What’s Changing At Ancestry DNA?

Yesterday I participated in a call with the folks at Ancestry and we were told that Ancestry has DNA tested over 18 Million users. That’s an incredible number of testers.

But that wasn’t all we were told about, there was other news. There are changes afoot at AncestryDNA.

Very shortly we will see the addition of longest segment to our DNA information. Then a match will look something like the match below.

The final bit of news is that Ancestry will be removing matches that are less than 8cM. The reason for this is that matches that fall below this amount of cM may actually be false matches. So they will be removed from your match list as well as your Thrulines.

I’m sure there are some of you, just like me, that have matches that fall in the 6-8 cM range that you believe you can track to a specific ancestor. So before you get upset, there are things you can do to keep those matches on your match lists.

If you have done any of the following to these match profiles they will stay on your list;

  • emailed/contacted them
  • written a note on their match profile
  • put them in a group (given them a colored dot)

So if you feel that you want to keep a match you know what you need to do.

I know for myself personally, the removal of this group will probably remove thousands of people, and if they are a false match, then I don’t want them.

But when I run a report of matches in this range that have common ancestors, then perhaps these are some of the matches that aren’t false. I mean, I guess these people could have copied my tree, but I know I didn’t copy theirs.

So false or not, I decided I was going to make a special group for the ones that I want to keep. A new dot that’s called “They’re a Keeper.” I didn’t keep them all. I just kept the ones that are in the 6-8 cM range that have a common ancestor in their tree and a few select surnames that I like to track. (Names that seem important in the Beaton/Batten Mystery).

So I did do this, and it was interesting to see that for some of the younger generation who’s kits that I manage, they would have lost some people that the older generation that I’ve tested had in common but are at a much higher cM amount.

In one case, my second cousin would have lost someone that is a 6cM match, but that same match is a 49cM match to my Aunt and a 137cM to a second cousin once removed.

In another case, my son had a match that is a 6cM, which he would lose, but my Uncle has that same match, and he’s a 38cM match for him and a 25cM match for me. That match and I have figured out that he is my 3rd cousin.

It’s because I work with so many of my family’s DNA kits that I really see the randomness of DNA.

I may, at some point, move the “They’re a Keeper” people to another dot, but for now, I’ll keep them and see what happens.


  • Julie A Raupp says:

    Thanks so very much for the heads up on this upcoming change. Looks like we have until maybe Aug 1. I just added mine to a group today, Common Ancestors only 6-8 cM. 25 Jul 2020

  • Avid Genealogist says:

    For those concerned with Ancestry deleting their DNA data, please sign the petition: https://www.ipetitions.com/petition/ancestry-dont-delete-our-dna-matches

  • My Heart says:

    When I look at my DNA matches, the strongest matches are listed first. It does not hurt to include 6-8 cm matches at the end.
    Second, I often search my ancestors by surname. Doing this, I was able to find an amazing historical discovery and family connection. The 6-8 cm cousins are vital to my research, and to get a better understanding of my family. I am tracing my family tree…and moving from the strongest matches to the early origins of my family, represented in the more distant cousins. It will be a real loss for these cousins to be excluded.
    Ancestry should allow users to chose.

  • Raymond Nolan Scott says:

    “The final bit of news is that Ancestry will be removing matches that are less than 8cM. The reason for this is that matches that fall below this amount of cM may actually be false matches. So they will be removed from your match list as well as your Thrulines.”

    The thing is that Ancestry uses Timber which can lead to segments being smaller than at other companies like 30 cM size segments at 23andme being 15 or smaller.
    Segments up to 30 cM may not show up as a match. I found this to be the case with my paternal aunt’s Cajun matches.

    A lot of those segments that they are removing might actually be twice as large.

  • Kathryn says:

    Do you know when Ancestry is going to delete the lower matches? I’m taking a look at mine and there are a lot of them in the 6-8cM range that have common ancestors and have surnames I recognize. It would seem like Ancestry should keep the ones that have common ancestors too. I’m frantically going through my matches and the ones I manage to try and at least put them into an “evaluate” group. I think an awful lot of these are valid matches. Thanks for the heads up!

    • I believe there is a white paper coming out later this week on the changes. So people who have common ancestors might be spared. I’m not sure. I was frantically writing down notes.

      • Pat says:

        Don’t think they will be saved unless you mark them in some way or they are higher than 8 cM. They say matches will be removed from thru lines – those involve shared ancestors (basically a different way of looking at the same thing!)

        • Pat, Yes as my article says there are three ways that will save the small 6-8cM matches. If you’ve messaged them, if you’ve put a note in their DNA profile or you’ve put a colored dot (group).

  • Val Munro says:

    Hi Ellen: Quick Question, Is there a quick and easy way to add all the 6-8CM people into a group or do I need to place each individual into the group one at a time? Could be a long process!


  • Colin Hildreth says:

    Thank you for the heads up Ellen T J. Like you I agree that DNA connectivity is so very random. This is why I feel that ancestry.com’s decision you outlined is not in the best interests of customers. Their refusal to provide a chromosome browser and other tools does not allow us to investigate properly potential relationships we find independently, but tie us completely to the formulated pathways they determine. As users and customers I feel we should have the choice to determine which match is relevant and which match is not, because we are the ones that know our ancestors and cousins far more intimately than the computer model they use.
    I have numerically fewer matches than many other people tested. Some lines on my tree are mainly devoid of matches. This I feel is mainly due to geographical bias and hence numbers tested. Thus I am regularly working in the low cM area of matching and have found connections with proper documented trees many times at the 6 to 8 cM range. My research would be so much weaker in effect without having access to matches they now want to withhold. Thrulines is a good tool but does not take into account the randomness and extension that can be achieved in our matches. I found connection back to 7 x g grandparents lately with several matches being involved, not just the one.
    Ancestry may tell us there are work arounds to enable us to retain some matches, but that is only in the now and doesn’t take into effect any new discoveries in the future. A Red Herring!
    This proposal is not in the best interests of Users and as such we need to be able to make the relevant decisions that effect the research in our trees not the Monolith that is Ancestry.

    • Colin, Thank you for your point of view. It’s funny how some families just don’t seem to be represented in our DNA sometimes. Is that because we just don’t have the DNA in us or is it because there are fewer descendants.. or perhaps they just haven’t tested?

      • Meredith Marr says:

        I think it’s most likely a combination of all these possibilities depending on which branch of the family I’m researching. I’m still a beginner with DNA & feeling very overwhelmed so I initially wasn’t too concerned that they were culling my matches as I haven’t gotten anywhere near ones that distant. However, I have a mystery similar to your Beaten/Batten one that’s been nagging at me & who knows how distant of a match could help me solve it. This is also why I’m fishing in every pond available: Ancestry, MyHeritage, 23andMe, FamilyTreeDNA, etc.

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