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Back to talking to each other

This past week has been a painful one for the genetic genealogy community, with a spat between two key players going public when it should not have, and members of the broader community taking sides without any way to know all the facts.

From The Legal Genealogist‘s perspective, the week of statements and counterstatements between the DNA data sharing site and the DNA testing company Family Tree DNA — with hundreds if not thousands of users of both jumping into the fray — could all be summed up by the comment from the prison warden in the movie Cool Hand Luke: “What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.”

I’m not going to try to review the way the spat developed. I wasn’t a party to the conversation so I’m in no better position than any user of these two sites to know the background. I haven’t said anything before today because the one thing I was determined that I wasn’t going to do was make it worse.

For what is perhaps the best backgrounder — and the best take — on the whole event, I can only suggest that you head over to Roberta Estes’ blog DNA-explained and read her excellent commentary on what she calls the “Family Tree DNA and GedMatch Dustup.”

Personally, I think Roberta nails it, and there’s not much else to be said.

Except to note two things.

The first point is that we ended the week where we should have begun it, with a joint announcement from both GedMatch and Family Tree DNA:

Family Tree DNA and GEDmatch jointly announce that we are in serious conversations regarding issues that have resulted in GEDmatch discontinuing uploads of FTDNA data. Both companies recognize the importance of these talks to their customers and are committed to quickly resolve differences. We regret any inconvenience that may have been caused and assure our users that our primary focus and efforts are geared toward your benefit.

And the second point is this: the genetic genealogy community is best served by having all the players talk to each other — and credit each other for good intentions even where we may disagree with each other.

It doesn’t do our community any good at all when spectators to a spat like this — who don’t and can’t know all the facts — go haring off into conspiracy theories on social media. Yelling at each other at the top of our lungs doesn’t help us do the one thing we need to do: communicate with each other.

Sometimes, we just need to sit back and let the dust settle to the point where those who can resolve the issue, who do know the facts, can get back to talking to each other.

As GedMatch and Family Tree DNA are now doing.

As for the rest of us… let’s just chill out and give those two the time they need to iron this out.

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