Getting Through the ThruLines(tm) at AncestryDNA: Part II

After some experimentation, I’ll keep using “ThruLines”(tm) while keeping the following things in mind:

  • DNA may not lie, but online trees do.
  • “ThruLines”(tm) is great for an initial sort of matches that have attached trees with shared ancestors. You still need to work on documenting the connection because some trees have errors, some trees are incomplete, some people are related more than once, and some people may not be related through the name in the tree because there is an error in their tree and you are related in a different way.
  • “ThruLines”(tm) uses the “Big Tree,” grown in the big swamp of Ancestry.com submitted trees. Projected ancestors are often pulled from the biggest tree with the name. Parent-child relationships may be projected simply because that relationship appears most often in submitted trees. It is an automated process that automatically reproduces what is most popular. Aside from irritating the taters out of me philosophically, it’s not valid methodology.
  • “ThruLines”(tm) projects relationships that may be true, but that are not supported by DNA at all, only by other online trees. This was discussed in the “Siefert-Bieger” and “Dunaway” sections of my earlier post. Fourteen DNA matches who all descend from Nancy Dunaway do not in any sense “prove” George was her father. Valid paper evidence combined with DNA evidence from descendants of other known children of George matching children of Nancy at a cousinship level consistent with that relationship are what is needed. 100 million descendants of Nancy matching either other does not prove she’s George’s daughter.
  • Don’t add anything to your tree that you have not validated and analyzed yourself. If you don’t know what it means to validate and analyze information, don’t add that information to your tree.

I can’t change what Ancestry.com does any more than I can change what my dead ancestors did. Individuals can either choose to use the tool or not–that’s a personal decision.

It has helped me to initially sort my matches with connected trees into how they are likely related. I was doing that anyway myself, manually. “ThruLines”(tm) speeds up that process. I can tell whether the information connecting me to the DNA match came from my tree or a submitted one. That helps me analyze as well.

Adding names to my tree solely because “ThruLines”(tm) said so? I’d never do that.

Learning about a tool helps you to effectively use or decide not to use it. Using it without learning about it just makes you likely create more trees growing in the Ancestry.com tree swamp.


Find out more about my “ThruLines”(tm) webinar.

 

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