After You Test

GKBopp DNA Project Notes


30 May 2006

This page has not yet been revised to include mention of the 67 markers now offered by FTDNA. However, the basic information still applies . . . . .



It is important to remember that the field of genetic genealogy is still young. There are only a few companies in the world offering testing services (although more are starting up). All of them were formed in 1999 or later - that is only a few years ago. As businesses, they are still going through growing pains and learning curves. Furthermore, the scientific technology is constantly changing. The main companies are associated with qualified scientists and reliable labs but not all staff members are scientists.

As for you, you are similar to one of the first people who signed up for the telephone. It's new. It's expensive. Sometimes it does not work right. When you talk to the telephone company, they don't have answers to your questions - or they use so much jargon that you have no idea what they are talking about. And even on a good day, there's hardly anyone to call, much less anyone you really want to talk to. And not only that, most of your friends think you are a fool and wasting your money. On the other hand, you are ahead of your time, a real pioneer, an adventurer, on the cutting edge of a whole new technology. Hopefully, your pioneer spirit includes patience and a sense of humor!

As far as our project is concerned, no matter what you hear, read, see, or wish, the bottom line is:

If you match at least 23/25 or 34/37 with a participant sharing your surname (or a variation) - it is most likely that you share a common ancestor. Anything less than that is simply not relevant to contemporary genealogy. If you match 11/12 or 12/12 on the 12 marker test with a person with your name variation, you probably share a common ancestor and may want to upgrade to more markers to confirm this. In some cases, participants have 12/12 matches with people of other surnames (these are "common" haplotypes); these should be ignored! If you test for 25 or more markers and have a close match with a surname other than yours, it is most likely due to convergence (over time mutations in two different lines result in a match) but in some cases it may indicate a false paternal event.

I trust the science in back of the Y DNA testing - understanding, of course, that the most recent common ancestor (MRCA) estimates are based on probability tables. I think the participants are getting their money's worth with the Y test. I recommend that you just stick with the Y results and ignore the other material (REO databases, Haplogroup designations, SNP tests, etc.) until more is known. If you want to explore these other areas, or consider other kinds of DNA testing, be prepared to devote hours and hours of time educating yourself.  This field is new. So, be patient and don't become too frustrated in trying to educate yourself. And, if you wish to do this, see the suggestions at the end of this page under Want to learn more?


This section assumes you have tested with FTDNA.

After you send in your test

You receive an email when FTDNA has received and logged your returned test sample (see FTDNA Mail).

FTDNA sends batches of samples to the lab every two weeks (on a Saturday, I think). Hence, when they receive your sample you don't know if it's going to the lab that day or 1-14 days later. The lab time is usually about three weeks - but, as you can see, there could be up to 2 weeks added to that, if the sample has to wait for the next "batch" at FTDNA. FTDNA However, in some cases the lab has to retest a sample (often several times). If this happens, your results may take much longer. When delays happen, some participants begin to worry that the company or the lab is unreliable. This is not the case.

Your Personal (Private) Page at FTDNA

In the above email, FTDNA will give you a pass code to your private page with FTDNA.   

You need your kit number and this pass code to access your page. Practice this ahead of time. To see a demo of a personal page with results, go to FTDNA's home page and click on "How Are Results Delivered?" (currently on the right hand side of the page). This covers other DNA products so read carefully. There is a link in the section to a Demo 1 - that provides an example of a personal page with results. At your private page you can change your address, look at results, check for matches, order more tests (I don't recommend that - unless you understand what they are all about).

Results In

When the results are in, FTDNA will send you an email. If you ordered the 25 marker test, you will receive two emails (three if you order 37 markers) - the terms in the emails may confuse you - see explanations and examples at FTDNA Mail. Sometimes one grouping of results comes in before the others - so don't be surprised if this happens. These emails will refer you to your private page at FTDNA - your results are there. The numbers appear on the link Y-DNA DYS Values. (Print out your test results and keep them with other important genealogy documents and/or research papers.)

Results on Web Site

FTDNA also notifies the group administrator (me) when results are in. Our web site is usually updated within 24 hours after results come. FTDNA has nothing to do with the group admin's project web site. Group admins are volunteers. Most (not all) have web sites, gather ancestry information, etc., for the project. They do not work for FTDNA and receive no compensation or other benefits - except the satisfaction of participating in this exciting new area of genealogy!

What do those numbers mean?

They don't mean much until you compare them with others. Keep it simple: if 23 or 24 or 25 (or 12 out of 12 if you took only the 12 marker test) of your numbers match with someone in the group project sharing the same surname or variation, it is almost 100% certain you are related (share a common ancestor). If you learn of a match with someone of another surname - be very skeptical about any relationship.


Matches within the project.

Your results will appear on your private page at FTDNA. They are at the link Y-DNA Matches.

That page is a bit confusing. You may see some people more than once - under 12, 25, and 37 marker matches. The numbers in ( ) indicate how many markers that person tested - a few people in the project have only tested 12 markers.

Names and emails of all participant matches will appear on your page - except those who did not sign the release form. If you did not sign the release form, no matches will appear on your private page. However, you can see all matches on our project web site page (including those with no release) but that page will not include names and emails.

Matches with someone not in the project.

If you want to explore this - go to the Setup Preferences link at your private page at FTDNA and indicate your preferences. You can mark and unmark this as you wish (but click the Update link at the bottom of the page each time). Then you can go look at your matches again and see what's there. Matches with others not carrying your surname variations are most likely meaningless. And, if the first 12 markers of your results are common you could see matches with many others (some of our participants have 100's of matches at that level) who don't have your surname. Don't get too excited about this. That's one of the reasons we recommend testing at least 25 markers - for most participants it is unusual to get a match with a non surname at that point (although we do have some exceptions in our project.)

If that box is clear, so that you can see other matches - that means they can see your name and email also. Hence, you may wish to keep it marked and just check in from time to time.

Recent Ethnic Origins (REO)

Your page at FTDNA has a link to REO information. You can ignore it if you wish. If you decide to explore it - be sure to read their explanation at that link.

Haplogroup? (Deep Ancestry)

FTDNA can usually estimate or predict your haplogroup. Read your personal page for more information about this. There is not yet complete agreement on this subject in the scientific community. I suggest that you not order the SNP haplogroup test from FTDNA unless you really understand this subject. See also Haplogroup Notes .

Y-STR Databases

Participate in (and/or search) the Y- STR databases. It's easy to add to FTDNA's base if you are a customer (go to your personal page for instructions). However, there are other databases that may interest you. See Y- STR databases.

Geographical DNA Study?

The top of your personal page has a "Join" link to include your results in one other study at FTDNA. This is for those who might qualify for a regional/geographical project - Scottish Clans, for example. Be sure to read ALL the information on that link and ALL the information describing the project before submitting the Join request. The group administrator of the other study may request additional information from you and advise you if you are not right for that study.

Genographic Project (National Geographic)

You may decide to submit your information (anonymously) to National Geographic's Genographic Project. There's a link on your personal page for this option and a $15.00 fee (goes to the project). Important: if you submit to that project, you will be given a (very long) Genographic project code. Don't lose it! Once it is issued to you, FTDNA and National Geographic can not help you. Also, don't be surprised if some of the results look different. There are two reporting conventions for markers 389-1 and 389-2. One method reports 389-2 as the sum of 389-1 and 389-2 (used by FTDNA) and the other displays the data without the addition (used by Genographic). When information is submitted between these project, the results are automatically converted. (389-1 and 389-2 are also known as 389i and 389ii.)

Upload Your Gedcom
You can upload your gedcom to FTDNA. Instructions are on your personal page at FTDNA.

Free test at SMGF

Join the non-profit Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation (SMGF) study by requesting their free participation kit and sending them your DNA and genealogy. There is no charge and your test results (for most markers) are independently confirmed by a second test (free!). You do not get personal results back. This is an anonymous database and you will need to locate someone in your pre-1900 pedigree information to confirm your personal results. Also, you will have to wait several months before lab work and upload of data takes place and can only confirm that has happened by visiting the site and entering your data (from your FTDNA test). You may wish to order free kits for all your family members, including females, and participate in their study. Visit their site for more information.

Want to learn more?

~ Review various pages (and links to other web sites) in the DNA Project Notes. Be sure to skim the Misc. section and the Timeline. These (and all sections) have links to more information.
~ Read the information, again, at FTDNA regarding the Y tests - including the information on your personal page at FTDNA.
~ Subscribe to FTDNA's Facts & Genes -
This is FTDNA's monthly electronic newsletter and it will help keep you informed. Some issues contain announcements that will be of interest to you. And don't forget, you are a full-fledged customer of FTDNA and can ask them questions, etc. (However, if you do, and it's about something useful to the project, let me know so I can include it on our Web Site.)
~ Read the back issues of Facts & Genes (see above link).
~ Check out ISOGG - International Society of Genetic Genealogy -
The site has useful links. You may want - join (free) and sign up for their mailing list.
~ This list is very helpful to newcomers:
~ Check out the Genealogy-DNA discussion list at RootsWeb. This discussion can be overwhelming and many of the subjects deal with anthrogenealogy (deep/ancient ancestry, before surnames). Skim the archives before you join. Be prepared to feel dumb, confused, etc. - that's normal - RootsWeb Discussion List.



GKBopp DNA Project Notes