Briggs

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FAQ

Sometimes I am asked " Why should I test more than myself for "cousin matching" (also known as an autosomal test - or atDNA - and FTDNA markets this as 'Family Finder')".
The answer is because we have no way of predicting how chromosomes will recombine in any one person at conception.  As a consequence, one sibling may have 1,000 matches yet another may have only 800.  FTDNA gives these probabilities.

Bear in mind that FTDNA "cuts-off" matches unless they have a total of at least 20 cMs across all 22 chromosomes AND the smallest is at least 7.7 cMs.  (Check out your 'Resources' in your personal FTDNA Home page for much more information).


Relationship Match Probability
2nd cousins or closer > 99%
3rd cousin > 90%
4th cousin > 50%
5th cousin > 10%
6th cousin and more distant Remote (typically less than 2%)

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Helpful Tips for dealing with the many items confronting you in your personal FTDNA Home page (often called myFTDNA)

Please take some time to review and update the information in your kit at Family Tree DNA.
Go to https://www.familytreedna.com/
Click the LOGIN TAB on the top of the screen and enter your kit number and password to open your MyFTDNA page.

Click the MANAGE PERSONAL INFORMATION link on the left of the page. Or, use the drop-down menu at top right to open your profile.

There is a lot you can configure. Please take some time to click around and setup your profile.

In particular, please check and consider the following.

1. ON THE CONTACT INFORMATION TAB:
Input your current mailing address. This is used in case FTDNA needs to send you a new test kit to upgrade your kit. It is also useful if a DNA Project Administrator wants to contact you and your email is not working.

Input multiple email addresses if you can. This is helpful if your email address stops working for any reason. If you have a beneficiary or relative that you might want to take over your kit someday, input their email address too. If you want, input the email address of your DNA Project Administrators. Any email that you input here could someday takeover management of the kit if you are no longer able to do so.

If the contact person is not the person who gave the DNA sample, then please input the name of the DNA donor and put the contact person as c/o (Care Of) in the address line. For example, John James Smith, c/o Donna Smith Jones.

2. ON THE ACCOUNT SETTINGS TAB:
Change the Personal Information default from Private to Basic or Full. This allows others with FTDNA login access to view the information you share in your profile. This is useful for people who match you and for others in any DNA project groups you join.

If you have a web site or family tree online, you can show the link in the ABOUT ME box. If the DNA donor has passed, or is no longer able to donate additional DNA, then you might want to include a note explaining this in the ABOUT ME box.

3. ON THE GENEALOGY TAB - FAMILY TREE:
Even if you have not yet created a family tree on FTDNA, please change the default Family Tree privacy settings. Hopefully, someday you will create or upload a tree. Or, a project admin might do it for you. So, it will help if these settings are configured. In order to use DNA for genealogy, you want people to check your tree. I set my tree to Public for deceased people, but individually select those I wish to retain as Private (because they are living). If you have a gedcom file of your family tree, please upload it by clicking on the FAMILY TREE button on your kit's main page.

If you don't have a gedcom file, and can't make one, then you can manually create a tree by clicking on FAMILY TREE then clicking the profile icon. If you have a tree on Ancestry.com or elsewhere then you can get a gedcom.

Or, if someone else has you in their tree, they might be able to give you a gedcom. If you need help creating a gedcom or extracting your tree from Ancestry, go to   http://www.nixternal.com/export-gedcom-file-from-ancestry-com/

4. ON THE GENEALOGY TAB - MOST DISTANT ANCESTORS:

Input your Most Distant Ancestors. These should be the most distant known ancestors you have in your direct paternal and direct maternal lines. Only input names that you know with high confidence. It helps if you include dates and location info with the name, although you may have to abbreviate words.

If the date is approximate, use the letter "c" as abbreviation for circa in front of the date. Circa is the standard term meaning around or about.

For example, John Henry Smith b.c1822 d.1901 SC.

5. ON THE GENEALOGY TAB - SURNAMES:
Input all the surnames of your known ancestors on all branches of your lineage. This is very useful because the matching tools allow people to search matches for surnames. If you have a surname with variations in spelling, it can help to input each variation. That way you will show up whichever variation some uses to search their matches.

6. ON THE BENEFICIARY INFORMATION TAB:
Input the name and contact information of someone you want to take over the kit should you pass away or become unable to manage it. If you don't have anyone to make your beneficiary, then ask one of your DNA Project Administrators for their contact information to make them your kit beneficiary. It is very sad that many people pass away without designating a kit beneficiary. That makes their DNA kit of limited use for future researchers.

7. ON THE PRIVACY & SHARING TAB:
Change most of the default settings here. FTDNA has made the defaults extremely limiting. That makes it harder to use the DNA results for genealogy.

Change "Who can view my Most Distant Ancestor" so that project members can see it. Otherwise, it is hidden.

Change "Who can see me in project member lists" so that others can see you. It helps if people can see you and contact you to share their research.

Change "Who can view my ethnic breakdown" to allow matches to view it.

Change "Who can view my mtDNA Coding Region" to allow project admins to view them if you want their help in researching your direct female lineage. You can give project administrators full access to your account. This allows the administrator to view all of your DNA results and keep your account information up to date. This makes it easier to manage the DNA project. To give a project administrator full access to your account, you must tell them your kit number and password. Giving administrators full access can also ensure that your kit remains useful for future researchers should you pass away. And, administrators can help your relatives or beneficiaries take over the kit someday if they need help. If you give an admin full access, then you can ask them to make changes for you.


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Helpful links and info...
(as at 21 September 2015)
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Family Tree DNA phone number:713-868-1438 (M - TH 9:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. CST, F 9:00 a.m. - noon)
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Family Tree DNA Facebook Page:https://www.facebook.com/FamilyTreeDNA
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Family Tree DNA Forums Link (login required for posting):http://forums.familytreedna.com/
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Link for current results wait times:https://www.familytreedna.com/learn/testing-process/return-kit-long-will-results-take/
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From time to time, the question arises "why should I upgrade"?
Apart from stating that
Y-12 usually only allows 1 mismatch with another male; 
Y-25 allows 2 mismatches...;
Y-37 allows 4 mismatches...;
Y-67 allows 7 mismatches...;
Y-111 allows 10 mismatches.

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I now supply this analogy that comes from one of my esteemed colleagues - who runs a number of the R1b1 projects.
Mike has written this analogy for those of you who frequently wonder just how upgrading your Y-DNA testing level might aid you and why your admins sometimes appear to be pushing these upgrades - and no - NONE of us are paid employees;  we are all volunteers and so not receive any pecuniary advantage from doing same. 
But Mike takes it a step further by suggesting you consider the Big Y test and states why.  
I've tried to come up with an analogy for Big Y testing - the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Lewis and Clark's primary objectives included "explore and map the newly acquired territory, find a practical route across the Western half of the continent." They left St. Louis in 1804 and arrived at the Pacific Ocean late in 1805.

In this analogy, we can think of the Pacific Coast as our genetic genealogy homeland, the place or status where our genealogically known family connects specifically to the Y DNA tree of mankind. The Pacific Coast is not the same for all of us, as each of our families has a distinctive location. Lewis and Clark founded what would be Fort Clastrop on the edge of Astoria, Oregon. From Astoria Column, a tower, you can see the Pacific Ocean, the Cascade Mountains and the Columbia River.

Single SNP testing is like flying a two seater from St. Louis and hoping to land in Astoria without knowing where Astoria is. The plane is low priced and reliable but has bad gas mileage. More importantly, Astoria may not even have coordinates on the map yet or a landing strip. This kind of approach is most applicable when someone who is highly probable to be on the edge of your genealogically known family has already done a Big Y test and has built a very tall tower or lighthouse to go with a new landing strip. That tower in Astoria could be thought as a super version of Astoria Column and it is built with 111 Y STRs.

Fixed SNP panel/pack testing is like flying the two seater from St. Louis hopscotching across the country, landing at a handful of small airports and getting out and taking a good set of photos at each location and then deciding the next location to fly to.  Fixed SNP packs/panels are a good, low entry price way to go, but suffer the same problem any fixed SNP test suffers. What if your Astoria hasn't been discovered? Perhaps, even your State of Oregon has not been discovered. You also might have troubles if your eyesight or navigation system isn't so good. For good navigation you'd want to have at least 67 Y STRs although 111 is a better long term investment.

Big Y Discovery testing is like having a super high speed, fuel efficient jet traversing back and forth on multiple paths high across the sky on mostly clear days taking special photos of the countryside between St. Louis and the Pacific Coast. It is scanning over 11 million locations. If your Astoria turns out to be San Diego, Long Beach or Tacoma, that's okay. Big Y is accomplishing what Lewis and Clark were doing, mapping the route for settlers to follow in the form of lower entry price tests. Unfortunately, your family of genealogical record might not even be on the maps for the mass migration of settlers to come, that is without Big Y discovery testing. It's just a fact of the Y chromosome just as it is of the geography. The settlers won't go to a place when they don't know where it is or even know it exists.

Only a member of your genealogical family can discover your Astoria and erect the Astoria Column of 111 STRs for the settlers.

I'm asking you to start thinking about Big Y if you haven't already. There are now at least a couple of thousand R1b Big Y results now in. It works. Big Y results can come in as quickly as 4 weeks (FTDNA uses an 8-10 week estimate). Pooling of resources at the project/family/surname levels can help share the cost, but be looking at Father's Day as usually there is sale pricing.
https://www.familytreedna.com/learn/y-dna-testing/big-y/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lewis_and_Clark_Expedition
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astoria_Column

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FTDNA Test Process

All kits go through the same basic process once FTDNA has received your sample in their lab.  Here are some of the most common questions about your test status and what is done with your sample.

1.  How long does it take to test my sample once it gets back to the lab?
As of April 29, 2015, current test times are estimated to be: 

Family Finder – 5 to 6 weeks

mtDNA – 10 to 11 weeks

Y-DNA – 10 to 13 weeks

Big Y – 8 to 9 weeks

SNPs – 8 to 9 weeks

Most of the tests typically take 6 to 8 weeks to complete from the time your sample actually arrives in the lab, except Family Finder, which is usually 4 to 5 weeks.  Note that pending dates are an estimate only and subject to lab volume and quality control.

After FTDNA notifies you that your sample has been received, you may login to your myFTDNA account to check your expected results date.  Please note this is only an estimate and not a guaranteed results day, as a number of factors may cause your sample to be completed sooner or to be delayed.

NOTE: From GAIL 6 June 2015 - FTDNA suffered a huge glitch back in November 2014 which put the entire lab some 6 weeks behind.  They thought they would catch up with the traditional lull during January 2015, but that lull NEVER happened.  As a result, many tests are running some 6 to 10 weeks (not all tests) behind the expected finish time!

2.  I have ordered a test. How soon will my account show the tests's pending status?

The pending status and an estimated results date will be shown after your order is added to a weekly batch. Weekly batches are usually done on Wednesdays. Therefore, if you check your myFTDNA account on the Thursday after you order, the myFTDNA – Pending Results page should show the test you ordered.

Note: Batches may close earlier to accommodate lab staffing during sales and United States holidays.

3.   Why is FTDNA rerunning my results? Does this mean I need to submit a new DNA sample?

FTDNA will run your sample again if the first test does not provide clear and unambiguous results. This can happen for a number of reasons such as a poor scrape or unclear results on one or more markers.

In most cases, FTDNA will not need to request additional samples. This is only necessary if the lab has exhausted the samples that you have already provided. You will be contacted and additional samples requested if necessary.

4.   Will I get results through the mail?

No, results from Family Tree DNA’s tests are available online. You may access them through your myFTDNA account.

FTDNA offers printable certificates for three types of tests: mtDNA, standard Y-DNA STR, and Y-DNA SNP (haplogroup). However, rather than mail you a one-time certificate, we enable you to print certificates from your myFTDNA account for FREE. As you order additional tests and upgrades, the system will automatically update the results certificate(s) available to you.

5.   Is FTDNA re-running my results?

If it is more than a week past the target date without you seeing your results, it most often means that we did not get a quality result during the initial sequencing process.

From our lab’s experience, this happens 5 – 10% of the time. When it does, we rerun the first extracted swab. The results should be available in 1 or 2 weeks. 

6.   When I order an upgrade, do you need a new sample? How will I know if you are sending a new kit? Most of the time, the DNA extracted from your original test kit is enough for any upgrade you order. When you have paid in full for the upgrade and the weekly batch has closed, your order is added to the cue for lab processing. Should the lab discover that a new sample is needed, you will be sent a new kit.
NOTE: From GAIL 6 June 2015 - The lab will NOT process anything whatsoever until the kit is paid for.