I tried Ancestry.com’s new feature, Thru Lines, last weekend and I’m not impressed. If you aren’t sure what it’s about, you can watch their brief video here. What set me off was the comment “For a few short minutes and without doing any research, you can have a whole new network of ancestors and living relatives.” Not in my opinion! If only genealogy were so simple.
Here’s the issue I have and which I wrote in my survey result to Ancestry – say everyone in your family believes that your shared Great Great Grandpa was John Smith Jr.. You all know this because it said so in an unsourced family book written in the 1940’s. Some of your older relatives even remember the author and he was an honest, hard working genealogist. He knew that John Smith Jr. was his Great Grandpa because his mom told him so and she never lied. So there, it’s the truth and nothing but the truth.
Now along comes Ancestry’s Thru Lines and since everyone copied everyone else’s tree on Ancestry because it’s simple to do so, everyone has John Smith Jr.as their 2nd time Great Grandpa and now everyone’s DNA results PROVE it. Except, it proves nothing at all.
All Thru Lines proves is that you are all related. If everyone has a wrong name listed everyone with shared DNA will connect to that wrong name. Perhaps John Smith Jr. was adopted. All of the shared descendants are related to the adopted individual but not to John Smith Sr. Thru Lines is going to give you other relatives you “might” be related to. This just perpetuates the wrong information.
I tried it with one of my adult children’s DNA results and it connected to my husband’s grandmother. Was that accurate? Yes, because far flung family members have also tested and they connect to grandmother’s parents. We also have the paper documentation of the relationship. All Thru Lines did in this example was confirm what my documentation already showed.
Two other features are in the works, New and Improved DNA Matches (I can only hope) and Tree Tags, which is something I’ve been wishing for a long long time. Tree tags is adding info you’d like others to know, such as – “This is not a confirmed relationship.” I would absolutely love that. I actually wanted a color coded option so I could make my confirmed relationships in green and my tentative ones in yellow or red. I understand that some folks have difficulty with color so tagging is a nice alternative. As soon as I’m able to test these features, I’ll blog my opinion.