invasion of everyone's privacy to do so. (phooey!)

          Definitely agree it would be better to let the person decide which info to be Publicly displayed about him/her.


          • #6
            Phooey is right!

            You must be one of those people who take the family finder and are paranoid that someone will see the name of one of your ancestors that has been dead for three hundred years. I'm fed up with people that take the test and don't supply one bit of information to confirm a match. Then they turn around and ask for me to confirm a relationship with no information. Thanks a lot for nothing. Privacy has nothing to do with dead people! If you are ashamed of who your ancestors were, shame on you.


            • #7
              Display of MDKA, or other information

              I am a free choice nut, and I'll admit it! Project administrators should adminster their projects in such a way that they run smoothly as they cruise down the path towards their goal.

              They should NOTbe dictators with ultimate control of the information the members of the projects provide. The data ALWAYS belongs to the individual members. Only they should have the right to determine if they are willing to share certain information. IMHO FTDNA should remove the option to hide MDKA from the administrators options, there is no reason for them to have it. {I am an adminstrator of a small project that I hope will grow, and I don't want that ability!}

              FTDNA has the ability to conduct customer polls, why don't they poll the members of all of the surname projects and guage the opinions. Let the people decide.
              Last edited by John; 20 July 2014, 02:28 AM. Reason: fixed formatting


              • #8
                Okay. I've done my homework on this one. I know what NOT to say if I expect Bennett or Max to ever give us a clear, written, and unambiguous statement on this problem. However, at this point I think we are expected to assume the following:

                1. Max and Bennett both understand why it interferes with genetic genealogy to allow group admins to hide the paternal ancestor data.

                2. They would like to help us, but there are legal/political reasons why they are hesitant to intervene and take away the "power-of-attorney/agency" that they are essentially assigning to these group admins.

                3. The "expected/rumored" fix to this problem might be that the software will allow the TESTER to have ultimate control over the display of his/her paternal ancestor name. Those of us who are interested in this believe that 95% or more of FTDNA's customers would favor this if they fully-understood all of the details.

                As can be seen in this thread, I can speak for most advanced surname project admins when I say that we would like a clear, written, and unambiguous statement from FTDNA on this. Perhaps the group moderator could have someone from FTDNA post a statement here.


                • #9
                  Info other than Early Ancestor in MDKA field

                  Another reason to hide the MDKA.

                  We have seen situations where group administrators have either themselves altered the MDKA field to add *Group X" type information or have put up notices telling people to put in advertising style links to other websites. The MDKA field is shared among ALL projects that a given member belongs to. So, if, for example, Project 1 puts in Group 1 in the MDKA field but the person belongs to Project 2 in which, in THAT group, the group is 7, it's going to show the wrong group on the pages for Project 2. Likewise, it's one thing for a group administrator to tell people to put in a MDKA and quite another to give instructions on how to modify it to link to a different website (ie, advertising) which may not even be germaine to other projects instead, of, say, telling the person to put in links on their profile pages. At the very least, both of these actions are discourteous to other projects, thoughtless, and intrusive.

                  A group admin could say "Please do NOT do that", setting up battles between group project admins who want to put in group #s or add link advertising, but why does a group admin even have to do that? Plus, the field itself is pretty short, so if someone wanted to put in other groups or other links, who gets to be the group that does it given the limited space? Arm wrestle and winner gets it? Some people belong to a LOT of projects.

                  Someone suggested to us, because we were having both of these types of problems, that we simply not show the MDKA on our FTDNA reports; since we do show the same thing on custom reports on our project site itself, we still effectively show it, but are able to avoid the other crap that other groups want to stick in those fields AT FTDNa.

                  We would like FTDNA to have a policy FOR THE GROUP ADMINISTRATORS that says that that shared field was ONLY for MDKA and that they, the group admins, not either themselves modify that field for other purposes and not instruct people on how to add links or other stuff.


                  • #10
                    Thanks for participating in the conversation. What do you think we can do to get someone at FTDNA to communicate clearly with the public about this? It is my understanding that Max Blankfield is responsibile for PR. His silence on this issue tells me there's something they don't want to "broadcast" to the public. It seems like an issue shrouded in mystery. I can accept that if we all agree that's what it is, but I see no other explanation at this may only be a bug in the software that they haven't had time (or the political will) to fix.


                    • #11
                      I do hope that FTDNA takes this seriously

                      Perhaps some changes might be announced at the annual meeting in October? Unfortunately this year it falls on my anniversary so again will be unable to attend. I hope someone brings it up.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by ronhud View Post

                        3. The "expected/rumored" fix to this problem might be that the software will allow the TESTER to have ultimate control over the display of his/her paternal ancestor name. Those of us who are interested in this believe that 95% or more of FTDNA's customers would favor this if they fully-understood all of the details.
                        This sounds like the best solution to me. Then project administrators can default to what they think is best for the project - either show or not show MDKA information. But individual project members who disagree could set their display in the results table with the alternate to show or not show.

                        Frankly, I think all projects, especially surname, should show MDKA information, which helps close matches compare genealogies. But there may be situations where the administrator or an individual member believes they have a valid reason to not show such information. Whether they're right or wrong in their belief, they should have the option to protect privacy, even though it may hinder genealogical research.


                        • #13
                          The more information you put between kit number and marker values the harder it is to keep up with which values apply to which kits. I wish they would freeze the headings and kit numbers.